Transcender’s PMP5ED Flash Card mobile app released for Android in Amazon Market, Google Play

August 5, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Posted in PMI, Study hints, Transcender news | Leave a comment
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Do you need help memorizing all of those tricky project management terms and concepts? Do you want to keep your flash cards handy for studying on the go? Try our new Transcender Flash mobile app to study for your PMI Project Management Professional 5th Edition certification!

Click here to buy on the Amazon Appstore.

Click here to buy through Google Play.

For now the app is compatible with all Android devices running 4.0 or higher. Our iPhone app will be released later in the year.

Our app features:

  • Over 1,000 questions covering all exam objectives
  • Simple and intuitive flash card interface
  • Easy self-grading
  • Answer history tracking and reporting
  • Customizable based on your reading preferences
  • Supports Android devices running Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0) and higher

Check out the video demonstration on YouTube!

PMP: Another Perspective

February 20, 2014 at 11:58 am | Posted in PMI, Study hints | Leave a comment
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If you have been following Transcender’s blog for a while, you know that we write a lot of posts about the PMP certification. We’ve blogged about the PMBOK changes, the application process, and even our test-taking experience.  And, sometimes, we find other sources that we feel are worth sharing with our readers.

Heather Christian recently blogged about her exam experience. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t perfect. But it was a pass! And although she didn’t use our exam preparation product, we felt what she had to say about her overall experience was important information. So we decided to share the link to her blog with you, hoping that it might help you on your journey: http://heatherchristian.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/journey-to-pmp/.

Here’s a quick sample:

 I had been given the advice to read the last two sentences at the end of long questions and figure out what they are trying to ask before reading the whole thing. . . . I was only really caught out trying to over complicate a question once.  I quickly realized that calculating the paths given me in one of the network diagram questions was a fools errand that would take me 20 minutes.  A quick re-scan of the question revealed information that made the hairy seeming question very very simple.

Incidentally, if Heather’s blog inspires you, our PMP practice test has been updated to the PMBOK 5th Edition.

Happy testing!

-Robin

PMBOK 5th Edition: Changes to the Executing Process Group (7/9)

December 5, 2013 at 2:48 pm | Posted in PMI, Study hints | 2 Comments
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This is the seventh installment of my PMBOK 5th Edition overview (and we’re finally finished with the Planning Process Group):

The Executing Process Group has quite a few changes, including a (sorta) new process and changes to the names of two processes. This post will cover the following processes:

  • Direct and Manage Project Work
  • Perform Quality Assurance
  • Acquire Project Team
  • Develop Project Team
  • Manage Project Team
  • Manage Communications
  • Conduct Procurements
  • Manage Stakeholder Engagement

So now let’s get to the Executing Process Group changes!

Changes to the Direct and Manage Project Work process

In this PMBOK 4th Edition, this process was referred to as Direct and Manage Project Execution.

The Direct and Management Project Work process has no changes to its inputs. However, the introductory explanation for this process has been expanded and includes a great explanation of the three types of changes that will affect this process: corrective actions, preventive actions, and defect repair.

One new tool has been added to this process: meetings.

One output of this process has a slight name change: work performance information has been changed to work performance data. Note that both of these concepts (data and information) have been retained in PMBOK 5th Edition; they were simply rearranged among the processes. Work performance data is raw data from the project. Work performance information is the work performance data combined with some technique or tool to produce usable conclusions or metrics.

Changes to the Perform Quality Assurance process

The Perform Quality Assurance process now has five inputs:

  • The quality management plan – new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • The process improvement plan – new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • Quality metrics
  • Quality control measurements
  • Project documents – new to this process the PMBOK 5th Edition

While this process still lists three tools and techniques, the Plan Quality and Perform Quality Control  tools and techniques was renamed Quality Management and Control Tools. For all of you project management professionals out there, just keep in mind that any quality management or control tool can basically be used throughout the Project Quality Management Knowledge Area. In the 8.2.2.1 section of the PMBOK 5th Edition, the following tools are specifically listed:

  • Affinity diagrams
  • Process decision program charts (PDPC)
  • Interrelationship digraphs
  • Tree diagram

But while these four tools are specifically listed, the seven basic quality tools from the Plan Quality Management process (which are included in the Planning Process Group Part 3) and the tools and techniques from the Control Quality process (which will be covered in the Monitoring and Controlling Process Group post next week) can also be used in this process.

Exam pro tip!

I, for one, think that this can make some of those questions asked on the exam quite tricky. Project managers will have to analyze HOW the tool is being used to determine which process is actually being performed. For example, if you are using the tool to create performance baselines, you are probably working in the Plan Quality Management process. If you use the tool to measure actual performance for comparison against the baselines, you are probably working in the Perform Quality Assurance process. Finally, if you take the results from using the tool and adjust certain work areas to eliminate poor work, you are probably working in the Control Quality process.

The outputs of the Perform Quality Assurance process have not changed.

Changes to the Acquire Project Team process

The Acquire Project Team process still has three inputs. However, the project management plan input from the PMBOK 4th Edition has been changed to the human resource management plan to more properly reflect the subsidiary plan that is actually used by this process. This process also has a new tool: multi-criteria decision analysis, which selects criteria on which the prospective team members should be analyzed. The criteria usually include availability, cost, experience, ability, knowledge, skills, attitude, and international factors.

The outputs of this process have not changed.

Changes to the Develop Project Team process

Like the Acquire Project Team process, the Develop Project Team has only a single change to its inputs list: the project management plan input from the PMBOK 4th Edition has been changed to the human resource management plan to more properly reflect the subsidiary plan that is actually used by this process.

The new tool listed for this process is personal assessment tools, which includes surveys, assessments, interviews, and focus groups.

The outputs of this process have not changed.

Changes to the Manage Project Team process

The Manage Project Team process has several major changes to its inputs and one minor change. The inputs to this process are as follows:

  • The human resource management plan – new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition. This input replaces the project management plan that was listed in the PMBOK 4th Edition.
  • Project staff assignments
  • Team performance assessments
  • Issue log – listed as a tool for this process in the PMBOK 4th Edition
  • Work performance reports – referred to as simply performance reports in the PMBOK 4th Edition
  • Organizational process assets

This process has the same tools and techniques. However, the conflict  management techniques have been edited a bit to expand the explanation of each technique. In addition, each technique now has two names. For example, the compromise technique is also referred to as the reconcile technique, and the force technique is also referred to as the direct technique. Finally the collaborate technique was combined with the problem solving technique.

One new output was added to this process: project management plan updates. It includes updates to the issue log, roles description, and project staff assignments.

Changes to the Manage Communications process (formerly the Distribute Information process)

According to PMI, a name change occurred in the PMBOK 5th Edition for this process: Distribute Information was changed to Manage Communications. However, there were so many changes to this process that I feel we need to totally review all of this process.

The Manage Communications process has four inputs:

  • The communications management plan (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • Work performance reports  – referred to as work performance information and work performance measurements in the PMBOK 4th Edition
  • Enterprise environmental factors (EEFs) (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • Organizational process assets (OPAs)

The Manage Communications process has five tools and techniques:

  • Communications technology (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • Communication models (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • Communication methods
  • Information management systems (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • Performance reporting – referred to as reporting systems in the PMBOK 4th Edition

The outputs of this process are as follows:

  • Project communicationsnew in the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • Project management plan updates (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • Project document updates (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • Organizational process assets updates
Changes to the Conduct Procurements process

The Manage Project Team process has one revised input and one new input. The project management plan listed as an input in the PMBOK 4th Edition has been changed to the procurement management plan, which is the subsidiary plan that actually affects this process. Procurement statement of work is a new input to this process.

The qualified seller list and teaming agreements inputs were removed from this process.

The Internet search technique for this process was changed to analytical techniques, which broadens the types of analytics that can be performed to obtain possible vendors.

The procurement contract award output is now referred to as agreements in the PMBOK 5th Edition. All other outputs are the same.

Changes to the Manage Stakeholder Engagement process

In this PMBOK 4th Edition, this process was referred to as Manage Stakeholder Expectations and was part of the Project Communications Management Knowledge Area. The Manage Stakeholder Engagement process is now part of the new Project Stakeholder Engagement Knowledge Area.

In the PMBOK 5th Edition, this process now has four inputs:

  • The stakeholder management plan (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • The communications management plan (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • The change log
  • Organizational process assets

No changes were made to the tools and techniques used by this process.

This process has one new output: the issue log.

That covers all the processes in the Executing Process Group.

We’d love your feedback…

With the popularity of our project management blog posts, we are considering following  up with a few more PMBOK 5th Edition posts (after we finish this series, of course.) Some of the possible subjects include: 1) using the critical path method in the Develop Schedule process, 2) using earned value management in the Control Schedule process, 3) using earned value management in the Control Costs process, 4) using forecasting in the Control Costs process, and 5) measuring the to-complete performance index (TCPI) in the Control Costs process.

Are any of these of interest to you? Please feel free to comment on this post and let us know, or suggest your own topic. In the meanwhile, watch in the coming days for the posts covering the changes to the Monitoring and Controlling and Closing Process Groups.

Drop  me a line if you have any questions! I would love to hear from you….

-Robin

PMBOK 5th Edition: Changes to the Planning Process Group (Part 4 of 4) 6/9

October 30, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Posted in PMI, Study hints | 1 Comment
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This is the sixth installment of my PMBOK 5th Edition overview (and we’re still on the second Process Group):

Because the Planning Process Group contains 24 processes, I broke this overview into four posts to cover all of its processes in smaller, more easily digestible chunks.

Part 4 (this post) will cover the following processes:

  • Plan Risk Management
  • Identify Risks
  • Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis
  • Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis
  • Plan Risk Responses
  • Plan Procurement Management
  • Plan Stakeholder Management

The rest of the processes are broken down as follows:

  • Part 1 covered Develop Project Management Plan, Plan Scope Management, Collect Requirements, Define Scope, and Create WBS
  • Part 2 covered Plan Schedule Management, Define Activities, Sequence Activities, Estimate Activity Resources, Estimate Activity Durations, and Develop Schedule
  • Part 3 covered Plan Cost Management, Estimate Costs, Determine Budget, Plan Quality Management, Plan Human Resource Management, and Plan Communications Management.

Let’s launch into the final seven processes of the Planning Process Group!

Changes to the Plan Risk Management process

The Plan Risk Management process now has five inputs:

  • the project management plan – new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • the project charter – new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • the stakeholder register – new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • enterprise environmental factors (EEFs)
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

In the PMBOK 4th Edition, the Plan Risk Management process included the cost management plan, schedule management plan, and communications management plan as inputs. In the PMBOK 5th Edition, these plans are all subsidiary plans of the project management plan, so they are no longer considered separate inputs.

This process has three tools and techniques:

  • Analytical techniquesnew to the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • Expert judgment – new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • Meetings – renamed in the PMBOK 5th Edition. It was referred to as planning meetings and analysis in the PMBOK 4th Edition.

The output of this process is the risk management plan.

Changes to the Identify Risks process

The Identify Risks process now has 13 inputs:

  • the risk management plan
  • the cost management plan
  • the schedule management plan
  • the quality management plan
  • the human resource management plan – new to the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • the scope baseline
  • activity cost estimates
  • activity duration estimates
  • the stakeholder register
  • project documents
  • procurement documentsnew to the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • enterprise environmental factors (EEFs)
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

There are no changes to the tools and techniques used by this process. In addition, this process still has a single output: the risk register.

Changes to the Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis process

The Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis process has two new inputs. The five inputs to this process are:

  • the risk management plan
  • the scope baseline – new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • the risk register
  • enterprise environmental factors (EEFs) – new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

The project scope statement is no longer listed as an input because it is part of the scope baseline.

The tools and techniques used by this process have not changed.

The output of this process is project document updates. Risk register updates are no longer outputs of this process because the risk register is part of the project documents.

Changes to the Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis process

The Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis process now has six inputs:

  • the risk management plan
  • the cost management plan
  • the schedule management plan
  • the risk register
  • enterprise environmental factors (EEFs) – new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

The tools and techniques used by this process have not changed.

The outputs of this process are project document updates. Like in the Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis process, risk register updates are no longer listed as outputs of the process because the risk register is part of the project documents that can be updated during this process.

Changes to the Plan Risk Responses process

The Plan Risk Responses process was not changed very much. The inputs, tools/techniques, and outputs of this process are the same. The only changes I see in this section of the PMBOK is an expanded explanation of the strategies for negative and positive risks.

Changes to the Plan Procurement Management process (formerly the Plan Procurements process)

For this process, there was a name change in the PMBOK 5th Edition: Plan Procurements was changed to Plan Procurement Management.

The Plan Procurement Management process now has nine inputs:

  • the project management plan – new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • the requirements documentation
  • the risk register
  • activity resource requirements
  • the project schedule
  • activity cost estimates
  • the stakeholder register – new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • enterprise environmental factors (EEFs)
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

There are two new tools used in this process. The tools and techniques used by this process are as follows:

  • make-or-buy analysis
  • expert judgment
  • market research – new to the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • meetings – new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition

Contract types, which was a tool listed in the PMBOK 4th Edition, is now discussed in Section 12.1.1.9: Organizational Process Assets.

This process has one new output. The seven outputs of this process are as follows:

  • the procurement management plan
  • the procurement statement of work
  • procurement documents
  • source selection criteria
  • make-or-buy decisions
  • change requests
  • project document updates – new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition
Introducing the Plan Stakeholder Management process – NEW IN PMBOK 5th EDITION

The Plan Stakeholder Management process is a new process to the Planning Process Group and the Project Stakeholder Management Knowledge Area. This process creates the stakeholder management plan that is used to develop the management strategies to effectively engage stakeholders in the project.

The Plan Stakeholder Management process has four inputs:

  • the project management plan
  • the stakeholder register
  • enterprise environmental factors (EEFs)
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

This process has three tools/techniques: expert judgment, analytical techniques,  and meetings. The analytical techniques include stakeholder engagement assessment matrix and other techniques.

This process has two outputs: the stakeholder management plan and project document updates.

That covers all the processes for this post and completes the Planning Process Group. Watch in the coming days for the posts covering the changes to the Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing Process Groups.

Drop  me a line if you have any questions! I would love to hear from you….

-Robin

PMBOK 5th Edition: Changes to the Planning Process Group (Part 3 of 4) 5/9

October 25, 2013 at 9:29 am | Posted in PMI, Study hints | Leave a comment
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This is the fifth installment of my PMBOK 5th Edition overview (and we’re still on the second Process Group):

Because the Planning Process Group contains 24 processes, I will be breaking this overview into four posts to cover all of its processes in smaller, more easily digestible chunks.

Part 3 (this post) will cover the following processes:

  • Plan Cost Management
  • Estimate Costs
  • Determine Budget
  • Plan Quality Management
  • Plan Human Resource Management
  • Plan Communications Management

The rest of the processes are broken down as follows:

  • Part 1 covered Develop Project Management Plan, Plan Scope Management, Collect Requirements, Define Scope, and Create WBS
  • Part 2 covered Plan Schedule Management, Define Activities, Sequence Activities, Estimate Activity Resources, Estimate Activity Durations, and Develop Schedule
  • Part 4 will cover Plan Risk Management, Identify Risks, Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis, Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis, Plan Risk Responses, Plan Procurement Management, and Plan Stakeholder Management.

Without further ado, here are the six processes of the Planning Process Group that I am covering in this post.

Introducing the Plan Cost Management process – NEW IN PMBOK 5th EDITION

The Plan Cost Management process is a new process to the Planning Process Group and the Project Cost Management Knowledge Area. This process creates the cost management plan that is used to define, validate, and control project costs.

The Plan Cost Management process has four inputs:

  • the project management plan
  • the project charter
  • enterprise environmental factors (EEFs)
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

This process has three tools/techniques: expert judgment, analytical techniques,  and meetings. The analytical techniques include payback period, return on investment, internal rate of return, discounted cash flow, and net present value.

This process produces one output: logically enough, it is the cost management plan. The cost management plan is an input to the Define Activities, Sequence Activities, Identify Risks, and Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis processes.

Changes to the Estimate Costs process

The Estimate Costs process now has seven inputs:

  • the cost management plan – new to the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • the human resource management plan – called the human resource plan in the PMBOK 4th Edition
  • the risk register
  • the scope baseline
  • the project schedule
  • enterprise environmental factors (EEFs)
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

This process has one new technique: group decision-making techniques. This is actually a group of techniques that include brainstorming and Delphi or nominal group techniques.

The outputs of this process are also unchanged from the PMBOK 4th Edition, and include the activity cost estimates, basis of estimates, and project document updates.

One section of this process that has been expanded a bit is the reserve analysis section. This section now contains a more comprehensive explanation of reserves, including contingency reserves (known-unknowns) and management reserves (unknown-unknowns.)

Changes to the Determine Budget process

The Determine Budget process has three new inputs. The nine inputs to this process are:

  • the cost management plan (a new input, and an output of the Plan Cost Management process)
  • the scope baseline
  • the activity cost estimates
  • basis of estimates
  • the project schedule
  • resource calendars
  • the risk register (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • agreements (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

The tools and techniques used by this process have not changed.

The outputs of this process have one very small change: the cost performance baseline output from the PMBOK 4th Edition was renamed the cost baseline in the PMBOK 5th Edition.

The Cost Baseline section of this process has been expanded quite a bit to include the contingency and management reserves. A new figure (Figure 7-8) named Project Budget Components was also added to show how the budget components make up the project budget.

Changes to the Plan Quality Management process (formerly the Plan Quality process)

For this process, there was a name change in the PMBOK 5th Edition: Plan Quality was changed to Plan Quality Management.

The Plan Quality Management has two new inputs. The six inputs to this process are:

  • the project management plan (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • the stakeholder register
  • the risk register
  • the requirements documentation (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • enterprise environmental factors (EEFs)
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

There are two new tools used in this process. One new tool is meetings. The other new tool, called seven basic quality tools, actually contains (as its name implies) seven tools, one of which was previously listed in the PMBOK 4th Edition:

  • Cause-and-effect diagram
  • Flowcharts
  • Checksheets
  • Pareto diagrams
  • Histograms
  • Control charts – included in PMBOK 4th Edition
  • Scatter diagrams

The section on the seven basic quality tools includes an illustration (Figure 8-7) that gives examples of the seven tools.

There are no changes to the outputs from this process.

Changes to the Plan Human Resource Management process (formerly the Develop Human Resource Plan process)

For this process, there was a name change in the PMBOK 5th Edition: Develop Human Resource Plan was changed to Plan Human Resource Management.

The Plan Human Resource Management process has one new input. The four inputs to this process are:

  • the project management plan (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • activity resource requirements
  • enterprise environmental factors (EEFs)
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

The Plan Human Resource Management process has two tools/techniques: expert judgment and meetings.

While the output of this process is the same, its name has changed from human resource plan to human resource management plan.

Changes to the Plan Communications Management process (formerly the Plan Communications process)

For this process, there was a name change in the PMBOK 5th Edition: Plan Communications was changed to Plan Communications Management.

The Plan Communications Management process has one new input. The four inputs to this process are:

  • the project management plan (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • activity resource requirements
  • enterprise environmental factors (EEFs)
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

The Plan Communications Management process has one new tool/technique: meetings. However, two of the existing tools, communication technology and communication models, have undergone some fairly extensive edits/additions. So an experienced project manager may want to read this section just to get familiar with the new content and terminology. The complete list of tools for this process is:

  • communications requirements analysis
  • communication methods
  • communication technology
  • communication models
  • meetings (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)

The outputs of this process have not changed, and remain the communications management plan and project document updates.

That covers all the processes for this post. Watch for Part 4 of the Planning Process Group in the coming days.

Drop  me a line if you have any questions! I would love to hear from you….

-Robin

PMBOK 5th Edition: changes to the Planning Process Group (Part 2 of 4) 4/9

October 23, 2013 at 11:20 am | Posted in PMI, Study hints | Leave a comment
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It’s me again. For those of you just tuning in, I have already released three blog posts:

Because the Planning Process Group contains 24 processes, I will be breaking this overview into four posts to cover all of its processes in smaller, more easily digestible chunks.

Part 2 (this post) will cover the following processes:

  • Plan Schedule Management
  • Define Activities
  • Sequence Activities
  • Estimate Activity Resources
  • Estimate Activity Durations
  • Develop Schedule

The rest of the processes are broken down as follows:

  • Part 1 covered Develop Project Management Plan, Plan Scope Management, Collect Requirements, Define Scope, and Create WBS
  • Part 3 will cover Plan Cost Management, Estimate Costs, Determine Budget, Plan Quality Management, Plan Human Resource Management, and Plan Communications Management.
  • Part 4 will cover Plan Risk Management, Identify Risks, Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis, Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis, Plan Risk Responses, Plan Procurement Management, and Plan Stakeholder Management.

Without further ado, here are the six processes of the Planning Process Group that belong in the Project Time Management Knowledge Area. Let’s get to it!

Introducing the Plan Schedule Management process – NEW IN PMBOK 5th EDITION

The Plan Schedule Management process is a new process to the Planning Process Group and the Project Time Management Knowledge Area. This process creates the schedule management plan that is used to define, validate, and control project time.

The Plan Schedule Management process has four inputs:

  • the project management plan
  • the project charter
  • enterprise environmental factors (EEFs)
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

This process has three tools/techniques: expert judgment, analytical techniques,  and meetings. The analytical techniques include rolling wave planning, leads and lags, alternatives analysis, and methods for reviewing schedule performance.

This process produces one output: the schedule management plan. The schedule management plan is an input to the Define Activities, Sequence Activities, Estimate Activity Resources, Estimate Activity Durations, Develop Schedule, Identify Risks, and Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis processes.

Changes to the Define Activities process

The Define Activities process now has four inputs:

  • the schedule management plan – new to the PMBOK 5th Edition
  • the scope baseline
  • enterprise environmental factors (EEFs)
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

The tools and techniques used during this process have not changed and are as follows: decomposition, rolling wave planning, and expert judgement.

The outputs of this process are also unchanged from the PMBOK 4th Edition, and include the activity list, activity attributes, and milestone list. All of these outputs are inputs to the other Project Time Management processes in the Planning Process Group.

Changes to the Sequence Activities process

The Sequence Activities process has two new inputs. The seven inputs to this process are:

  • the schedule management plan (a new input, and an output of the Plan Schedule Management process)
  • the activity list
  • activity attributes
  • the milestone list
  • the project scope statement
  • enterprise environmental factors (EEFs) (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

The Sequence Activities process has two small changes to its tools/techniques: applying leads and lags has been renamed to leads and lags, and schedule network templates have been removed.

The outputs of this process have not changed.

I would like to highlight some great new information that is included in this section in the PMBOK 5th Edition. The Precedence Diagramming Method section (6.3.2.1) has been expanded to better explain the different relationships. Also, a new figure (Figure 6-9) has been added to demonstrate how the relationships are displayed in a diagram. In the Dependency Determination section (6.3.2.2), a new dependency type, internal dependencies, has been added. In the Leads and Lags section (6.3.2.3), a new figure (Figure 6-10) named Examples of Lead and Lag is given. Finally the Project Schedule Network Diagrams section (6.3.3.1) includes a new project schedule network diagram figure (Figure 6-11).

Changes to the Estimate Activity Resources process

The Estimate Activity Resources has three new inputs. That means the complete set of inputs to this process is:

  • the schedule management plan (a new input, and an output of the Plan Schedule Management process)
  • the activity list
  • activity attributes
  • resource calendars
  • risk register (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • activity cost estimates (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • enterprise environmental factors (EEFs)
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

There are no changes to the tools/techniques used in this process or to the outputs from this process.

Changes to the Estimate Activity Durations process

The Estimate Activity Durations process has three new inputs. The ten inputs to this process are:

  • the schedule management plan (a new input, and an output of the Plan Schedule Management process)
  • the activity list
  • activity attributes
  • activity resource requirements
  • resource calendars
  • the project scope statement
  • risk register (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • resource breakdown structure (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • enterprise environmental factors (EEFs)
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

The Estimate Activity Durations process has one new tool/technique: group decision-making techniques. This includes brainstorming and Delphi or nominal group technique. The complete list of tools/techniques for this process is:

  • expert judgment
  • analogous estimating
  • parametric estimating
  • three-point estimating
  • group decision-making techniques (new)
  • reserve analysis

The outputs of this process have not changed. The outputs are still activity duration estimates and project document updates.

Changes to the Develop Schedule process

The Develop Schedule process has four new inputs. The thirteen inputs to this process are:

  • the schedule management plan (a new input, and an output of the Plan Schedule Management process)
  • the activity list
  • activity attributes
  • project schedule network diagrams
  • activity resource requirements
  • resource calendars
  • activity duration estimates
  • the project scope statement
  • risk register (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • project staff assignments (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • resource breakdown structure (new to this process in the PMBOK 5th Edition)
  • enterprise environmental factors (EEFs)
  • organizational process assets (OPAs)

The Develop Schedule process has two new tools/techniques: resource optimization techniques (which includes the resource leveling technique from the PMBOK 4th Edition and resource smoothing, a new technique) and modeling techniques (which includes what-if schedule analysis technique from the PMBOK 4th Edition and simulation, a new technique). Also, the applying leads and lags technique has been renamed to leads and lags.

Two new outputs have been added to this process: project calendars and project management plan updates. The complete list of outputs is schedule baseline, project schedule, schedule data, project calendars, project management plan updates, and project document updates.

Again, the PMBOK 5th Edition has added some very useful information to this section. The description of the Critical Path Method (6.6.2.2) has been expanded to better explain the method, and a new figure (Figure 6-18) has been added to demonstrate the critical path method. All activity boxes in the diagram have been expanded to include the ES, EF, LS, LF, duration, and slack of the activity. If you are unfamiliar with this method, I would strongly suggest that you look over section 6.6.2.2 and seek out other learning tools to familiarize yourself with this technique. I can guarantee this will be on the live exam in some manner!

The Critical Chain Method section (6.6.2.3) has also been expanded and includes a new figure (Figure 6-19) that is useful. Resource leveling is also demonstrated in Figure 6-20, another new figure.

That covers all the processes for this post. Watch for Part 3 of the Planning Process Group in the coming days.

Drop  me a line if you have any questions! I would love to hear from you….

-Robin

PMBOK 5th Edition: Knowledge Area and Process Group changes 1/9

September 13, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Posted in PMI, Vendor news | Leave a comment
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In January of this year, the Project Management Institute (PMI) released the 5th Edition of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK). While the book was released in January, the revised version of the Project Management Professional (PMP) exam was not released until July 31, 2013.  That means it’s now my favorite time of the year: time for Robin to develop a new Project Management Professional practice test for our customers! Each time I take on a PMP revision, I begin with a thorough analysis of the differences between the old and new PMBOK editions. As I review the two standards, I make notes of all the changes so that I can ensure that I am using the current terms, process names, Process Groups, and Knowledge Areas. Having just finished reviewing the new book, I thought this would be a great time to let all of our blog followers know about the Process Group and Knowledge Area changes.

Major and minor changes between PMBOK 4 and PMBOK 5

Many of you already know that I am a big fan of charts and tables. One of my favorite tables in the PMBOK is Table 3-1, which is included in both the 4th Edition and 5th Edition. This master table gives an overview of all Knowledge Areas, Process Groups, and processes so you can better understand their relationships. In reviewing the two versions of this Table, I discovered these key changes:

  1. A new Knowledge Area named Project Stakeholder Management has been added.
  2. Five new processes have been added.
  3. Eleven processes have had name changes.

Having isolated this information from Tables 3-1 (4th Edition and 5th Edition), I then listed all changes that I could find between the two editions, from name changes to additions and subtractions.

Process Groups

The Process Groups have not changed. They are still Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing.

Knowledge Areas

First, the newly added Project Stakeholder Management Knowledge Area contains four processes:

  • The Identify Stakeholder process has been moved from the Project Communications Management Knowledge Area, but remains in the Initiating Process Group.
  • The Plan Stakeholder Management process is a new process in the Planning Process Group.
  • The Manage Stakeholder Expectations process has been moved from the Project Communications Management Knowledge Area, but remains in the Executing Process Group. The process has been renamed the Manage Stakeholder Engagement process.
  • The Control Stakeholder Engagement process is a new process in the Monitoring and Controlling Process Group.

The Project Integration Management Knowledge Area has one change: The Direct and Manage Project Execution process has been renamed to Direct and Manage Project Work.

The Project Scope Management Knowledge Area has two changes:

  • A new process named Plan Scope Management has been added within the Planning Process Group.
  • The Verify Scope process has been renamed to Validate Scope.

The Project Time Management Knowledge Area has one change: The Plan Schedule Management process has been added  within the Planning Process Group.

The Project Cost Management Knowledge Area has one change: The Plan Cost Management process has been added within the Planning Process Group.

The Project Quality Management Knowledge Area has two changes:

  • The Plan Quality process has been renamed to Plan Quality Management.
  • The Perform Quality Control process has been renamed to Control Quality.

The Project Human Resource Management Knowledge Area has one change: The Develop Human Resource Plan process has been renamed the Plan Human Resource Management process.

The Project Communications Management Knowledge Area has five changes:

  • The Identify Stakeholders has been moved to the new Project Stakeholder Management Knowledge Area.
  • The Plan Communications process has been renamed to Plan Communications Management.
  • The Distribute Information process has been renamed Manage Communications, and has undergone some revisions.
  • The Manage Stakeholder Expectations process has been moved to the new Project Stakeholder Management Knowledge Area.
  • The Report Performance process has been renamed the Control Communications process and has undergone some revisions.

The Project Risk Management Knowledge Area has one change: The Monitor and Control Risks process has been renamed to Control Risks.

The Project Procurement Management Knowledge Area has two changes:

  • The Plan Procurements process has been renamed to Plan Procurement Management.
  • The Administer Procurements process has been renamed to Control Procurements.

Well, there you have it: All the changes to Process Groups and Knowledge Areas in PMBOK 5th Edition.  Also, keep in mind that I am communicating to you the official stance of PMI according to the PMBOK 5th Edition. Some folks will want to discuss the possibility that the Identify Stakeholders and Management Stakeholder Engagement processes that were moved are actually new processes. But they aren’t. If you read the content and compare it to the 4th Edition sections, you will see that much of the information is exactly the same. If you want to see a bit of the information I communicated above in a table format, please go to Heather Christian’s blog post at http://heatherchristian.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/knowledge-area-and-process-changes-in-the-pmbok-5th-edition/. Watch for my upcoming PMBOK series posts that will go into the nitty-gritty details about the Process Groups and the changes within the processes. The first post will be on the Initiating Process Group. Also, for those customers anxiously awaiting our PMP 5th Edition practice test, please know that we are working on the development and hope to have a new product released later this year. (And yes, we will release a new CAPM 5th Edition practice test as well!) Until next time -Robin

My PMP Journey: Bad News, Good Advice, and the Dire Warnings You Should Heed

January 25, 2013 at 4:14 pm | Posted in PMI, Study hints | 3 Comments
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While I do manage projects in my daily work, I’d never thought of myself as an actual project manager. Being a take-action, Active Directory kind of guy, I primarily develop Microsoft practice exams and leave products like Project+ and CAPM to the professionals (aka Robin Abernathy). But last year several of my co-workers began suggesting that I take PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP) exam. Then my supervisor softly “suggested” that I take the PMP exam. Even my sister, a project manager, got in the game and encouraged me to take the exam. Furthermore, my sister said the exam was easy and did not take a whole lot of work to prepare for.

Well, she was wrong.

Since I am a veteran trainer, exam developer, and test-passer, my initial plan of attack was to fill out the application, take a practice test to identify gaps in my knowledge, do self-study to close those gaps, schedule the exam, take the exam, and pass it. BOOM! PMP-ville.

The Bad News

Not so fast. First, it took forever and a day to detail all of my project work experience for the application. Yes, you have to document 4,500 hours of project management experience (7,500 hours if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree). They also require 35 hours of formal project management training, which I didn’t have. The training materials was not actually a problem, as I was able to take a Skillsoft e-learning course that my company offers, but I did have to stop and find time for 35 hours of training in my schedule.

Once I finished the training and completed the application, back in June 2012, I got the go-ahead from PMI to schedule my exam. Next, I tested my existing knowledge by taking the Transcender PMP practice test. I failed that practice test miserably, and I emphasize: miserably.

I appealed to my friends and Dr. Internet for advice. One friend suggested a book that turned out to be a lifesaver: PMP Project Management Professional Exam Study Guide by Kim Heldman. Meanwhile, Dr. Internet suggested that I read the book chapter by chapter, then go through some practice tests after I’d finished the whole thing.

The More Bad News

Great plan, except for the part where it didn’t work. I would read one chapter, then another chapter, and then life would get in the way. I would put in one week of good study, then put the PMP info down for about 10 days. Unfortunately, a lot of the information that I’d studied seemed to float away. This process continued all the way through fall. By the time September rolled around, I was still not able to pass the practice tests that came with the book. Worse, the actual PMP exam is four hours long, but I had to take lots of breaks to finish each practice test. I just could not sit through all 200 questions. I felt like I was in high school taking the SAT test again. Augh!

I soon figured out what everybody and their mother has already posted on the Internet: you need to know every process, every input for that process, every tool and technique for that process, and every output for that process. By the way, there are a whole lot of processes. I tried to memorize them with repeated reading, but was never successful.

Finally, I tried using the audio CDs that came with Heldman’s book. Since my office recently relocated to East Tumbleweed, I had plenty of driving time to listen to someone else describe each process. Although this sounds like this would be outlawed by the Geneva Convention as torture, it actually helped a lot. I was able to memorize most of the processes and their information in this way. More importantly, I was able to do significantly better on the book’s practice tests, and started to make headway on the Transcender practice test as well.

The very last thing I did to prepare was to actually read the PMBOK guide. Not exactly a page turner, but it had to be done. I wasn’t too far into the PMBOK when I realized that Heldman’s book has done such a great job of explaining the abstract terminology with real-life examples, that I didn’t need to spend a lot of time with the PMBOK itself. I might owe dinner to the buddy that recommended Heldman’s book.

The Dire Warnings

Scheduling, or rather the impossibility of RE-scheduling the PMP exam, was no walk in the park. I strongly suggest that you do not schedule your exam too many months in advance. In fact, you might want to make sure your test date is carved in stone. If you need to reschedule your exam within 30 days of the exam date, you will have to pay a $70 fee.  Worse, if you need to reschedule within 48 hours, you lose the entire testing fee ($405 for PMI members, $555 for non-PMI members). Ouch! Just be mindful, if you schedule the exam months in advance, life might get in the way, and you will risk losing your $70.

MoneyDownTheDrain

All warnings aside, I do recommend you set a goal date. I decided on the date that I wanted to take my exam and scheduled the exam only a few days out from that date.  Set a target date for when you want to take the exam, and then try to schedule the exam two weeks out from the target date.

The test center where I took the exam reminded me of the gulag in the movie “Stripes” where the East Germans held John Candy, Judge Reinhold and the gang, before Bill Murray and Harold Ramis busted them out.

Stripes

The lighting was so bad that I could barely see what I was writing on the scrap paper they gave me. As promised, the exam had 200 questions and blocked out four hours. My sister said that it would only take me two hours, tops. As I may have mentioned before, my sister was wrong. It took nearly the whole four hours for me to finish. It was comprehensive and really a tough exam. After staring at a screen for four hours, I could barely see to drive home.

Finally, the Good Advice

The exam was not impossible. Looking back, there are some things that I would have done differently. For starters, former Transcender team member Jennifer Wagner gave some really good advice on the application process in her blog post from 2009. Like she mentions, you should start documenting your project hours as soon as you start thinking about the PMP exam to cut down on the time spent sorting out the application requirements.

After I finished the application process and got the approval to take the exam, I would have tried to take the test within 6 weeks. I would have taken several days off from work and buckled down to go through all the material and practice tests on a continual basis, instead of trying to dedicate 90 minutes to studying five days a week.  PMI uses specific terminology to describe things that seem obvious or intuitive when you’re actually managing a project. If you do not know that terminology backwards and forwards, which I didn’t at first, it will be tough to pass the exam, even if you apply those principles every day at your job.

For me, the best way to get the knowledge about the processes was to go through as many practice test questions as I could to cement the information about the processes in my brain. There are about 800 practice test questions and over 1000 flash questions in the Trancender PMP practice test. I also went through the 400 practice test questions in the Kim Heldman’s book. With my work/life schedule, it took about two weeks to go through all those questions. Going through the questions highlighted my deficiencies. This was the key to the whole process, since after I identified the weak areas, I concentrated on the processes that I was weak on. I got better and better at the flash cards and practice questions until I felt ready to schedule my exam.

The more that you space the studying out, the less you’ll retain. Dedicate some time to the process and knock it out of the park while it’s still fresh. Hope this insight into my experience helps set your expectations & project management goals. Good luck!

Graduate

–George Monsalvatge

Nickle-and-dime PDUs: convenient, cost-effective ways to earn certification credits

November 29, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Posted in PMI, Study hints, Vendor news | Leave a comment
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Editor’s note: Our guest blogger, PMP certification holder Colleen Reed, project manager for a Washington, D.C.-area information technology firm, shares her budget-busting method of acquiring PDUs.

My most excellent Project Manager Professional (PMP) certification comes with a requirement to take 60 continuing education credits of the PMI-approved sort, called professional development units (PDUs). I have three years from the receipt of my PMP to earn those 60 PDUs. There are many, MANY ways to earn credits, which the PMI helpfully lists here (http://www.pmi.org/Pages/Ten_Ways_to_Earn_PDUs.aspx). Some of these credit methods have limits; some do not.

My favorite method for earning my PDUs are those very inexpensive ($5) or free Web-broadcast seminars that account for between a half and two credits each. So far, I’ve nickle-n-dimed myself up about 10 credits worth of those classes.

My favorite class so far has been a Web-broadcast lecture on project risk management for the widening of the Panama Canal. It was hosted through the Washington, DC PMI chapter, and cost me $5 to “attend” online. That was an interesting political science and management lecture rolled into one convenient package. And it earned me 1.5 PDUs towards recertification. I also took some online webinar courses on Earned Value Management from Global Knowledge, which earned me a single PDU each.

Admittedly, this earning rate pales in comparison to, say, the 22 credits that I could earn for attending a three-day class of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. But as a working professional, I find there are many advantages to these small-fry webinars:

  • The first one is convenience. I can “attend” a webinar from any location that has a computer and a connection, and sometimes I don’t even need to attend the presentation in real time.
  • The second advantage is targeted content. I can pick a class that covers a topic that I need, and earn PDU credit while also advancing my knowledge base.
  • The third advantage is what I consider my brain-full level. An hour of class time contains just about as much material as I want to absorb during my work day.
  • And the fourth advantage is, of course, cost. While my own company has a very generous training policy, many of us in the consulting business must arm-wrestle our companies for the time off to take courses, the money to take the classes, or both. These webinars are low-to-no cost, so might not be worth anyone’s time when it comes to fighting about money.

So, in short, using webinars to earn PDUs is a great idea. I get my PDUs when and where I want them, in bite-sized pieces, on topics that interest me, and no one is complaining about my training budget. To quote Stephen Covey, that’s a “win-win.”

Colleen Reed, PMP, SNVC L.C.
Program Manager, National Guard Bureau

Related blog posts:

Keep Your PMP Fresh With PDUs

Come Together, Right Now…under one certification registry?

September 30, 2011 at 12:31 pm | Posted in Vendor news | 1 Comment
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Since the onslaught of the Great Recession, highlighting your skills for employers has become an important, if not critical, activity.  In the IT industry, one of the best ways to prove your skills is to earn certification in the relevant fields and technologies. Thanks to Transcender, and to your own hard work and diligence, you probably have a few certifications under your belt, or are seriously working toward earning one.

If you have a really diversified skill set, you probably have certifications from more than one vendor. Each vendor has their own certification system. CompTIA and Cisco issue physical wallet cards to certified individuals. Microsoft phased out their printed certifications in 2010, then launched their Virtual Business Card site (although wallet cards may be coming back, as per this July post on Born To Learn). All of these vendors, including Oracle, also support a public, online transcript system. The problem is that none of these certification systems are integrated. So you might find yourself fumbling through cards in a high-stakes interview or dealing with an ever-expanding resume to accommodate the boatload of transcript IDs and vendor-specific links.

The (proposed) solution? To make available one central repository of all your certifications, regardless of the vendor. An organization named  the ITCC (Information Technology Certification Council) is trying to do exactly that with its TechCertRegistry. Using a single account, you can  link certifications from multiple vendors and combine them into one report. Continue Reading Come Together, Right Now…under one certification registry?…

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