I created the following study guide for students of my PMP prep courses. I post this now with thoughts of those sitting for the exam in the next six-weeks, before PMBOK 4th Edition testing ends July 31, 2013. Please comment with your own study suggestions for others.
- Create crib sheet
- Create your own. Doing it yourself will force you to write the solutions which will help with memory retention. It will also make more sense to you as you will document knowledge in the way that makes the most sense to you. Suggestions for crib sheet include (in priority order):
- Earned Value Formulas
- 3-point estimating formulas
- Communications Channels
- Present-Future Value Formulas
- Conflict Resolution Types
- Types of Power for the Project Manager
- Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
- Contract Types
- Organizational Structure Characteristics
- Sigma Percentages
- Cost Estimate Range Table
- Slack, Forward, and Backward Pass Formulas
- Risk Response Strategy (Positive Risks)
- Risk Response Strategy (Negative Risks)
- Communication Model
- PTA Variables
- Review PMBOK section 3 – Inputs, Tools & Techniques, & Outputs by Knowledge Area (also available in combined slideshow)
- Practice PDM
- Practice EMV
- Play Rita’s Process Game – Start Page 43
- Play Rita’s Numbers Game – Start Page 260
- Take sample test of at least 100 questions (http://www.headfirstlabs.com/PMP/pmp_exam/v1/quiz.html)
- Review score and identify missed questions by knowledge area
- Review Rita’s Book*, the PM Answer Book*, and PMBOK*, for each the three weakest knowledge areas
- As needed, go to PMI 24/7 Books (eReads) – http://www.pmi.org/Knowledge-Center/Virtual-Library-eReads-and-Reference.aspx
- Search through library to find additional resources that will help increase knowledge of that area (many books have practice exams by knowledge area that will help you test your knowledge)
- Repeat steps 2 – 8 noting any changes in comprehension by knowledge area and adjusting as necessary
A note about practice test:
- DO – use test results to determine knowledge areas that you are weaker in
- DO – use test to get comfortable with format of questions and strategy for answering
- DON’T – use test results as a final indicator of the score you will get on the final test
- Recreate crib sheet from memory (cheat only if needed)
- Review PMBOK by knowledge area (inputs, tools and techniques, outputs)
- Review PMI-isms (Rita page 15-17)
- Review Chapter 14 – the PMP Exam (Rita’s book)
- Play Rita’s Process Game – Start Page 43
- Play Rita’s Numbers Game – Start Page 260
- Recreate matrix of Knowledge Area and Process groups from memory
- Take sample test of at least 100 questions (Transcender or http://www.headfirstlabs.com/PMP/pmp_exam/v1/quiz.html)
Night Before / Day Of
- Determine any urgent study needs from test results and study
- Verify test location and time
- Find your exam schedule notice and set aside where you will NOT forget the next day
- Take a break – put it all aside, relax, and take care of your self
- Don’t over do
- Get a good night sleep
- Eat a healthy meal
- Review your crib sheet, matrix of Knowledge Area and Process Groups
- Remember your exam schedule notice
- Pack a healthy snack and water
- Get to test site early
- Review your crib sheet again paying special attention to difficult to remember formulas (don’t try to crash memorize more than 3 or you’ll fill up the brain)
- Go to exam room (they will likely let you sit for the exam early if you get there early provided they have a test station available)
- Store your personal items in locker provided
- Use the restroom
- Once you are at the test station
- Recreate your crib sheet on paper provided
- Use the time available to get comfortable with the computerized test (allowed 15 minutes)
- Start the clock when ready
Principles to Remember
- The Project Manager has authority within the parameters of the charter
- Stakeholders include everyone including the team and project manager
- For any decision or problem
- Identify the problem
- Analyze the Impact
- Evaluate Options
- Prepare a Recommendation
- Communication is candid yet empathic with problem solving in mind
- All project information is transparent unless confidential (for a reason)
- The Project Manager is always proactive toward the project and bettering project management practices within the organization
- Address problem and potential issues head on
- The Lazy PM
- Emphasizes planning
- Stakeholders are privy to plans for smooth transition to response eliminating “fire fighting mode”
- Read the entire question and possible answers before settling on an answer
- Dissect question – what is it actually asking
- Look for extraneous information
- Look for double-negatives – translate to positive question
- Look at the potential answers
- What is the sequence of events based on the PMBOK
- Sequence the possible answer to determine BEST NEXT
- Review the sequence with possible answers of lists to rule-out or identify the best answer
- Does a single answer have a mix of concepts that are not in context with the question – rule it out
- Does a single answer sound like a good practice, something you would do, BUT is not covered in your study or PMBOK – rule it out
- When comparing two answers – is one more formal then the other? The more formal answer may be the correct one with the informal answer being the “good idea” that is not the official answer
- What is the sequence of events based on the PMBOK
In Reviewing Questions During the Test
- Run through the test once answering the easy questions and flagging the not-easy questions.
- Run through the test a second time to answer the flagged questions. Unmark those you are relatively comfortable with, keep marked the ones you want to come back to
- Take a break!!!!
- Run through the test again for only the marked items, verify your answers – have a darn good reason for changing if you had answered. Your first instinct may very well be the right one.
- In your final run through look for
- Questions that may have been tricks
- Wordy questions
- Answers include similar lists of items
- Seemed too good to be true
- The first 20-50 questions that you answered as your frame of mind may not have been ready for a trick
- Take a break!!!!
- Last run through as you determine necessary – look for potentially obvious mistakes you may have made. Again, if you are waffling between two answer, your first instinct may be correct – consider leaving the original response
- Know that is normal to stop breathing the second you hit “done”
- There may be a slight delay and a survey on the test experience will be presented (SERIOUSLY!?!?)
- There may be a slight delay and then a message on the overall test results “Congratulations, you have passed.”
- The test proctor staff will provide you with proof.
- Email Vicki@project-pro.us (I want to hear!)
- PMI will mail you certificate and other goodies to accompany your PMP.
A failing test score is not a failure!! You only truly fail when you give up. Remember, the test was designed to only achieve a certain level of passing attempts. Also remember, it was designed expecting test takers to already be experienced expert level project managers. You should take the opportunity to take the exam again. See http://pmstudent.com/4-steps-to-recover-from-a-pmp-exam-fail/.
The books listed here were used for classes relating to the 4th Edition of the PMBOK. Look for the most current editions if planning to sit for the exam after 7/31/2013. See The Project Pro’s Bookstore, PMP Prep shelf for these and other titles.
- Rita’s Book – Or ther study book such as the Andy Crowe version
- Mulcahy, R. (2011). Pmp exam prep, seventh edition. RMC Publications
- A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (4th Edition)
- A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (4th Edition)
- PM Answer Book
- Furman, J. (2012). The Project Management Answer Book. Management Concepts Press.
This is the third and final installment of the So You Want to be a Business Analyst…Or Perhaps You Already Are series. Part One discusses the role of a business analyst with Part Two focusing on a better understanding of when you play both roles and determining where you may lean given your capacity and skills. In this third part will explore how to pursue your career as a business analyst.
Step 1 – Call yourself a business analyst
You are what you do and not your job title. If you do business analysis then you are a business analyst. Maybe your job title is project manager, technical writer, program manager, product consultant. It does not matter. My first six-years in the project world I held the working title of “product manager” and job classification of “state financial consultant”. You will find this work listed as “business analyst/product manager” on my résumé and LinkedIn profile. “Business analyst” is industry standard for the work done and provides a commonality across organizations.
Repeat after me. “I am a business analyst, I am a business analyst…”
Step 2 – Update your résumé
What does your résumé say about you and the jobs you have held? Give your résumé a hard look and find those tasks and deliverables that you have listed that fit under the category of ‘analysis’. Try this – type the word “analysis” in Word and then right-click to view synonyms. Let me help you out with a picture of the results I get. Use these words as a guide in reviewing your résumé.
Take this a step further. What missing from your résumé? Think about the work you have done and what you can add that lends weight to this aspect of your experience. I have provided further guidance on documenting your experience in my article, Document Your Project History.
Remember to update your LinkedIn profile as well. Use the Skills section of the profile to highlight this experience and ask connections to “endorse” these skills.
Step 3 – Get involved in the International Association of Business Analyst (IIBA®)
Nothing speaks more to your professional aspirations and commitment then involvement in a professional organization. Not only does it look good for you, but you gain the benefit of a network of peers in comparable roles to learn from and share experiences with. There are varying levels of involvement and added benefits come from each.
Level 1 – Join the IIBA® and your local chapter
At this level you will have access to an electronic copy of A Guide to the Business Analysis Body of Knowledge (BABOK®), a subscription to The Connection newsletter, and a wealth of resources online including articles, discussion groups, webinars, and tools.
Level 2 – Attend meetings and workshops
Meetings and workshop will increase your exposure to best practices and make sure continued education in business analysis topics. This further demonstrates your commitment to the profession as well as your own professional development. You will also build your local network of business analysts that can help you through struggles you have on the job in your next career move.
Level 3 – Volunteer
Volunteering is hugely fulfilling and beneficial to your career. It takes you from to the next level as far as demonstrating your passion for business analysis as a profession. It provides opportunity to show your work to other business analysts and build a reputation as a professional. Those who volunteer for my Chapter will find a ready referral and reference from me as they pursue future opportunities. This may be volunteering on a committee, with a specific task, for a project, or as a board member. Volunteer positions tend to be what you make of them and a lot can be accomplished in a few short hours a month.
Don’t forget to put your volunteer activities on your résumé and LinkedIn profile.
Step 4 – Get certified!
The time, effort, and money you put into the certification process exhibits your commitment to being a business analyst professional. You must prove earlier experience to sit for the exams. You must learn, keep, and prove you have a significant amount of knowledge on business analysis best practices from Enterprise Analysis to Solution Verification to pass the exam. Apply what you know in the real world and this step will take you far.
I hope this series has provided some helpful information as you pursue your career in business analysis. Please feel free to contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information or guidance. Follow this blog to get receive alerts of future posts that will be of interest to you.
So You Want to be a Business Analyst…Or Perhaps You Already Are
Last week I posted Part 1 with discussion on what a business analyst is. You may be more confused than before on what it is you are. I will quickly clarify a few points by addressing a couple of common questions.
Question 1: I am a project manager that is responsible for business analysis on my project. Is this wrong?
Answer: It depends on the project and the situation. If it is a small project with a small team and you are familiar with the business then it may make sense. The test is if you are effectively and efficiently juggling managing the project (planning, tracking, risks, stakeholder management, etc.) with the business analysis tasks (eliciting requirements, creating models and documentation, working with stakeholder to prioritize, translating for the technical team, etc.). However, if you are not able to manage both roles effectively within a normal workweek it means you are working two full-times jobs, rather than two half-time jobs. Getting a BA on your project will allow you to focus on one job and lead the project, project team, and influence stakeholders much more easily.
Question 2: I have worn many hats on my projects. How do I know if I am a business analyst?
Answer: The answer lies in where you natural aptitude and desire are. Answer the three following three questions to help you find the answer. (Disclaimer: this is not a scientific aptitude/skills test)
1) When it comes to solving a problem, I tend to want…
- To lead a team discussion to find potential solutions
- Research what other companies have done and see if any of those solutions would work in our situation
- Put a likely solution into action
2) When I waiting for service in a long, slow line I tend to…
- Think, “Where is the manager?” These people need to be motivated to work faster.
- Watch the processes to see if I can identify a change in process or a tool that would speed up the service.
- Look for the manager so that I can tell him to bring more people on to serve
3) When told to do something that I do not quite understand I respond by…
- Clarify what is needed and begin a plan of action
- Question who, what, why, where until I understand the value or negotiate for a task that does make sense to me
- Do what I am told. I can make anything work and it’s not my job to question the reason
Here are the results to this three-question assessment. If you scored mostly
- You have an aptitude for project management. You prefer to lead others through proactive planning and motivation to allow a team to accomplish great things.
- You have an aptitude as a business analyst. You like to solve puzzles by taking the time to get a thorough understanding the core of the puzzle and analyze many solutions to know your recommendation is indeed the best.
- You are a doer. “Get ‘er done” is your motto. Time spent planning and analyzing is time that you could have been actively doing something to make the situation better. You recognize there may be a different or even better way, but getting something is place is the contribution that makes you feel valuable. You would be a great technical lead.
You may truly have a mix of aptitude and preference of these roles. That is okay. However, you need to define your role for each project and stick to it. This allows you to focus on your responsibility and give the autonomy to others on the team that they have earned and deserve.
Continue to Part 3 for steps on making the shift from someone who does business analysis tasks to a business analysis professional.
Image courtesy of chanpipat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
As the Seattle Chapter President of the International Institute of Business Analysis (IIBA®), I often get questions about how someone can learn more about becoming a business analyst. Often times those asking have been doing business analysis work realizing it for some time; only they have not yet realized it. This three-part series is to help you understand what business analysis is (part 1), how to know if you are a business analyst at heart (part 2), and offer the first steps to advancing your career as a business analysis professional (part 3).
I will start with the definition of Business Analysis. The IIBA® defines this as
Business analysis is the set of tasks and techniques used to work as a liaison among stakeholders in order to understand the structure, policies, and operations of an organization, and to recommend solutions that enable to the organization to achieve its goals (Business Analysis Body of Knowledge [BABOK®] Guide, Version 2.0 Page 3)
The following two lists offer some more context to “tasks and techniques” by listing tools used and items developed and delivered by the business analyst as documented in the BABOK®.
- Document analysis
- Focus groups
- Interface analysis
- Requirements analysis
- Organization modeling
- Process modeling
- Business case/ statement of work
- Business analysis plan
- Communication to stakeholders
- Data dictionary or glossary
- Data Flow diagrams
- Metrics & Key Performance Indicators
- Scenarios/Use cases
- Sequence diagrams
- User stories
- Requirements package
These lists show that many roles do business analysis activities and deliver business analyst results. Some common project roles include data analyst, project manager, technical writer, and developer. Many people do “business analysis.” So what is a business analysis professional?
The project manager, developer, and data analyst may use some tools and deliver some of the same results as the BA as it relates to their specific role. A business analysis professional works with all the business analysis tools and techniques to deliver work that supports defining, managing, and evaluation the solution or resulting product (“to recommend solutions that enable to the organization to achieve its goals”.) The project manager, data analyst, technical writer, or developer rely on the work of the business analysis to provide clarity on the solution and allow project work to focus on steps needed to most efficiently deliver the desired result. The business analyst is responsible for defining is what will bring value to the business, ensuring the requirements are fully vetted and understood, and that the solution meets these expectations. This allows the project manager for focus on the project process, progress, team, risks, and all those other aspects that make project management a full-time job. Read more on this in The Project Manager vs. the Business Analyst. Further, the business analyst frees the technical people up to design and build the solution to meet the need the first time.
You likely play a combination of roles if you are reading this article. Next week we will discuss how to know what you are when you wear multiple hats.
Find out if you are a BA at heart in Part 2.
Image courtesy of chanpipat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The role of business analyst falls under many job descriptions. I talk to people all time that are business analysts, only they don’t know it. Maybe the have the job title of “technical writer” or “program manager”, but in reality, they are analyzing the business. Here are some signs you might be a business analyst..
- If you create a weighted score card with evaluation criteria to select your next new car…
- If you ask “why” so many times that your peers start to talk to you like a two-year old…
- If you spend your time in line (queue) thinking of five better ways to do business and speed things up…
- If it takes you longer to document your BA history for the CBAP then you actually do working…
- If your partner is upset with you on their birthday and you suggest celebration requirements were ambiguous…
- If you visit a brewery and document the brewing process on a napkin…
- If you make a process flow chart for your trip to the supermarket…
- If you write down the proposal discussion with your parents about girl you love on a Visio diagram…
- If very few people know what you do, but you could add value to any company on the planet…
- If while standing in a single line you count the people in front of you and divide by the number of cashiers serving customers to figure estimated waiting time..
Do you want to join in the conversation? Visit the Business Analysis Times LinkedIn group!
Permitting and inspections is to fire fighting what planning and communication is to projects.
Even firemen take time for maintenance, operations, and process improvement.
Last weekend I attended the Cirque Du Soleil show, Amaluna. While most of the audience was mesmerized by the beauty and awesomeness of the feats, I was mesmerized by the demonstration of what great teamwork can accomplish. Here is a quick run-down of my observations on the benefits of great teamwork.
Trust in Others
The troupe is truly putting their lives in each other’s hands. With high-flying acrobatics and water stunts, the impact of something going wrong can truly be life threatening. It takes a huge amount of confidence to entrust your life into your co-workers hands, but the results are astounding. When thinking of who needs to trust whom, it goes beyond other performers who are putting their safety at risk, but also the engineers and riggers.
What could you accomplish in your current project if you had that much faith and trust in your teammates? Would the project have better flow and less resistance? Do you give your teammates the trust they deserve? We are each experts in our own rights of our own domain. Trust in that and keep conversations on using the various areas of expertise to achieving the goals of the project. Identify underlying issues to deal with the root cause to address team members you believe not to be trustworthy.
Slips happen…recovery gracefully!
Don’t think for a second that every show goes off without a hitch. I saw a couple of “slips” (some obvious, others not) and am sure I missed many more. What keeps the show amazing is the graceful recovery. The most obvious slip I noticed, the performer just kept going and tried again. She succeeded and the audience was amazed. Other slips were covered by their team performers adjusting their movements to minimize the impact on the show, the performers, and keep the show entertaining for the crowd.
We often experience slips in projects. Maybe there is a slip in schedule, defects in code, or risks that turn into issues. It is okay. Our project plans help us decide the graceful recovery in advance. There may be an unforeseen issue that affects the project. The issue is what is it is. Focus on the graceful recovery in support of the project. Refer to point number one and trust that your teammates will contribute to the graceful recovery.
Here is a quick side note. The music in Amaluna was live. It would be very difficult to recovery gracefully if reliant on a soundtrack that prevented needed corrections.
Bad things happen when you are not trustworthy. A performer in Amaluna would not feel safe to give a 100% on feat where their safety was in my hands and I’m not trustworthy. I may lose opportunities to perform. The show would lose a great deal of awesomeness with the troupe not trusting in each other to give 100%. Signing up to perform a feat that one is not ready for, performing when physically compromised, or not being reliable in showing up for rehearsal could destroy valuable trust and compromise the show.
Are you trustworthy when it comes to your projects? Do you make meetings on time, participate fairly, complete assignments as agreed? Do you refrain from gossip, always give honest status on the project, and help your teammate recover from their slips? The person who can do this with integrity, consistently will be a very important contributor to the project. Only when all teammates, including yourself, are trustworthy will you have the level of trust needed to pull off amazing acts. It is the rare project that is delivered on time, on budget, and with promised scope that brings value to the business…a truly amazing feat.
Here is a short promo video of Amaluna to amaze you. A fourth secret follows.
A fourth observation? Yes, risk management. Telling you this is admitting to what a nerd I truly am. The video shows the scene with the contortionist in the water splashing all around. My mind realized that water on stage could be deadly to those that follow her act. Brilliant risk management is at work here.
- Large cloths blanked the stage around the bowl.
- After they moved the bowl and blankets, they had performers performing wiping the stage down with towels
- The next act was the high wire, not conducted directly on stage but the high wire with cushions below
- Then intermission
Four strategies to mitigate the risk of water on the stage endangering the performers.
Please share your stories and thoughts on what makes for amazing teamwork.Photo by Cirque du Soleil at http://www.cirquedusoleil.com/en/shows/amaluna/default.aspx
How often have you been called upon to remember past projects? Are you prepared to respond to “tell me about your favorite project and why it was your favorite”? If you are pursuing professional certification, a new job, or promotion, be ready for this question. If your brain is like mine, it is an overflowing file cabinet with some of the best material buried in the back corner. It is not always easy to access the things you have done in the past, especially when new projects are always sitting on the forefront of the mind. As a result, you will likely shortchange yourself by relying on the more accessible recent experiences that may be less relevant in the context of the position. Perhaps you come up short on needed hours experience for that professional certification because you had forgotten about that part time project you worked on when in a different position. There is a remedy for this. That is your Project Portfolio History.
I created my Project Portfolio History when applying from Professional Project Manager Certification from the Project Management Institute. It was a necessary step for completing the application, but I quickly saw a multitude of uses for this listing. The list includes:
- Project Title
- Start Month
- End Month
- Number of Months
- Project Description
Customize your Project Portfolio History to meet your specific needs. You may add a column for percentage of work time spent on the project, the project sponsor, team members, project methodology…whatever makes sense to you. This is your reference and a supplement to your resume, not a replacement. You may opt to share with recruiters in which case it might make sense to keep a “private” version in addition to the “public” version with the private including key words or signals that you want to remember without sharing. My private version has notes to remind me of my favorite projects, least favorite projects, projects where I learned the most, and many of those other common asks when discussing your project past.
The project description should help describe each project and what made each unique. What technologies and methodologies where used? What was the team structure? Who were the users of the solution and how the accessed it? You do not need to answer each of these questions – rather you are looking for what about this project sets it apart from others.
This document has helped me in describing experience in resumes, cover letters, and in interviews, as well as document hours for both the PMP and the Certified Business Analyst Professional (CBAP®) certification. I use it when customizing my resume to the job I am submitting for, developing my cover letter, review prior to an interview for a fresh look, and I even request to keep the document out and handy during an interview. I have yet to be refused to have my “cheat sheet” handy. Recruiters and interviewers have requested a copy. Remember to have a public version available. One recruiter I worked with said, “This is great! Every project professional should have this.” Start putting your together today. I have linked a Project Portfolio History template so you can get started on yours today. Start with your current project and work backwards. You can always add rows to fill in gaps if you miss something along the way.
Please share your experiences with this or a similar document by commenting on this post.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.