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PMP Exam Preparation

PMP Exam Preparation

The Project Management Professional® (PMP®) exam is one of the hardest exams you'll take. Here are a few tips to prepare:

If you're new to project management

I recommend taking the CAPM® exam first... that's what it's for. The PMP® is designed of an acknowledgement of achievement, not a entrance criterion. You're CAPM® certification is designed for new project managers and is good for 5 years. It's a substantially easier exam and you can convert it to a PMP® after you've developed your skills. 

If you think you're ready

First, the stats:

  • 200 multiple-choice questions (4 possible answers)
  • Only 175 of the questions count. 25 will be "pre-test" questions being evaluated, but you won't know which 25. 
  • 4 hour limit (note: if you're prepared, this won't be an issue. Most well-prepared test-takers finish in around 3 hours).
  • PMI does not publish a passing score. I tell people to assume 72% - 75%, but that's just a guess. 
  • You will know if you passed immediately.
  • Tests are offered through Prometric. You can schedule the test at any time they have a computer available.  

The first three chapters of the PMBOK Guide® written in prose, the rest is more useful as a reference, so don't try to read it cover-to-cover. As a colleague of mine once put it, "Learning project management using the PMBOK Guide®, is like learning the English language using a dictionary." Get yourself a test prep book (my recommendations are below). 

One of the challenges facing experienced project managers is what I call the PMI Bubble. You can't answer the questions based on the way you run projects, but rather they way PMI wants you to run projects. You'll need to put your style and your approach aside and answer the questions the "PMI way". I personally found this quite challenging. 

Take lots of practice exams. There are many free or inexpensive ones on the web that do an excellent job of simulating the real test. Like most certification tests, you need to learn how to read the questions and interpret what they're looking for. Here are some tips:

  • The test is very process oriented. Know the processes (all 47 of them).
  • There will be multiple correct answers... your job is to find the BEST answer from the list provided... not according to the way you run projects, but the way PMI thinks you should run projects! 
  • Most questions are situational. They'll set up a situation and ask you what to do next, what's the best tool to handle this, etc. 
  • Know your ITTO's (Inputs, Tools & Techniques, Outputs). They guide the "what to do next" questions as well as understanding the role of the processes. 
  • Know definitions and categorizations (e.g. the difference between a "mitigation" risk response strategy and an avoidance" strategy). 
  • The PMBOK Guide® does NOT contain all the information you'll need (use your supplemental test prep book for that)

Preparing

  1. Read the first 3 chapters of the PMBOK Guide®.
  2. Study the rest of the guide to familiarize yourself with the processes and ITTOs.
  3. Study your test-prep book taking the supplied practice questions.
  4. Take a test-prep class (optional - see below).
  5. Take a practice exam.
  6. Find where you're weak and study it.
  7. Take the SAME practice exam again. This will help you train your mind on how to read the questions and pick answers.
  8. Repeat steps 5 - 7 until you get 90% or better! I'm not kidding... 90% or better. Typically, you'll drop 12 - 15 points between your practice exams and the real one. I'll let you do the math. 
  9. Find another practice exam FROM ANOTHER SOURCE. 
  10. Repeat steps 5 - 7 until you get 90% or better!
  11. You're ready!

Should you take a test-prep class?

Honestly, if you're an experienced project manager and follow the steps I've outlined above, you'll probably do fine without a test-prep class, but they do offer strong advantages. Instructors have successfully gone through the process and can offer more tips, answer your questions, and give you guidance you can't get from other sources. 

One of the strong advantages to taking a test-prep class is it forces you to concentrate and study in an intensive workshop atmosphere with others. They may ask questions you didn't think about. 

Recommendations for a Test-Prep Books

My personal favorite is from Crosswind Learning. It's intense... not for the meek, but thorough (it actually has more information in it than you'll need). It hits the heart of the content without a lot of fluff. It's the one I use for my private clients. 

Heldman is an excellent choice if you need a more thorough understanding of project management. It's written in prose and follows the flow of a real project (unlike the rest that are written in the flow of the PMBOK Guide®). 

Recommendations for On-Line Practice Exams

There are plenty of excellent practice exams on the web. It's impossible for me to keep up with all of them. If you get a recommendation from someone else, it's probably good. Also, I don't check these every day, so some information might have changed. Those disclaimers out-of-the-way, here are mine:

GOOD LUCK! and please feel free to contact me if you have questions. 


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The Key Success Parameters

Peter Drucker is credited[1] with the phrase: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. Yet, modern project management has focused on process rather than culture. We at KSP (yes, we named the company after this model), recognized this issue decades ago and began developing a model that integrates culture with project management practices. Our goal was to establish tangible and implementable characteristics of high-performance cultures that integrate with and support modern project management practices. The result: the Key Success Parameters (KSPs).

The KSPs are briefly described below. Each KSP does not stand alone. They integrate with each other, feed each other, and support each other. Note that the first four define the culture. The last three integrate the mechanics of work into the culture. For more information, refer to our book, Culture’s Competitive Edge, the Keys to Sustained Organizational Growth.

The Key Success Parameters

No. KSP Description
1 Clear Definition There are two aspects to Clear Definition. 1) Clearly defining the deliverable to be produced using measurable requirements; and 2) Clearly defining roles and responsibilities.
2 Ownership Ownership is the strongest KSP for building motivation. Our unique model defines ownership as: the synergistic integration of responsibility, accountability, and authority.
3 Customer Focused Deliverables The deliverables focus helps align employees’ activities directly to the project’s deliverables, ensuring their time is productive.
4 Collaborative Spirit The key tool commonly used for this KSP is communication. The goal is to have project managers, team leads, team members, middle and upper-level management, vendors and client stakeholders working together to help drive the project forward.
5 Task Interdependencies Projects consist of a large number of interdependent tasks. The results of one task become the input into other tasks. If the products created by one team are faulty, the issue can create a ripple effect downstream. Similarly, schedule slips in one task may cause delays downstream.
Project management involves planning and coordinating the design, quality, and schedules of these interrelated tasks to keep the project moving forward.
6 Rigorous Quality The complex network of task interdependencies dictates that quality failures grow exponentially through the project. High-performance teams ensure quality at every step to eliminate rework.
7 Risk Management Projects exhibit inherent risks. Managing those risks increases speed and quality.

[1] Although well-credited with originating this phrase, no one has found it in any of Drucker’s writings. See Quora for more information.


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Testimonials

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Overpassed my Expectations

My takeaways from this seminar overpass my expectations.

Comprehensive PM Workshop March, 2017, Atlanta, GA

2017-06-23T17:20:18+00:00

Comprehensive PM Workshop March, 2017, Atlanta, GA

My takeaways from this seminar overpass my expectations.

Made me Happy

Made me happy: Great Information!


Sr. Chamber of Commerce Leader, Strategic Planning, March 2017 – San Jose, CA

2017-06-23T17:22:45+00:00

Sr. Chamber of Commerce Leader, Strategic Planning, March 2017 – San Jose, CA

Made me happy: Great Information!

Energetic and Effective

Michael Bender is an energetic and effective educator, especially due to the nature of the content.

IT Project Management, March, 2017, Chicago, IL

2017-06-23T16:47:45+00:00

IT Project Management, March, 2017, Chicago, IL

Michael Bender is an energetic and effective educator, especially due to the nature of the content.

Never a Dull Moment

Michael is a great teacher that is fantastic at presenting the material, He makes everything easy to understand and there is never a dull moment.Michael is a great teacher that is fantastic at presenting the material, He makes everything easy to understand and there is never a dull moment.

IT Project Management, March, 2017, Chicago, IL

2017-06-23T16:49:08+00:00

IT Project Management, March, 2017, Chicago, IL

Michael is a great teacher that is fantastic at presenting the material, He makes everything easy to understand and there is never a dull moment.Michael is a great teacher that is fantastic at presenting the material, He makes everything easy to understand and there is never a dull moment.

Wealth of Working Knowledge

Michael Bender has a wealth of working knowledge of the subject, was engaging and really did a great job with the training!!

Comprehensive PM Workshop, July 2016, Chicago IL

2017-06-23T16:50:15+00:00

Comprehensive PM Workshop, July 2016, Chicago IL

Michael Bender has a wealth of working knowledge of the subject, was engaging and really did a great job with the training!!

Testimonials - Random Excerpts

Well Versed

Michael Bender is well versed in the subject matter and is able to substantiate industry examples that pertain to a variety of situations.

Advanced PM. October 2016, Auburn Hills, MI

2017-06-23T17:15:48+00:00

Advanced PM. October 2016, Auburn Hills, MI

Michael Bender is well versed in the subject matter and is able to substantiate industry examples that pertain to a variety of situations.

Most Informative… I’ve Received in Many Years

The most informative, well given instruction I’ve received in many years.

Advanced PM. October 2016, Auburn Hills, MI

2017-06-23T17:17:05+00:00

Advanced PM. October 2016, Auburn Hills, MI

The most informative, well given instruction I’ve received in many years.

Adopted Many Practical Instances

Michael explained materials in great detail and adopted many practical instances. I can adopt my day-to-day personal and work experiences.

PM Fundamentals, May, 2016, Chicago, IL

2017-06-23T17:18:36+00:00

PM Fundamentals, May, 2016, Chicago, IL

Michael explained materials in great detail and adopted many practical instances. I can adopt my day-to-day personal and work experiences.

Overpassed my Expectations

My takeaways from this seminar overpass my expectations.

Comprehensive PM Workshop March, 2017, Atlanta, GA

2017-06-23T17:20:18+00:00

Comprehensive PM Workshop March, 2017, Atlanta, GA

My takeaways from this seminar overpass my expectations.

Made me Happy

Made me happy: Great Information!

Sr. Chamber of Commerce Leader, Strategic Planning, March 2017 – San Jose, CA

2017-06-23T17:22:45+00:00

Sr. Chamber of Commerce Leader, Strategic Planning, March 2017 – San Jose, CA

Made me happy: Great Information!

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Books

Kimi Hirotsu Ziemski
Michael B Bender

Projects are the tools that create products, improve efficiency, and deliver strategic objectives. Beyond the methodologies, at the heart of productivity lie seven Key Success Parameters that can transform your organization into a high-performer. Based on the works of such greats as Mazlow, McGregor, Flamholtz and Randle, Covey, and many others, the authors have developed a framework, structure, and method for moving any organization forward at high-velocity and with high-quality. In this ever-changing highly-competitive and global marketplace, organizations can no longer survive with business-as-usual. See how these Key Success Parameters can help you transform your organization to meet the needs in this challenging economy.

Michael B Bender

There are plenty of books about project management, but this is the first one written for the people who have the most at stake: the senior executives who will ultimately be held accountable for the successes of the projects they approve and supervise. Michael Bender explains project management from the perspective that matters most to executives: adding value. Most books view project management from the inside, focusing primarily on lower-level issues. A Manager's Guide to Project Management views it from above, explaining how project managers can best achieve the strategic goals of the business; the executive's role in successful project management; and the tools available to executives who want to gain greater value from project management. Drawing on extensive experience, Bender shows how to: make sure project and enterprise goals align; structure organizations to support more effective project communication and decision making; integrate project processes with other organizational processes; oversee projects more effectively.

The Project Management Mini-Series

Michael B. Bender

Project scheduling is a critical tool to manage the task inter-dependencies throughout the project. It guides the project manager in resource acquisition and allocation, handling emergencies and risks, and can build a strong and effective team.

This book presents tools and techniques for accurately estimating work, sequencing work, establishing which tasks are time-critical, how to allocate resources across your project and even how to negotiate for better resources. You’ll discover the techniques for developing a project’s critical path and how to use it to get the best team possible as well as how to allocate that team across your project.

Michael B. Bender

 

Perhaps the most misunderstood of the project management disciplines, project risk management is simple to master and is one of the most powerful tools for both novice and advanced project managers.

Whatever concerns your project may offer: political, technical, resource or inexperienced team, project risk management can reduce or eliminate them.

Offering a simplified methodology, this book offers pragmatic and easy-to-understand techniques, tools, methods, forms and checklists for managing risks. You’ll find step-by-step instructions for applying a variety of methods to help you manage your project risks.

Finally, you’ll see how to use the cause-effect relationship of risks to manage high-level stakeholders, senior management and clients.

Michael B. Bender

The Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) is the heart of the project plan. It’s used to define what resources you’ll need. It’s the basis of both your cost and schedule estimates. It establishes your project’s risks. It aids in communication, procurements, quality — all aspects of the project.

This book presents how to develop a solid and robust WBS simply and easily. You’ll learn tools and techniques for engaging your project team, developing project phases, ensuring you include all the activities you’ll need and communicating your project to senior management.


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Contact Us

Contact Information

2112 W Galena Blvd, Ste 8-142

Aurora, IL 60506

E-Mail: MBender@AllyBusiness.com

Direct: (630) 780-7881

Contact us TODAY for a Free and Confidential Consultation



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Executive Series

The Executive Series brings serious white papers and articles designed for organizaitonal executives. Based on the works of some of the greats ranging from Maslow, McGreagor, Vroom, Flamholtz & Randle, and many others, Ally presents innovative yet sound principles to each article.


Why Focus on Culture?

There’s been an explosion in the field of organizational culture over the past decade. My research suggests that the interest in this field began in earnest with the 2008 recession and has focused primarily...

In this article, we explore the concept of organizational culture as it applies to productivity, specifically project work.

The Value of High-Performance Teams

Many experts have proclaimed the value of high-performance teams… myself included. Some time ago, I decided to run some numbers to see potential results. Those results surprised even me.

In this paper, we examine the effects of high-performance project teams on the organization’s bottom line. Specifically, we examine two overall effects: project duration and product quality. Under project duration, we divide the analysis into three sub-categories:...

 

Subscribe to the Executive Series (free)

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Speaking

Michael's Speeches

Michael's high-energy, humor, and experience have delighted audiences around the globe. Speaking on topics ranging from developing high-performance cultures, team dynamics, project management, and strategic planning, Michael brings his decades of experience to each presentation.

Visit Michael's speaker web site at http://www.MichaelBBender.com for more details. 

Kimi's Speeches

Engaging, entertaining, and educational! Kimi brings her energy and decades of experience to each presentation. Topics include organizational culture development, strategic planning, communication, team motivation and development, and many more. 

Visit her speaker web site at http://KimiHirotsuZiemski.com for more details.

Contact Michael TODAY to how he can help your event!


Tell us a little about your event.


Contact Kimi TODAY to how she can help your event!


Tell us a little about your event.



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Services

Project Rescue

You have a project in trouble? We'll fix it FAST and make sure it never happens again!

For Executives

Programs especially designed for organizational leadership.

Training

Training, seminars, and workshops that deliver practical, tangible tools to get your organization moving FAST!

Speaking

Keynotes and speeches that educate and motivate!


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Training

Strategic Planning

Build a comprehensive strategic plan and discover how to implment it. You'll learn:

  • Strauctured framwork for strategic plans
  • Grand strategies and policies
  • Plan implementation

Project & Portfolio Management

Full suite of project and portfolio management programs from basic to highly-advanced. You'll learn:

  • Project management structure & frameword
  • Building a high-performance project team
  • PMO, Program, & Portfolio management

Leadership

Basic through advanced leadership skills, ranging from supervisor to exectutive management. You'll learn:

  • Communication
  • Chaos management
  • Building high-perofmrnace teams
  • Organizational Culture

Contact us TODAY to see what training give you the best benfit for your investment


How can we help?

Briefly describe your training needs.



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For Executives

Fluctuating global economies, dynamic competitive landscape, volitile political environment are only a few of the challenges organizational leaders face. Building a rock-solid foundation broadens your options towards a brighter future. 

Organizational Culture

Peter Drucker said it, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast". A strong, focused, and dynamic culture forms the basis for meeting global challenges. 

Organizational Change

One of the greatest challenges facing organizatinoal leadership is organizational change. A well-planned strategy based on decades of experience guides you through the minefield old habits, stuck processes, and stale attitudes.

Strategic Planning

Durable strategies can seem so illusive. Yet simple principles always apply; principles like: value to customers, innovation, market awareness, and many others. A rock-solid culture plus a sound strategy will survive any global dynamic. 

Project/Portfolio Management

We call it "the chasm", the gap the frequently exists between the strategic plan and the staff that has to impliment it. Managing the project and program portfolio both implements your plan and guides you through the dynamic global environment.

Contact us TODAY for a Free and Confidential Consultation



How can we help?

Feel free to ask a question or simply leave a comment.



Upcoming Events

  • Private Client - Conflict Management KhZ Illinois September 26, 2017
  • Private Client - Conflict Management KhZ Illinois September 27, 2017
  • PREMIER CIO Forum - KhZ October 2, 2017 The Westin Edina Galleria Minneapolis, MN, USA
  • ACT-W 'She Started It' panel - KhZ in Chicago October 18, 2017 Motorola Theater - Chicago, IL

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