Five years ago I received my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification from PMI. In the time since, I’ve regularly given advice to peers on how to get certified and what it takes to keep current. Over the next four posts I’ll be covering what worked for me, updating this post to serve as a table of contents.
DISCLAIMER: This is what worked for me – everyone learns differently and PMI keeps evolving their requirements and process.
Counting Up Work Experience
Satisfying The Training Requirement
Passing The Test
Here’s the short version for the impatient –
Don’t read the PMBOK for your primary source of studying – it is meant as a reference and doesn’t work as a textbook. Read a study guide, such as Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep instead.
Been working over 5 years in a role slightly beyond an individual contributor? You have the experience needed without needing to have had the title of “Project Manager”.
Get as many practice tests as possible and do them all.
Working as a PM? You’ll only need a few PMI webinars to satisfy your CEU’s.
Government Shutdown 2013: Conservatives Lose Control of Narrative – I really do try to avoid too much politics, but the shutdown and the snippets of news I’ve heard around it have confused me. I really don’t fully understand the motivations and this article I think highlights the challenges partisan media is having trying to defend it.
After a week where I had some trouble finding the time to do daily posts, I’ve automated part of the process so hopefully next week these will be more regular. This part 1 of what I read this week is mainly the gaming and computing news I’ve read. Articles are roughly in order of interest for easy skimming. Expect part 2 later today with more general articles.
Life got in the way of updating, so here’s a slightly longer list of readings from the past several days. In no particular order…
In the Reign of the Gay Magical Elves – I’m a big fan of Bret Easton Ellis’ work though he does have a reputation for being a bit cantankerous. This is a long form article that provides a less pithy criticism of the role of homosexuality in modern popular culture in a structure that encourages discussion.
Nomiku Project update XV: Mass Production! – I backed this project for an easy to use, convenient sous vide device and am extremely excited about them making it to production. It has been really interesting watching their updates along the way of what goes into mass production.
Where Nokia went wrong (via Penny Arcade Report) – I was really hoping, given the source of the article, that there would be more of a gaming spin, but really it is a rehash of the “dominant player misses the boat” story.
Straight Up – A brief history of how Johnnie Walker grew to be such a global brand. Interesting aspect is the ceremonial role it has taken on and positioning in the the developing world. Feel like I want to apply some value judgement here, but it is hard to unpack the complex web at work.
Here’s the deal – I scour through a ton of reading material each day and to start tracking my reading, I figured it would be a good idea to capture the articles I actually read. Additionally, figured it would be an good throw-back to the days when everyone used del.icio.us to share everything they spent more then 5 minutes reading. That social aspect has mostly been replaced with twitter and facebook, but there is so much weight from commentary and the pressures of the curated timeline results in much more targeted sharing.
So here goes! Today happens to all be fairly general, but I expect some categorization in the future.
Ten one-of-a-kind cameras from the 21st century – Such click bait that I fell for. It is cool that there has been some experimentation in the digital camera space, but really none of this made me go “ah-ha!”, perhaps validating the typical layout.
Opportunity v Threats (again) – Discussion itself is worth being reminded of, but there is one item worth calling out – a tool vs technique distinction is drawn. This distinction I feel is key to a lot of project management. Because of the state of PM education, tools end up dictating process instead of the other way around. We need to always be on the lookout for these situations!
The PMBOK Approach to EVM – “It was clear to me, as a result of these encounters, that EVM is not well understood and that the cost / benefit aspects of utilizing it are not properly grasped by a large number of PMs.” I’m a big fan of EVM, but if I only had the information I had to learn for the PMP exam I’d probably have a very different opinion.
Self Help for the Week: How to accept a compliment – Accepting a compliment can be challenging for many people – the scripts given near the end should take the anxiety away.
If you present people with the 5 immutable facets of project management, you get a positive response:
What does ‘done’ look like?
How will we get to ‘done’
Do we have the resources to get to ‘done’
What obstacles will we encounter on the way?
How do we know we’re making progress?
People want the answers, yet when you start talking about Project Management the room goes cold. Why? Where is the disconnect between information people want and the tool (Project Management) to obtain it?
The problem in my mind comes from bad project managers and the problems they cause. There are a number of common sins –
Incomplete project management
These are far too common and the problem is compounded by the fact that most management can’t easily tell the difference between these problems and shortcomings of project management in general. Without understanding of good project management or project managers by both management and team members, it is easier to blame the discipline instead of the individuals.
While each of these sins could use a post on their own, there are a few specific recommendations –
Improved training of project managers. A certification is not enough, there needs to be continuing education and improvement.
Training of managers in what good project management looks like. Either in the form of basic project management training or a course specifically for project sponsors, managers everywhere need to know what they need from project management and what they should be looking for.
Include project management in retrospectives and project goals. Identify issues with project management and make improving it a part of the next project.
Project management can be a force for good, making teams more effective and improving project success rates, but only if we confront project manager shortcomings, not just project failures.
The US Government is a great source of Project Management resources and while I plan on giving an overview of what is available for free in the near future, I stumbled across an item from NASA’s “ask” that I just had to share. The US Inspector General released a report recently attempting to answer why NASA projects so often seem to cost more and take longer than originally planned.
While the full report weighs in at 72 pages, I’d recommend everyone interested in Project Management to read at least the overview. Where the rest of the document is interesting in its deep exploration of the current operating environment at NASA, the overview gives a good introduction to the four major factors limiting project success:
NASA’s culture of optimism.
Underestimating technical complexity increases cost and schedule risk.
Funding instability can lead to inefficient management practices.
Limited opportunities for project managers’ development.
These issues are far from specific to NASA and serve as a great reminder to constantly review trends in your own projects’ success and examine ways to improve.