Most of us, who are working as a project manager, realize and appreciate the importance of PMI® certification in our career in the long run. This is all the more true for IT and services industry as compared to any other industry where project managers are made based on your previous performance to lead a team and not project.
How many of you must have decided to go for PMI® Certification, but the enthusiasm and the rigor to prepare for looses momentum after sometime. Have you were wondered what could be the reason for this lack of determination? Why is it that we want something and understand its need yet succumbs to work and personal life pressures?
The reason behind all this dilly dallying with your career’s most important decision is the lack of time boxed approach. This is also called as parkinson’s law. Since we have not blocked the data of exam, we tend to not prioritize it and end up forgetting the concepts that we have learned in PMP session and eventually loosing confidence and determination.
I, from my personal experience would unfold how to approach right way for most esteemed and valuable PMI® Certification. Here are some tips which will become a guiding light for all the Project Management aspirants.
- Why I Want to be Certified: There are numerous blogs and articles on why one should get certified, but only you can decide what your motivational factor is. While any certification is an asset and knowledge gained through will always be a help in your life, certification should also be in line with your medium to long term goal in life. Take your time to decide. Do not take a knee jerk decision for certification under some influence.
- Don’t Let the Tempo Fade: Once a decision is made, your focus should be on the end goal. A lot of time we lose the momentum half way if we have started half hearted or due to various reasons like – family commitment, work pressure, relocation, health etc. Take a realistic view on these factors which could impact your stability in next 6 months or so before you proceed. The best way to not loose tempo is to block your exam date in advance giving yourself around 45 days to prepare.
- Time Boxed Approach: Based on your experience level you should have a fair idea of how much time it should take you to prepare for certification. Get your initial doubts clarified through information sessions/online clarifications through professional coaching institute. Identify your High level knowledge GAP and set yourself an end date. As I said earlier, the best way for time boxing is to block your exam date in advance (45 days from the last date of your PMP training).
- Baseline Study Plan: Fortifies your time boxed approach, It’s alright to change your plan, but base line planning brings in serious attention.
- Take a realistic view on how many quality hours you will have at your disposal to study (in Agile terms IDEAL hours)
- Sequence a mix of difficult and easy, or boring and interesting topics, if you finish all interesting topics in the beginning, it will be an uphill task to finish rest of topics, similarly if you keep all difficult/boring topic at the start you may lose interest or get mentally drained too soon
- If you are planning a study group, ensure study group hours are separate from your individual hours in your plan. Every individual has their own style of learning and study group should be seen as complimentary to and not a substitute for individual study
- Reference Material: It’s a digital world, PMI® certification is a hot topic and you have endless study materials/blogs/videos/teasers available on the Internet. None of them are substitute to PMBOK® no matter how dry and boring PMBOK® sounds. My advice would be to pick 1 or max 2 books other than PMBOK® and stick to it. Also, go for professional coaching institute who would walk with you till your certification. Avoid commoditized training institute which has minimal or zero personal attention
- Mock Test: Again, numerous free and paid tests available on Internet. If you are enrolled in a professional training institution, take a test package from them. PMI® constantly keeps improvising their questions in terms of difficulty, flavor etc. There are some mocks which are extremely difficult and many find it impossible to get passing score – No need to get disheartened if such tests are only to raise your bar and not aligned with PMP® exams difficulty level.
Whichever mock tests you choose, make sure they are in line with the latest trend of questions appearing in PMP® examination.
- Reschedule: Avoid rescheduling examination unless absolutely necessary. If you reschedule ensure that you don’t lose momentum with prolonged pause, rescheduling should not impact your flow of preparation, else rescheduling may sometimes result in having to start from scratch
Hope, you must have found a direction to kick start your PMI® journey. Wishing you all the best!!