PM Nerd

Sharing ideas and stories about learning and professional development. The more we learn, the more we share, the more we grow.

About this Blog


Recent Posts

Identifying the True Need or Opportunity

My PMI Learning Community

Life & Learning Are Fickle

Chapter 2 - A PMI Certification Learning Guide

Closing a Chapter

Identifying the True Need or Opportunity

Hello, good day, and welcome back to my adventure in studying for the PMI-PBA certification. So far, I have made it through chapter 3 of the  Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide. So I want to share with you what I have learned and where I am headed for next week.

Also, it amazes me how optimistic my planning has been. I thought I would have made it through this entire book which is 206 pages after two weeks but I am way behind that goal. I need to speed up my reading but also set more realistic expectations for the next task. That sounds like a good topic for a future blog post.

Now, back to the topic at hand, business analysis. The guide summarizes business analysis as the activities necessary to identify business needs and recommend relevant solutions. It also focuses on eliciting, documenting, and managing requirements. The business analyst focuses on the product requirements while the project manager focuses on the project requirements. I found this very interesting because as a project manager, I rarely find myself leading a team where I have a business analyst to lean on. So I have to act as both a business analyst and project manager. The guide reminded me of my responsibilities when wearing my business analysis hat and when wearing my project manager hat. This is an important distinction and there are explicit processes and activities for each situation. 

Now let us dive into each chapter a bit. Chapter 2 focused on needs assessment while chapter 3 focused on business analysis planning.

Needs assessment consists of:

  1. Identifying the problem or opportunity
  2. Assessing the current state of the organization
  3. Recommending actions required to address the business needs
  4. Developing the business case.

Business analysis planning consists of:

  1. Conducting or refining stakeholder analysis
  2. Creating a business analysis plan
  3. Planning business analysis work

What I loved after reading these chapters was the focus on a patient and methodical process. Too often we start running down the street without putting on our pants. In projects, we are so eager to solve the problem we forget what problem we are trying to solve. Understanding customer needs, solution scope, and stakeholder expectations are so important. So often I am reminded that to move fast you have to slow down and take a deep breath.

The goal for next week is to read chapters 4 and 5. They focus on requirements elicitation & analysis and traceability & monitoring. If I am lucky I will finish the book but as I mentioned, I need to learn how to be realistic, not optimistic.

Also, I have started a basic learning plan documenting the tasks as I complete them and any costs I accrue. For the tasks, I am capturing start and finish dates, duration and the amount of time it takes to read each book. I am hoping this will help me plan for the next certification I study for. Please check it out at the link below and let me know what you think:

PMI-PBA Learning Plan

Posted on: July 12, 2018 06:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)

Life & Learning Are Fickle

Life is a fickle mistress and always so eager for attention. I thought posting a video and a blog post weekly would be doable. What I didn't factor in was a busy travel schedule for work and spending time with family. You would think those are easy assumptions to make but not for me I guess. Family is so important but I also love me some learning :)

So I am still plugging away at reading the Agile Practice Guide. It has been two weeks and I have read 54 out of 167 pages. Which means I am averaging 27 pages a week and it will take me at least four more weeks to finish the book. This gives me a good idea of what I can achieve in two weeks. So when it comes to reading the first book in my list, Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide, I will know what is feasible.That book is 206 pages so 7-8 weeks is the current expectation. 

As a reminder, the focus of this blog has turned to the PMI Learning Guide, I am developing with Catalin Dogaru. The goal is to help folks study for and pass a PMI certification exam following a simple agile process.

If you want to read it, please check out this link:

PMI Certification Learning Guide

If you were to map it back to the Agile Practice Guide, it is following the Incremental Lifecycle process. Since we don't know what folks are looking for and what will stick, we figure sharing incremental updates while testing it out live is the best approach. Please make sure to click on the link above and provide any comments and feedback. The more the better.

Thank you again for taking time to read this quick post on our progress and I look forward to your comments.

Talk with you next week......hopefully :)


Posted on: October 22, 2017 01:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

Chapter 2 - A PMI Certification Learning Guide

Earning a PMI certification is not easy but can lead to many opportunities. Those could be a new job, a promotion, or helping your project team deliver even more success. For each certification, PMI provides exam outlines, handbooks, and reference lists. What is missing is a self-paced learning guide PMI members can use to study for and pass the exam. So, my friend Catalin Dogaru and I we are creating a learning guide and sharing it with as many folks as possible. With the help of this blog, I want to test out the guide and use it to help me earn a PMI-PBA certification. As I share my updates, I hope you will provide honest feedback.

The guide helps you study on your own or in a PMI chapter study group. Built upon simple agile principles of iterative progress, the guide is simple.

So far v0.1 includes the following steps:

Step 1 - Vision & Backlog: Your vision explains what you want to achieve and why. Your backlog prioritizes your goals and captures the activities to achieve those goals.

Step 2 - Planning: Decide what activities you can commit to for the next two weeks in your learning sprint.

Step 3 - Execution: Execute your learning sprint and the activities you committed to.

Step 4 - Practice: Practice and apply what you learned in Step 3.

Step 5 - Assessment: With the help of a mentor or study group, assess your progress.

Step 6 - Reflection: Take a moment to reflect on what you like, dislike, and want to improve in the next iteration.

After step 6, revisit your vision & backlog, plan the next learning sprint, and execute.

Here is a link to the learning guide.

PMI Certification Learning Guide

It is currently in a draft state so please provide comments and feedback. The goal is to design a guide PMI members can use on their own or in a chapter study group to study for and pass any PMI certification exam. 

Thank you for sharing this moment and I look forward to talking with you next week. Cheers.

P.S. If you are wondering why the title of this post includes the words, "Chapter 2," it is because I thought I had run out of ideas for this blog and had finished a chapter. But thanks to my PMI friends, I am trying to start a new chapter. So thank you, everyone, you know who you are :)

Posted on: October 08, 2017 05:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

Enjoying Open Learning with the PMI Pikes Peak Regional Chapter

Yesterday I had the genuine pleasure of leading a workshop for my local Project Management Institute Chapter. Currently, I serve the Pikes Peak Regional Chapter as the Director of Academic Outreach. The primary goal is to reach out to local universities and form a strong working relationship. The second goal has been to help members grow professionally by exposing them to new learning resources and I hope I did that yesterday.

Just like this blog, the goal was to share what I have learned through my research into open learning. Beyond that it is up to the folks in the workshop and anyone who happens to stumble across this blog to use the information to enhance their learning.

The agenda was designed around the assumption that open learning can enhance everyone’s professional development and it felt like that was achieved. As the conversations progressed and more coffee was consumed, we began to realize that if you replace the concept of professional development with learning, you achieve the same results and probably more.

Dominique Ross, was the most engaged attendee adding even more resources to the growing list. Thank you Dominique for being so engaged and genuine during the conversation. I want to also commend you on your hard work as you begin to transition out of the military into the civilian world. Your tenacious curiosity is going to serve you well. Way to go!

Open learning provides an opportunity for all project managers to re-discover their curiosity and love of learning. This workshop was a wonderful reminder of how many professionals in our career field are constantly looking for that next great book or podcast. When I mentioned Tim Ferris, author of the Four Hour Chef and Four Hour Work Week, I smiled when I saw almost everyone’s head nod.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of enjoying a beautiful Saturday morning with fellow project managers eager to learn.

About halfway through the class, I shared my ideas about how to design a simple learning process we can all follow to enhance our learning. What do you think of this idea? How could you apply your project management expertise to become a world-class self-directed learner?

(All icons made by from licensed under Creative Commons BY 3.0

It starts out with your goals. What do you want to learn and achieve? Then you plan your learning cycle/iteration/sprint, whatever you like to call it. I recommend we “time box” our learning into one month to three month cycles. Then before you start learning, make sure to review your plan with a mentor to make sure it is focused and in line with your grand vision. Then start learning and have a blast. Once the learning cycle is complete, measure your progress however you prefer and make sure to share your success and newfound knowledge with friends, colleagues, recruiters, bosses, and whoever else may like to hear the good news. After all that, stop by your mentor’s house to share the good news and then take time to reflect on your progress. This could be in a journal, on a smart phone, in a video blog, wherever you would like to document your historical records. Then start the whole process over again.

You can break down our learning into a 70/20/10 model. Seventy percent of the time you are learning on the job, trying out new ideas, and adjusting as you see fit. Twenty percent of the time you should be spending with a mentor asking questions and learning from someone who has walked the path you are traveling. Finally, ten percent of your time is spent reading books, watching videos, attending webinars, and enjoying any other learning resource you can find to try and gain new knowledge and skills.

Learning is a lifelong journey and I hope you all can find time to enjoy it. Yesterday was a wonderful reminder again of how many project managers are eager to enhance their learning. I hope I was able to help them take a jump to the next level in their journey.

If you would like to view the presentation, please click here.


Posted on: January 31, 2016 10:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)

Thank You For Reminding Me Why I Love Learning

This past year was an amazing year and I just wanted to say thank you. 

Thank you, for giving me the opportunity to blog about learning and share my discoveries with such a fantastic community. 

Thank you, Project Management Institute (PMI) for giving me the opportunity to volunteer in my local chapter, Pikes Peak Regional Chapter, and to graduate with all of my awesome classmates in the Leadership Institute Masters Class of 2015. Go Frogs!

When I sat down, I wanted to write about some fantastic courses Coursera is offering to help you with your professional development in 2016. Before I forget though, I suggest checking out the Coursera Specializations. They have added some fantastic content!

Anyways, when I touched the keyboard, a burst of gratitude poured out and all I could think of was how many different ways I wanted to say thank you.

This community of project managers yearning for new ideas, best practices, and networking opportunities has been so wonderful. When I first thought of the idea to write this blog, I didn’t know what to write about. I had tried to a couple times before to blog about learning resources and you can check out my first attempt at

The only consistent theme I found as I continued brainstorming was sharing. Just share what you love. My parents are both retired teachers, having taught for a combined 80 years in elementary school and high school. The one consistent piece of advice they gave me when I asked about their teaching methods was, present the facts and let the students take it from there. So on this blog, my primary goal has to been to share the facts I have discovered and hope you take them to the next level in your professional development.

I always thought it would be a revolutionary idea to show people how to learn using open learning resources by helping them apply some basic project management principles. Who better to help students discover the diligence and determination necessary to succeed than to show them how to apply basic project management principles when it came to their time management and developing their own self-directed curriculum? I quickly realized though that threatened the opportunity for folks to discover their own learning journey.

Every year my mom would make a huge production for her first grade students when it came time to celebrate a major holiday. My favorite was St. Patrick’s Day. For that special day, she would come in over the weekend, and patiently place tiny glittery and sparkly footprints all over the classroom along with a big green bowl of candy. The leprechauns and fairies had visited her classroom to share the special candy they prepare specially for her classroom on St. Patrick’s Day and the only evidence of their visit were the tiny green footprints. When the students came to school on Monday, they discovered one of the windows had been left open just enough so their special guests could sneak in and leave behind the delicious candy. I love my mom so much, not only for being such an awesome mom, but also because she shared with me the magic of learning and discovering your own learning journey.

We are all professionals in this community. We worry about what others think of us, how we look in our interviews, how many certifications we should earn, and how many folks are in our networks. In 2016, I hope we can re-discover the magic of learning. I hope we can re-discover the fun we experienced as children while we sat on the floor in our school library thumbing through our favorite books imagining what it felt like to fly through space or fight the evil giants threatening our kingdom.

Thank you and PMI for giving me the opportunity to write this blog and share my ideas and learning discoveries. Thank you to everyone who has taken time to read one of my posts and thank to everyone who has shared your ideas and opinions.

I hope 2016 is just as exciting and hopefully even more magical.

Thanks mom and dad, I love you.





Posted on: January 17, 2016 01:34 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent."

- Eleanor Roosevelt