Archive for the 'PRINCE2®' Category

Some Certification Exam Day Tips for Future PMPs and CBAPs


On your certification exam day, you should be relaxed, psychologically prepared, and confident.  Taking the PMP, CBAP or other certification exam can be a stressful event! Try to be well rested and adequately nourished when you take the exam. Staying up all night before the exam for some last minute studying is not a good idea.

Make sure you know the location of your testing center prior to exam day.  Perhaps consider doing a “drive by” of the exam location so you know where you are going and exactly how to get there.  You can also scope out your favorite coffee spots along the route.  Just remember that you can’t take any food or drink into the testing area, so you will need to finish your coffee or snack before you start the exam.

You might call your testing center the day before your exam to confirm your exam date and time and the hours of operation.  I suggest this based upon the experiences of one of my best buddies, Peggy.  She made it through a surprise and unpredicted Colorado spring snowstorm, which included 8 inches of fresh snow in the early morning hours and many car accidents on her way to get to her early morning PMP exam. The story gets even better. When Peggy showed up at her testing center to sit her certification exam she discovered that the location of the testing center had moved the week before. Luckily, the new address of the exam site (handwritten, no less) was taped to the front door.

Peggy rushed to the other location and then begin her exam. Almost everyone, including the exam center staff, was late to work that morning so the damage was minimal.  However, the stress spike caused by this situation made Peggy have to sit at the computer for about 30 minutes before she could calm down and focus on the exam itself. This is when you discover the power of preparation, since she passed her exam with flying colors. The testing center staff told her that she had been notified of this relocation by email, but she could find no message from them in her inbox.

When you arrive at the testing center, you will have to lock up your personal belongings in a locker or leave them in your car for the duration of your exam.  The testing center staff will provide you with pieces of scratch paper and pencils, which you will need to return to them after your exam.  They will also take you into the testing area, seat you at your computer, provide you with headphones to muffle the noise, and confirm that the correct exam is being provided.

You have some time before the exam must start if you take the tutorial on how to use the exam software.  I recommend that you run the tutorial and then use this time to jot down any “cheat sheet” notes on the scrap paper that you have prepared prior to the exam.  Of course, these notes and reminders must all be in your head as you can’t take your own paper into the testing area.

Be aware that there could be other folks in the testing area taking a wide variety of exams, so people may come and go during your testing interval.  If you are easily distracted, this activity may take your attention away from your exam and its questions from time to time.  You may take a break during the exam; however, the timer keeps going while you are away from your seat.

Any other tips and tricks to add to the list? Please share.

Happy testing!

Susan Weese

Reprinted by permission from Susan’s exam crammer book blog located at cbapccba.blogspot.com

APMG Launches New Business Relationship Management Professional (BRMP®) Certification


APMG International recently announced the launch of their new Business Relationship Management Professional (BRMP®) qualification. This new and relevant qualification was developed in partnership with the Business Relationship Management Institute (BRMI). BRMI has partnered with APMG International to promote wider adoption of world-class BRM training and facilitate widespread availability of BRMI professional certifications.

The BRMP qualification provides foundation-level knowledge of Business Relationship Management (BRM). This qualification is a comprehensive foundation for Business Relationship Managers at every experience level who require knowledge of effective BRM as part of their roles or are seeking certification to enhance their careers. The new BRMP qualification targets project managers, business analysts, architects, external service providers and representatives of shared services organizations including IT, HR, finance, sales, and strategic planning. This may be a worthy credential to acquire and enhance your PMP or PRINCE2 certifications.

The Business Relationship Management Institute (BRMI) is a non-profit corporation that serves the business relationship management (BRM) professional community by providing membership, certification and professional development to help maximize BRM capability in organizations around the world.

Check out the new BRMP qualification on the APMG website and let me know what you think.

Happy studying for your new certification!  I am having fun preparing to sit this new exam!

Susan Weese

Project Outsourcing Does Not Equal Simplicity


How’s that project outsourcing working for you? In my experience, entire projects or just some of the project work can be outsourced for a number of reasons.  Sometimes organizations are required to outsource project work due to a lack of resources, lack of skills or a need to reduce costs. Whatever the reason for outsourcing all or part of your project work, project managers need to be prepared for an additional layer of complexity within their project structure once outsourcing takes place.

I grew up working on Information Technology  (IT) projects, and it was no surprise for me to read that IT takes first place in most studies for the percentage of outsourced jobs. According to many of these studies, the most popular destinations for these outsourced jobs these days are in India, China and the Philippines.

Let’s take a look our projects and see where outsourcing might have an impact on our project, our project plan and our internal project team members.  There are three key parts of our project life cycle: the controlled start, middle and end of the project.

Controlled Start. The controlled start to a project includes the pre-project activities where we determine if this is a viable and worthwhile project for the business. A project’s controlled start where we do more detailed planning for both our overall project and the next stage. At the end of initiation, we should have our project scope finalized, our project plan built, and be ready to get to work.  Outsourcing can add some serious tasks here, such as making the decision to outsource work in the first place.  Once the decision is made, we need to get the approval and the funding for the outsourcing that is to take place.  Then it is time to find the right contractor, consultant or consulting firm to work with.  Vendor selection requires negotiating the proposals, bids and resulting contracts.  And don’t forget to clearly define and agree upon the requirements for the scope of work.

Controlled Middle. The controlled middle of a project is where the technical work gets done, one stage or phase at a time. The project manager is using the plan to measure and monitor project performance and to control what is taking place. When we are outsourcing project work, everything we do needs to include the vendors – regular status, informal conversations, checking the health of the project, dealing with stakeholders, forecasting future performance, and dealing with issues and risks.

It can be challenging to rely on an external person or a company to get your project work done.  Outsourcing adds some overhead to the project manager’s day job, including managing the administrative overhead of outsourcing for accounts payable purposes. Someone has to educate the outsourced staff members on our internal project processes, procedures, goals and operational requirements.  It can be a challenge to track project progress without direct authority over the outsourced staff members.  What do you do when you find yourself, the project manager, relying on project team members that may not be “visible” to you or that you have never actually met face-to-face? You may find yourself juggling priorities as you managing your outsourced team, your in-house team and any resulting issues that occur.

Controlled End. A controlled end to a project is when we are wrapping up a job well done. We are taking stock of achievements, reporting on the effort, ensuring objectives and acceptance criteria are met and transitioning the final product of our project into its operational life.  If you are outsourcing work, be sure to plan for knowledge transfer to operationally maintain your project’s solution and deliverables after your outsourced team is gone.

Seems like outsourcing is just like any other tool project managers use for project definition and delivery. As such, outsourcing must be carefully weighed, planned and managed as part of your project to ensure project success.  So, how’s that project outsourcing working for you?

Susan Weese

Using PRINCE2 to Achieve High-Performing Project Teams


How do experienced project managers create and nurture a high performing project team?  In my experience, a high performing project team has a mutual purpose that binds them together and ratchets their performance to an exceptional level that is more than the sum of its parts? In their book, The Wisdom of Teams, Katzenbach and Smith list five qualities of high-performing teams that make those teams different from an “ordinary” team. Those qualities include:

  • Deeper sense of purpose
  • Ambitious performance goals
  • Better work approaches
  • Mutual and individual accountability
  • Complementary skill sets and interchangeable skills

Many of the fundamental aspects of a PRINCE2* project can contribute to a high-performing project team. Of particular interest to me is the Organization theme, where clear roles and responsibilities on the project are defined, agreed-upon and used on a daily basis. These roles and responsibilities encompass all areas of the project – business, users and suppliers. They also define each level of the project as far as who directs, who manages and who performs the actual specialist or technical project work. PRINCE2, with it’s strategies and other management products, provides an excellent framework for making decisions and resolving project-specific conflicts.

Another thing I have experienced with my high-performing project teams is the extraordinary level of trust between the team members. The team members are able to align their personal interests and expertise and focus them on achieving a successful project outcome. In the case of a high-performing project team, the sum that defines the team and its efforts is definitely greater than just adding up all of the people on the team.

Team members on high-performing teams are not afraid to communicate with one another.   The PRINCE2 Communication Management Plan defines the more formal communication mechanisms for the project.  The team itself can take communication to the next level between team members, particularly in a work environment with a high level of trust.

Many times, I have found that my role as the project manager on a performing team is to get external obstacles out of the team’s path and let them get their work completed without my involvement. On the one hand, my performing teams have made me feel a little bit “left out”. On the other hand, why complain about such a wonderful and often unexpected level of team performance?  High-performing teams are what make being a project manager such a great experience.  Using PRINCE2 and it’s thorough approach to managing your projects and your project teams is certainly a step in the right direction.

Learning Tree offers a range of PRINCE2 certification courses in the UK for those who are interested. PRINCE2®: Achieving Practitioner Certification is also available in the US and in Canada.

Susan Weese

*PRINCE2® is a registered trade mark of the Cabinet Office.

Reference: Katzenbach, J.R., & Smith, D.K. (1994). The Wisdom of Teams. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Attending the APMG-Sponsored Webinar about Integrating Agile into PRINCE2 on October 31?


Why be traditional with  your PRINCE2 project management methodology when you can integrate agile methods within your approach and enhance your project success?  Sure seems like agile methods and frameworks are increasing in popularity as organizations and individuals seek increased flexibility when managing their projects and change initiatives. According to the experts, agile approaches are often seen as rivals to waterfall methods including PRINCE2, when in reality they complement each other.

The APMG-sponsored webinar next week shows how the speed of delivery from Agile and the quality of project definition from PRINCE2 satisfies those seeking excellence and flexibility in project delivery within a framework of strong project governance. According to the APMG website, this webinar defines what agile working means and how this has been captured in the APMG Agile Project Management qualification scheme.  The session then moves on to cover how you might use the PRINCE2 process model to explain how agile project management can govern development, with PRINCE2 governing the overall project. Sounds like a win-win to me!

If you are curious about how to integrate agile project management with the PRINCE2 project management methodology, you should tune in to an upcoming  webinar to learn more.  The webinar, titled “Integrating Agile into PRINCE2” is scheduled next week on Thursday, 31 October 2013 at 1100 Eastern time.  It should last anywhere from 45 to 60 minutes and will be presented in English.

During this webinar, Melanie Franklin of AgileChangeManagement, describes how you can integrate key elements of agile project management into your PRINCE2 methodology.  To register for this webinar, check out the APMG website for details and a link for signing up to attend. 

See you then and there! Happy Halloween!

Susan Weese

 


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*PRINCE2® is a registered trade mark of the Cabinet Office.


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