Project Management

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Cornelius Fichtner help you with your PMP Exam Prep ( as well as earn free PDUs ( Passing the PMP Exam is tough, but keeping your PMP Certification alive is just as challenging. Preparing for the exam requires an in-depth study of the PMBOK Guide and dedicated study discipline. And once you are PMP certified, then you are required to earn 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs) every 3 years to keep your certification alive. Let me help you make this journey easier with tips and tricks on how to prepare for and pass the exam as well as efficiently earning your PDUs once you are certified.

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Should I become PMP® Certified or Agile Certified?

Categories: Agile, PMP®

Should I become PMP® Certified or Agile Certified?An interesting question that some of my students have been asking lately is whether they should spend time studying for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam or concentrate on studying for the PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP)® Exam. In response to this question I give one of my favorite answers as an instructor – “Well…. it depends!” You might as well ask me "Should I get a Master’s Degree in Mathematics or Physics?” Or "Should I become a Painter or a Philosopher?"

The answer to this question cannot really come from me, but it has to come from within you and depends largely on your goals, desired career path and preferences. For example, do you want to be managing a 10-Year project for SpaceX to send satellites to Jupiter? Then do your PMP® Exam prep first, because we are talking serious Waterfall-based approaches. Or do you want to be working for a small startup company developing software? Then go for PMI-ACP® because you need Agility. So the answer isn't "what Cornelius says", but instead "what you want and what you need". To help you determine which is a better fit for you, let’s delve into the benefits of each approach and then you can make your own educated decision.

Waterfall or Agile? – Projects and Career Path

In order to determine which certification is more important for you to obtain as a project manager really starts with the question of what type of career you are seeking in the project management field. Just like many organizations need to decide if Waterfall or Agile Project Management is the right choice for any specific project, so it is also true that an aspiring or current project managers need to decide which type of project management training and experience will help them successfully continue their project management career well into the future. The PMP exam is largely based on A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), which outlines mainly a Waterfall Project Management best practice approach to successfully executing projects, while the PMI-ACP (as well as other Agile Project Management certifications) are based on an Agile Project Management best practice approach.

Waterfall Project Management Overview

Waterfall (sometimes referred as ‘Traditional’) Project Management involves an in-depth upfront planning process and follows a linear, pre-determined project schedule over a specified period of time. Waterfall projects are typically predictable, have a definitive end date, and have explicit procedures of how projects are initiated, planned, executed, monitored and controlled, and closed (Deming's Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle). The advantages of using the Waterfall method to manage projects is having clear expectations and meeting those expectations by achieving certain milestones. Waterfall originated in the Manufacturing industry as a result of understanding that changes in scope mid-project were usually very costly. Generally companies use Waterfall on their projects when:

  • They have executed a similar type of project previously and it is almost cookie-cutter
  • They are able to determine up front the specific project scope and requirements
  • They can fairly accurately estimate the resources, cost and work effort necessary to finish the project on budget and on time

Agile Project Management Overview

Agile Project Management is an iterative approach that helps project teams deliver the highest value work possible to the customer within a rapidly changing environment. The essential aim of Agile is to be flexible and be able to adapt to changes rather than being forced to execute against a pre-defined plan that may become obsolete as the project progresses. There is usually no definitive end date because the customer may decide at any point in the project that the functionality already delivered is sufficient for their needs. And Agile also uses Deming's Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle. The only difference is that product components are delivered to the customer every 2-4 weeks rather than only at the end of the project, so that they can provide feedback to ensure the project team is headed in the right direction. Agile originated in the Software Development and Mobile Application industries to help companies be first to market with new and innovative products, giving them a competitive advantage. Generally companies use Agile on their projects when:

  • They do not know specifically what they want
  • They do not know how long it's going to take to produce
  • They do not know how much it will cost to produce

The Future of Waterfall and Agile Project Management

So you may be wondering what the future of both Waterfall and Agile Project Management is and what types of opportunities will be available to you as a project manager. Well I firmly believe that Waterfall will never truly go away since some of the basic principles are also used in Agile, such as decomposition, rolling wave planning, continuous improvement and process tailoring, to name a few. Aerospace, Medical Device and Government Contracting will still be alive and well for many years to come, although they are now embracing a ‘Hybrid’ Project Management approach, which allows companies to tailor their processes to a combination of the best practices of both Waterfall and Agile. However, it will be important to have your PMP certification in order to understand the basics of how these mainly traditional companies have been operating in the past.

Waterfall or Agile? – What’s Right for You?

If you decide that Agile is the career path for you then there are a few different ways you can go. The first would be once again to gain a good foundation in Waterfall by obtaining your PMP certification but also getting your PMI-ACP Certification soon after, which will provide you an  overview of Agile principles, best practices and different Agile methods. This will give you a solid background in both Waterfall and Agile Project Management methodologies that will position you nicely for the new ‘Hybrid’ approach that many companies are embracing. You can also choose to go with an organization that is new to Agile and become a champion or driving force for change across the company using Agile. And lastly, if you really want to be ‘extreme’, you can choose to seek out companies that are cutting-edge and use advanced Agile methods such as Lean Software Development, Kanban and Extreme Programming, which will require more extensive and specialized certification training outside the realm of the PMI-ACP certification.

Waterfall or Agile? – How About Both?

In my own experience I have seen that many aspiring or current project managers decide to obtain their PMP first since it is the most globally-recognized Project Management certification and is still the methodology used on the majority of projects being executed, and then obtain their PMI-ACP certification in addition to their PMP. I believe this is a good way to go because once you understand the basics of general project management by obtaining your PMP, you may start to work on a few Agile projects with your company and decide it’s a better fit for you. And bear in mind again that the majority of contemporary projects are no longer strictly ‘Waterfall-Only’ or ‘Agile-Only’. More traditional companies in the Aerospace, Medical Device and Government Contracting industries are now embracing a ‘Hybrid’ Project Management approach, which allows them to tailor their processes to a combination of the best practices of both Waterfall and Agile.

So… once again… when you ask me the question ”Should I become PMP Certified or PMI-ACP Certified?”, in the end… it depends! And it really depends on you!!!

Posted on: March 14, 2017 06:04 AM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Sample PMP Exam Questions for Free. No need for sign-up!

PMP exam sample questionTest your PMP knowledge right now with this 8th Set of 15 free PMP Exam sample questions in an online exam:

This exam is just one of a series of 8 exams. To sign up for all our free exams please visit

Don't let this chance pass by. Practice always makes perfect!


Posted on: February 13, 2014 08:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

6 Reasons Why You May Have Failed The PMP Exam 3 Times

While I hope it doesn’t happen to you, some people fail the PMP exam 3 times. If you do find yourself in that situation, you will have to wait a year from the date of your last exam before you will be able to apply for your PMP certification again.

Over the years, I have found several reasons why someone continues to fail the exam. However – and as hard as it may be to hear this – if it happens to you then you have to acknowledge that you are part of the problem! You are the one taking and failing the test and you should carry some responsibility for not being able to pass because many, many other people do manage to get through it each year.

But on the other hand PMI has made this exam extremely difficult, and by sitting for the exam multiple times you have proven that you are serious about passing the exam, getting your PMP Credential, and distinguishing yourself from your peers. You can still keep your head up high!

So once you are prepared to accept the complexities of the exam and your role in failing it, then you need to change your exam taking strategies and take a look at your exam techniques. You can make changes that will help you overcome those difficulties. First, you need to establish why you have failed and then you can take action to improve your chance of passing the exam next time. So let’s look at 6 reasons why you may have failed the PMP exam and what you can do about them.

Pass the PMP exam

1: You lack understanding of the PMP exam concepts

Perhaps the reason for failing the exam 3 times is simply that you don’t understand the concepts in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, (PMBOK® Guide) - Fifth Edition or they did not sink in properly. While you may have studied everything several times, for some reason you simply haven’t been able to get them to make sense in a way that allows you to apply the concepts and pass the exam.

Action: Get yourself a "Study Buddy". Find someone in your area, company or PMI Chapter who is also studying and meet with them on a weekly basis. Review the concepts together and most importantly explain to each other how you understand the concepts. You can also work together on practice questions and explain the reasons for your answers. Making a case for why you think the answer you choose is the “best” answer will help both you and your buddy learn and more importantly remember the concept. After all, the best way to learn something is to teach it, wouldn’t you agree?

2: You struggle with standardized exams

Many students know the material, have the experience and have prepared well, but then they simply "freeze up" during a standardized test. They find the pressure too intense and can’t perform with that amount of stress.

Action: Unfortunately I'm not a psychologist and frankly I don't have a silver bullet for helping you through this. Everyone deals with test anxiety differently. You could take a lot of complete, 4-hour exams in order to prepare yourself using test conditions. Think about the exam as a chance to reward yourself for all your studying instead of something scary to be tackled. Visualization, working with a colleague, journaling and building your self-confidence may also help.

3: English may not be your first language

My own mother tongue is German and I must admit that when I took the exam I had difficulty understanding and clearly distinguishing between the various PMI terms and concepts that were so new to me.

Action: PMI offers language aids in 13 languages. This means that during the exam you can switch back and forth between the English text and the translation. However, bear in mind that doing this is time consuming and these language aids are difficult to use in an already stressful and time-constrained situation.

4: You can’t handle the exam room distractions

The exam rooms are not only used for PMP exams, so people will be coming in and out and there could be other distractions. The most severe case of this that I know of is a student who reported that a maid came into the exam room and cleaned her screen while she was taking the exam - she failed her test. Of course this is rare! But you should be ready for any sort of distraction during the exam and able to recover from it quickly (or ignore it completely).

Action: Take your laptop to your nearest coffee shop and take 2-3 sample exams right there in the midst of all the hustle and bustle. Learn to focus!

5: You didn’t take any practice exams

Unfortunately some of my students didn’t listen to my advice and attempted to take the PMP exam several times without logging on to a PMP exam simulator and practicing at home. Practice exams really will help you perform better during the real thing.

Action: Sign up for a PMP exam simulator. Take some practice exams.

6: You’ve lost confidence

After failing the exam several times it’s not unusual for someone to lose confidence in their ability to pass. I see this often: students just don't believe in themselves any longer.

Action: This is the moment when a PMP coach needs to be brought on board and you have to stop self-study as it will no longer work for you. The PMP coach (either in-person or virtual) will work with you

individually or in a very small group to review the PMP concepts and go through hundreds of exam questions to explain them. This is a great way to get a professional’s insight into how to approach the questions and build your confidence at the same time.

Once you’ve examined your own reasons for failing the exam you may find that it’s because of something different to these points. That’s OK - everyone is different! The main thing to remember is that while the PMP exam is tough, it isn’t impossible and it can be passed. So don’t get discouraged. Tackle the situation as you would any other failed or failing project: analyze what is going wrong, make changes to your project management plan and then bring the project to a successful close. After all, that’s what we project managers do!

Posted on: February 05, 2014 11:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (6)

Featured PMP Exam Lessons Learned from Sachin Vehale, PMP

Categories: PMP®

PMP exam passer

This week's featured lessons learned comes to us courtesy of Sachin Vehale.

In this lessons learned Sachin shared with us his experiences and preparations for the PMP exam.

"Throughout my preparations, It’s been an enriching experience for me in terms of professional & personal development. Journey started in June. I spent quality time doing my homework i.e. learning about the PMP certification. I got a hardcopy of PMBOK and was reading few chapters even before I took decision. During this period, I got know about PM Prepcast. First look, I liked it because it was providing me the flexibility of studying anywhere , anytime using my phone.& as I started going through the episodes, I knew I had taken the BEST decision.I applied to PMI in September and once application process was completed, I set up myself little over 3 months’ time and scheduled exam at Year end. I made a high level study plan and my actual studies geared up.

As a full time IT professional could find little time on week days for studies.I managed to squeeze an hour in night on weekdays. On weekends I used to utilize time left after my family commitments and responsibilities but I made sure I’m doing atleast a little progress everyday..."

Read more here...

Posted on: January 29, 2014 03:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Free PMP Exam Sample Question

PMP Exam Q and A

The following PMP® exam sample question is taken from the Free PMP Exam Simulator (The answer is at the very bottom):

You are managing a construction project. You have just finished defining your activities and you are now estimating their durations. Obtaining government permits is one of the project activities that is critical to the success of your project. You obtain expert opinion regarding time requirements for this activity, and you have determined that the duration will most likely be 15 days. It would be very optimistic to expect to obtain the permits in 10 days. In addition, taking the current environmental factors into consideration, it may take up to 30 days to obtain the permits. What estimate should you use for this activity if you want to put more weight on the most likely duration with a further 10 percent contingency reserve? (Round to the nearest day.)

A) 17 Days    
B) 18 Days    
C) 20 Days    
D) 33 Days


Use the PERT formula to determine your initial estimate.

Answer and Explanation:

The Correct Answer is B. As you want to put more weight on the most likely estimate, you should use the PERT formula for your initial estimate rather than taking a simple average of the three values. Your PERT estimate will be (10 + 4*15 + 30) / 6 = 16.67 days. Adding a 10 percent contingency reserve to it will give 16.67*1.1 = 18.33 days. Rounding your estimate to the nearest day will give 18 days.

* All our questions are updated to the latest PMBOK® Guide standard. Stop by at and try the PMP Exam Simulator free for 3 days. We also offer 110 free questions at We are a PMI Registered Education Provider.

Posted on: January 27, 2014 01:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

"More than any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction. Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

- Woody Allen