Dealing with Integrated Change Control – Part 4

How to handle situations at ground and questions in PMP Exam related to integrated change control process.

Part – 4 – How to handle questions related to Integrated Change Control in PMP Exam?

So far we have understood basic principles of Integrated Change Control, the Integrated Change Control Process and how to deal with them at work. Now let’s see how to handle questions on PMP Exam. We will take some examples to understand how basic principles and change management process is applied on PMP Question to tick the right answer:

Dealing-with-Integrated-Change-Control-Part-4

Question 1:

You have just received a change from customer. Customer has analysed that it does not impact the schedule and easy to implement. What should you do first?

A. Request permission from project sponsor

B. Send the change to change control board for approval

C. Implement the change as soon as possible

D. Evaluate the impact on the project

Analysis of question 1:

Look at the basic principles and change management process to analyze the question. Basic principles says it is only project team that should do impact analysis. Customer analysis is not required and not sufficient. Irrespective of customer has done the analysis or not, project team must do impact analysis. Let’s analyze the options:

A- Request permission from project sponsor: You need permission from change control board to implement a change and not from sponsor.

B- Send the change to change control board for approval: If you look at the change management process, you can send the change request to change control board only after impact analysis. Customer impact analysis is neither valid not sufficient.

C- Implement the change as soon as possible: If you follow the process, you can implement a change request only after CCB approval.

D-Evaluate the impact on the project: You should evaluate the impact i.e. do impact analysis. So the answer is D. A question may arise how we can do impact analysis when a formal change request is not created and not gone through qualification test yet as per process. The answer is, these two steps are not available in the options. If either of them was available, I would have chosen it. We have to choose best out of available options.

So the answer is D.

Let’s take another question.

Question 2:

You are developing an application. In the last week, you have made the first delivery to your customer. Looking at the delivery, your customer has requested a change in the application and wants you to deliver it immediately. What is the BEST way for you to handle it?

A. Analyze the impact of the change on the project

B. Immediately ask your team to start work on the change and meanwhile you will do the impact analysis and take the approval from change control board

C. Create a formal change request

D. Call a team meeting to decide next step

Answer to question 2:

What do you do when customer ask you to urgently respond on the change? You should definitely try to fast track to address urgency but not at the cost of change management process. Tell to your customer that you and customer have agreed on a change management process and you cannot bypass it. You will try to expedite within the process.

Let’s analyze options:

A- Analyze the impact of the change on the project: You should analyze the impact of the change on the project but let us see if there is any option in B, C or D that comes before this step.

B- Immediately ask your team to start work on the change and meanwhile you will do the impact analysis and take the approval from change control board:  Asking your team to immediately start working on the change will be a total violation of change management process and also dangerous for you as you do not know the impact. By start working without understanding impact, you probably delay it instead of delivering it early.

C- Create a formal change request: Yes, you should first create a formal change request. This should be preferred over A as it comes first in the Integrated Change Control Process.

D- Call a team meeting to decide next step: Calling a team meeting to decide next step shows that you either do not have a change management process or you do not have inclination to follow it or you are unaware of it. If you have a change management process, next step is defined there, just follow it, there is no need to call a meeting.

So the answer is C as it is preferred over A.

Let’s take another examples

Question 3

Your project is half way. It is running on time and within budget. A team member comes to you and informs that he has added an extra features to the project that customer would like and there is no impact on time and cost. What should be your NEXT step after hearing this information?

A. Send this information to change control board to take a decision

B. Issue a change request and get it approved as soon as possible

C. Instruct the team member to remove the extra functionality

D. Present it to the customer as a value add

Answer to question 3:

Adding an extra feature which is not in the scope is called gold platting and not required at all. Team members should know that he/she is not expected to work on anything which is not part of the scope. It is a waste of time and energy. If you have time, apply energy to enhance quality of features within the scope. Often such things are done assuming customer will be delighted however we must understand that the extra feature was implemented without customer’s consent and therefore customer may or may not like it.

Let’s analyze options:

A- Send this information to change control board to take a decision: It is not right as this is not correct change control process. You should send the change request to CCB only when we have completed impact analysis.

B- Issue a change request and get it approved as soon as possible: Change request is to be issued before implementation of change and not after its implementation. It is violation of the process.

C- Instruct the team member to remove the extra functionality: You can instruct the team member to remove it as it is not in the scope.

D- Present it to the customer as a value add: Presenting it as value add is not only violation of Integrated Change Control Process but also risky as it was implemented without the knowledge of customer.

So the answer is C. Explain to your team member that he/she is not expected to work on features out of scope and ask him/her to remove it. Sometime it appears too hard on the team members but if you give such concession, you set an example and invite more such incidences. That may be difficult to control and you become selective in implementing the process. Better to stick to the process. Make team members aware of the process and sensitize them at regular interval instead of giving such concessions.

I hope this series on project change management will be of help to you. Should you have any question or suggestion or any comment to share, please click here and leave your question/suggestion/comment in the comment section. I look forward to hear from you.

Other parts of Dealing with Integrated Change Control

  1. Part – 1: Basic Principles
  2. Part – 2: The Integrated Change Control Process
  3. Part – 3: How to deal with change management
  4. Part – 4: How to handle questions related to change management in PMP Exam (This post)

Dealing with Integrated Change Control – Part 3

How to handle situations at ground and questions in PMP Exam related to integrated change control process.

Part – 3

In part 1 and part 2, I discussed about Basic Principles of Change Management and Integrated Change Control Process. In this part, I will discuss how to deal with changes at work based on basic principles and Integrated Change Control Process we defined.

How to deal with Integrated Change Control Process

How to deal with integrated change control at work

The main challenge in change management is dealing with pressure. We don’t face much problem when a team member suggest a change. Our obvious answer is NO most of the time. The issue comes when a senior stakeholder or specially customer requests a change. How to say no? Second factor is cost. Who will bear the cost of change? Third factor is time. How to implement it without extending project time line?

How to say no to a senior stakeholder or customer, asking for money for the change and conveying message that it will extend the time line are the things that make change management complex. Change control is not challenging if change is acceptable, money is either not required or easily available, time extension is okay or there is no major risk.

So the main issue in dealing with integrated change control is who bell the cat? If we have to deal with a person we don’t have authority, the basic principles we laid in the part 1 and a well defined process we laid in part 2 come to our rescue or become our strength.

If our fundamentals are strong and we analyze the situation based on principles then we put forth our analysis in the context of principles i.e. what is right in this situation. It not only makes us more convincing about our own act/suggestion but also makes it easy to explain and convince other parties. Also the suggestions do not go as our opinion but become system/principle driven. If we are able to convince the stakeholders about the change and its impact, they are more receptive to accept additional time and cost.

We may have strong fundamentals but not everyone. So here comes the process. We define an integrated change control process based on fundamentals covering all important ingredients of a good change management process and appropriate to our project environment. We create this process in the beginning itself and explain it to all stakeholders how we will handle changes in the project. It is easy to convince on a process in the beginning as change is not in front of them and every one want to show loyalty towards project’s objectives. We cannot suggest a process when change is already requested. It becomes reactive and not principles/fundamentals driven.

This is all easier said than done. It becomes more a stakeholder management than change management. Our communication and interpersonal skills become very important. Even when we agree up on process, our struggle continues. We have to continuously watch for changes throughout the project. Many times, changes just slip in. We must recognize them. We should educate our team members about change management and give them understanding of what is a change. Then we must take them through integrated change control process irrespective of their size and impact. We cannot be selective otherwise our all efforts will go in vain.

In the next part we will discuss how to deal with questions related with Change Management on PMP Exam. Stay tuned…

Other parts of Dealing with Integrated Change Control

  1. Part – 1: Basic Principles
  2. Part – 2: The Integrated Change Control Process
  3. Part – 3: How to deal with change management (This post)
  4. Part – 4: How to handle questions related to change management in PMP Exam

Dealing with Integrated Change Control – Part 2

How to handle situations at ground and questions in PMP Exam related to integrated change control process.

Part – 2

The Integrated Change Control Process

Every project has its unique change management process to perform integrated change control but all such processes must have some fundamental and mandatory ingredients. A typical change management process looks like in the figure below

A Typical Integrated Change Control Process

A Typical Integrated Change Control Process

Step1: A change request can be initiated by client, any team member or any of the stakeholders on the project. As project manager, you ensure that a formal change request is created.

Step 2: The first step for the project manager after creating a formal change request is to qualify the change to check if the change is a value add to the final product. Question arise, how do we check it? Here is a very simple test. Is the change in line with charter? If yes, it is a value-add change otherwise it is a nuisance and we should say no to it explaining the reason for the same. It is important to explain and convince the requester that the change is not in line with charter. If the change is in line with charter, we should welcome it as it will make the final product more meaningful to the customer and end user.

Step 3: Prepare an impact analysis. Analyze the impact of the change on scope, time, cost, quality, risk or any other aspect of the project. Document it and prepare an Impact analysis report with revised project timeline and cost.

Step 4: Submit this report to Change Control Board (CCB). Again the question arise, who is change control board? It a panel of stakeholders who can weigh benefits against impact and take decision in the favor of project’s objectives. We can have senior manager, project manager, management at customer side, client project manager, project team member etc. on CCB. For example, marketing head, R&D head & production head may form CCB for an in-house product development. Project manager and subject matter experts from vendor and customer sides can be on CCB for a typical project. It can be a single person also like customer, R&D Head etc. What we need to ensure is that the person or the CCB panel must have knowledge, skills and experience (Expert Judgment) to weigh benefits against the impact.

Step 5: Now it is on change control board to weigh benefits of the change against impact of the change. If benefits surpass impact of the change, he/she/they should approve the change otherwise reject it.

Step 6: Once change approved. No second thought any more, just go ahead and implement it.

We should remember a good change management process and performing integrated change control with discipline, will not only make final product more meaningful to customer and end user achieving high satisfaction but also help earning more revenue. A badly implemented change management process will do exactly opposite i.e. will lower the stakeholder satisfaction and lose the opportunities for additional revenue.

Other parts of Dealing with Integrated Change Control

  1. Part – 1: Basic Principles
  2. Part – 2: The Integrated Change Control Process (This post)
  3. Part – 3: How to deal with change management
  4. Part – 4: How to handle questions related to change management in PMP Exam

Dealing with Integrated Change Control

How to handle situations at ground and questions in PMP Exam related to integrated change control process.

Project Change Management is one of the main challenges for project managers on the ground and for the same reason, many people find it difficult to answer questions in PMP Exam related to project change management process. In PMBOK it is explained as Integrated Change Control under Project Integration Management:

Part – 1

Basic Principles:

Let’s start with some fundamentals. Fundamentals are the foundation of good understanding of any subject and same applies to integrated change control. We must understand some basic principles of change management first before we start dealing with it:

  1. We should have a well-defined scope duly signed with customer or stakeholders
  2. We should have a well-defined project change management process for integrated change control.
  3. We should discuss and explain the change management process to customer/stakeholders in the beginning of the project.
  4. Do incorporate suggestions of customer and other stakeholders in defining the process. However once finalized, stick to it.
  5. All changes in the scope either suggested by customer/stakeholders or by project team must go through change management process irrespective of their size and impact on the project.
  6. Any change to change management process is also a change and must go through existing project change management process.
  7. Team members should not be allowed to work on anything beyond the scope of the project.
  8. Team members should be aware of project scope very well so that they can recognize the change.
  9. Team members should be explained the change management process, how to recognize a change and how to follow project change management process.
  10. The world is changing and therefore changes are inevitable.
  11. Project managers should welcome all value-add changes and deny all non-value-add changes.
  12. We must create a Change Control Board (CCB). We will define CCB further in Change Management Process.
  13. Team should work on a change only after it is approved by change control board
  14. Project team being expert and in-charge of project is the only stakeholder to analyze the impact of changes and prepare impact analysis.
  15. If any other stakeholder has done the analysis, we should thank him/her for his/her help but it is not sufficient. Project team must do impact analysis to understand the real impact.

Other parts of Dealing with Integrated Change Control

  1. Part – 1: Basic Principles (This post)
  2. Part – 2: The Integrated Change Control Process
  3. Part – 3: How to deal with change management
  4. Part – 4: How to handle questions related to change management in PMP Exam

Individual project risk Vs Overall project risk

Individual project risk and overall project risk

Individual project risk and Overall project risk

Understanding difference between Individual project risk and overall project risk is important for project management professionals. It is especially important for people going to attempt PMP Exam. Let’s look at the difference…

Individual project risk Vs Overall project risk

Individual project risks are the risks that we identify in the project. By looking at the impact assessment of these risks identified in project, you can rank them which one is more severe and which one is less. Accordingly you can assess whether a quantitative assessment is required. The process of risk management documented in PMBOK is to manage individual risks in project.

However it is also important for the project manager to understand the overall risk exposure of the project. If a program manager has 10 projects in his program, how he will assess which project is more risky and which one is less. Similarly you need to assess overall project risks to contribute in portfolio risk management. Therefore project managers should assess the overall project risk. Sometimes called risk profile or overall risk exposure of the project. Overall risk is not just sum of individual risks you have identified in the project but it also includes other sources of uncertainties.

Overall project risk is defined as “the effect of uncertainty on the project as a whole”. It is the joint effect of all risks in the project and other sources of uncertainty. It is stakeholders’ perception of the effect of various variables/uncertainties on the overall outcome of the project. The main objective of the overall risk assessment is to understand the degree of achieving the final project goal.

More on Project Risk Management

  1. Project Risk Management Workshop – Learn the art of managing uncertainties in the projects
  2. Risk Appetite Vs Risk Tolerance

Risk Appetite Vs Risk Tolerance

Risk Appetite Vs Risk Tolerance

Risk Appetite Vs Risk Tolerance

Risk Appetite and Risk Tolerance are two terms often confuse the professionals especially PMP Aspirants who are preparing for PMP Exam as they are very close terms. Though both Risk Appetite and Risk Tolerance are defined in the PMBOK but the explanation is so abstract that people hardly make out any difference. Also in practice these terms are loosely used for the same purpose. Let’s look at the difference between them

Risk Appetite Vs Risk Tolerance

Risk Appetite is at high level and shows the policy or the attitude of stakeholders or organizations if they are willing to take risk or not to achieve their strategic goal. While Risk Tolerance is at lower level and shows how much risk is acceptable within a specific category, an organization unit or a specific area.

An organization can be called having higher risk appetite related to its strategic goal if it is willing to accept higher losses in the pursuit of higher returns.

So if an investment company ready to invest in a new startup venture as they expect higher returns if the venture is successful, it has higher appetite. But there is always a bar. Company further says, if there are 50% chances of losing the 50% investment, the company is not willing to invest. This is its Risk Tolerance.

Let’s take another example.

A hospital has low risk appetite related to emergency ward while higher appetite to general ward. – Risk Appetite.

The hospital attends to an emergency patient within an hour but respond within 15 minute to attend a critically ill patient. On the other side, a patient in general ward may take upto 3 hours – Risk Tolerance.

Risk Appetite is more subjective and difficult to measure. It shows the nature or inclination and is at policy level. While the Risk Tolerance is more measurable and specify limits beyond which company or stakeholders are not willing to take risk.

More on Project Risk Management

  1. Project Risk Management Workshop – Learn the art of managing uncertainties in the projects
  2. Individual project risk Vs Overall project risk

What’s new in Microsoft Project 2016 – Part 2

This is in continuation to my previous post “What’s new in Microsoft Project 2016 – Part 1” in which I discussed new features added to Microsoft Project 2016 Professional. I this post I will cover new features added on the server side of the Microsoft Project 2016.

What’s new in Microsoft Project 2016 Server?

There are two features which could of real use if you are working on Project Online or Project 2016 Server.

1.      Resource Engagement

Proper resource management is always a challenge for project managers and resource managers. Negotiating with resource managers and getting required resources committed on the project is no easy task for project managers. Until Project 2014, it was very difficult to know for a project manager if the resource he/she is planning for his/her project is really available. Now in Project 2016, a project manager can request a resource from resource manager. Resource manager looking at the availability can approve or reject the request. Once approved, system locks the resource guaranteeing its availability to the project.

How does it work? Resource Manager can mark some resources (mainly shared resources whose availability is not assured to project) as “Need Approval” in the Project Server/Online. When any Project Manager assign these resources to his project (in Project Professional), he gets a warning that resource requires approval. Project Manager can request an approval. Resource Manager can approve or reject based on availability. If Resource Manager approves, the resource gets reserved for the project and if Resource Manager rejects, Project Manager and Resource Manager can negotiate and agree on an arrangement to ensure the availability or otherwise Project Manager has to use other resource.

The first step for Resource Engagement feature to work, Administrator or Resource Manager have to set “Resource requires approval…” for the resources they want project manager to take approval on assignment. To do this, resource manager has to go to Resource Center, select specific resources and click on Bulk Edit (or Edit if only one resource is selected) as in figure 1.

On the next page, click on Resource requires approval for all project assignment and “Save” the setting as in figure 2.

By doing so, I have made Architect, Engineer, Project Manager and Surveyor as require approval before assignment in the project in my example. I left the supervisor.

Once this setting is done, it is for project manager to request approval by creating an engagement from Project Professional. Please note “Add Engagement” feature on Resource tab does not appear if you are working offline or on a local project on your computer.

To create an engagement, I go to Project Professional, open the project and assign Surveyor, Project Manager and Supervisor. You may notice a warning indicator (refer figure 3) where Surveyor and Project Manager are assigned indicating that an engagement is required while there is no indicator where Supervisor is assigned. This is because I have not set “Resource requires approval…” for Supervisor.

These warnings indicate that I have to create resource engagement and take approval from Resource Manager to continue with these assignments. I need not to create any engagement and take approval for Supervisor. Now I have few options to create an engagement. First in the Gantt Chart view itself, I can right click on indicator and select “Fix in Engagement Inspector” to understand what action I have to take to resolve this. If you do so, you will observe an Inspector side windows opens and it suggest you to view conflicts in Task Usage view. Alternatively I can directly go to Task Usage view and see the conflicts. I go to Task Usage view and see these conflict highlighted by red squiggly line as in figure 4.

Right click on any red squiggly line showing conflict as in Figure 5, I can either select “Fix in Engagement Inspector” to suggest me next course of action or as I know already, I simply select “Create New Engagement” (Refer figure 6). Now I go to Resource Plan view (A new view added in Project 2016 for Resource Engagement feature) to see these engagements created with draft status (Figure 7).

They remain in draft status until I submit them to Resource Manager for approval. I can select few engagements and submit those selected engagement for approval or I can simply submit all the engagements for approval. When I submit these engagements for approval, their status change to “Proposed” as in figure 7.

Engagement Requests are submitted for approval. Now Resource Manager can see them on Project Online. Let’s switch to Project Online to see what happens there.

I go to Resource Center in Project Online as Resource Manager. I select Project Manager and Surveyor resources and click on Resource Requests as in figure 8.

I see the resource requests in “Proposed” state pending for approval. I select the resource to approve and click on Accept or Reject as in figure 9. I can also provide appropriate comments for Project Manager to see the justification of the action. The Resource convert into committed or rejected as in figure 10.

Project Manager can see them as soon as resource is accepted or rejected. He sees the status in Project Professional as in figure 11. He can also see the justification comments from Resource Manager. If he wants he can reply and that way Resource Manager and Project Manager can negotiate in the system. Please note it is not a good idea to keep talking through system, better to pick up the phone and negotiate online interactively.

2.      Resource Capacity Heat Map

For a resource manager to approve or rejects a proposed resource engagement, he should know resource capacity and current engagement. This is exactly what Heat Map does. Heat Map uses Red, Green and Blue color coding to show the current engagement of resources over time. It shows Red for over allocation, Blue for under allocation and Green for appropriate allocation. Based on this map, a resource manager can decide if he can approve a proposed resource engagement.

To see heat map, go to Resource Center, selected the resources and click on Capacity Planning as in figure 12.

On the next page, select Capacity and Engagement Heat Map from the View drop down, you will see a heat map of current engagement as shown in figure 13.

If a resource is over allocated, it shows allocated hours in red background, for appropriate allocation it shows allocated hours in green background and in case of under allocation, it shows allocated hours in blue background.

Hope you will find it useful and make use of this new feature in your project. Please do let me know if you have any question.

I look forward for your views. Please leave your comments below.

 

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What’s new in Microsoft Project 2016 – Part 1

I will cover following under “What’s new in Microsoft Project 2016”

  1. What’s new in Microsoft Project 2016 Professional? – In Part 1
  2. What’s new in Microsoft Project 2016 Server? – In Part 2

What’s new in Microsoft Project 2016 Professional?

Almost every 3 years, Microsoft launches a new version of Project. Project 2016 is recently launched with some new features. As such there is no change in fundamentals, new features are add-on and make life of project manager simpler.

If you are still working with Project 2010 or 2013, you may continue using them. You are not going to lose a lot. However if you have 2016 version, there are some new features for you to make your life simpler. These features are as follows…

  1. Tell me what you want to do?
  2. Multiple Timelines
  3. Resource Engagement

1.      Tell me what you want to do?

Microsoft has introduced a new feature to search the functions easily. As number of features increasing in MS Project with every new version, organizing them is becoming difficult and difficult. This new features will come very handy to locate the feature you need.

What’s new in Microsoft Project 2016 - Tell me what you want to do?

“Tell me what you want to do?” is a search box right next to the tabs. You need not to locate the feature you want to use, just start typing a word appear in the name of the feature you want to use and MS Project will start displaying relevant features. As you type, it will narrow down the search for you to select easily. Select the feature to execute.

What’s new in Microsoft Project 2016 - Tell me what you want to do?

I personally feel this feature will help a lot and save time in reorganizing the features. It will also make it easy to find those features which are not used so frequently. It will saves you from filling up you quick access from infrequently used features.

2.      Multiple Timelines

Timeline view was introduced in Project 2010 and project managers really liked it especially when they had to report the project plan to senior management. However its usages remain limited. In Project 2016 version, timeline view is further enhanced. In 2013 and 2010, you can create only one timeline. Now in 2016 version, you can create multiple timelines. Every timeline has its own start date and end date and can be customized independently.

What’s new in Microsoft Project 2016 - Multiple Timelines

Now you can present more effectively your project plan to your seniors especially those who do not want to go into details. I feel, usages of this feature will remain limited. To make it a hit, I believe, Microsoft has to introduce tracking details in timeline. That means display baseline plan, current plan and completed in timeline view. I hope Microsoft will introduce this feature in coming version. We need to wait till that time. Still it is a quite useful feature and we should use it to present our plan to stakeholders who do not want to get into details.

3.      Resource Engagement

ResouWhat’s new in Microsoft Project 2016 - Resource Engagementrce Engagement is a new feature added in Project 2016 version to give more control over resource management. Some resources have limited availability and cannot be assigned freely. With this features introducing, resource manager can identify some resources as requiring approval to be assigned to projects. If a project manager want these resources, he/she can submit an engagement request and seek approval from resource manager. Project manager and resource manage can negotiate and once resource manager approves it, project manager assign the resource in his/her project.

This feature only works when you are connected with MS Project 2016 Server/Online. Therefore I will discuss this in details in my next post which will be focused on server side enhancements. Till that time enjoy these features.

For more on this subject, please refer Microsoft support for Project 2016

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/What-s-new-in-Project-2016-111BCAF9-BC27-4C15-80E6-85E726307520

 

 

How to update a baseline in MS Project

You may need to update a baseline in MS Project, you created before start tracking your project. First of all you should update baseline only in the following circumstances

  1. You have got a change which is approved by change control board/client/stakeholders
  2. You decided to re-plan your remaining project.

Now let’s discuss the second option first as it is quick. As you are preparing a new plan for all the pending project work, you can safely baseline the entire new plan. Please remember, you should not baseline the tasks that are already executed and actuals are entered for them earlier.

Let’s discuss the 1st option. When your client, your team, you, or any other stakeholder suggest a change in the project scope, you may need to include new tasks or delete some tasks from the WBS. We will discuss both the scenarios.

  1. Additional work is added to the project

Schedule your new tasks in the project as you do usually. Insert new tasks wherever you find them suitable. Enter new estimates, set appropriate dependencies and assign required resources. Once finalized, please follow the steps below

Step 1: Selected all newly inserted tasks

Step 2: Click Set Baseline on Project tab

Step 3: In the dialogue box, select the baseline you want to update from a Set Baseline drop down. Usually the first one.

Step 4: Select Selected Task radio button.

Step 5: Now under Roll up baselines, select how you want baseline data to be rolled up to summary tasks:

To all summary tasks:  Select this check box if you want to update baseline data for the selected tasks to be rolled to the corresponding summary tasks up to the project summary task.  If you do not check this box, baseline data of newly inserted task will not be reflected in baseline data for summary tasks. It may create an anomaly. This check box is a usual choice.

From subtasks into selected summary task(s):  Select this check box if you want baseline data for only selected summary tasks to be updated to reflect newly added tasks. You cannot by pass a lower level summary tasks but you can restrict update to baseline for only lower level summary tasks. This check box is to be used in specific situation only and with caution as baseline data of upper level and lower level summary tasks may not match.

Step 6: Click ok.

  1. Some work is removed from the project

Updating baseline in this case could be bit tricky especially when we have entered actuals in some tasks. Consider the following scenario

                Summary Task

                                Sub Task 1           2 days

                                Sub Task 2           1 day

Suppose you have entered 3 days as actual for Sub Task 1. Now due to an approved change request, you need to remove Sub Task 2. You may be confused how to re-baseline Summary Task. If you use the method describe in 1st scenario and re-baseline by selecting Sub Task 1, actuals in Sub Task 1 may get baselined and your variance will be lost.

Instead of that you follow the steps below

Step 1: Selected the summary task under which you have removed the tasks

Step 2: Click Set Baseline on Project tab

Step 3: In the dialogue box, select the baseline you want to update from a Set Baseline drop down. Usually the first one.

Step 4: Select Selected Task radio button.

Step 5: Now under Roll up baselines, you select both the check boxes “To all summary tasks” and “From subtasks into selected summary task(s)”. When you do this actuals in Sub Task 1 will not make effect in baseline but it will remove the effect of deleted task.

Step 6: Click ok.

Do not forget to verify the baseline data of new tasks and their corresponding summary tasks.

How to prepare for PMP Exam?

This question is on the mind of every PMP aspirant. A good number of people keep thinking on this question for months and years. Many people keep thinking on whether they do it or not? Many people are not so clear about its benefits and many people keep postponing it because they are not confident about success.

People remain in this state because they never give a deeper thought on various aspect of this certification – what all do they need, how much is the total investment, what support do they require, what benefit will they get, how will they utilize it, how to be sure about success etc.

Here are my recommendations. Treat it as a project, apply all project management knowledge on it and your success is guaranteed. You are studying project management and there is no better way to learn than applying this knowledge in practice. So learn it by doing. Though here I am focusing on PMP Certification but this method is equally applicable to all certifications or as such any mission you take up.  Let’s prepare for PMP Exam in a project management way.

Following the PMBOK guidelines, we will start with initiation, then will chalk out a plan, will look into execution of the plan, we will see how to keep monitoring our progress and take corrective measures and once you have taken the exam, how to close out the project. This being a small project, the level of implementation of processes will be low and we will use only selected processes of PMBOK that are meaningful in this project. We call it tailoring

 

1. Initiation

In initiation, we do two things, first write the charter and then identify stakeholders. Let’s start with charter

1.1 Charter

Charter is a document that give us a clear direction. A direction is necessary because without direction, efforts do not give intended results leading to failure. We will write four things in this charter to understand where we should focus our efforts.

Business Case (Why do you want to be PMP Certified):

State clear reasoning. What issues or needs will get addressed by doing PMP Certification? For example – It will significantly improve my performance or it will help me to get a raise in my career or it will give a raise in my salary etc.

Your objectives:

Let’s write quantifiable objectives to address the business case. It could be as simple as passing the exam. I do not recommend it because you may not be doing this certification just for doing it. You have a specific purpose which you have just written down in previous point. What specific performance will it improve? What exact raise will you get in your career? How much salary will be raised or any other avenue it will open up.

Budget:

Let’s write down the overall costing. Many times we do not consider all expenses. We should know in who much cost we are addressing our needs and it is worth.

Application Fee: $555

Cost of the training: X amount

Cost of other resources like book etc.: Y amount

Cost of travel (if required): Z amount

Total Cost = $555 + X + Y + Z =

Milestone schedule

Many times people keep thinking for months and years. To stay away from this situation, let’s write down milestone schedule. Be realistic and consider only the time you can dedicate for preparation.

Write down – By when will you complete your training? By when will you complete the preparation? By when will you pass? etc.

If you want, you can write down high level scope, risk etc. also however I recommend it to take this up in planning as this is a small project.

 

1.2 Stakeholders

Let’s identify some stakeholders that are actively involved. Try to write all stakeholders and see what they want from your certification what you need from them for success. For example

Your family specially your spouse:

Whose time you will invest in studies. Don’t take it for granted, involve them and let them know how much you may invest in studies and how long and what support you need.

Your company:

It may sponsor your fee and possibly provide some resources. Company may conduct PMP Training in-house by calling a consultant. Also consider what it expects in exchange?

Your manager:

He/she may help you getting your fee reimbursed from your company. He may want you to bring some improvement back at the work post certification. His support may help you in getting some relaxation from the work to prepare etc.

Your mentor:

If you don’t have, my recommendation is to find one. He/she may guide you and help you in dealing with difficult situations, help you in resolving complex questions. You may discuss your issues with him openly and get directions.

Analyse their contribution and take ways and prepare a strategy to engage them so that they all become your supporter in your mission.

 

Now let’s plan out what we need to do to succeed in this effort.

2. Planning

Planning start from deciding what all I need to do i.e. defining the scope

2.1 Scope

Scope of the exam is basically PMBOK latest version (Currently 5th Edition). If I have to create a WBS of the efforts, I think it should be like this…

1. PMP Prep Training

1.1 Identify a good trainer (I insist on a good trainer not on a big institute. A big institute will not necessary give you a good trainer. I will suggest you to lookout for consultants, Your trainer can be your mentor also)

1.2 Get enrolled

1.3 Participate in the training

Go into the training with a mind-set of understanding concepts not just passing PMP Exam. If you go with a mind-set of just passing PMP Exam, you may not understand the concepts but if you have understood the concepts, you will definitely pass the exam.

2. Study

2.1 Revise Chapter 1, 2, 3 (Project Management Framework)

I mentioned revise as I consider that you have already gone through PMP Prep Training covering complete PMBOK.

2.2 Revise Chapter 4 (Project Integration Management)

2.3 Revise Chapter 5 (Project Scope Management)

… so on

… so on

2.11 Revise Chapter 13 (Project Stakeholder Management)

Few things are not so well explained in PMBOK, take the help of other books or your mentor and study them well. Like concepts of WBS, Scheduling, network, EVM, Quality Tools, Human Resource Theories, Communication Models, Risk Theories, Stakeholders Analysis

3. Practice of Question & Answers

Your purpose of attempting the questions should be to identify knowledge gaps and filling those gaps. So do not attempt a huge set of questions that make your study a rote learning but attempt limited quality questions. I believe 30 to 50 quality question on each chapter normally sufficient to identify the gaps and fill them.

3.1 Attempt questions on Chapter 1, 2, 3 (Project Management Framework)

This may immediately follow 2.1 (i.e. Revise Chapter 1, 2, 3). This mean 2.1 is followed by 3.1, then 2.2 is followed by 3.2 and so on.

  • Attempt questions on Chapter 4 (Project Integration Management)

3.3 Attempt questions on Chapter 5 (Project Scope Management)

… so on

… so on

  • Attempt questions on Chapter 13 (Project Stakeholder Management)

4. Test the preparedness

4.1 Attempt half-length exam – at least two

4.2 Attempt full-length exam – at least two

Try to score above 80% to be assured about your success.

 

2.2. Time

Based on the scope, I suggest following plan. This a 28 days plan. I have considered that you have a full time job and therefore may not be able to spend more than 2 hours a day. You can spend more time on weekend but I left weekends also with 2 hours considering that you may catch up if you miss out anything any day. You may modify this plan as per your availability and time commitment

Day Activity PMBOK Chapters Status
Day 1 Review Project Management Framework 1, 2, 3 Completed
Day 1 Attempt 30 Questions of Project Management Framework 1, 2, 3 In Progress
Day 2 Review questions that were incorrect or doubtful 1, 2, 3
Day 2 Review the chapter, consult your mentor, post your query on linkedin group or whatsapp Group to clear the doubts 1, 2, 3
Day 3 Review Project Integration Management 4
Day 3 Attempt 30 Questions of Project Integration Management 4
Day 4 Review questions that were incorrect or doubtful 4
Day 4 Review the chapter, consult your mentor, post your query on linkedin group or whatsapp Group to clear the doubts 4
Day 5 Review Project Scope Management 5
Day 5 Attempt 30 Questions of Project Scope Management 5
Day 6 Review questions that were incorrect or doubtful 5
Day 6 Review the chapter, consult your mentor, post your query on linkedin group or whatsapp Group to clear the doubts 5
Day 7 Review Project Time Management 6
Day 7 Attempt 30 Questions of Project Time Management 6
Day 8 Review questions that were incorrect or doubtful 6
Day 8 Review the chapter, consult your mentor, post your query on linkedin group or whatsapp Group to clear the doubts 6
Day 9 Review Project Cost Management 7
Day 9 Attempt 30 Questions of Project Cost Management 7
Day 10 Review questions that were incorrect or doubtful 7
Day 10 Review the chapter, consult your mentor, post your query on linkedin group or whatsapp Group to clear the doubts 7
Day 11 Review Project Quality Management 8
Day 11 Attempt 30 Questions of Project Quality Management 8
Day 12 Review questions that were incorrect or doubtful 8
Day 12 Review the chapter, consult your mentor, post your query on linkedin group or whatsapp Group to clear the doubts 8
Day 13 Review Project HR Management 9
Day 13 Attempt 30 Questions of Project HR Management 9
Day 14 Review questions that were incorrect or doubtful 9
Day 14 Review the chapter, consult your mentor, post your query on linkedin group or whatsapp Group to clear the doubts 9
Day 15 Review Project Communication Management 10
Day 15 Attempt 30 Questions of Project Communication Management 10
Day 16 Review questions that were incorrect or doubtful 10
Day 16 Review the chapter, consult your mentor, post your query on linkedin group or whatsapp Group to clear the doubts 10
Day 17 Review Project Risk Management 11
Day 17 Attempt 30 Questions of Project Risk Management 11
Day 18 Review questions that were incorrect or doubtful 11
Day 18 Review the chapter, consult your mentor, post your query on linkedin group or whatsapp Group to clear the doubts 11
Day 19 Review Project Procurement Management 12
Day 19 Attempt 30 Questions of Project Procurement Management 12
Day 20 Review questions that were incorrect or doubtful 12
Day 20 Review the chapter, consult your mentor, post your query on linkedin group or whatsapp Group to clear the doubts 12
Day 21 Review Project Stakeholders Management 13
Day 21 Attempt 30 Questions of Project Stakeholders Management 13
Day 22 Review questions that were incorrect or doubtful 13
Day 22 Review the chapter, consult your mentor, post your query on linkedin group or whatsapp Group to clear the doubts 13
Day 23 Review PMI Code of professional conduct 13
Day 23 Attempt 30 Questions of Professional Responsibility 13
Day 24 Review questions that were incorrect or doubtful 13
Day 24 Review the chapter, consult your mentor, post your query on linkedin group or whatsapp Group to clear the doubts 13
Day 25 Attempt a simulated exam of 100 Questions Exam
Day 26 Review the chapter, consult your mentor, post your query on linkedin group or whatsapp Group to clear the doubts Exam
Day 27 Attempt a full length (200 Q) simulated exam Exam
Day 28 Review the chapter, consult your mentor, post your query on linkedin group or whatsapp Group to clear the doubts Exam

 

2.3 Cost

You are not required to implement EVM here but it is important to understand the total cost as it is expensive. I will mostly repeat the same here what I have already mentioned in the charter

PMP Exam fee (Considering you will become member before applying for PMP exam):

Membership Fee: $139 (129 + 10 as application fee for new member)

PMP Exam Fee:     $405

Cost of PMP Prep Training:                     (Somewhat Rs.10,000 to Rs.15,000/-)

Cost of travel: Especially for giving exam:    (Say Rs.1000/- to Rs.2000/-)

Cost Saving:

Some tips to save cost

  1. PMP Prep Training:

Doing some more analysis your own and selecting a trainer who is good and economical (I term it affordable excellence) help you saving some money.

  1. Opting for paper based test (PBT).

– If you live in a city that does not have an exam centre, you can opt for PBT. The fee for PBT (Assuming you are a PMI member) is $250.

– It will reduce your cost by $150 which is approximately Rs.10,000/-

– Plus save cost of travelling to nearest centre.

 

  1. Share books and study material instead of buying them

– Take books from your friend who have recently passed the PMP Exam

– Form or join a Study Group and share the books & other study material

   Please do not violate the copyright while sharing

 

2.4 Resources

With respect to Human Resource, you are the only person in your team and solely responsible for success and failure. However you may use some stakeholders to help you i.e. your trainer or mentor, other PMP aspirants if you form a group, a PMP credential holder in your friend circle.

You may need some material

Books

  • PMBOK,
  • PMP Exam Pre by Rita Mulcahy – It’s quite popular book
  • Head First PMP – A good book to follow
  • The PMP Exam by Andy Crowe – It’s is also a good book if you can ignore its 10 repetitions of “PMP Exam is very hard to pass”
  • I have just listed few popular books. There are many other good books and new books keep coming. PMI eRead could also be a good source of ebooks if you are a PMI Member

Internet

  • To know more about PMP Exam
  • To get some tips to pass exam
  • To get some free or paid question set
  • Simulated Test – Free & Paid

Trainer/Mentor

  • Your mentor or trainer could be of immense help in guiding you, providing you a direction, approach to prepare, answering your questions, resolving your queries, clearing your doubts, imbibing complex concepts etc.

 

2.5 Quality

Quality in your preparation will only come if you select quality resources. For example select a quality training. In a training, trainer’s contribution is 80% and material & institute’s contribution is 20%. So select a quality trainer. For this, do your own home work instead of getting influenced by marketing campaigns. Seek references from your friends, try to understand how training is being conducted etc. Cost of the training does not indicate anything about its quality. A high cost training may not be good or a low cost may be good. But please be cautious about too low cost.

Similarly buy quality books, don’t go on cost. If the cost is high, try borrowing from a friend. Try to form a group and share the resources but go for quality books only.

Select quality questions even if you have to pay for them. Don’t assume a paid material is always better then free material. There is a lot of free quality questions available on the net freely. Seeking reference from your friend or trainer is the best policy.

We are done with our planning. I will move on Execution in next post and discuss what you need to take care during preparation.

 

3. Execution

Three things are most important in the execution of any project, so they apply here also

  1. Discipline
  2. Support from stakeholder
  3. Regularly checking quality of the preparation

Discipline:

Without discipline, quality results cannot be obtained. Either outcome will be degraded or delayed or both. Once you have finalized your plan, follow it with discipline. After few days, if you think some changes are required, instead of just executing the changes, change the plan and then follow the changed plan. This will help maintaining the discipline, track the progress and give you success.

Support from the stakeholders:

It is necessary to keep unwanted situations and surprises away. You have already prepared a list of stakeholders, their expectations and expectations from them. Now you need to do three things on a regular basis

  1. Ensure that you are taking care of their expectations especially critical expectations. It does not take time for a stakeholder to go unfavourable and then it will make your preparation difficult. Your manager in office and your manager at home (I meant to say your spouse) are quite important in this reference.
  2. Keep them involved by letting them know the progress you are making on your preparation and challenges you are facing. Don’t think they are not concerned. They are related to you and will be happy to see you pass.
  3. Seek help from your mentor, discuss your challenges with him and discuss concepts that you are finding difficult to grasp.

If you have formed a study group, then discuss chapters & concepts, offer help to others and seek help from them.

Regularly check the quality the preparation

Apply your quality plan and keep check points like 30 questions test suggested earlier. More on quality under Monitoring and Control.

We are reaching near to closing this series. In next post, I will discuss about Monitoring your execution and Controlling it to stay on track and achieve the goal within specified time. Next post will also be the last post of this series. Stay tuned for one more post in this series.

 

4. Monitoring and Control

It is important to measure the quality of your preparation. If you follow the plan provided above, you must do better and better day by day. As you progress, number of correct answers should increases despite chapters are different. There are some principles that apply across the chapters and if you understand them, you get better.

If you are taking full length simulated exam to check your preparedness, my recommendation is that you should score above 80% consistently. If you are not achieving, my suggestion will be to improve further instead hurrying up for the exam.

Too much preparation is also not good but it is definitely better than less preparation. Sign of a good preparation is that you feel confident. Take help from friends/trainer/mentor if your score is not improving. We call it corrective measures which is integral part of monitoring and control.

Hurrying up could be fatal. Change in exam due to PMBOK version upgrade or due to other studies is not such a major issue. Instead of hurrying up, better to take exam after change. Do not get disturbed with the marketing of “PMP Exam is changing on so so date”. If you are not ready, don’t give the exam. PMP Exam does not change more than 10% because of PMBOK version upgrade and even less due to other studies.

 

5. Closure

You have passed the exam! Great!! Congratulations!!! But don’t stop here. You have taken help from other, it is now your turn to help others. Do following three things before you close this chapter…

Lesson Learned:

Document lesson learned. What went well and what did not. Document your key take ways and suggestions and share them with PMP Aspirants.

Transition:

You would have collected study material. Some of them may not be useful for you anymore. Pass on this material to other PMP Aspirants.

Archive:

Some stuff, you may like to keep with you. Archive it safe so that you can refer it later or share with other people.

You can close this chapter now but to open another chapter. Learning is not a one time job. Leaders continue learning for life. So learn new things in project management. Also if you want mastery on this subject, apply it in your project in office and also in your personal life. Project management principles are equally helpful in achieving person goals. If you want to become champion in project management, teach what you have learned to others.

All three activities Learning, Applying and Teaching will also help you earning PDUs which you need to retain your credentials.

 

I am thankful you for staying with me till end. I hope my suggestions in this blog are useful to you. Though I am closing it now but as always I am available to you for your questions and queries. Feel free to post me your queries.

Wish you all the best.