The Big Time

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Managing any project successfully is all about Team Work combined with years of Accrued Expertise. It is an asset to have an educational background that compliments your field of expertise but "education" without "experience" is like an "arrow" without a "bow." You can never make a perfect shot with a temporary arrow unless you have a permanent bow called: "Life's Experience." Remember, you can never teach experience but you can always teach from experience.

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Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP®)

Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®)

PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®

Agile Project Management (AgilePM®)

Happy New Year 2019

Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP®)

 

I am glad to announce that I passed the Portfolio Management Professional (PfMP®) Exam on July 15, 2019 with Above Target in all domains and very proud to be one of the 713 members of this elite group of professionals.

As usual, I am happy to share my lessons learned with the community members hoping that future candidates will find value in them. 

STUDY PLAN

PMI Resources: PMI Standard for Portfolio Management - 3rd Edition. The 4th Edition was issued last year but there was no announcement that the exam changed to reflect the new edition so I mainly thoroughly studied the 3rd edition and briefly went through the 4th edition - If you are a PMP and/or PgMP, the Portfolio Standard will be more than enough provided that you read it several times in details. You will be surprised, but every time you go through the standard, you will discover something new in between the lines. 

Exam Content Outline: It is important to go through it at least once to have an idea of the exam content and other details. 

Course: There is no course required as a pre-requisite for the application. However, it does not hurt to take a course if you feel the need to do so but I personally did it fully self-study. 

Application: The application was very lengthy and rigorous unlike any other PMI Certifications Applications (Except for PgMP). It took me a while to complete my application (A total of 16 Hours of work) - After submitting my application, I got initial approval in 10 days time, I paid the dues ($800) and the application went for Panel Review which took around 3 more weeks before receiving final approval. 

Study Time: It took me a bit more than a month to study. One month might seem light but I used to study 4 hours a day and 6 hours on weekends in addition to that I took a fews days off work to study extensively so it was more of a Bootcamp Personal Plan. At a normal pace, I would say 2 - 3 months (2 - 4 Hours / Day) should be reasonable. 

Simulation Exams: There aren't many resources out there in terms of simulation exams for PfMP so I only went through Rania Al-Mughrabi Questions Bank. There were useful for review only but not close to the real exam at all. 

Colleagues Advice: I connected with a few PfMP's who gave me solid advice and boosted my confidence a lot and I am very thankful for them. They are a good example of people who shares knowledge without boarders. 

EXAM EXPERIENCE

I am going to talk about my personal exam experience (Without going into details or specific questions):

Level of Difficulty: The level of difficulty could be easily compared with PMP. In general, the questions were short in nature but I have to say they were very tricky and the answers were even trickier. I kept hearing that the exam is easy from people posting their personal experience but I assure you, it is not easy at all and you need to have an absolutely excellent and thorough grasp of every word in the standard.

Exam Questions (General): Most of the questions were situational (Short Questions) but very tricky. You need to understand the ITTO's, and which part of the output gets updated in every process and above all you need to have a deep understanding of all tools and techniques. It is worth mentioning that you will encounter around 10% questions from outside the standard related to PfMP, PgMP and PMP. 

Exam Depth: The exam tests your understanding of every single aspect of the standard and the portfolio management in general. It goes above and beyond the text book. 

Exam Language: The language of the questions and answers was moderate, You might end up reading the question and answers 3 times. Again, they were short (1 - 2 lines) but very confusing and the answers were even more confusing so ensure you understand everything, without memorizing and ensure you read every question in details. 

Exam Time: The timing was  than enough. I finished the exam in 3 Hours 10 Minutes and then took 50 Minutes to review all questions I marked for review. 

Elimination Strategy: Unlike other PMI exams, in many questions, it was not easy at all to eliminate answers. 

Exam Experience with Pearson Vue: To be honest, I was not as comfortable  with Pearson Vue as I was with Prometric. They had to take the palm prints of both hands and if you want to take a break, someone has to come log you out of your exam session, you have to give your palm print, go out, then palm print again, then they log you in and this is all time wasted at your expense. I find this a bit extreme considering that candidates who apply for exams like PfMP are professionals in managerial positions. I also find not having at least one break allowed for a 4 hours exam somehow unfair and in a way annoying. The purpose of the exam is to test your knowledge and experience, not to test your self control and stress level so I believe candidates should be allowed a 10 min break at the 2 hours mark. 

Good Luck to all future Aspirants !

Posted on: July 16, 2019 01:50 AM | Permalink | Comments (20)

Certified Business Analysis Professional (CBAP®)

I am glad to announce that I passed the CBAP Exam on May 05, 2019. It was a journey full of unexpected challenges both on a professional and personal levels. 

STUDY PLAN

IIBA Resources: BABOK V3 is the only resource and is more than enough. 

Course: IIBA mandate that you take a course that includes a moderator or facilitator, even if it is online. 

IIBA Application: It is pretty straight forward (Similar to PMI's Applications) except for the fact that if you were not chosen for audit, your application will be approved immediately. Application Fee = $125 + Exam Fee = $325 for Members plus applicable taxes (Membership is optional and will cost you $125 which you will save on the exam fees). 

Study Time: At a normal pace, I would say 2 months (2 - 4 Hours / Day) should be enough. The material is very dense, the language is not easy and there is lots of info to take in so cramming won't help. Compared to other exams, I found this exam material the most difficult to study. One important thing to mention, if you are a PMI-PBA, it won't help much in your CBAP. 

Simulation Exams: One great resource for simulation exams was Watermark Learning. They have a great questions bank and although the exam questions are very different, still, Watermark's simulation exams provide you with great ideas and explanations. It is worth also noting that their fees were reasonable as well (It was about $129 USD for 2 months access). There aren't many simulation exam resources for the CBAP but Watermark is certainly one of the good ones. Passing the exam without going through some simulation exams, regardless of the source, would be difficult. 

EXAM EXPERIENCE

Level of Difficulty: The level of difficulty is comparable with PMI-PBA but the style of questions is totally different.

Exam Questions (General): The exam is 120 Questions and the timing is 3.5 Hours. All the exam questions were scenario based  some of which were short, others were very lengthy (At least 35%). The lengthy questions are one page questions that have lots of info and the scenario will cover 3 - 4 exam questions. 

Exam Depth: The exam tests your understanding of Business Analysis very deeply beyond any text book. You need to ensure you fully understand all principles, processes, models, techniques and so on. 

Exam Language: The language of the questions and answers was moderate. You might end up reading the question and answers multiple times. 

Exam Time: Time is important to watch. Although you are given 3.5 hours to answer 120 Questions, some might think it's plenty of time but in reality, it is not so watch your time. 

Elimination Strategy: You will find it easy to eliminate two answers but very difficult to chose between the remaining two. You need to deeply think of every word in the questions and answers to properly get to a conclusion in terms of which choice is the best. 

Good Luck to all future Aspirants !

Posted on: May 08, 2019 02:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (25)

PMI Professional in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA)®

I am glad to announce that I passed the PMI-PBA Exam on March 23, 2019 with Above Target rating. It was a journey full of challenges and knowledge gain which finally paid off with a huge success. 

STUDY PLAN

PMI Resources: PMI Guide to Business Analysis & Business Analysis for Practitioners: A Practice Guide. Those two resources are more than enough. I did not have much guidance as to how to approach the exam so I went through the Practitioner Guide first then went through the PMI Guide which confused me a lot so the First Lesson Learned is to go through the PMI Guide first then fill in the blanks by referring to the Practitioners Guide. Those two resources are more than enough. 

Exam Content Outline: Very Important to go through it in details as it might help you get some clues in the exam. 

PBA Course: I purchased a course on Udemy by John Sipin and it was great. Upon completion of the course and all assignments, they sent me a CoC and I was able to claim 35 Educational PDU's. 

PMI Application: This is my fifth certificate with PMI and it was the first time I get randomly audited but, guess what, I was already prepared so I mailed all required documents to PMI the next day and then 3 days later, I contacted PMI to check if the package was received which they confirmed it was and shortly after they approved my application. The staff was very friendly and accommodating so the Second Lesson Learned is not to worry about the audit if you have all your documentation in order as per your submitted application. 

Study Time: It took me a bit less than a month to study and go through some simulation exams. One month might seem light but I used to study 4 hours a day and 6 hours on weekends in addition to that to took the last week off work to study extensively so it was more of a Bootcamp Personal Plan. At a normal pace, I would say 2 - 3 months (2 - 4 Hours / Day) should be enough considering you are already a PMP & ACP (Both helps a lot). 

Simulation Exams: One great resource for simulation exams was iZenbridge. They have a great questions bank and although the exam questions are very different, still, iZenbridge's simulation exams provides you with great ideas and explanations. It is worth also noting that their fees were reasonable as well (It was about $99 USD for 2 months access). I heard from others about another good resource for simulation exams which is Watermark Learning but I personally never used it. 

EXAM EXPERIENCE

I am going to talk about my personal exam experience (Without going into details or specific questions):

Level of Difficulty: The level of difficulty could be easily comparable with PMP. Out of the 5 exams I took with PMI, this was the most challenging after the PMP. Although the exam was very tough but PMI did a great job putting this pool of questions together.

Exam Questions (General): All the exam questions were scenario based  some of which were short, others were very lengthy (At least 50%). Even the shortest 1 line questions were not straight forward.

Exam Depth: The exam tests your understanding of Business Analysis very deeply beyond any text book. You need to ensure you fully understand all principles, processes, models and so on. Third Lesson Learned: Do not spend time memorizing things but make sure you fully understand everything. 

Exam Language: The language of the questions and answers was not easy at all. You might end up reading the question and answers 3 times. I am fluent in English and yet, I recall having to read lots of questions 3 times so the Fourth Lesson Learned: Read all questions and answers very thoroughly. 

Exam Time: I thought my ACP exam experience in terms of timing was the most challenging but it turned out not, compared to the PBA. It is literally the first time I completely run out of time. I finished the last question 1 minute before the end of the 4 hours and did not have time to review any marked questions so the Fifth Lesson Learned is to Watch your time - Some would think that 4 Hours is a lot but trust me, it is not. Make sure you target around 50 Questions per hour.

Elimination Strategy: You will find it easy to eliminate two answers but very difficult to chose between the remaining two. You need to deeply think of every word in the questions and answers to properly get to a conclusion in terms of which choice is the best. 

Good Luck to all future Aspirants !

Posted on: March 24, 2019 10:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (41)

Agile Project Management (AgilePM®)

 

First Professional Development Achievement in 2019 - and it's just the start !

I am re-writing this blog because I made a spontaneous decision right after obtaining my AgilePM Foundation certificate to sit for the Practitioners Level exam and I passed the exam so I thought of sharing my experience in one combined blog hoping that it will help others who are thinking about sitting for the exam.

My spontaneous decision probably stemmed from confidence in my experience and Agile knowledge. 

My interest in the DSDM Framework came from the fact that it works best alongside the traditional approach in construction projects because it is a complete framework that looks at the whole lifecycle of the project rather than just the iterative development part. The combination of both under Traditional-DSDM Hybrid Model works very well ! 

Those certifications are offered by the Agile Business Consortium and the exam is administered by APMG International. The DSDM AgilePM handbook is very well detailed and written in a very comprehensive manner.  

AgilePM Foundation Exam

  • Purely Knowledge-based 
  • Closed book
  • Online proctored exam.
  • You get 50 Multiple Choice questions that you have to complete within a 40 Min time frame
  • Exam Fees are around $260 USD
  • References: DSDM Handbook 2014 & APMG Sample Exam

AgilePM Practitioner Exam

  • Purely scenario-based 
  • Open book but you are only allowed to use the DSDM Handbook
  • Online proctored exam.
  • You get 80 Multiple Choice questions that you have to complete within a 2 Hrs 40 Min:
    • The exam is unique as you get a full project scenario on the first page that you will use to answer all 80 questions.
    • Questions are divided into 4 Sections, with 20 Questions per section.
    • Each section tests you understanding and experience in the application of certain parts of Agile & DSDM. 
    • In each section, they add more events to the original scenario so it builds up.  
  • The exam was tough. It is comparable in difficulty to PMI exams. 
  • Exam Fees are around $380 USD
  • References: DSDM Handbook 2014 & APMG Sample Exam

The practitioners exam is a good example of an online, open book, proctored test that tests your knowledge & experience beyond any handbook. I did not even need or have time to open the handbook because to answer every question you have to tie many loose ends from different chapters and sections to resolve a problem or handle an issue so even though you are allowed to use the book, do not take the exam lightly or count on the fact that it is an open book. 

General Facts

A few facts about this journey: 

  • It was my first experience doing a proctored test from home and it was a great experience - Less pressure for sure. 
  • The exams were pricey but definitely worth it. It is a very reputable certification. 
  • Upon passing any exams offered by the Agile Business Consortium, you will receive one year free membership but it is limited once per person per lifetime. 
  • I did not buy the exams directly from APMG. Instead, I bought a training (Which covers the exam fees) from Cupe International. Great organization and great customer service. 
  • I can't disclose any exam details for confidentiality reasons but funny enough, the project scenario I got in the exam was a Construction Project and my expertise is in the construction industry. I am not sure if it was intentional but either way, I thought it is a funny coincidence to disclose. 

 

Good Luck to all New Aspirants ! 

Posted on: February 13, 2019 04:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

Happy New Year 2019

In this special occasion, I would like to wish you and your families Happy New Year 2019 in advance. May 2019 and all the coming years be full of Happiness, Health and Success to you and your loved ones. 

Another year passed while being part of this great community. It was full of challenges, learning opportunities and contributions just like the previous years but this year was full of success and achievements as well.

I look forward for another year full of Giving, Learning, achieving and Building Relationships. 

Happy Holidays Everyone ! 

Posted on: December 18, 2018 07:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (13)
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