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PMP Exam Prep by Rita Mulcahy

Below is my summary on the "PMP Exam Prep - Eight Edition" book by Rita Mulcahy. I didn't read this book to pass the exam (still in my plans). I read it to understand the principles of the Project Management. And it helped a lot.

Project Management Process

Project life cycle - what you do to do the work. PM process - what you do to manage the project.

Understand the business case. Projects should satisfy the business needs when completed. Understand why the project was selected, and manage it accordingly.

Why iterations go after risk identification process? Because additional work may be added to the scope. E.g. Perform additional testing to avoid risk.

The focus of executing actions is to manage people and work to accomplish the project as planned. The focus of M&C is to make sure the project is progressing according to plan, and to approve necessary changes to the plan to meet the organization's strategic objectives.

The PMs are supposed to think about things before they do them.

The occasions when the team gets together are too important to just focus on collecting status. How about reviewing risks and upcoming contingency plans?

Change requests:

  • corrective actions
  • preventive actions
  • defect repair

Submitting a change request should be the very last resort and only used if there is no other way to make up the deviation.

Executing, not planning, takes the most project time and resources.

Integration Management

What's a PM’s main role? To perform integration management - putting all the pieces of the project together into one cohesive whole. The pm is always integrating.

The project charter:

The project charter must not change as the project progresses. Any change should call into question whether the project should continue.

Developing the project charter requires the following actions:

  • Identifying stakeholders
  • Meeting with key stakeholders to confirm high-level requirements, project scope, risks, assumptions, and issues
  • Defining product scope
  • Defining project objectives, constraints, and success criteria
  • Documenting risks

All projects should have charters.

Having a single project sponsor is not necessary.

Sunk costs should not be considered when deciding whether to continue with a troubled project.

Exam questions:

  • Project charter sign-off: having one project sponsor is not necessary.
  • If a project manager is not familiar with technology behind the project, it's still his responsibility to lead processes of Develop Schedule, Estimate Costs, Define Activities, and Estimate Activity Resources.
  • If the promised resource is not available when executing, you better explain the impact and consequences of it rather to saying "but you promised me".

Project management plan:


  • scope baseline
  • schedule baseline
  • cost baseline

Together are called the performance measurement baseline.

If a deviation, assess whether adjustments can be made to the project to deal with a problem. If doesn't help, a change request to baselines might be necessary.

Changes are much more costly than if the work had been included from the beginning. Changes should not be undertaken lightly.

Product scope, project scope, and project management efforts must be monitored and controlled.

M&C means measuring against the project management plan.

If a work activity takes longer than estimated, request corrective action to make up for the delay.

A change to one of the project constraints should be evaluated for impacts on all other constraints.

Someone wants to make a change to project scope. What is the best thing to do first?

  1. Evaluate the impact to all aspects of the project.
  2. Identify options. E.g. cut other e activities, compressing the schedule, other.
  3. Get the change request approved internally.
  4. Get the customer buy-in if required.

Scope Management

Collect requirements, which could relate to:

  • how the work is managed (no downtime on weekends)
  • product capabilities
  • quality
  • business processes
  • compliance
  • or even project management.

Resolve competing requirements by accepting those that best comply with following:

  • the business case
  • the project charter
  • the project scope statement
  • the project constraints.

Unrealistic schedules are the project managers' fault because they have not done planning in an iterative way. They must reconcile the scope to schedule and other constraints to resolve the problem before work begins.

WBS is deliverable-oriented, work refers not to an activity, but to the work products or deliverables that result from an activity.

Exam questions:

  • if project sponsor denies , stakeholders requests should be rejected
  • work package can be completed by more than one person
  • the project team is responsible for developing the scope baseline

Time Management

A project schedule must be realistic before project starts.

If the estimator has many unknowns and info is not available, the potential need for additional time or funds should be addressed with reserves through the risk management process.

If given a choice between crashing or fast tracking options, select the choice with the least negative impact on the project.

The first and best choice for shortening the schedule is to look at risks and then reestimate. By eliminating the risks, the estimate can be lowered.

Controlling a project:

Project managers are measuring, measuring, measuring against the plan and taking actions (corrective or preventive) as needed to control the project.

Exam questions:

  • Milestones chart are more effective for reporting to upper management
  • When network diagram cannot be changed, it means the fast tracking option is not an option
  • To complete the schedule, gain approval of the management
  • Analogous project estimate is high-level (top-down), so not detailed enough for team to understand what’s required
  • The schedule is not finalized until after schedule compression

Cost Management

If a project estimate exceeds the management constraints, the PM has to meet w/ mgmt, explain why their cost cannot be met, and propose options to decrease costs.

Oversight and control are essential for the success of both the project and your career as a PM.

How to determine project progress:

  1. Using earned value measurement
  2. Measuring deliverable completion

Reserve analysis:

  • if the risk does not occur and is not longer a treat, the contingency reserve can be removed from the cost baseline;
  • if new risk identified, it may lead to a decision to increase the contingency reserves

Both of these options result in a change request being submitted through integrate change control.

Exam questions:

  • Say a customer asks to reconsider your estimate to the bigger edge. Presenting anything else than your original estimate is accurate. Instead, ask for risks related to your low estimate.
  • Training a team is direct cost
  • Value analysis seeks to decrease the cost while maintaining the same scope
  • Analogous estimating is a form of expert judgement
  • Identified risks are both an input to and an output to the Estimate Costs process
  • If costs must be decreased, you can look to cut quality, decrease risk, cut scope, or use cheaper resources.

Quality Management

The PM should recommend improvements to the performing organization’s standards, policies, and processes.

Marginal Analysis. Sometimes added attention to something such a quality does not produce added value. When that point is reached, you should stop trying to improve quality.

The costs of conformance to quality should be lower than the costs of non-conformance. Otherwise, why spend time improving quality?

Quality control results in change requests, including recommended corrective and preventive actions and defect repair.

When a product or service completely meets a customer’s needs, quality is achieved. Quality is the degree to which the project meets requirements.

Gold plating. You should provide only what the customer asked for. The team does not know if their change will provide benefit to the customer. The team should focus their efforts on fulfilling the requirements.

Lessons Learned with Exam questions:

  • In a just in time environment, supplies are delivered when you need them and not before. Therefore, you little or no inventory.
  • If the previous PM didn’t not finish planning, continuing to execute the PMP should not be next.
  • A good PM will find the root cause and deal with that, even if it means attempting to improve the company’s policies.

HR Management

Projects are planned by the team and coordinated by the project manager.

HR responsibilities increase as the size of the project team increases.

(Senior) management must serve as a protector of the project (so long as the project continues to meet the organization’s strategic goals).

HR management plan states when and how team members will be added, managed, and released from the project. And also:

  • roles and responsibilities;

  • project organization charts;

  • staffing management plan:

    • plan for staff acquisition
  • resource calendar
  • staff release plan
  • staff training needs
  • recognition and rewards
  • compliance
  • safety

A recognition and reward system involves asking what your team and stakeholders want to get out of the project (on a professional and personal level).

People perform better when they have input, rather than simply being told what to do.

Team-building activities can include:

  • Taking classes together;
  • Milestone parties;
  • Holiday and birthday celebrations;
  • Outside-of-work trips;
  • Creating the WBS
  • Getting everyone involved in planning the project.

Ground rules are especially important when the team is managed virtually.

On a properly managed project, the project team helps to create the PM plan.

Problem-solving method:

  1. Define the real or root problem
  2. Analyze the problem
  3. Identify solutions
  4. Pick a solution
  5. Implement a solution
  6. Review the solution, and confirm it solved the problem.

Exam questions:

  • The project schedule remains preliminary until resources assignments are confirmed
  • The job of the PM includes providing or obtaining project-specific training for the team. This kind of training may be a direct cost of the project.
  • It’s the sponsor role to precent unnecessary changes and to set priorities.
  • Recommended corrective or preventive action can come from the team or stakeholders in addition to the project manager.

Communications Management

A basic concept of communications is that they should be efficient (providing only info needed) and effective (providing info in the right format of the right time).

To make a project successful, you need to keep managing the project, rather than just reporting on it.

There are different types of performance reports:

  • status report (performance measurement baseline)
  • progress report (what has been accomplished)
  • trend report (performance is improving or deteriorating)
  • forecasting report (future status and performance)
  • variance report (compares actual results to baselines)
  • earned value report
  • lessons learned documentation

Exam questions:

  • Communications are often enhanced when the sender shows concern for the perspective of the receiver.
  • The progress report summarizes project status, and is the most helpful for a quick review.
  • Including functional managers in communications planning, requirements gathering, risk management, and other areas of project management helps make the project better.
  • The only report that compares results is a variance analysis.

Risk Management

Uncertainty - lack of knowledge about the work that needs to be done, the cost, the time, the quality needs, the communications needs, etc. The investigation of uncertainty may help identify risks.

Risks categorization is to group risks by cause to know which work packages, processes, people, etc. have the most risk associated with them. It can be organized in a risk breakdown structure.

Contingency reserve:

  • A contingency reserve may only be used to handle the impact of the specific risk it was set aside for. For the other problems occurred, the PM must take preventive or corrective action, fast track, crash, or otherwise adjust the project to accommodate the impact of the problem.
  • If the risks do not occur, the associated time or cost reserves should be returned to the company, rather than used to address other issues on the project.

The approved project management plan and baselines are not static while work is performed, but changes to them must go through Integrated Change Control.

Stakeholder Management

Why is it essential to identify all stakeholders on the project? Any stakeholders who are missed will likely be identified later. When they are discovered, they will probably request changes, which may cause delays.

Stakeholder group can include:

  • the sponsor,

  • team members,

  • senior mgmt,

  • SMEs,

  • end users of the product/service,

  • other departments or groups within the organization,

  • functional or operational managements,

  • vendors, consultants, customers, financial institutions, and many more.

Exam questions:

  • if PM wants to more extensively involve the stakeholders on the project, the best choice is having the stakeholders periodically review the list of project requirements. It helps discover errors and changes.

  • stakeholders help to determine the project constraints and product deliverables

  • the role of each stakeholder is identified by PM and the stakeholder. It's important that stakeholders have input into what they will be contributing to the project.

  • you need to consider the needs of all (not only the most influential) your stakeholders as early as possible, to create a better organized project.

The ethical application of Project Management

It's unethical to:

  • provide a project schedule that you don't believe to be accurate

  • waste company resources because you have not properly planned a project

  • manage a project without a project charter or a WBS

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