What to know about Communications Management for the PMP Exam!

Happy Friday!  Hope everyone is doing well with their studies. I can’t believe how fast April is going.

I know it’s been awhile since I have written and I see so many new people have joined the group.

Welcome to you all! We are here to helping your journey being a successful one.

Today I wanted to write about communication and its importance.

Honestly, I have always been the passive aggressive type where I really don’t speak my mind.  I am always afraid of conflict or hurting someone’s feelings.

The older I got and dealing with different types of relationships (colleagues, daughters, spouse, parents, siblings) I realized how unhealthy that is. I learned how to communicate and the importance of it.

Now let’s take a moment to put this in perspective in our work life; dealing with upper management, clients, peers, subordinates.  How much time does a Project Manager spend in communications?

If you said 90 percent that is correct.  Can you as a PM control all the communications?  No, is correct. It will be literally impossible.

But, your responsibility is to put a process in place, ensure the correct message with the correct format is dispersed to the correct stakeholders.

How many processes does Communications Management have?  If you answered 3, you are correct.

Plan Communications – Documenting your how to plan for communicating with stakeholders (format, frequency, method). Objective is to ensure each stakeholder is aware of the project status and no surprises

Manage Communications – Dispersing the project information as it was planned in the communications management plan.

Monitor Communications – Ensuring the communications objective of the project are being met. If adjustments are needed then the project manager will adjust accordingly.

So, why is communications so important?  People can’t read our minds; if we don’t communicate correctly with honesty then they might think all is well.

If the project is delayed or a risk has arisen, it is very important the stakeholders receive the information in a timely manner. This way a solution can be identified before the risk becomes an issue.

At the same time having the stakeholders engaged will increase customer satisfaction.  Your stakeholders will know that the project is in good hands.

One time I had a project where the work was being done in the background but a decision hadn’t been made on equipment.  Upper management decided not to communicate that to the stakeholders.  What do you think happened?

Chaos is correct, no one knew what was actually happening, and they thought the project was either eliminated or would be delayed without any real timeline.  And they thought me as PM wasn’t doing my job.

If they had communicated to the stakeholders that the work is being done and once the correct equipment was identified it would be a quick turnaround. There wouldn’t have been unsatisfied stakeholders.

I hope this post helps you understand communications and why effective and efficient communication is important for a successful project and project manager. Just like in our daily lives.

Another step closer to the finishing line! Please comment to let me know if you would like an understanding on something else.

Have a great weekend! Till next time!


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What to know about Change Requests and passing the PMP!

Happy Thursday everyone!   Hope everyone is having a wonderful week.

Yes, another day, another dollar and another blogJ.

Change is an easy concept in your everyday life, right?  You request to change travel plans, meals, events or even jobs. All you have to do is pick up a phone, call the right person and it happens.

But in the PMI world is a bit different.  Why you ask?  Because it’s a process that needs to be followed to ensure the change fits into the project scope, to see what the impact to the other elements of the project is.

Take a moment and think about a project in the office that required a change that you implemented without thinking twice. Was it simple?  Did it impact anything else on the project? Did you answer No, really how do you know it didn’t impact anything else?

We don’t realize it but even the simplest things require our time, energy and sometimes money.

Remember we talked about Triple Constraints. Well Change Requests start from there.

Let’s review the textbook definition of Change Requests any request (corrective/ preventive actions, defect repairs) that is submitted to the change control board for approval or rejection.

Change Requests can be something minor or major requiring a drastic change to the project.

Remember that any request from anyone on the project requiring any change to the project requires a formal change request. The request can be as simple as a color change on a website to additional functionality to the site.

Change request can be opened by any stakeholder on the project.

Once the request is opened, it should be added to the Change log.

Change log = a project document that keeps track of all changes within the project.  Some fields on the log would be (change id, category, description, submitted by, date submitted, status, and disposition)

The PM would analyze the change request. You as the PM need to fully understand the impact of the change request across all the areas of the project.  Remember in the triple constraint post, any change to any area of the project will have an effect on the other areas.

When analyzing the change the project management plan is a great tool to review and see what was planned and how the requested change would affect the original plan.

Now that you have your request with your analysis, you would present that to the Change Control Board.

Change Control Board = committee that consists of Subject Matter Experts (SME), who will make decisions regarding whether or not proposed changes to a project should be implemented.

Once the decision is made, the change log will be updated.

A communication of the status of the decision should be sent out to all impacted parties.  If the decision was to reject the change, the communication to the stakeholder should indicate the reasons why the change was not approved.

If the changes have been approved the proper project documents and plans would be updated accordingly.

The approved changes will be implemented, once approved the work will be verified.

Light bulb moment, now do you understand why Change Requests are important in Project Management?  Does it make sense that you need to evaluate, review, and assess before you agree to someone’s change requests.

If we really think about it, we do use a similar approach in our personal lives as well.  Don’t you make a list of pros and cons before you finalize a decision about anything (a new school, new job, moving, etc.)? The list will give you an insight of what affect the change will have on other parts of your life.

Think about it that’s the same approach PMI is asking to do before we approve a change!

Today as I end my post I am doing something different. I am going to ask you three questions and would like you to reply with your answers!

  1. What is the name of the process that Change Requests get reviewed?
  2. If approved which process will implement the change?
  3. Which process will verify the work was done correctly?

I hope this post was helpful and got you a step closer to understanding Change Requests; another step closer to getting to the finishing line.  Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnelJ.

Until next time!


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Understanding ITTOs for passing the PMP exam!

As an instructor the #1 question I get is;  How can I memorize the ITTOs for the PMP exam?

After helping hundred’s students pass the PMP exam, this is my answer:

My answer is always you can’t memorize them until you understand the logic.

Once the logic is understood then you will have no problem answering questions about the processes using them.

This is definitely a challenging topic for many students. But don’t worry, today’s post will help you get a grasp on the ITTOs and determine your study method for understanding and passing the PMP exam!

What does ITTOs stand for? ITTO = Input Tool Technique Output.

Let’s take a moment to see what that means.

The textbooks tell us the following:

Input = any item either internal or external to the project, which is required by the process before that process can begin.

Tool = something tangible (e.g. template or software program) used in performing an activity to produce the output of the process.

Technique = A defined systematic procedure (e.g. meetings, interviews, inspections) employed by a human resource to perform an activity to help produce the output.

Output = the product, service, or result generated by the process; may be used as an input to a successor process.

So, have I confused you enough? Have no fear now I will bring all of the verbiages into a logical format which you can use to study the ITTOs for the 49 processes :).

Let’s say your boss comes to you and asks “Jennifer can you please “Collect Requirements” for the Daycare website project. How would you take on this task? Do you know where to begin?  What do you think your end result should be? Now, this is where ITTOs come in.

Your first question should be,

What do I need in order to Collect Requirements for the Daycare website project?

The answer to that question will give you the Input(s) needed to complete the process

  • Who is this website for? Stakeholder Register document which lists the participants of the project.
  • What is the objective of the site? Project Charter document which has high-level scope information.

So, you have these two inputs that you review and now you think how will I collect the requirements?

Do I have any tools to use?  What technique will I use to gather the requirements?

Remember the definitions above let’s put that in play now.

The tool will be the document you will input the information you receive from the stakeholders

A technique is an approach you will take. Will you interview them? Will you send out questionnaires?  Will your job shadow them?

As the Project Manager, you would pick the most effective and efficient way to gather the information.

Now that you gather all your requirements what do you think the end result should be.

The end result equals output.

What do you think?  If we think logically the output will be a document with all the information you gathered.  In PMI that document is called the Requirements Traceability Matrix.

I hope you noticed that “Collect Requirements” is one of the 49 processes you need to know for the PMP exam.

Hopefully, the post taught you to step by step on how to think and dissect what is needed to accomplish the task.

Again think of each of the 49 processes as a task that needs to be accomplished in order to successfully complete the project. Each output of the process is an input to the next process.

If we think about it we do it on a daily basis. An example to think about is planning a dinner event?

How you would apply what I taught you in this post to make your next dinner event with friends and family.

I hope this post gave you an insight into how an approach to understanding the ITTOs.

I will leave you with a question from today’s post.  Now that you have your Requirements Traceability Matrix, which process would that be input too?  Please comment with your answer and let me know if this was beneficial to your studies!

Good luck! Be on the lookout for more great posts taking you a step closer to the finishing line.


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Project Management and why it’s important!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

As I was driving to work today I was contemplating what I would write about. I wanted something different, meaningful and of course a topic that everyone can relate too.

Studying and preparing for your PMP certification is long and hard road and sometimes you want to give up.

But, remember studying and preparing for the exam is a short-term commitment with long lastly benefits.

It will reshape your thinking about life and you will think twice when you do the next activity in your life.

Now let’s get to the point of what is Project Management and why it’s important!

Funny story my brother is a business owner out in Arizona.   One day he saw the post about our EzPM tool we have created.  So, he calls me to congratulate me and goes I wish I knew sis, I just purchased project management software for the business.

I was like really, his response was “yeah I do more than just flip burgers, running a business isn’t easy”, I was flabbergasted because I know you need project management in every aspect of life.  I just didn’t realize he was looking for something to organize his business. But that’s a different topic :).

I laughed and said yeah I know I was just caught off guard.  We did chat for a few minutes to see where we can help each other.

So, let’s fast forward to today.  Take a moment and ask yourself what is Project Management?  Did you realize you do it every day in every aspect of your life?

=  application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements.

What do you think a challenge would be? If you said, trying to achieve all of the project goals within the given constraints. This is correct!

We all eat at least once a day so, planning our meals is a project in itself.

We all have moved one time or another. Moving is a project, isn’t it?

Planning an event, looking for a new job, going on a trip, the list goes on. Do you get an idea almost everything you do is a project?  Why?

It has a beginning and end and it’s never repeated.  Even when we go grocery shopping, each time is for a different meal.

Now, let’s take a look at why is it important to manage your projects.  What happens when you go to the grocery store without a list?  What happens when you don’t plan your meals?  What happens when you don’t plan how to get to work or an event?

Chaos! Is what happens right?  You end up spending more money, time, energy and you’re late.  You have no goal insight.

Let’s go a little deeper.  If you don’t have the proper project management processes in place, the following can and will occur:

  • Missed deadlines
  • Over budget
  • Poor quality
  • Rework

Take a moment to think about that.  Is that list correct, those are only a few items there are many more you can add to it. Think about your job and your everyday activities what happens if you don’t plan.

Now let’s take a moment and plan for our activities and put a process around it.  What do we get?

We get:

  • Satisfied stakeholders
  • Correct product delivered
  • Meet objectives
  • Managed time and money
  • Increase chance of success
  • More predictable

Do you understand why project management is so important and the PMP certificate is so prestigious.

PMI is teaching us how to be more efficient and effective in an organization and our daily lives.  It teaches us organization skills, soft skills, dealing with risks, putting a realistic schedule together.

Your probably thinking there is no light at the end of the tunnel but there is. Continue your PMI journey, one day you too can explain the benefits, put them in effect and be an asset to any organization as well as your daily life.

I hope today’s post gave you a clear picture of project management and how you can use it in any organization and daily life activities.

Remember we are here every step on this journey of yours! We will be standing at the finish line cheering you!

Good Luck! Watch out for another post that will get you closer to the finishing line.  If there is a topic you want me to write on, just give me a shout out and I will be more than happy to write!

Until next time enjoy your time!


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What to know about contract types for the PMP Exam!

Happy Sunday everyone! Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend and now getting ready to get back to work 😊.

This weekend my husband and I were talking about redoing our kitchen floors.  We talked to a few contractors, which made me think about contracts!

A few of my students were saying how Procurement Management was heavy on their exams.

The light bulb went off and I was like what a great topic to write about!

A couple weeks ago I wrote about Procurement Management so now, let’s talk about the different contracts.

As a PM you will have a Procurement Manager to assist but it’s always good to understand what Procurement Management entails.

How many main contract types does PMI introduce us to?  If you answered three,  that is correct!

  • Fixed Price Contract – an established set price for a product or service. Best used when the scope of the project is well-defined.  Seller will assume most of the risk! It is best for the seller to understand the scope and has done it many times!

 

Example: Let me give you a personal example of working on a fixed price contract.  At one time I was providing PMO support to various organizations.  My contract with them was fixed price.  Our scope of work was clearly defined to assist their project managers with writing project documents, facilitating meetings, creating executive presentations.  The work we produced was our project deliverables that were due within a certain time frame.

 

Every month a set of deliverables were due in which in turn we would bill the organization and they would pay the agreed upon amount.

 

Yes, changes were allowed and depending on the approval a new price would be negotiated.

 

Now under Fixed Price Contracts the following contracts do exist:

  1. Firm Fixed Price (FFP) – scope of the product or service should be exact. The price will be set on the buyer’s request.
    1. iPhone manufacturer should enter this type of contract as they know what it takes to complete the phone and its associated cost.

 

  1. Fixed Price Incentive Fee (FPIF)- similar to the FFP; however, offers an incentive if the product or service exceeds an expectation.
    1. The buyer might tell the iPhone manufacturer if you deliver early I will give you a 10 percent bonus.

 

  1. Fixed Price with Economic Price Adjustment (FP-EPA) – used in multiple year contracts. It has a criteria to adjust the final price based on the market conditions that are beyond the control of both the buyer and seller.  These include the changes in the cost of labor and material, general inflation and fluctuations in the currency market.
    1. In the iPhone example, an increase in the chip or even labor wages would increase the final payout of the contract.

 

  • Cost Reimbursable Contracts – Mainly used when the scope of work is not fully known. Buyer takes on more of the risk.  Seller can charge for all legitimate expenses related to completing the product or service, as well as charge a fixed fee as profit for their work.

 

Seller has more flexibility to complete the scope of work. However, the buyer runs risk if the scope costs more than anticipated. The expenses will be audited so, need to ensure you have enough staff to review the audits.

 

Example:  When I developed my study app for the PMP, I used a cost reimbursable contract.  Yes, other apps have been built but each is unique, and our scope kept changing.

 

You ask if the app has been published 😊. Yes, for the apple store and android.  Just search EzPM and there it is! It’s a great app to assist you in remembering and understanding the concepts. It’s a one stop shop with all the materials for the PMP.

Now enough with my advertisement for my app 😊. Let’s take a look what falls under cost reimbursable contracts:

 

  1. Cost Plus Fixed Fee (CPFF) – seller can charge the buyer for all legitimate expenses related to completing the product or service plus a fixed-fee that is a percentage of the overall contract price. Remember this fixed-fee is set at the beginning of the contract, and even if legitimate expenses increase this fixed-fee remains the same.

With my app, the seller included a fixed fee on-top of the expenses he incurred with building my app.

  1. Cost Plus Incentive Fee (CPIF) – both the seller and the buyer assume risk. Buyer is responsible for legitimate costs of the project work, but if the seller does not accurately project estimates, the seller and the buyer split the responsibility of costs that are greater or less than the estimate.

In addition, if the seller completes the work in a manner that exceeds an expectation write in the contract, the buyer will provide an incentive fee.

For example, I paid the seller a 2 percent bonus if he completed my app a month earlier then scheduled.

  1. Cost Plus Award Fee (CPAF) – A CPAF is very similar to the CPIF but, the main difference here is the award fee is at the sole discretion of the buyer. The buyer would set predetermined expectations for the seller in the contract. If the seller meets those items, to the satisfaction of the buyer, then an award is provided.

For example, I setup checkpoints within the project work of the app to check on quality, percent complete, etc. to determine if award fees were worthwhile. The award fees are solely at your discretion as the buyer.

  • Time and Material Contracts (T&M) – Last but not least this is the third type of contract. It is a cross between fixed-price and cost-reimbursable. They are a cross because they can take on either form. T&M are typically used when the scope of work cannot be well defined when the contract is created.  Mostly used in construction projects but lately I have seen it with software development projects as well.

Buyer will pay the seller for all time and material it takes to complete the product or service, within reason.

Example:  My kitchen floors, I will pay for the labor and materials within reason!

A little recap!

  • Seller assumes the risk in FFP.
  • FFP should be used with scope that are well-defined.
  • CR contracts are always subject to audits.
  • Risk is shared between the seller and buyer for CR contracts.

 

I hope this helped clarify your understanding about contracts.  Remember the exam will be changing in Dec 2019, the clock is ticking.

 


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30 Day PMP Study Calendar

The goal of the 30 Day PMP Study Calendar is to provide you with daily study goals and readiness assessment to help you pass the exam on the first try. Our goal is to ensure you have the resources needed to successfully prepare for the exam. We hope that the study calendar helps you on your journey to becoming a certified project manager.

Click below for the word version of the template:

30 Day Study Calendar – PMP & CAPM

 


“How do I Pass the PMP Exam?”

“How do I pass the PMP Exam?”

As PMP instructors, we provide our students with the best practices and instructional support to pass the exam the first time around. However, is that enough? Not all my students pass the exam the first time around, and it is not because they did not study. They simply needed to know HOW to study for the PMP Exam. As Rita Mulcahy, the guru of Project Management, states, “To pass the exam, you must be able to score well on questions that address what to do when the work is ongoing, assuming you have properly planned the project! You must, therefore, know what to do during Executing and Monitoring and Controlling.” ADV Consultants, we have created a winning strategy for passing the PMP exam.

Here is our 4-Step Guideline:

Pre-Class Preparation

  • Find a Training Center that is PMI-approved. (Intellectual Point is a PMI-approved training center)
  • Get to know your PMP Instructor and email that Instructor prior to class to get feedback about how to best prepare for the class.
  • Obtain class materials in advance (Most places would want the class to be fully paid up before the class material can be provided.)
  • Read the PMBOK 6th Edition – cover to cover!
  • Understand Project Management the PMI way!

During Class Preparation

  • Get to know your peers and exchange Email addresses. It is best to have a support system while going through the PMP certification process.
  • Bring at least Two pencils, one highlighter, and a notepad to class (We provide these supplies for our students)
  • Bring a big bottle of water to class – hydration is good for the brain cells!
  • After each chapter is taught, take the quiz and understand why you responded correctly to some questions and incorrectly to other questions.
  • At this POINT, don’t try to memorize too much. UNDERSTAND the Project Management Framework.

Post Class Preparation

  • Congratulate yourself for getting through 5 days of intense learning!
  • Create a 30-day Study Calendar for yourself: (We have created one for you here)
  • At the end of each study week, take a full 200-question exam (We have a 1,000-Question Bank that comes with the class).
  • If you have an 85% correct score by the 3rd and 4th practice exams, you are READY to take the PMP Exam!

 Exam Day

  • Take a deep breath!
  • Be confident that you have done everything to prepare for this day

PMP® Coach – Mobile App Coming Soon!

The PMP® Coach app is a PMP/CAPM Study guide in your pocket. Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition, Project Management Institute Inc., 2017. The mobile app will supplement your exam preparation and covers, process groups, Knowledge Areas, Formulas, ITTO’s, Network Diagram, 200 Exam Prep Questions, Confusing Terms, A set of 100 flashcards and the best part is that you can “Ask A PMP Instructor,” any questions you like. The app is available on iTunes
for both iPhone and iPad and Android.


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