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Top Down Project Planning

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com

In many organizations, managers and senior management view project planning as a waste of time. To them, the project plan is needless. They want to “start work immediately without wasting time in useless planning meetings and creating mounds of paperwork.” As a result, project managers have difficulty engaging management in the project-planning task. Why do they have this attitude? Why are they unwilling to invest their time in project planning? Some of the reasons are:

  • They have never seen a project properly planned so they have no understanding of how smoothly things can run.
  • Project planning requires that the sponsor and stakeholders know what business result they want the project to produce. Often executives start projects to fix a problem they have just heard about. They had no idea what the solution should be.
  • The sponsor and stakeholders are unwilling to make commitments about the acceptance criteria for the project’s deliverables. They are unwilling to take the risk of specifying precisely what they want. See Main Project Planning Page

Why do many managers and executives have the attitude that project planning is a waste of time? The first and most common reason is that the organization exercises no control or justification for starting a new project. There is no reason to plan if they can start a project any time they want and there are no organizational requirements about the return on investment (payback) from doing the project. On the other hand, executives must plan their projects if the organization requires the following:

  • a cost-benefit analysis for new projects
  • a clear specification for the business results the project will produce and its cost and duration.

A second and very common reason for these attitudes is that many executives have never sponsored, run or even worked on a properly planned project. As a result, they have no idea of the benefits a properly planned project can deliver. Their projects usually miss their planned completion dates and budgets. They rarely deliver the project scope or any business value. Project teams don’t know what they are accountable for delivering, what performance level the project manager expects or how the PM will evaluate their work. As a result, the project manager must tell the team members what to do each week. The executives also have no practical experience with change control. They don’t realize that a well-conceived project plan gives them and the project manager tools to manage changes to the scope, budget, quality and resources.

Despite the reasons why the executives have the attitude that project planning is a waste of time and resources, you (as the project manager) must persuade them of the benefits of doing a project plan. When executives want to start a project, you must describe the right steps and explain how that process benefits the organization. Finally, you must discuss the required top down project planning techniques, documents and meetings. Executives also need to understand that you cannot use the same project planning techniques for every project. You should not bury a small project in needless paperwork. But a large strategic project will suffer if there isn’t sufficient planning, control and risk management.

Benefits of a Top Down Project Plan

On a well-run project, you and the team members don’t have to stop work to figure out what to do next. A well-planned project uses the top down project planning technique. That means the sponsor identifies the overall scope of the project and the deliverable(s) the project has to produce. Then you and the sponsor identify the acceptance criteria that the executives will use to approve those deliverables. This lets you and every project team member know exactly what the executives want in a deliverable before you start work. Each team member’s assignment or task is specifically defined so they know what a good job is before they begin work.top down project planning

Project teams that must stop and figure out what to do next are working on a project that was planned like a To Do list. The project manager planned the first thing they’re going to do, then the second and then the third. Things get a little vague after that so the team members must stop work and ask the PM what to do next. That process continues until the planned completion date is looming on the horizon. At that point, the PM and team members must stop work and plan what they can quickly finish before the completion date. This is a disaster for the project and the PM’s career.

When you use top down project planning, you make as many of the decisions as possible, during the  planning process before you start work. This lets the team focus on executing, not re-planning the project. You save several hours of meetings, talks and arguments for every hour you spend planning before the work actually begins.

Top down project planning also saves you from doing the wrong things on the project. Because you have done all the thinking on the deliverables before you start work, you don’t incur the costs of having to produce “missing” deliverables at the last moment.
If you fall into the trap of starting work immediately without using the top down project planning technique, you are certain to have a failed project. The same executives who force you to start work quickly will be exceedingly dissatisfied with the results, the money and the time spent to produce them. The only way out of this situation is to explain to the project executives that success is a direct result of a solid planning effort. It must also be the right size for the scope and size of the project. You and the sponsor must define the scope of the work and the acceptance criteria that the project stakeholders will use to judge its success. That’s the key to top down project planning. When you have a clear scope definition, you can break it down into high-level deliverables. Then you have the basis for a work breakdown structure (WBS) that minimizes the amount of work required to deliver the project scope.

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How To: Post-Project Review

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com

The post-project review processes are ineffective in most organizations. Consequently, they suffer from the same mistakes on one project after another. Even worse, the bigger the project failure, the less likely the organization is to learn from it. The same issues that cause a project to fail also prevent the people involved from learning from that failure. Organizations need processes to make sure they don’t relive project failures. Let’s take a look at a typical post-project review session and then talk about the right way to do it. Project Lessons Learned Main Page

Post-Project Review: Poking Through the Wreckage

You shuffled into your post-project review session, sick and tired of the political games and the finger-pointing. Twenty minutes later, you trudged out with the voices still echoing in your head:

    “No, you’re responsible for us finishing late!”
    “Me? You kept making changes. I’m surprised we ever finished!”
    “You still aren’t finished. The crap you gave us still doesn’t work!”

           “What? We gave you what you asked for! You just didn’t train your people to use it

           “They’d need PhD’s to use what you built!”

You walked down the hall knowing this was your fault. Sure, there were some jerks involved in the project and it would be easy to blame them. But you knew that a good project manager could structure things to make even the jerks productive.

As scenes like this repeat themselves after each project, the organization’s processes for doing projects don’t improve. The same problems wreck project after project. But there is an alternative.

Post-Project Review: Living Lessons Learned

What you need instead is a living lessons learned process that gives the organization and its project managers an opportunity for continuous improvement. The time you invest in your post-project review should also positively affect projects that are underway and reinforce the use of a consistent project management methodology. You gain these advantages with a living lessons learned process conducted in three stages.

Post-Project Review: Step 1 – Pre-Launch Peer Review

We have experienced good success with our 4PM.com clients using peer reviews of projects thatPost-Project Review are ready to launch. That sounds fancier than it is. This just means that PM’s get feedback on a their plan from other PM’s. Sometimes they hold a live web meeting to discuss a recent plan. That gives PM’s the chance to share ideas and renew their understanding of the methodology.

While the pre-launch stage is a busy time for project managers, it’s also the point at which correcting mistakes is least expensive. The process is straightforward. The other project managers review the business situation faced by the user or client. Then they independently critique the project’s strategic planning, scope statement, requirements, WBS, charter, accountability structure, team assignments and schedule. If the organization’s PM methodology places a premium on thinking (not paperwork), it does not take the other project managers very long to review several project plans.

In the review session itself, the other PM’s ask questions and offer ideas, which the project manager whose work is under review may take or ignore. The project manager gets the benefit of the thinking of other PM’s engaged in the same type of work. Every project manager suffers from tunnel vision as he or she works through the final development of their detailed plan. So the thinking of other project managers who are not buried in all the details is enormously helpful. They can spot disconnects between the user’s or client’s business problem and the project plan details. However, it is important to keep this conversation up at the project management level, focusing on “Are we doing the right project for this business problem?” and “Does the planned control process make sense for the desired business result and resources involved?” The conversation should not sink into a technology debate.

Sessions like these are effective in building consistency in the use of a project management methodology. Compliance with project management standards tends to slip under the pressure of all the work that must be done just before launch. But when project managers know their peers will be reviewing their work, they comply at a point early in the lifecycle when comments from the project office or standards people might otherwise be brushed aside.

These pre-launch peer reviews are ideal for reinforcing the organization’s project management methodology. The right people are dealing with real business situations and projects, not theoretical ideals. As a result, these sessions are good opportunities to renew people’s skills in using the organization’s project management methodology.

Post-Project Review: Step 2 – Corrective Action and Changes

The second step is regular (usually weekly) review of project variances. The PM and team members decide on corrective action on variances at the weekly status report meeting. Then the PM should go through the variances again. During this second round, they focus on how to avoid the same variances in the future. They also identify other tasks that are likely to have the same issue. The focus is on ways to avoid a repeat and it does not take long to identify the options.

To do this review, the project methodology must give PM’s a reliable method of identifying changes to the approved baseline schedule. The organization needs a methodology that gives the PM objective measures of project progress plus the work and cost estimates to measure the variance.

Post-Project Review: Step 3 – Team Culture and Leadership Style

The last step is the periodic assessment of the culture of the project team and the project manager’s leadership style. Obviously the project team members’ work attitudes and effectiveness are stroleadershipngly influenced by the leadership behavior of the PM. But even a professional team may suffer in silence about the PM’s leadership rather than take the risk of providing constructive feedback.

Constructive feedback is very useful so we have to offer a “safe” environment for team members to give it. An effective technique is to ask the team to have lunch together once a quarter without the PM. They write a summary of the PM’s strengths and weaknesses on which they reached consensus. The PM should digest the information but ask no questions about it. Most importantly, the PM should not ask them to justify any of the negative feedback. That makes the PM appear defensive. Good project managers act on negative feedback and make themselves better. Bad PM’s can’t handle the criticism and learn nothing.

Post-Project Review Summary

The post-project review is a three-step living lessons learned process for project management improvement. It is an important element in moving the organization toward delivering consistently successful projects because it is a process through the entire project lifecycle. It also contributes to developing a cadre of consistently effective project managers who get better over time and don’t repeatedly relive failures.

More information on lessons learned

We include this post-project review living lessons learned process in our project management methodology.  We teach it in our online project management certifications and training seminars for clients.

 

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How To Initiate Projects

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com

Projects fail when executives and stakeholders initiate projects like they’re ordering lunch at the drive-through window of a fast-food joint. In this situation, you, the project manager, can’t control the scope so the project finishes late and produces very little business value. Consistent project failure usually starts when PMs and sponsors initiate projects with fast food order-taking techniques. Let’s see how this order-taking process works. Project Phases Main Page

The project manager stands at the drive-through window wearing a red and yellow cap that says “Projects Are Us.” The executive drives up in a shiny black car, stops at the drive-through window and says, “I want to clean up customer service by March, 30th.”

The project manager nods eagerly, gives the executive the “thumbs up” signal and screams at the project team:
“You two, put some new software on the grill!”
“Dan, dump some training into the deep fry!”
“Monica, we need more service rep cubicles and new computers, now!”

The executive smiles, “Wow, you know how to manage a project, no needless meetings or endless paper work.”

The order-taker project manager gives the executive another toothy grin and says, “We are cranking and everything is in green light status. We’re already about half done.”

The executive leans back thinking, then says,”I’d like a network with 30 nano-second response time and 50 gigamondo disk drives. And…can we add mauve wall coverings in the computer room? How about multi-lingual training?”

The order-taker project manager grins and says, “No problem; we’re flexible. I can make any changes you want.”

The executive frowns, “I’m in a hurry, so speed it up.”

The order-taker project manager whirls and whispers to the project team, “Let’s go! Get something slapped together by the due date…we can tweak it later. Let’s get to it!” Then he smiles at the executive and gives the thumbs up sign.

The executive returns two weeks later and says, “Your crappy software doesn’t work. No one knows how to use it and the new computer room is a fire hazard. The customers are still howling about being on hold too long. That’s what I wanted fixed. This is another project disaster!”

Happy Executives at the Beginning… or at the End of the Project

The sad thing about this order-taking technique to initiate projects is that it makes some executives and users happy. When you initiate projects like this, you and the team start work quickly and executives like that. They also like the fact that they can avoid deciding exactly what they want the project to produce. That lets them off the hook for committing to the project deliverable(s). However,  the odds are nearly zero of the PM delivering a successful project and having satisfied executives/users/customers when the work is done. This order-taking approach begins a process that allows changes every week. Why is that? Because the order-taking process does not produce a scope definition that is objectively measured or controlled. Order-taking does not make the executives commit to what they want. Even worse, when the PM acts like an order-taker, that’s how the executives perceive them. So what is the best way to initiate projects?

Use The Best Practice to Initiate Projects

First, you must abandon the order-taking process of listing vague requirements and starting work quickly. Instead, you must ask enough questions and learn enough about the executive’s business problem that you can subtly help them define the scope.

initiating projectsExecutives who are not used to project managers asking questions may resent it. But a successful project manager responds to these objections with a reasonable statement like, “How can I deliver the business end result you want if I don’t know precisely what it is?”

Executives may not like that push back. But it is worth a bit of early executive dissatisfaction because it helps you define a measured business result for the project scope rather than a list of ever-xhanging requirements. Let’s return to our story and see how to do this correctly.

Here’s How to Initiate Projects

The executive stops at the drive-through window and says, “I want to clean up customer service by the end of March.”

The project manager answers, “Exactly what result are you looking for?”

A flash of anger washes across the executive’s face, “Just get started. I want a project and I’m also in a hurry. When are you going to start work?”

The project manager says, “We’ll start immediately after I understand the results you’re looking for. What’s the result you want from the project?”

“I need better efficiency,” snaps the executive.

The PM says, “I understand. How much improvement?”

The executive frowns in anger again, “Why are you asking all these questions instead of starting work?”

The PM politely responds, “Because you won’t be pleased with our work if it doesn’t help you achieve your objectives. So I need to know what they are. What amount of efficiency improvement do you need?”

“Enough to cut costs by 12% from the customer service department. We need training, new systems, new cubicles, etc,” the executive says.

“Well, if you want to have a 12% cost reduction by cutting staff, each customer service rep will have to be able to handle 12% more customer calls.”

The executive smiled, “Right. Then we could gradually let attrition reduce the staff. Now let’s get into the details of how to do that…”

With this approach, the project manager avoided starting a project that was almost certain to fail.

Initiate Projects Summary

A results-focused approach to project initiating and planning produces benefits in the entire portfolio of projects. Learn more about how to initiate and plan projects.

You can learn these techniques in our seminars for companies or our online courses for individuals who manage IT, construction, healthcare, general business and consulting projects.

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How To Use the Project Critical Path Technique

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com

The critical path is the longest sequence of tasks in a project. It determines the project’s duration and completion date. It’s easy to use project critical path analysis to determine the duration and optimize your project plans to finish as quickly as possible. Let’s see an example of how to correctly use the critical path technique. Project Schedule & Software Main Page

Chris Pimbock, the Impudent Project Manager, walked over to a vacant seat the crowded passenger boarding area at gate #63. Chris joined two sullen business travelers waiting to fly home on a Friday evening. They were staring out through the big plate glass windows of the terminal at a mechanic standing atop an aluminum ladder working on the jet’s port engine.

The blue-suited professional sitting to Chris’ left muttered, “The gate attendant better wake up. Those dopes have to get another mechanic working on that engine pronto!  That’s a critical path task. Without working engines, we won’t go anywhere!”

The thoroughly-wrinkled passenger across the aisle growled, “Naah, that captain and his crew all keep looking at their watches. I bet they are about to go off duty. Without a crew, we won’t go anywhere. Getting a new crew is what that gate attendant should be working on instead of reading a magazine. That’s the critical path.”

Feigning ignorance, Chris Pimbock asked, “How do you know what’s on the project critical path?

With an exasperated sigh, the guy in the blue suit said, “Experience. Hey, I do this stuff for a living and I know a critical path task when I see one.” The other man nodded agreement.

Chris casually looked over the boarding area at gate #63 and the tarmac. The fight crew was still sitting in the corner chatting. The food truck was parked on the tarmac with the driver reading a magazine A fuel truck waited with the driver watching the mechanic. The gate attendant had left her station and gone to help at the next gate, #61, to get the passengers for that flight checked-in and on board.

The rumpled guy shouted at Chris, “Is that stupid gate attendant gonna get more mechanics? Wait, look the food truck just drove off. That gate attendant is an idiot; ignoring us and working at another gate! Now we’ll have to wait even longer for another food truck while she helps her buddy at the next gate.”

Chris said, “Ahh, give the woman some credit, she knows what she is doing.”project critical path

“That’s crazy. Look the fuel truck is leaving too!” the wrinkled PM snorted. “All she cares about are the passengers at gate #61!

Chris frowned and asked, “So the gate attendant should be assigning more mechanics to the critical path task and getting another fuel truck. Is that critical too?”

The two PMs sneered at Chris. One muttered, “Duh.”

The other PM nodded sadly and said, “Sure. You’ve got to really watch the project critical path tasks like a hawk. And when you add more people you get the tasks done faster.”

Just then the first PM said, “Look,” and pointed out the window at the mechanic who was waving frantically at the gate attendant and holding up a broken wrench and mouthing the words, “Need a new wrench!”

The gate attendant was too busy at the other gate to look out the window. Failing to catch the attendant’s eye, the mechanic picked up his broken wrench and tried to work with it, shaking his head in frustration.

Chris said, “What happened?”

“Thanks to that moron at the gate, this whole thing will be delayed even longer. The mechanic needs a new tool and she couldn’t see him because she has abandoned us and gone to gate #61. I’m gonna tell her what a dope she is!”

As the wrinkled PM rose to walk to the counter, Chris noted that the plane at gate #61 was leaving. He said, “I would give it a minute or two before you make a jerk of yourself.”

The wrinkled PM slumped back down and said. “That gate attendant has really botched this flight. We’re going to be here for hours.”

They settled back into their chairs and in a moment the gate attendant picked up a black microphone and cleared her throat.

The blue suit predicted, “Now, that dope is going to cancel the flight.”

The loud speakers in the waiting room hissed as a new food truck arrived and the attendant said, “Our new airplane will be pulling up to gate #61 momentarily. Please move to that gate now. We will board in 5 minutes, the plane is fueled, the food is on board and we’re ready to go.”

Chris said, “I guess that gate attendant did the calculations and decided that the sequence of tasks involved in fixing the plane, fueling it, provisioning the food and replacing the crew was longer than getting us a new plane that was ready to go. She used the duration data, not just guesses about what task was critical. She kept her eye on the right critical path the whole time. Most importantly she focused on the correct scope; getting us home tonight, not just fixing the plane.”

Project Critical Path Summary

To learn to identify and optimize the project critical path, consider taking one of our online, instructor-led courses. In these courses, you’ll get coaching from an expert instructor as you practice applying the “best practice” techniques to realistic project case studies. You can work at your own pace to fit your schedule.

 

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Super Project Manager

When Do We Need a Super Project Manager?

A solid process and good methodology is not enough to guarantee success. If shutterstock_3608207it was possible to be successful by implementing the right methodology, all rich companies would have managed to buy or copy it somehow, and we would experience minimal failure rates in projects. Unfortunately we know this is not the case. In many studies the failure rate (missing, scope,time, budget) of the projects is above 50%.  Project Manager Skills Main Page

Projects are not mechanical entities, far from that. As organizations of biological entitles they inherit all the non-deterministic characteristics of a bio entity, resulting in situations where the same inputs do not produce consistent results. As result the skills needed to be consistently successful are subtle, and a lot of them on the human side. Below a list of powers that make the super-project manager consistently successful.

1) The Super Sight
It is of utmost importance, to see beyond. Dig deep and understand. To read, be prepared, ask questions, be on top of things. Definitely, you can not manage what you don’t understand. Just scratching the surface of problems and doing decisions on shallow waters want do any good to the project and your career perspective.

2) Self Sacrifice
Have a look at each of the important superheros, the community comes first. Same for the super PM. He establishes himself in the service of the project. The PM is there to help, not to be avoided. Although he has immense powers inherent from the almighty sponsor, they are put to use for helping, not scaring the team. If the project manager is open to help, it encourages the team members to come forward and bring up uncovered issues, risks, giving to the PM the possibility to spot and avoid obstacles earlier. It creates a climate of trust and a we-are-on-the-same-side mindset.

3) No Tolerance for the Villains
Everybody knows that supper man is friend to the good and a nightmare of villain. Same for the super-PM. Every team-member, functional manger, even the almighty sponsor know better than to mess with the trust of the super-PM. A super-PM establishes a climate of clear accountability and no-justifications.

4) Consistency and Discipline
People are watching. Even when you talk to only one of the team members, everyone is watching. If you ask people to behave, to reply on time, to work overtime, be aware everyone expects you to do the same. If your talk doesn’t match your walk, soon enough you will be the one full-of-garbage. It takes discipline walk the talk, and it takes discipline to win respect.

5) Tools & Flexibility
Name one, from supper man, to batman, spiderman,007 they all have tools. Tools that serve excellent on most situations. And if the tools are not enough they improvise. A super-PM has all the gadgets and templates to guide and help the team start-to-the end of the project, yet he has as well the flexibility to adapt to the situation and characteristics of the environment. He is flexible to to understand and if necessary deviate from the template.

6) Empathy
The super-PM relates with people,smile and is sad with them. He has powers, yet he cares. This is the reason people trust him, he is one of them.

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Project Management Careers – Join a Profession In Demand

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com

Project management careers offer you one of the fastest growing professions because people who have the ability to deliver business results on time and within budget are needed in every industry. Project managers are in demand all over the world and in both public and private sectors. Salaries are high with the average income of a certified project manager (PMP) topping $114,000 US.  I’ll summarize the steps in a project management career from getting into the profession, to learning the basics, to your first certification. First let’s do a quick overview and then we’ll get into the details.

Project Management Career Progression

More than half of the project managers in the profession got into it because they were pushed into it. Executives noticed they were good performers so when a hot project came up, the executives dumped it in their laps. Learning on the job and on-the-fly, these people got through that first project and then decided they liked the work. They learn the right way later on. Project Management Profession

Other people take a project management careers route by consciously deciding they want to enter the profession. They prepare themselves for their first job as a project manager by learning the basics of project management. Then they get an entry-level project manager certification for credibility. These steps help them get their first chance to manage a small project. How To Get int Project Managementproject manager careers

No matter what route people take to start their project management career, they need to have training that teaches them the fundamentals of planning, scheduling, executing and tracking projects. Many people also get their first certification at this point because it’s a help in job hunting. That first certification is often the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® from the Project Management Institute (PMI)®. That certification requires no project management work experience. But it does require learning the processes, definitions and terms of the profession and passing a 3-hour exam. Pass the CAPM Exam

Functional/Industry Project Management Certifications

Another route early in a PM career is to earn a project management certification in a specialty area. This is a popular route for people already working in IT, Healthcare, Construction, Consulting or Business/Manufacturing. The certifications are:
Certified IT Project Manager
Certified Healthcare Project Manager
Certified Construction Project Manager
Certified Consulting Project Manager
Certified Business Project Manager
These certifications give you credibility in a project management specialty area and confirm your knowledge of the basic through advanced project management skills. Then you can “sell” yourself as a person who can manage small and medium-sized projects using the best practices, tools and techniques.

Project Management Professional (PMP)® Certification and Beyond

After you have several years of experience managing projects, you will be qualified to earn the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from the Project Management Institute. This is an internationally recognized credential for experienced project managers and is highly regarded in all industries. You must be approved by PMI to take the PMP exam. PMI requires you to document 4,500 hours of project management work experience if you have a university degree and 7,500 hours of project management work experience if you do not have a university degree. They also require 35 hours of project management education. You need an exam preparation course to teach you all the best practices in project management. Then you must pass the exceedingly difficult 4-hour PMP exam. About 50% of the people who take the exam world-wide fail. Pass the PMP Exam

The next step in a project management career is to earn a Program Manager Certification which prepares you up for positions managing multiple projects and larger, strategic programs. Program Management

Following that, your next move will be into senior management in a position like Chief Project Officer, CPO.

We offer individual, customized online courses for every step in your project management career.

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Questions about the PMP® Exam

Dick Billows, PMP
Dick Billows, PMP
CEO 4pm.com

Preparing to pass the Project Management Institutes’s (PMI)® Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam is tough. People have lots of questions about the PMP exam. Here are answers to some of the most common questions. Project Manager Certifications Main Page

Is there somewhere I can find a list of all the questions/answers that are going to be on the PMP exam?

Unfortunately the answer is no, not even the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)® has all the information that is asked on the PMP exam. PMI wants you to understand the best practices of project management so you can’t memorize answers to questions and pass the exam. You have to learn and understand this material. Additionally, PMI adds 5% new questions every month. So you need to know the material well enough to be able to answer questions that you have not seen before.

Our organization doesn’t do project management the way PMI lays it out. Do I have to learn their way?

Yes, the fastest way to get a question wrong is to decide how you would handle the situation at your work. That will almost always yield a wrong answer. If you want a certification from PMI, you have to learn their way of project management.

I don’t have any experience managing projects. Can I still earn a certification from the Project Management Institute?

If you don’t have any experience managing projects (PMP requires a minimum of 4,500 hours), you should pursue the Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® credential. That certification requires no experience in project management. We have a course that will prepare you to pass the CAPM exam.

What does it mean to progressively elaborate a project plan?

Progressive elaboration means that you don’t develop all of the components of your project plan at one time and then start work. Instead, you let the various elements of our project plan,  like the schedule and the budget interact and as you develop one, you may alter another. This process takes longer but it yields a much better plan.

What if I have never done a project the PMI way? Our organization never does all the steps.

Believe me, you are not alone. There may not be anyone who has ever done a project following every step that PMI includes in the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide®). 95% of the projects done globally have a project team of three people or less. For projects of that size, many of the steps PMI has identified are simply too much. Even for the small number of project managers who manage very large projects, not all the pieces are necessary or desirable. So don’t feel bad if you haven’t done some of PMI’s steps. For example, we have had clients with thirty-year project management careers who have never done risk management.

Why is there so little “doing” and so much planning in this PMI stuff? This way of doing projects will make them take forever.

There’s no question that PMI and the best practices in project management stress planning. This is a good thing. It lets projects deliver scope on time and on budget because you’re not diverted from those goals by having to decide what to do next or by firefighting. Think about how much time you spend with your team trying to figure out what to do next when you’re in the middle of a project. Or how much time you spend solving problems and fighting fires you could have anticipated but didn’t. The heavy focus on planning is a good thing and well worth your while to learn (and practice).

We offer an online PMP Exam Prep course where you work individually with your instructor until you pass the exam, guaranteed. Here is more information about our online, instructor-led PMP Exam Prep course.

How To Pass the PMP Exam on the First Try – video