Multi dimensional risk analysis for PMP

Here is a multi dimensional risk analysis for the PMP credential from the industry, trainer, PMP aspirant perspectives with an intent to communicate an independent and unbiased view. 


Industry related risks 

  1. The risk – There is a wide spread rumor about PMP credential as a product, which has reached the end-of-life stage in the product life cycle.  Reality – While this can be true from the training providers perspective due to too many trainers / companies undercutting each other, this is never true from the project management professional’s / aspiring professional’s perspective. PMP still rules as most recognized certification for predictive project management (most suited for large projects involving engineering, procurement, construction and management (EPCM). PMP credential is followed by PRINCE2. There is no other choice as of now for anyone who wants to pursue a globally accepted predictive project management related certification based on Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA) by Deming. I am using the term ‘predictive project management’ explicitly because there are many popular certifications available under the agile family (SCRUM, XP, RUP, TDD etc..) which are not a right fit for EPCM projects where the engineering discipline does not allow for much change, hence the agile family of frameworks are more suitable for product development where the requirements and the technology are highly volatile. Even then I am toying with the idea of applying agile during the planning phase of EPCM projects. Do not pelt stones at me because I am talking differently, or because I am the only one talking so. Unfortunately the agilists and the traditionalists do not like each other very much, even when the scrum masters fail miserably because they do not have any clue about stakeholder management, risk management, communication management, resource management, scope management, quality management etc. In my personal opinion, predictive and adaptive (agile) project management streams are complimentary  in nature for those whose goal is to manage their projects successfully, without bias towards any one particular framework.

Trainer related risks

  1. Many trainers teach the inputs, tools and techniques and outputs of the project management processes, in the same sequence as they are listed in the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK), without focusing on the benefits. That makes it very boring and difficult to remember (note that PMBOK is a 750+ page document). A better approach would be to learn process group wise;
    • Initiation
    • Planning
    • Execution
    • Monitoring & Controlling
    • Closing – This approach makes it easy to remember, as this is the natural flow of the project.
    • processgroupwisedoclist
  2. Many trainers provide too much emphasis on remembering inputs, tools&techniques and outputs (ITTO). Remembering them for 49 processes is humanly impossible, especially when one is under exam pressure. In fact, surprisingly those who spent maximum effort to mug up ITTO during their preparation time have failed in the final exam. Once you understand PMBOK process group wise, it is easy to recollect logically the inputs, tools&techniques and outputs. For example remembering the ITTO for the process ‘Develop project charter’ is much easier when one looks at it as the first process under ‘Project initiation’ process group, than the ‘First process’ under ‘Project integration management’ knowledge area.
  3. They do not give any emphasis on the ‘professional ethics’ of project managers. You can imagine the plight of someone who tries into master professional project management without any idea about professional ethics. Since the questions are scenario based, every project management scenario has an ethics angle, and mastering it makes it easier while choosing the best project management decisions.
  4. PMBOK has a wealth of information for the project management practitioner. Many trainers lacks the experience to articulate the concepts from the practitioner’s perspective. For example, project charter can be explained as just an output of project initiation or it can be a great document to develop a well understood project success criteria among all stakeholders..
  5. Trainers may not be well versed with various project domains to cite the right examples, whereas the participants are from different domains. They end up seeing everything as a nail, because the only tool they have is a hammer.
  6. Trainers trying to showcase their knowledge than focusing on the knowledge transfer. Mostly with inexperienced trainers.
  7. Trainers who does not explain things in detail, due to monotony. Mostly with highly experienced trainers.
  8. Trainers recommending too many reference material, thus making the preparation difficult.
  9. Trainers who charge very less fees, who losses interest mid way through the course because they are not compensated enough for their efforts.
  10. Disillusioned trainers, who are wearing the trainer’s hat out of compulsion than by choice.

Learner related risks

  1. Underestimating the effort required. One need to spend atleast 80 hours of preparation time, which include training, self study and exam practise.
  2. Over confidence, hence insufficient preparation.
  3. Lack of confidence, hence not scheduling the exam and finally dropping the idea.
  4. Enrolling for cheap courses, just because they are cheap, without giving any weight age for trainer profile, method of training and track record. Online courses which are just record and play, which are priced lower than the price of books is the number one culprit. Think of the frustration, re-preparation effort and the re-registration fees after failing in the first attempt. Passing PMP in the first go is very important. Do not decide based on the direct costs alone, consider the indirect costs (especially the cost of failure) as well, before deciding on the training program.
  5. Try to finish it off at the earliest, preferably within 30 days of the course completion, else other priorities may take precedence.


Before the camera – 10 points to professionalize your corporate video presentations

Whatever is repeated is a potential candidate for automation. Repeated or to-be repeated corporate presentations, learning / training programs are no exception. While adding professionalism to our otherwise amateurish video presentations can be exciting, there are many hurdles one has to cross, which are successfully overcome by everyone else,  who have traversed the same path before. Speaking to the camera is a different ballgame when compared to talking to live audience. The time has come for professional managers to develop great video presentation skills. Here are the lessons I learnt from my journey and by observing others behind and before the camera within the corporate world.

  1. Everything needs planning to get perfect results. Professional video making is no exception.
  2. Practice is the key. Do not expect perfection without practice.
  3. No one in this world captures perfect video presentations without retake.This awareness will help you to remain cool and confident in the middle of multiple retakes.
  4. Script / story boards are essential. That is a perfect confidence booster. Will help to avoid repetition.
  5. Good and comfortable dressing and makeup are essential.
  6. Body language is important. Do it during the time of the day when you are most energetic.
  7. Do it incrementally than attempting long single take. If possible do it sentence by sentence. While this increases editing work, this reduces stress on the presenter. Patience and energy to do several takes is important. Do not try to finish it off quickly. Take breaks when required.
  8. Setting the right environment is important. Everyone must set their mobiles to silent mode. There is nothing more frustrating than a ringing mobile during a video recording. Prevent others from moving behind the scenes, unless it is planned so. Do not compromise on perfect lighting and audio as it enhances the viewing experience.
  9. Begin with the end in mind. At the end, you are going to get great product / output. Treat your video shoot as a project. Manage all potential risks pro-actively.
  10. Observing professional corporate video shoots with an intent to learn and improve and then implementing the lessons learnt is the smartest way to master this art. In fact, the points in this blog post are my notes to self which I scribbled down on my mobile phone while observing how professionals perform a professional corporate video shoot at WRENCH.

Project management essentials

  1. Define the goal
  2. Collect requirements
  3. Define scope
  4. Develop product breakdown structure
  5. Develop work breakdown structure
  6. Develop project strategy
  7. Estimate the work packages
  8. Determine budget
  9. Decompose the work Packages into activities
  10. Develop activity sequences
  11. Estimate activity effort and durations
  12. Perform bottom up estimation
  13. Optimise budgets
  14. Develop schedule
  15. Allocate resources
  16. Execute
  17. Change management
  18. Monitor and control
  19. Close the project or phase
  20. Lessons learnt

A risk register for PMP Prep project

  1. Choosing the trainer 
    1. Choose the best trainers who can explain the concepts from a practitioner’s perspective with real life examples. This will make the training (understanding 756 pages of PMBOK version 6) interesting and easy to recollect. Good trainers can make the preparation easier and interesting.
    2. The structure of the training is very important. If the topics are covered knowledge area wise, then it is very difficult to recollect. Go for trainers who teaches process group wise (initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, closing). That is easy to understand and remember.
  2. Preparing for the exam  
    1. Spending too much effort in understanding Inputs, Tools and techniques, Outputs (ITTO). It is humanly impossible to remember these for all the 49 processes. One may get some questions around these for the exam, and at the same time it is not a good decision to spend too much time and effort just to remember these. A good trainer and training method will help you to logically reason this out to a great extent.
    2. There is no dearth of free advise for PMP preparation. Each free advise may add another five hundred pages to your preparation load. Be careful enough to check the credibility of the source of information.
    3. Knowledge of the project management good practices as defined within PMBOK is mandatory. Read PMBOK thrice. First reading for a quick understanding. Second reading a detailed one with notes preparation of all the difficult to remember stuff. The third reading is just revision of notes.
    4. Whatever may be your experience and knowledge about project management, exam practice is inevitable to achieve the PMP credential. Instead of practicing several mock exams, choose the one which is more similar to the real PMP exam. Practice the tests several times till you score above 80 percentage. While doing the exam practice, one will be aware of the strong and weak areas. Go back to PMBOK and revise those portions again.
    5. Professionals from the information technology domains are generally weak in risk management and procurement management where as those from EPC projects are weak in human resource management, quality management.
  3.  Registering for the exam 
    1. Many do not write the exam, because there is no deadline for their PMP project. Registering for the exam will provide you with a target date. In the worst scenario, PMI allows you to reschedule the exam three times with prior notice.
    2. While registering for the exam, sometimes PMI audits your application. This is a very random process by PMI, hence there is no reason to worry.
  4. Writing the exam 
    1. Nobody ever writes an exam with hundred percentage confidence. So is the case with PMP. If you are scoring above 80% consistently during your practice exams, take a calculated risk and go ahead.
    2. If you are a person who can perform better under pressure (like me), then go and advertise about your PMP certification to everyone, thus creating that peer pressure which will help you to finish it off in flying colours.
    3. If you are a person who cannot perform under pressure, like many, then keep your PMP project confidential. Advertise after becoming a PMP.
    4. Do not expect the exam center to be as comfortable as your office. Sometimes it can be very cold inside, and you have to spend around four hours there. Go with some warm clothes. Coffee may or may not be available. If it is a must, go with a flask full of coffee. These are hygiene factors, which may demotivate you, if not available.
    5. Reach the venue early, so that you can approach the exam with normal blood pressure.
    6. The exam tests your ability to answer to the question. So, it becomes important to understand the questions before choosing the most correct answer from a set of almost correct answers. Read the questions word by word. If you are in a hurry while reading the question, then you will end up reading it again. So read it carefully the first time itself.
    7. You will have to answer 200 questions in 240 minutes (4 hours). That sounds like a photo finish. Actually there is amble time. Some questions you will take only seconds to answer and the time saved can be used for difficult questions.
    8. If you find some questions as very difficult to answer, then you can mark them for later. Towards the end of the test, these questions will come back to you for answering. If you are lucky, you may get pointers to answer the skipped questions from the subsequent questions.
    9. There are no negative marks. So, do not leave any question unattended. If you do not have the answer, then gamble a bit.
    10. Artificial intelligence is built into the exam engine. If you answer a series of difficult questions correctly then the questions gets tougher and tougher for you till you make a mistake. Once you make a mistake then the questions get easier. When the going gets tough, please remember that you are doing well and hang on for the entire four hours.
    11. After all, it is just another exam. You might have completed forty to fifty exams successfully for your graduation. Do not glorify the PMP exam too much and make it as difficult as your graduation. Have the realization that it is only as difficult as one paper of your graduation.
  5. After the exam 
    1. Tell everyone that you passed the PMP exam
    2. Publish posts about ‘How to prepare for PMP’
    3. Tell everyone that it was very difficult, so that you get better value for your credential.

PMP, PMBOK are registered trademarks of the Project Management Institute (PMI, USA)


About the author of this post 

Abrachan Pudussery is a seasoned trainer/coach/mentor  of  predictive and adaptive project management. The Pmdistilled project management training (classroom and online)  program delivered by him has benefited nearly twenty thousand professionals across the globe during the last one decade.


Estimation of cost using Work breakdown structure (WBS), Delphi and 3 point

Project estimation are of two types. Cost / Effort estimation and project duration estimation. As discussed earlier, work breakdown structures provides us with the breakup of work and at the same time do not provide us with the sequence in which the work has to be performed. Hence work breakdown structures are good enough to perform cost estimation. In I.T projects, since the major contributor to cost is the manpower cost, the term cost and effort are used,and they point to the cost estimate. In other domains like civil, electrical, mechanical etc the project cost include manpower, material and equipment costs. Project estimation happens during pre-sales (early) stage and during detailed project planning. During the early stages of project we have to arrive at the cost estimates using the WBS, as task level details will not be available. Wide band delphi technique, along with the three point estimation technique is the most widely used techniques for early project estimation.

Three point estimate

For every work package, three estimates are derived at;

  • Optimistic (most aggressive) (O)
  • Pessimistic (most generous) (P)
  • Most likely (most probable)  (M)

Then a single point estimate is arrived at by using the formula (O+4M+P)/6

For example, If you are traveling from Point A to Point B and if;

Optimistic estimate is 1 hour

Pessimistic estimate is 3 hours

Most likely estimate is 2 hours

Then the single point estimate is (1+4×2+3)/6 = 12/6 = 2  hours

How the delphi technique is used in project estimation?

  • The work packages to be estimated are explained to a group of experts who have the domain knowledge
  • The experts derive the optimistic, pessimistic and most likely estimates without discussing among themselves
  • After the estimation, they explain their individual estimates to the rest of the estimation team
  • The estimation team converges into one set of optimistic, pessimistic and most likely values based on mutual consensus. Averages and voting are not allowed as the estimates from the minorities can be right.
  • From the agreed upon three point estimates, a single point estimate is arrived
  • These steps gets repeated for each and every work packages of the projects
  • The sum total of the estimates of all the individual work packages is the project’s estimate.


Our on the job project management training helps the participants to master the project management best practices (predictive and agile) by applying them in their real life projects under the guidance of highly experienced project management mentors. These on the job trainings will help you to gain PDUs. 

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Congratulations Shashi PMP

Hi Abrachan,

Yesterday I took my PMP exam and I cleared it. Thanks a lot for all the support you have provided through out.
Your method of teaching made the entire curriculum look easy. I was able to understand every bit of it. The face to face interaction with you makes it more easy.Thank you for making yourself available as and when I needed to go over be it same topics or new topics or just to answer my questions on the already covered topics. In your method i dint have to by-heart any aspect of the PMBOK. One good thing about your method is we will be going over the
entire PMBOK at least once.
The vast curriculum of PMBOK makes it very difficult to even start the study. With so many reference books available we can easily get lost in picking the right path for the certification. But your method clearly defines a path and if we just follow it we can easily not only get certified but also gain and improve on our Project Management knowledge.
With your class and using Rita’s book as reference and answering all the question in the Rita’s book was more than sufficient to give the exam and clear it.
Thanks a lot of all the help you provided.
Thanks & Regards,