Cyber Security and Project Management with Dr. Maurice Dawson

PM Center Insider

Interview with Dr. Maurice Dawson, Fulbright Fellow and Professor at University of Missouri-St. Louis

By Dr. Emad Rahim, Kotouc Endowed Chair of PM Center of Excellence

Dr. Maurice Dawson
Dr. Maurice Dawson

Maurice Dawson serves as an Assistant Professor of Information Systems at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, Visiting Assistant Professor (Honorary) of Industrial and Systems Engineering at The University of Tennessee Space Institute, and Fulbright. Dawson is recognized as an Information Assurance System Architect and Engineer by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Research focus area is cyber security, systems security engineering, open source software (OSS), mobile security, and engineering management.

  1. You specialize in cyber security. Can you tell us how project management skills are important in the field of cyber security?

Dealing with cyber security in the life cycle means there is a form of project management occurring.  This could be at the systems or software level but a project or product is still being managed.  This means a lead needs to understand the concepts of scope, schedule, and cost.  One of the major problems has been connecting the goals of Chief Information Officer (CIO) to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO).  Project management skills allow me to deliver a product or project to my customer within budget, in scope, and within schedule.

  1. What other technology fields do people use project management?

Project management can be found in the following technology fields: cyber security, software engineering, systems engineering, Business Intelligence (BI), and acquisition management. Project management is embedded in many technology disciplines, as many science and engineering life cycles have a form of project management contained within.  The flow is project management, systems engineering, and then software engineering, in terms of development hierarchy.

  1. Can you give us some examples of industries that are going more ‘project-ized’ in their business?

For any Department of Defense (DoD) project it must follow the acquisition life cycle.  The DoD and the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) required the DoD to establish a process through which persons in the acquisition workforce would be recognized as having achieved professional status. Certification is the procedure through which a military service or DoD Component determines that an employee meets the education, training, and experience standards required for a career level in any acquisition, technology, and logistics career field.  In the civilian sector, to manage costs, schedule, and scope project management has become essential.  When obtaining customer confidence – being process-oriented is needed.  The Capability Maturity Model Index (CMMI) is a process improvement training and appraisal program and service administered and marketed by Carnegie Mellon University, and required by many DoD and U.S. Government contracts.  In software driven projects, CMMI is required, which has a project focus.  This could mean any items such as aviation management software, software to control tanks, and any other software, as the requirement is CMMI Level 3 for many organizations to meet.

  1. You have written and conducted extensively on the topic of project management, where do you see the profession going in the next 5 years?

In the next years I see cyber security being woven more into the project life cycle.  In previous years cyber security was an afterthought which resulted in significant costs to fix defects or vulnerabilities in code.  I foresee project management methodologies like a bag of tools for a mechanic.  One project will select agile while another is using a modified water fall method.

  1. Can a person without a traditional project management background get into the profession? Can you provide some guidance?
    A person who doesn’t have a traditional project management background has more likely participated in part of the life cycle.  This means in the stage of testing, integration, documentation, or even maintenance, participation may have taken place.  An individual simply needs to expose themselves to more of the project life cycle.  This can be playing an active role in more parts of the life cycle and taking on responsibilities such as a Cost Account Manager (CAM).  Managing small budgets is a method to become more involved in the financials of the project.  This will allow an individual to understand the scope, schedule, and cost further.

Project-Driven Technology in Organizations with Dr. Robert McGrath

PM Center Insider

Interview with Dr. Robert McGrath, PMI Author and PM Center Faculty

By Dr. Emad Rahim, Kotouc Endowed Chair of PM Center of Excellence

Robert McGrathPMCenterDr. Robert N. McGrath began his career after graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy, and served five years as an Aircraft Maintenance and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Officer. Afterwards he worked in project-driven aerospace environments as a logistician, engineer and manager for Texas Instruments, General Electric Aircraft Engines, and the Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Company. When the Cold War ended and with several Master’s Degrees accomplished, he completed a Ph.D. in Business Administration at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. As a full-time academic, his work has focused mainly in the areas of strategic management, project management, technology and innovation management, operations management, and logistics. He is author of the book Project-Driven Technology Strategy: Knowledge Technology published by PMI.

  1. You specialize in teaching Project-Driven Technology. Can you tell us how technical skills are important to project management?

It’s more correct to say that I specialize in Technology and Innovation Management (TIM), which is a track in the Academy of Management, ensconced in my Ph.D. in Strategic Management.  However, I have come to realize that the interface between this strategic concern, and the “operations” level of management, goes right through the Project Manager.  That is, it seems that the lowest level of expertise in TIM lies at barely discussing the hands-on management of projects, while inversely, the typical PM can barely articulate what Strategic Management is all about at that person’s ‘upper level’ without resorting to vacuous and poorly understood buzzwords like “competitive advantage.”  The strategist’s floor is the PM’s ceiling, then, and this is a ceiling that must be dissolved.  So along with the PMP and prior industry experience, nowadays, I have made this interface my specialty, so to speak

  1. What makes project management technology unique? Could you provide some examples in when being current in PM technology is important on projects?

As noted, my focus is not about Project Management technology per se, as much as the Management of Technology — any technology amongst the thousands that exist.  Here, of course, the dominant “process technology” is the PMBOK itself, a rather ‘soft’ technology in the normal vernacular, but fully compliant with the extant definitions of what technology is – human competence, and organizational capability.  Anyway, the PMBOK is an ANSI standard, the ‘spec’ of this profession so to speak, which is the smoking gun of this esoteric point.

  1. If technology competency is so important for project managers why do you think so many companies overlook it when assigning a person to lead a project?

Well, here definitions really do become important.  If we are speaking of engineering-style, education/training-based degrees and certifications as technology competencies, then I’m sure this statement would vary in application tremendously across industries first and foremost.  This would be especially true in industries that define themselves using technology boundaries in the first place, which has important limitations when it comes to managing innovation in the age of technological convergence amongst and across industries.  One of my favorite expressions to hate is “THE Technology Industry,” which simply does not exist in any clearly-bounded fashion that is managerially useful except in the most casual sense.  There are thousands of technologies and hundreds of ‘technology industries’ – not one of each!  So to answer the question, one really needs to identify which technology competency(ies) are at issue in the given industrial context.

  1. You have written and conducted extensively on the topic of strategy and technology, where do you see the project management profession going in the next 5 years?

“Follow the money.”  This applies especially to large capital projects, whether they be privately funded or publicly (or hybrid forms).  US companies continue to hold back massive, massive amounts of Retained Earnings, waiting for the day when capital projects can be planned in an atmosphere of acceptable balances between overall (Investment) Risk and ROI.  Right now, companies are getting so tired of waiting for real recovery, they have switched growth strategies from internal development through capital projects, to Mergers and Acquisitions.  In other words in order to grow, which is an incessant corporate demand, the project-level “numbers” just aren’t there yet to foster “Internal Corporate Entrepreneurship” economy-wide, leaving the one other traditional option — to simply merge with and/or acquire other firms.  The year 2015 looks to be a record-setting year in M&A, especially in Healthcare.   But this is not so good.  The history of M&A fads is very bad in the long run.  The “synergy” unicorn is just that in many errant M&A schemes, that wastes billions in real wealth.

  1. Can a person without a traditional project management background get into the profession? Can you provide some guidance?

I’m not sure what a “traditional project management background” is!  More to the point, I don’t know where the boundary lies between PM being a true profession, and a job.  Some people get dragged into “management” almost against their will, almost as if they will accept the role only because they know what’s good for their careers.  Turning down a promotion, even an informal one, can be a disaster.   The term sometimes heard is the “Accidental Project Manager.”  I think we all know many practicing managers, usually low-level managers, that hold contemptuous views about “management stuff” being so much “common sense.”  Until they run into that crisis where lack of a key people skill, typically, shocks them into adopting a more mature and professional attitude.  The moral of this story?  Get enthused about the full range of human skills demanded of any professional manager early, accept these accountabilities fully, and let nature take its course.  Executives are ALWAYS looking for the real pros, not the cynics.  And sooner or later, get trained or educated.

Social Capital Management for Aspiring PMs

PM Center Insider

By Emad Rahim, Kotouc Endowed Chair of PM Center of Excellence

Emad RahimDr. Emad Rahim, PMP®, OMCP®, serves as the Endowed Chair of the Project Management Center of Excellence and Associate Professor for the College of Science and Technology at Bellevue University. He has earned fellowships at Fulbright, Beyster Institute, Kauffman Foundation and the Jack Welch Management Institute, and has been invited to serve as a Visiting Scholar at Rutgers University, Oklahoma State University and Syracuse University.  He co-authored Foundations of Social Responsibility and Its Application to Change, Leading Through Diversity: Transforming Managers Into Effective Leaders, and The 4-Tions: Your Guide to Developing Successful Job Search Strategies. Emad has also contributed columns for Forbes, CEO Magazine, IntelligentHQ and TweakYourBiz.com, and has been featured in the Huffington Post, US News & World Report and NY Post.

Connect with him on Twitter @DrEmadRahim

Project managers are nothing without a fine-tune team and a rolodex of social capital that is committed to your project success. Who are you going to call when you need project resources, solutions for complex problems, expert advice, and additional workforce or when you are dealing with a crises that no one of your team knows how to handle it?

“Social capital” means fame, goodwill, reputation or recognition you have amassed because of your work, achievements, professional network or social activism.

Traditionally, social capital meant goodwill a project manager – or any individual, for that matter – has gathered from various segments of professional networks and society. But in the Internet age, social capital also includes goodwill and reputation a project manager garners from social media, or more generally, from every digital platform.

If you are an aspiring project manager, here are 10 easy yet effective ways to build social capital before embarking on your project management career.

  1. Have Not One, But Several Social Media Pages

To build social capital, you need to be social. We are not talking about just saying ‘hello’ here and there, vanishing for a few weeks, and then coming back when you feel like it.

You should formulate an effective social media strategy in which you open – and maintain – pages on more than one platform.

At a minimum, you must have a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter…and Pinterest if you have time.

  1. Engage Your Friends and Followers

Once you open the pages, maintain them. Post relevant content, information that improves people’s lives, entertains them or educates them.

If friends and followers see you posting value-adding information, you could boost your social capital over time, strengthening your moral authority over them.

The idea is to provide good information consistently, so people can see you as a trusted of education and information they can rely on.

  1. Follow What Is Going on in Your Area and Industry

Educating others is good, but educating yourself is better. Familiarize yourself with your niche, your industry or whatever interests you.

Learn as much as you can, read and find out the key trends that are shaping your industry. That kind of research will pay off exponentially later on when you embark on your business career, because you would know exactly what works, what does not, and what rivals are doing.

  1. Cultivate the Company of Prominent People

Don’t waste your time with the wrong people – online and offline. ‘Show me your friends, and I will tell you who you are,’ says the axiom.

The idea here is to amass social goodwill by forming solid ties with prominent personalities in your niche.

That way, you can indirectly benefit from their social capital whenever they mention your name or refer you to their friends and business contacts. Don’t reinvent the wheel; just copy what the best are doing, and you could be on your way to business stardom, too.

  1. Surround Yourself With Other Project Managers

Surround yourself with other project managers if you want to simultaneously gather social capital and boost your business aspirations.

 The good thing is, when you hang out with other similarly minded people, their expertise and talent spread on you, thus expanding your own knowledge. You, too, share your inner potential with them, thus completing the virtuous circle you can use one day to advance your respective businesses.

The idea of crowdsourcing is similar, although it applies to a large group of people – a crowd, that is.

  1. Convince Others You Are the Best – or One of Them

You can quickly garner social goodwill if you consistently produce top-quality content, share good ideas with followers, and are seen as a rising star because you work with prominent people.

To convince others you are the best – or one of the best – you need to work, work and work. No talk – just work. Prove your excellence through hard work, and before you know it, others will give you the accolades you need and want.

  1. Do Good Offline

Doing good is excellent online – but so it is offline. Doing good is good for your karma, which is not a bad thing when it comes to social capital.

Accumulated much goodwill through volunteering and charitable activism can also translate into online recognition, because the people and organizations you helped also have an online presence – and they would be more than happy to return the favor you initially granted them.

  1. Establish Thought Leadership

Establish thought leadership by writing a book, giving a speech, penning several blog articles or mentoring others.

All these activities serve to set  you up as an expert in whatever field you choose, as long as it fits nicely with your future business aspirations.

Remember that people generally ascribe expertise and intellectual authority to someone who writes a book or delivers a comprehensive speech or presentation on a topic – and does so not just once, but several times.

  1. Think About Project Management, Too

As an aspiring project manager, you are probably thinking about business growth and the ROI of your project success only. That is okay, but don’t forget socially conscious projects that you can support.

This world also needs smart, competent and poised people who want to improve the lives of millions through social activism.

Earlier, we said you can build social capital by doing some good offline. Here we are saying you could actually take the path of social project management altogether, building an organization – nonprofit or business – focused on social welfare. I volunteer on several nonprofit and community projects every year. This helps me stay connected, grounded and expand my network outside of the workplace.

  1. Let Others Shine

Humility is the gateway to stardom, so let others shine whenever you can. As much as possible, mention others in your social posts, blog articles and other messages.

Shedding light on other people’s work will benefit you, not only in terms of social goodwill, but also in terms of personal connections you could use offline to jumpstart your business.

Final Word

As an aspiring project manager, you should cultivate your relationships offline and online, at all times, and wherever possible. Always provide relevant and value-added content, and your peers and followers gradually will elevate your status in the industry. This also rings true for established project managers that are seeking to grow their social capital.

Last but not least, don’t forget also to put the limelight on others – they will return the favor in due course.

Risk Response Strategies for Negative Risks or Threats

PM Center Insider

By Fahad Usmani, PMP®, PMI-RMP®, contributing blogger

Fahad Usmani

Fahad Usmani, PMP®, PMI-RMP®, is founder of PMstudycircle.com and the author of A2Z of PMP Certification Exam. He has over 10 years of global portfolio management experience, specializing in leading complex corporate projects. He currently serves as an Inspection Engineer in Kuwait and facilitates project management training programs throughout the Middle-East.

As we know, risks are not always bad; sometimes they can bring some opportunities as well. Negative risks or threats have a negative impact on the project objective and positive risks have a positive impact on the project objective.

Therefore, risk response strategies to manage positive and negative risks are different.

In the PMBOK Guide, we have following strategies to manage negative risks:

  • Mitigate
  • Transfer
  • Avoid
  • Accept

The following strategies are used to manage positive risks:

  • Enhance
  • Exploit
  • Accept
  • Share

In this blog post we are going to discuss the negative risk response strategies in detail. For the positive risk response strategies, refer to my next blog post.

Okay let’s get started.

Mitigate

In this type of risk response strategy, you try to minimize either the probability of the risks happening or the impact.

For example, you find that a team member from your team may leave for a certain duration during the peak of your project. Therefore, to minimize the impact of his absence, you identify another employee with similar qualifications from your organization and inform his boss that you may need him for your project for a period of time.

Transfer

In transfer risk response strategy, you transfer the risk to a third party to manage it. Please note that the transfer of risk does not eliminate the risk; it only transfers the responsibility of managing the risk to the third party.

For example, in your project there is a task to install some equipment and you don’t have much experience in this type of task. Therefore you ask a contractor to come and install it and sign a fixed-price contract.

In this way you have transferred the responsibility of the whole task to a third party, and now it is his responsibility to complete the task within the agreed time and cost.

Avoid

Here you try to eliminate the risk or its impact on your project objective. You do this by either changing your project management plan, by making some changes to the project scope, or by changing the schedule.

For example, you observe that during certain periods of your project there is a chance of rain and you have some work planned outdoors at that time. Therefore, to avoid this risk, you move these activities to some other time to avoid the effect of rain.

Accept

This risk response strategy can be used with both kinds of risks, i.e. either positive risks or negative risks.

Here, you don’t take any action to manage the risk but you do acknowledge it.

You can accept the risk either by actively acknowledging it or passively acknowledging it.

In active acceptance you keep a separate contingency reserve to manage the risk if it occurs, and in passive acceptance you do nothing except note down the risk.

Summary

You have four risk response strategies to deal with negative risks. You will select the strategy to manage the risk depending on the type of risk. If you see that you can manage the risk, you will go for the mitigation risk response strategy. If you see that a third party is better equipped to manage the risk than you, you will go for the transfer risk response strategy. If you find it difficult to manage the risk in any way, you will avoid it. And in the accept risk response strategy, you just acknowledge the risk and note it down and decided to manage it only if it happens.

The Road To Becoming a Certified Professional

PM Center Insider

The Road To Becoming a Certified Professional

By Emad Rahim, Kotouc Endowed Chair of PM Center of Excellence  

Emad Rahim

Dr. Emad Rahim, PMP®, OMCP®, serves as the Endowed Chair of the Project Management Center of Excellence and Associate Professor for the College of Science and Technology at Bellevue University. He has earned fellowships at Fulbright, Beyster Institute, Kauffman Foundation and the Jack Welch Management Institute, and has been invited to serve as a Visiting Scholar at Rutgers University, Oklahoma State University and Syracuse University.  He co-authored Foundations of Social Responsibility and Its Application to Change, Leading Through Diversity: Transforming Managers Into Effective Leaders, and The 4-Tions: Your Guide to Developing Successful Job Search Strategies. Emad has also contributed columns for Forbes, CEO Magazine, IntelligentHQ and TweakYourBiz.com, and has been featured in the Huffington Post, US News & World Report and NY Post.

Connect with him on Twitter @DrEmadRahim

While the objective of a degree program is to help students build knowledge and skills in a particular area of study, a certification program goes beyond that. Degree programs must meet standards set by regional and national accrediting organizations, the Department of Education and state licensing agencies. In an engineering, project management, or computer science program, for example, you’ll gain a thorough education. At the same time, these disciplines have industry-related certifications, and though you may complete a degree program, you’re not guaranteed to successfully pass a corresponding certification exam.

The typical full-time accounting student pursuing a master’s degree, for example, completes education in topics like business accounting, statistics, economics and financial management for two or three years, but along with hundreds of other accounting students, a graduate still has to pass the CPA exam to become a Certified Public Accountant. Certification exams specifically test for professional competencies and knowledge gained outside of your college education. They often require you to have significant career experience within your discipline, perhaps along with professional references and other requirements beyond those needed for graduation from a degree program.

Here are other examples of professional certifications that require a significant amount of study hours after earning the academic degree:

PE (Professional Engineer): http://ncees.org/exams/pe-exam/

PMP (Project Management Professional): http://www.pmi.org/en/Certification.aspx

PHR (Professional in Human Resources): https://www.hrci.org/

Also law students must pass the Bar exam after graduating before they can practice law, and there are dozens of medical licenses and credentials for those pursuing a career in healthcare.

On the other side of a professional certification, however, are some real advantages: employers respect the accumulated years of high-level work that underlie a certification, and they see you as more accomplished in your field than the average graduate. Certifications are based on having relevant experience in addition to college knowledge, and they let employers know you can get the job done well.

If you’re interested in pursuing a certification after earning your degree, keep  in mind that you may first need to put a few years into your field to gain the kind of real-world understanding it takes to pass the exam. Make an excellent name for yourself in the small pond of your professional career, and you’ll be poised to move ahead of the class as a certified professional.

Leadership for Project Managers

PM Center Insider

– Interview with Dr. Casey Reason, Best-Selling Leadership Author and PM Center Faculty

By Emad Rahim, Endowed Chair of PM Center of Excellence  

Dr. Casey Reason profile

Dr. Casey Reason is an author, speaker, trainer, and innovator who uses the new science of learning to train leaders and inspire lasting innovation. He’s also the president of an internationally acclaimed company that’s been designing innovative virtual learning systems since 2001, and formally served as a program Chair for Ken Blanchard College of Business. He is author of Stop Leading Like It’s Yesterday: Key Concepts for Shaping Today’s School Culture and 100 Days to Leadership Impact, and teaches leadership and communication for the Project Management Center of Excellence.  

You specialize in teaching leadership. Can you tell us how leadership skills are important to project management? 

Leadership skills are essential to project management in two important ways. First, in conceptualizing a project and its execution requires the ability to have vision and to understand both how systems work and how individuals within that system make it work. The ability to conceptualize that represents a leadership skill associated with vision that is very important. Secondly, the management or execution of a project requires the capacity to be flexible, make judgements, and certainly work towards maximizing the performance of others. Clearly just having a project plan isn’t enough. The human factor associated with higher levels of performance or other variables are significantly impacted by a leader’s ability to get the most out of others and to maximize the potential for performance.

How do project managers use leadership? Could you provide some examples in when leadership is important on projects? 

In many cases project managers may have to make either a minor or significant adaptation either to the plan itself or with respect to how participants are going to approach these specific challenges. A project manager who lacks leadership may simply seek to execute the plan exactly as it is written and/or may not take into account these essential differences in plan execution based on performance. Good leaders, however, execute their projects with these subtle demarcations in mind.

If leadership skills are so important for project managers why do you think so many companies overlook it when assigning a person to lead a project? 

We sometimes feel more comfortable talking about project management over leadership because of the fact that it is more tangible. In general, human beings are more comfortable with things they can actually see, feel, and specifically relate to. It is easier, for example, to examine the relative sanity of organizational charts and job descriptions rather than dealing with the leadership skills that are required to make them effective.

You have written and conducted extensively on the topic of leadership, where do you see the project management profession going in the next 5 years? 

In my newest book I talk about collaborative teams and the use of technology in virtual connectivity to shape progress and goal attainment. Without question, in the next five years more of our project are going to be executed using these technologies and this ability to connect and communicate will continue to shape the work of leaders and project managers. In the future, leaders will have to become increasingly adroit at managing large projects at a distance wherein most or all of the participants have never met each other and in some cases haven’t even spoken to one another in synchronous conversation. Getting conformable with asynchronous communication and making sense of those communications will pay significant dividends in the future.

Can a person without a traditional project management background or with a lack of leadership skills get into the profession? Can you provide some guidance?

The simple answer is no. You simply cannot do a competent job in project management without some project management experience and training. You also need some leadership experience as well. This doesn’t mean, however, that you necessarily have to have a degree or credential in these areas to be effective. As is the case with almost any learning objective, salient outcomes can be achieved when people roll up their sleeves and work hard. Indeed there will continue to be opportunities for competent project managers who come to the position with perhaps far less experience in training than others. Their work, however, will be made more difficult and in some cases they will certainly have to go back and redouble their efforts to learn those things that they were lacking in the first place. Training is required. There are obviously allowances and flexibility in how we get that training.

PMP Exam Tips and Preparation

PM Center Insider

– Interview with Fahad Usmani, PMP®, PMI-RMP®, contributing blogger

By Emad Rahim, Kotouc Endowed Chair of PM Center of Excellence  

Fahad Usmani

Fahad Usmani, PMP®, PMI-RMP®, is founder of PMstudycircle.com and the author of A2Z of PMP Cert Exam. He has over 10 years of global portfolio management experience, specializing in leading complex corporate projects. He current serve as an Inspection Engineer in Kuwait and facilitates project management training programs throughout the Middle-East. 

 

When did you earn your PMP credential?
I passed my PMP exam on Dec. 13, 2010.

How did you prepare for the exam?
I began the PMP certification process without ever having referenced a sample PMP preparation book or the PMBOK® guide. I was starting from ground zero. So in December 2009, I attended live classroom training to earn the 35 contact hours training program certificate.

Did that adequately prepare you to take the PMP exam?
No, it did not. My lack of preparation was embarrassing. It was difficult for me to absorb the concepts being presented and there were also instances when I couldn’t participate in the discussion because I just didn’t have enough baseline knowledge.

So, you recommend students do some advance preparation before attending a live training program?
Yes, otherwise you will not get much out of the training and may feel uncomfortable.

How do you suggest students prepare?
During the training program I was given the Head First PMP Exam preparation books. Initially, I did not like the book; however, as I started reading it, I found its approach to be very easy and engaging. I strongly suggest getting the book to understand basic project management concepts.

Beyond this, it’s important to make time to prepare for the exam. I personally experienced a few ups and downs during my preparation. There was a time when I lost my enthusiasm, which paralyzed my studying. But the clock was ticking. There are time-sensitive eligibility requirements so you can’t procrastinate.

Finally, I got serious. I scheduled the exam and gave myself three months to prepare. Putting a date on my calendar was like a spark. I became more enthusiastic about my preparation and that momentum helped me tremendously.

What was it like on exam day?
On my scheduled exam date, I reached the Prometric Test Center half an hour early. Do this! It takes about 15-20 minutes to check-in and you want to avoid being rushed or stressed during that time. After check-in you’re allowed to enter the testing room.

It took me 2-1/2 hours to complete the exam, and I used the remaining time to review my answers. Once I submitted the answers, I was asked to complete a brief survey about my test-taking experience and then… Congratulations! I was able to see immediately that I passed the PMP exam.

What were your favorite study books?

Any final advice? 
Yes. Here is a quick checklist of things to do before taking the exam:

  • Become a member of PMI and actively seek out other PMP’s so you can learn from them.
  • Buy any two good PMP exam reference books to study so you can learn from different perspectives.
  • Read the PMBOK® Guide, at least three times.
  • Get 35 contact hours from any registered training provider.
  • Apply for the exam, schedule it, and then develop a study plan.
  • Rather than attempt to memorize everything, like the Input, Tools & Technique and Output (ITTOs) in the PMBOK® Guide, focus on understanding the logic behind the project management principles.
  • Pay special attention to Initiating and Closing Process Groups. These are the smallest groups and each group contains only two processes.
  • Don’t over study by trying to answer every sample question you may find on the Internet. Only rely on authentic sources for sample questions and exams, like your reference books or samples taken directly from the PMI website.

I hope these insights are useful as you work toward earning your PMP credential. To learn more about Fahad Usmani, visit his blog.