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




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® Guide 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® Guide 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.


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® Guide latest version (Currently 6th 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® Guide.

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® Guide, 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® Guide  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. Now the fee for PBT is same as CBT. Therefore there is no saving by option of PBT.

– 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


  • PMBOK® Guide,
  • 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


  • 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


  • 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


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® Guide 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® Guide 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.


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


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.


PMI, PMBOK and PMP are registered mark of Project Management Institute Inc.

PMP exam is changing in 2016 – How will it impact me?

The News

Recently Project Management Institute (PMI) has announced that PMP Exam is changing in 2015. The reason for this change is that PMI has updated its PMP Exam Content Outline due to new findings in its Role Definition Study (RDS) completed sometime back.

What is this PMP Exam Content Outline?

You can understand PMP Exam Content Outline as a syllabus of PMP Exam. Questions in the PMP Exam are mapped to PMP Examination Content Outline. Change in outline may lead to change in questions in PMP Exam.

What is the change?

Content in the Outline are described under 5 domains – Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring & Control and Closure commonly known as process groups and also the base of distribution of questions in PMP Exam. The changes are as follows

Domain 1 – Initiation

Currently there are 5 tasks under Initiation described earlier. Three more tasks (Task 2, Task 7 & Task 8) are added.

Domain 2 – Planning

There are 12 tasks under planning domain currently. 13th task is added.

Domain 3 – Execution

There are 5 tasks under planning domain. Two more tasks 6th & 7th are added.

Domain 4 – Monitoring & Controlling

There are 5 tasks under planning domain. Two more tasks 6th & 7th are added.

Domain 5 – Closing

There is no change

From which date will this be effective?

2nd November, 2015 12th January 2016 – Last day to test under current version of PMP exam is 11th January 2016. The exam based on news changes will start from 12th January 2016.

Note: PMI has revised the date from 2nd Nov, 2015 to 12th Jan, 2016


You may be wondering how this will impact you. As per my understanding, the impact is not much. PMBOK 5th Edition will still remain the base of the questions in the exam. If you look at above changes in PMP Certification Exam Outline, there are 34 tasks in current version and they will become 42 after this change. That means addition of 8 more tasks without any change in already defined tasks. If you observe the changes and refer new PMP Examination Content Outline, the focus of this change is on following…

  • Inclusion of doing benefits analysis with stakeholders and keeping them informed about approved project charter
  • Developing a detailed stakeholder management plan for realization of benefits
  • Communicating effectively to keep stakeholder engaged during execution and maintained relationship
  • More focus on lessons learned
  • Monitoring procurement in order to verify compliance with project objectives
  • Looking at risk management in terms of opportunity as well

You may observe that all above things are already part of PMP Exam Syllabus. This change is an explicit explanation of implicit things. The changes you expect are more questions on stakeholders analysis, planning and management, additional questions on lesson learned, monitoring of procurement and risks in terms of opportunity.

What changes one should bring in his/her studies

Continue your studies as you are normally do. Give more emphasis on stakeholder management chapter in terms of identification, analysis, planning, communicating effectively as per expectations and monitoring the engagement.  Focus more on lesson learned. Study procurement more carefully and learn to analyse and respond to opportunities under risk management.


PMP® exam is changing in 2016


Please also refer –


Related posts:

Resources for Project Management and PMP Certification


Should I take Paper Based Test (PBT) for PMP Certification?


As such this is not an option for all. PMI organizes Paper Based Test (PBT) only for the candidates who live minimum 300 km away from a computer based testing (CBT) centre. However it seems PMI is not so hard on this rule to make it convenient for PMP aspirants. Pune is less than 300 Km from Mumbai but PMI is organizing Paper based exam for some time. I am sure it has made it quite convenient for many people in Pune. PMI is organizing Paper Based Test in other cities across globe however I am not sure if they are sticking to 300km limit or not. I think PMI has relaxed this condition. So if you think that CBT centre is quite far away from your place of living, explore and apply for PBT. If there are 10 or more people for PBT, PMI may organize a paper based test in your city.

Should I take PBT? Is PBT better than travelling to nearest CBT centre? What are pros and cons of PBT and CBT? These are some questions come to your mind if you have an option of PBT. The answer to these questions are important so that you can take an informed decision.

Here I provide comparative study on various parameters to help you understand if PBT is good for you or CBT.

Paper Based Test Vs Computer Based Test


Parameter PBT CBT Comparison
Pre-condition Candidate should live at least 300 km (186.5 miles) from a CBT Centre. 300 km limit does not apply if a corporate organizes PBT for it employee. Anyone can apply for CBT CBT has edge over PBT as there is no pre-condition for CBT
Scheduling PMI Announces a date for PBT. You do not have flexibility to schedule. There is a possibility of cancelation if number of candidates are less than 10. You need to schedule yourself on Promatric website. You can choose date and time convenient for you. Chances of cancelation are negligible. Scheduling a CBT is easy. For PBT schedule, you may need to wait.
Rescheduling/Cancelation To reschedule or cancel, you must email to PMI at least 35 days from scheduled exam date. Wait for next PBT date from PMI to give exam. If you fail to inform PMI for rescheduling before 35 days of exam date, you need to pay full re-examination fee to reappear. Do it yourself on Promatric website. If you reschedule at least 30 days before exam date, no fee is applicable. If you schedule within 30 days and 2 days before exam, a fee of USD70 is applicable. Within 2 days of exam date, you cannot reschedule, you can only cancel. Your exam fee will be forfeited. CBT has more flexibility, easy to reschedule and provide more grace period to reschedule.
Fee PMI Members: USD389(USD250 Exam fee + USD139 Membership fee)Non-Members: USD400 PMI Members: USD544(USD405 Exam fee + USD139 Membership fee)Non-Members: USD555 PBT is economical
Exam Results Exam Results may take 6 to 8 weeks after the exam. Exam result is shown immediately on completion of exam Immediate results in case of CBT
Examination Report An examination report will be available online after 6 to 8 week of exam. An exam report is printed and provided immediately at exam centre. You can access it online with 10 days after exam. CBT is faster in providing report
Hand Scoring A hand scoring is available up to six months. However there is a fee of USD45. Hand scoring is not available. PBT is better if you want to do in depth analysis of your exam attempt
Re-examination PMI Members: USD150Non-Members: USD300Waiting for PBT event may consume valuable time in your 1 year period available for 2 re-examinations attempt PMI Members: USD275Non-Members: USD375Scheduling re-examination is faster. You can schedule as soon as you find yourself prepared for 2nd attempt PBT is economical however CBT is more flexible to schedule re-examination.


PBT is more economical and convenient as it may prevent you travelling to other cities but it has less flexibility, have longer timelines to schedule and more waiting period. Take your call accordingly.

I hope this comparison of CBT Vs PBT for PMP Exam will be useful for you. Should you have any question, please post it in the comments and I will try my best to respond to you as soon as possible. Also please do share your views.

MS Project Training at Heavy Water Plant, Talchar, Odisha

After couple of successful training at Mumbai for DAE, I got a request to conduct a MS Project Training at Heavy Water Plant at Tulchar, located around 125 km from Bhubneshwar.


Talcher is a small town in Angul District of Odisha, India. It is around 125 km from Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Odisha and nearest airport.  Talcher and surrounding areas are known for its coal reserves. Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (a subsidiary of Coal India Limited) is the main company that mines coal hear. For the same reason, there is a Thermal Power Plant based on Coal. Presence of plant by Fertilizer Corporation of India (FCI) for ammonia & urea and Heavy Water Plant (HWP) have made this area an importance place.

Heavy Water Plant

Heavy Water (D2O) is used as moderator and coolant in an atomic power plant. Some of Heavy Water Plants are established near to fertilizers plants as the material and gases used in fertilizers production are also used to produce heavy water. Talcher is one of them. At Talcher, HWP takes ammonia from FCI plant, uses Monothermal Ammonia-Hydrogen exchange process to produce heavy water and return the gas back to FCI.

HWP at Talcher stopped producing heavy water in 1994 due to closure of FCI Factory. It was converted into a R&D unit. Recently it is being used as pilot plant to produce Di-2-ethyl hexyl phosphoric acid (D2EHPA) which is used to extract uranium.

Before the training

MS Project training being practical and exercise oriented workshop, a PC installed with MS Project and MS office is required with every participant. All engineers and above were nominated for the program that made the count to 25. This was first of its kind training happening in Tulcher, therefore arranging PCs in the conference room for 25 people was a big challenge. High security at such plants made it even more difficult. But the General manager, IT support and administrative staff did an outstanding job in moving peoples working computer to conference room and made a perfect facility for the training.

A day before

I reached Tulcher a day before and settled down at the guest house. Thanks for Administrative Training Institute and Administrative Staff at Talcher that made the journey absolutely comfortable. I met Mr. Arun Kumar, Superintendent who briefed me about surroundings, arrangements made and schedule of the training. He use to go for a morning walk and I requested him to take me along the next day.

1st Day

Project Management Training at Heavy Water Plant, Talcher

Starting Training on 1st day at Heavy Water Plant, Talcher

Right at 6am, Mr. Arun Kumar was at guest house and we went for a morning walk. We walked through FCI Township where thousands of families used to live but now deserted as the factory was closed. It was heartrending to see abandoned building, schools, colleges, playgrounds, shopping complex, canteen etc. It was not difficult to guess that this was a very vibrant place at one point of time.

We started the training with a small inaugural function. General Manager Mr. Srivastava gave a small speech sensitizing participants about the importance of Project Management, MS Project and training. We started with a quick overview of the Project Management Processes and Knowledge Areas, connecting project management with MS Project and introduction to MS Project. We took an example project selected by participants and start building the project in MS Project.

MS Project Training at Heavy Water Plant, Talcher

MS Project Training – Day-2 at Heavy Water Plant, Talcher

 2nd Day

Second day was power packed. We continued with same examples and added few more complexities in the schedule. I was amazed by seeing the level of interest of participants and doing exercise so religiously. We covered resource management, what data is to be collected and how to update progress with this data. Also covered report section which is overhauled in 2013 version.

 3rd Day

It was the day of recollecting what all learned so far with a case study. People enjoyed the case study. In the evening, we completed the program with a feedback session and small closing ceremony. I felt very good seeing GM himself present and asking feedback from everyone on the arrangement and training contents. Mr. Srivastava (GM) presented me a traditional art.

Returning back:

Project Management Training at HWP, Talcher

Day 3 of Training at HWP, Talcher

After 3rd day’s training, I moved to Bhubaneshwar and stayed there for a day to visit Puri temple and Konark Sun Temple.  I was especially impressed by Konark Temple.  The architecture and art on the walls of temple was just amazing. Built in 13th Century, this massive temple was constructed in the form of a chariot having 24 wheels (12 on each side representing 12 months in a year). It is pulled by 7 horses (representing 7 days of a week). Spokes in every wheel on south side are used for measuring hours and minutes in a day. There was no cement or limestone used to join granite stones but it was told that they were hold together with the effect of magnets and iron. The main structure (Garbh Grah) is collapsed, the audience halls was filled with sand by a British Bengal Governor and natya grah is still there with some damage. Taj Mahal is most popular monument especially outside India but I think people should visit monuments like Konark Sun Tample and learn about knowledge of architecture, astronomy and science in ancient India.


I reviewed the feedback collected on 3rd day. The program was successful as most of the participants rated it very good and excellent. They liked planning, tracking and reporting of a project that they chose. Most of the people found the case study as most interesting part of the program. Many participants suggested to increase the duration of the program so that they can do more case studies. I am really grateful to all officials and participants for their contribution and support in making this training a success and for the gift presented to me.

What participants said?:

Mr. Ramakant Sahoo

Very good approach and very useful for handling any type of project.

Mr. Pramod Deodhar

Faculty is very friendly. Be with the faculty during the course.

Shrinivas Tullishetti

Trainer is very good explaining the topics and very coherent in what to explain more. This training is very useful for project managers & project engineers for improving their planning and execution in a very effective manner.

Satya Prasad

Quality of the course is very good. Instructor knowledge is excellent

L B. Singh

A new experience. A good software with varied applications in almost every field of work.  I would expect all future participants not to miss any of the steps as all the steps are important. Also practice a lot.

I resolve, every day in 2014, I will give…

I resolve, every day in 2014, I will give my team members a life of self-respect, inclusiveness, rewarding, growth and personal touch.

When a new year starts, we make some resolution to quit something, to leave something or achieve something for I, me and myself and sooner or later they get vanished somewhere in busy life.

This year, let’s make a resolution to include something in my life every day for someone who works for me, whom I expect to follow my instructions, who live around me whole day, whose success depends on me and who makes me succeed.


Some people do everything right, some make mistakes, not so intelligent, not so hardworking and not so focused but every one expects some respect. Most of the people are average performers who often make some mistakes. They need a person who can speak to them in private, explain the impact of their mistake, guide them to correct and support their corrective actions. You put them in defaulter’s list, tell in front of everyone or even in private how their mistake has caused the damage, make them feel foolish and they will forget all your advises and remember that moment forever.


We prepare a plan and show the team members what tasks they need to execute and later complain that people are not taking the plan seriously. How many times we care for their opinion about my plan? How many times we discuss with team to form strategy before directing them to execute. We fear that it will be difficult to build consensus among so many people, we cannot implement all suggestions, it will take long time to prepare a strategy but in hurry we forget that it would take longer to execute if we don’t do so. Let’s sit down with our team to take their suggestions, seek their opinion and understand their concerns while planning. Agree, you cannot incorporate all the suggestions but what about taking out some time to explain why a suggestion cannot be incorporated now and may be reconsidered later? Let’s try out. Give them feeling like they are driving the project. I believe, it may take longer to plan but execution will be faster and smoother. If I ask you what is important? Plan or Planning? Nouns are normally outcome of verbs. If verb is right, noun would be right.


Every organization and project have rewards for their star performers but our bell curve shows most of the employees are average. We say giving reward to star member will encourage other average members. I have seen award ceremonies for the students who scored 95% but could not see any student who scored 60% getting any motivation as he knows he will never score 95%. 60% is not bad, right? What about a student who scored 60% last year, achieves 66% this year? Doesn’t 10% improvement deserve a reward?

Your average employee may not solve your most critical problem but they will execute most of your project work. What about rewarding them on improving by 10% or so? Don’t you think it is achievable by everyone and inspire them for higher performance every period?


When we take a new member on board, we ask several questions to check if he has required technical skills, if he has right attitude, if he has capabilities to deliver what we expect. Did we ever ask, what he expects from us? When people come on board, almost everyone try to judge if new project and manager will help him getting a raise, promotion, a chance to do something meaningful, challenging or get recognized. Just knowing what I want is not enough, even more important is what I can give back. We should understand what our people want from us and create opportunities for their fulfilment. We should provide a platform to nurture their talent, polish their skills, prepare them for a raise in financial status and develop them for higher roles.

Personal touch

Everyone including us come with a question “What’s in it for me?”. Level of interest and commitment is directly proportional to the answer of this question. Many times we reject this question by terming it hidden agenda. We forget that we also have hidden agenda. In fact hidden agenda is not as bad as we think but definitely difficult to understand. This is also a question if properly satisfied, can bring highest level of commitment. Our challenge is to understand everyone’s “what’s in it for me” and connect them with the project work and objectives. To understand it, we need to connect with the person personally going beyond project and organizational boundaries and formal position. We may need to lower down our bandwidth to match with the individual. This is where meaningful discussion takes place and magic happens.

A good performing senior analyst sitting on bench for some time now, was allocated a project of regular maintenance due to technology match. This project can hardly offer any challenging assignment. The analyst was reluctant to join the project. Manager went into personal discussion to figure out that analyst wants to do a certification. Discussion goes as follows…

Manager: You were sitting on bench for some time, why didn’t you take this opportunity to attempt for certification exam?

Analyst: It is uncertain. You never know when you get a project and once you are in project, you don’t get any time to prepare.

Manager: Bench are uncertain and projects are demanding. You know this project is quite cool. No such pressing assignment. You will get time to prepare and pass the certification exam.

Analyst: That’s right but many times assignment can be pressing?

Manager: Possible but on this project such incidences are less. Let’s take a target of 3 months. You join the project, apply for certification exam and set a date 3 month down the line. I will see you will get time every day for preparation. May be you need to stretch a bit some time but I believe, you will not mind it for this certification.

Analyst: Ok, will you release me after three months?

Manager: It is give and take. When this project helps you achieving your goal, I am sure you will be eager to help this project back. You can help me in another area. I have an agenda to improve the performance by 10%. Currently we are serving 10 service requests per person per day. We need to take it to 11 service request per day. This could be challenging.

Analyst: Looks interesting but how long I need to stay on the project?

Manager: Minimum 1 year. During this time, you can also work upon some of the softer aspects which will help you taking higher roles. We will identify some training needs. I will also help in identifying new role and assignment matching to your new skills.

Analyst: This looks good. When can I start?

Implementing little bit of this 5 points agenda can enrich life of members of any team at any level.

Will you make this resolution today for 2014? I look forward to hear your views…


Don’t violate the delegation

PM:     I am a business analyst and also playing a role of project manager for some time now. The plan was to completely move to project manager’s role and therefore we identified a good business analyst BA whom I wanted to takeover business analyst role completely. We initially planned for 2 months but it is now 4 months and I still do not see he is taking ownership.

VP:      Why do you think, he is not taking ownership?

PM:     I still take decisions for him. Some time back we took a project and told him that he was responsible for requirements completely. During the course, we found that the work is more than 1 person, so we added another resource RS and told him that she would work with him. I don’t see him coordinating with RS and trying to understand overall progress, I only have to do it.

VP:      Did you ask BA before adding RS to project?

PM:     No, the work was lagging. We needed one more person.

VP:      That’s right but don’t you think BA is owner of the module and should be consulted moreover allowed to take decision if additional resource was required?

PM:     Hmmm!

This is one of the biggest hidden trap in delegation. As we saw in above example, PM himself took the decision of taking additional resource instead of talking to BA and helping him to think over slow progress. We never know how many times we take such decisions and violate the delegation. This especially happens when delivery is time bound and progress is slow. The pressure starts building up, we become desperate to take action and if we do so, we violate the delegation.

Once we have delegated the work, we lose the right to take decisions. If we have planned regular follow ups, we will identify well in time that a decision is required but the person is not feeling the need of the same. In such situations we need to facilitate the decision. We should highlight the issues or problems to the team member and listen to his opinion. We can ask similar investigative questions to sensitize and make him feel the need of a decision. There is a fare possibility that the person has some alternative approach to deal with the situation. So be ready to accept, we mean business not the method.

We should remember that we can only facilitate, we cannot take the decision our self. If we take the decision, we take the ownership and violate the delegation. Then ownership stays with us, not with the team member and we should not expect him to behave as owner.

– X – X – X –

Plan your resolution for New Year 2013

Welcome my friend, I wish you a very happy new year. Adding value to a manager’s life is my sole motto. Years come and go, we make some commitments to our self and regret later for not accomplishing them. Under the pressure of several urgent items every day, we keep postponing actions that matter to us most. How can we take out time for things that drive our life? How can we live a life we want? How can we make a commitment to our self this New Year and hold it. The key is there in the planning.

Hardly, we will have a project that runs for a year but does not have any plan. Either high level or detailed, some kind of plan is available that guide us in a direction to achieve project objectives.

Have you ever prepared a plan for yourself, for the objectives you set in the beginning of the year or for a commitment you made to yourself? If there is no plan how you will move in a specific direction and achieve your objectives.

I will help you here planning for yourself, for your commitment and for your resolution for this New Year 2013.

I will suggest you some activities and contents to move towards your objectives. I don’t know about your resolution/objective, so please make change based on your resolution. If you are not sure, please start moving with suggested plan and make changes later when you get more clarity.

Let’s get into actual plan

1. First commitment – Will read at least one book in 2 months.

This plan is for the people who rarely or do not read books. You can start from these books. This is the first step as solutions to all your problems are there in books.

  1. First Thing First
  2. Power of positive thinking
  3. 7 Habits of highly effective people
  4. Bhagwat Gita
  5. How I raised myself from failure to Success in Selling
  6. 4 Hours work week

Half an hour investment every day. If it takes too much to read a book, the good news is that most of the books are available in audio format nowadays. Start listening to these books while traveling to office and back.

Book lovers can make their own plan. I am not competent enough to suggest.

2. Second commitment – Will add at least one skill every month

Some suggested skills are…

  1. My Time Management Skills
  2. Learn self-defense (Specially for Women)
  3. Appreciating people Top, Down, Left & Right
  4. Lean Management
  5. Delivering defect free product the first time
  6. Defining flawless scope (without killing your client)
  7. Preparing effective schedule
  8. Managing Gross Margin (Without killing your team)
  9. The art of delegation
  10. Art of coaching your reports
  11. The Real Risk Management
  12. The art of informing to your stakeholders

Half an hour invetment every day. Please reorder, add, modify or delete in above list after defining your priorities for which master the first skill first i.e. time management.

3. Third commitment – Will make me more effective

Some suggested actions are…

  1. Doing yoga/exercise for 1 hour 3 times a week
  2. Jogging/Playing for 1 hour 3 times a week
  3. Listening to one of my reports or younger one for 10 minutes without interrupting her/him (once a week)
  4. Make a new friend every month whose views are quite different from me

One hour invetment every day. Is this making any sense to you? If yes, let’s move ahead. After reading list of actions above, are you getting some more ideas? Good, take pen and paper and note down. Make as many changes as you want in above list but first write down your objective – your resolution for 2013 and then select actions and contents based on your resolution.

Does it appear bit hard? As I said, my sole motto is to add value in a manager’s life, I will make it convenient for you to plan and track.

I have prepared a Microsoft Project Plan for you to download. Right click on the link provided below, select Save as.

Download Microsoft Project (2010) Plan for Resolution for 2013

Download Microsoft Project (2007) Plan for Resolution for 2013

You don’t have Microsoft Project? I know many of you may not have it, so you can download same plan in excel format. Right click on the link provided below and select Save as.

Download your plan for Resolution for 2013 in excel format

The success is not in preparing your plan but it is the start of the journey. The success is in discipline execution of the plan. There is no success without discipline so discipline is an important word here.

Does this look a tall order? You can reduce it to your comfort level.

Some people will reduce it to luxurious level, some will reduce it further and further until it eliminates but let me tell you one thing…

You run an organization called [Your Name], You are CEO and MD of this organization. There is only one employee in this organization and that is you.  Success of this organization solely depends upon you. If you don’t act, this organization will starve and become weak and then it will go where others will push it not where you want to take it. Will you allow this to happen?

Want to say something? You can leave your comment by clicking on “Add new comment” or simply send it to me on dialogue[at]pmwares.com.