Is the PMP Certification worth it?

Since you are here, I am assuming that you have already been through the PMI’s website as well. You have already seen what it takes to be PMP certified, you know the fees, time required, efforts required and experience required. What you probably don’t know is, whether all these investments are worth it? Is PMP certification worth all the effort? You’ve come to the right place to get the answer. And the answer is, Yes, PMP certification is worth all your efforts and investments. Don’t believe me? Below are certain benefits of PMP certification that will make you believe that getting PMP certified is the correct choice for you.

It will help your resume stand out from others:

When you go for an interview in the project management industry and your competitors are people who do not have PMP certification then automatically, the chances of you getting the job are higher. Being PMP certified means that you are already aware about the technical know-how of the industry and also know about the best practices used in project management which makes you the best candidate for the job.

It will help you to earn higher salary:

According to the Eight Edition of Project Management Salary Survey , PMP certification holders earn 17 percent more than their non-certified peers. Below you can see the survey by payscale that shows average salary earned by the PMP certified professional for different roles in India.

PMP’s  salary

Not just in India but a PMP certified candidate earns well across the globe as PMP is a globally recognized certification.

If you don’t believe me, here is the link to an infographic by PMI that will give you information about the countries that reported the 10 highest median annual salaries for project practitioners.

It will mean you already have a lot of project management experience:

One of the prerequisites for PMP certification include 4500 hours of experience in leading and directing project if you have a bachelor’s degree and 7500 hours if you have an associate’s degree  alongwith 35 hours of project management education. This means that when you have the words PMP before your name, the people will know the amount of knowledge you have in the field and it’ll make your life a lot easier.

It will help you in gaining leadership qualities:

 leadership qualities

PMP certification prepares you in such a way that you are able to evaluate the skill and talent of your own as well as others. It will make you a leader in your field and inculcate the leadership qualities in you. While working on any project, there are a lot of possibilities that you have your own team to lead and PMP certification will help you to lead that team in the best possible manner.

It will provide you with a lot of networking opportunities:

Being a Project Management Professional means you’ll be in touch with other project management professionals across the globe. PMI organizes meetings frequently in major metropolitan cities inviting many of the PMPs to discuss the various developments in the field of project management. This will give you an opportunity to be around other professionals and build a connection with them. You can find out about the new career opportunities, new developments and many other things that can give your career a new direction.

It will help you to work on more efficient projects:

PMP certification will prepare you to work in various situations that you may not work on otherwise. You’ll be aware about various project management tools and techniques that will help you to work on your projects more efficiently and that will decrease the chances of project failure . As a project manager, you’ll be facing a lot of complex and diverse problems and PMP certification will help you in dealing with them.

It will open the doors to a lot of career opportunities globally:

PMP is a globally recognized certification, after completion of which you can work as a project manager in any industry, with any methodology and in any location. The PMP indicates that you are able to speak and understand the global language of project management and connects you to a community of professionals, organizations and experts worldwide.

Apart from all these benefits, you will also gain a lot of self confidence and knowledge. Going for PMP certification is not the easiest thing that you’ll be doing but at the end it’ll be worth it. So if you are serious about making a career in Project Management then you should definitely go for PMP certification.

If you are looking for training that can prepare you for the PMP examinations then EduPristine is one of the leading training providers for PMP certification. Check out PMP certification training page for more details.

Project Integration Management

What is Project Integration Management?

Project Integration Management is a knowledge area in project management that includes processes and activities to identify define and coordinate various processes and activities in project management throughout the project lifecycle. Project Integration Management tasks are performed throughout the project lifecycle across the process groups – Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling and Closing.


project integration management

Objective of Project Integration Management

Project Integration Management ensures smooth and controlled execution of project tasks so that the project manager is able to deliver the project as expected meeting all the stated requirements.

Processes/ activities in Project Integration Management


Process Group
Project Integration Management Activities & Deliverables

Initiating

Develop Project Charter – This document formalizes the project and names the project manager. It gives authority to the project manager to start the project and identifies the project objectives.

Planning

Develop Project Management Plan – The project manager creates the project management plan. It defines all tasks to be done and resources required for the project to be successfully complete. It has all activities related to execution, monitoring, controlling and closure of the project. The project manager is responsible to creating the project management plan. The project scope, cost and schedule are defined. Procurement Management, Risk Management, Change Management and Stakeholder Management activities are defined.

Executing

Manage project work – The project manager will manage the team to ensure successful completion of all tasks and activities. The requisite materials, tools, software and hardware are acquired and used to achieve project objectives. The various project deliverables are produced. The changes requests are managed. Communication channels are set and used for internal and external communication. Project risks are managed. Stakeholders and vendors engagement tasks are also managed. At the end of all project activities, lessons learnt are collected and documented for use in the future.

Monitoring & Controlling

Monitor and control project work – In this activity, project tasks are tracked and reviewed. The project manager assesses the progress of the project to find out the current state of the project. The actual costs and schedule are compared with the planned costs and schedule and adjustments are made if required. The project manager authorizes corrective actions or re-planning of activities to align the project to the plan if there are deviations. There are control activities to ensure that the project meets the cost, schedule and quality objectives.

Perform Integrated Change Control – Change requests might be authorized by the Change Control Board to manage project work and defect management. The change requests should be managed as per the change management process defined in the project management plan. Updates to project plan in terms of changes in risk management, resource management, schedule, procurement, quality management should be done in this activity as per defined processes.

Closing

Close Project – This activity involves bringing a complete closure of all project activities to bring a formal end to the project. Lessons learnt are documented. All deliverables are submitted to client or the next operations group. The archival activities are done. Resources are released from the project. Client feedback is sought and recorded. If the project was unsuccessful or cancelled, reasons for the same are documented and unfinished project deliverables are managed as per what has been decided between the project team and the client.

Role of the Project Manager in Project Integration Management

The project manager has the most important role in project integration management. He has to guide and synchronize all project tasks to ensure successful execution of the project. He has to play a pivotal role in project communication so that stakeholders and team members are aware of the project status. A project manager’s key responsibilities include –

  1. Create and regularly update the project management plan.
  2. Plan the project, its cost, schedule and resources.
  3. List the quality objectives.
  4. List the deliverables for successful project delivery.
  5. Decision making during conflicts.
  6. Perform coordination, monitoring and controlling tasks to ensure that the project is executed as per plan or better than planned so that the project is delivered successfully meeting all its objectives.
  7. Perform change control activities.
  8. Manage successful closure of the project.

Different processes and knowledge areas interact with each other in a project’s lifecycle. Project Integration Management ensures that all activities are coordinated and there is consistency in the plan and delivery.

Top 7 Project Management Software Programs

Project Management is a complex task where the project manager is juggling many things at the same time. He has to synchronize everything so that the project achieves its objectives. The right project management tool will make this mammoth task easier. Software tools can help to manage projects better and more efficiently. There are many project management tools in the market. Here I’ll discuss about the top 7 project management software programs, their pros, cons and pricing.

Zoho

Pros – A web based project management platform. It is suitable for projects following the waterfall model. It is supported by Android and iOS platforms. It has all the project management features like setting and tracking milestones, document management, bug management, time tracking and charts and reports. It supports task management, workflow management and ticket management. It works with other apps and services including some Google apps.

Cons – It is a basic tool and not suitable for complex projects where there are many users and access needs to be defined as per user role. Users having the free version will not get the document management features.

Pricing – Price starts at $20 and goes up to $80. Free Trial is also available.

Basecamp

Pros – Basecamp is a leading project management tool.  It offers features like collaboration and time tracking and file sharing. It works on Mac, Windows, iPhone/iPad and Android. It is a cloud based online project management tool. It is easy to use and intuitive. It integrates with many 3rd party tools for backup and synchronization.

Cons – Basecamp does not have features like creation of Gantt charts and task interdependencies. There are not many accounting related features. Storing data on the cloud has some security issues.

Pricing – There are various packages available. Fee based models are available from $20 to $1500 per month. You can avail of Basecamp for a year for $3000.

MS Project

Pros – MS Project is a popular project management tool. It has a comprehensive feature set. It is good for setting milestones, time tracking, budgeting and resource allocation. It offers comprehensive charts and reports. There is a fair amount of customization that one can do. There are different versions available depending on the user. It works well with the Office suite and integrates well with Sharepoint. It is well suited for managing multiple projects that share resources. There are desktop and online versions.

Cons – It is a complex tool and not optimal for small projects. It is expensive. It is not yet compatible with iOS.

Pricing – There are various versions available for different prices. Depending on your need, you should select one. For example, the standard MS project costs $589.99. There are various subscription models available.

ActivCollab

Pros – It is a project management tool with powerful features for collaboration, time tracking and invoicing. It can be integrated with payment systems like PayPal and invoices can be paid within the application. There are versions for self hosting and hosting it on the Web.

Cons – It does not support a product backlog. It is not very easily customizable. It does not provide much of dashboard and reporting functionality.

Pricing – Free trial version is available. Pricing plans from $25 to $99 per month are available for the cloud based version. Self hosted standard version is available for $499 and the Enterprise version is also available. Price depends on the contract.

LiquidPlanner

Pros – The key features of LiquidPlanner are priority customization and risk assessment calculation. It offers predictive project management, time tracking and resource scheduling. It allows for estimating best /worst case time requirements for tasks by project contributor. It integrates with DropBox, JIRA and Google Drive. It has a dashboard reporting facilities.

Cons – It is a little time consuming to learn all the features. It is more costly compared to some other tools.

Pricing – A free trial version is available. It offers discounts to non profit organizations. It offers free software for some educational purposes related to project management. There are different versions for different prices ranging from $29 to $49. LiquidPlanner is online project management software. It has a mobile app version as well that is compatible with Android and iOS.

Primavera

Pros – Primavera provides support for traditional project management and Agile project management. It is a good tool for project portfolio management. It supports interactive Gantt charts, risk/benefit analyser, task management and burndown charts. The application can be used on online and mobile platforms. It integrates with Microsoft Office, Oracle business software and some other software applications.

Cons – It is not suitable for small companies or small projects. Users need to spend time to train and get familiar with the product. It does not support a product backlog.

Pricing – The basic Primavera P6 Enterprise Project Portfolio Management  costs $2750 with software updates and licenses costing $605.Other supporting tools have to be bought separately.

Clarizen

Pros – Clarizen is a project management tool that supports project planning, portfolio management, document management, social collaboration and task management. It can run on Windows, Mac OS and Linux systems. It is available on Android and iOS platforms. It is easy to use to manage projects and tasks. It has good reporting facilities. It can be used on the Web as well. It integrates with Excel, Google Docs, Salesforce and some other applications. 

Cons – Financial tracking is not well supported. Some features are not intuitive. It is more expensive compared to some other products.

Pricing – The price range is from $30 per user per month for Professional Edition to $45 per month per user for Enterprise Edition to $60/user/month for Unlimited Edition.

Project managers will be able to be more productive with project management tools. Project management tools are available for desktops and server and on the Internet. Some software might be suitable only for large teams, some tools may be good at managing tasks etc and some other applications might be better executed on iOS.  You have to consider factors like project type,client needs, team distribution, usage, price and project management application features to decide on the right application.

What Do I Need To Be A Project Manager?

As a project manager, you will be setting project goals. You will be responsible for planning, executing, controlling and monitoring various project activities to ensure the project goals are achieved within time and budget. Project management is an art as well as a skill and requires many technical skills and soft skills. It is a challenging role and demands a lot of time, analytical efforts, technical abilities, management skills and communication skills.

Projects are about managing people, risks, schedules and costs. As a project manager, one has to delegate tasks, motivate teams to achieve project objectives and manage pressure. Do you want to become a project manager but are not sure what is it that you have to have in you to be one.

Common Skills required to become a Project Manager

Leadership and Management
You need to get your team together as a cohesive unit to achieve project objectives. You will have to manage team conflicts and client challenges. You need to lead the way sometimes and delegate tasks at other times to team members and show your trust in them.

Planning, Executing, Controlling and Monitoring
Planning is an integral part of project management. You need to plan the project tasks, ensure they are executed as per plan, control the task performance and monitor team members. This has to be done without coming across as dictatorial and aggressive and at the same time you cannot be seen as a passive, mute spectator while everyone goes about their tasks in their own way.

Planning, Executing,  Controlling and Monitoring

Good Communication and Negotiation Skills
You will be constantly communicating with your team, client representatives and vendors. You are the person giving and receiving project information. It has to be accurate, concise and consistent. You will be negotiating on time, resources, budget and schedule with team members, support functions, client etc. You need to convince and influence people to do what is best for your project. Avoid the things that can lead to communication breakdown

Problem Solving
You will face many challenges as a project manager. The client may have last minute feature changes. You should have drafted a change management plan at the time if project planning and follow the change management process. Your team members might leave at crucial juncture of the project. You should ensure that the project is not dependent on resources. An existing resource working on one module can be the back-up resource for another module. Knowledge Transfer sessions should be regularly held.

problem solver

Guidelines for becoming a project manager depending on your role

If you are an experienced software developer

Skills and experience you might already have Skills and Experience to develop
You have some technical and analytical skills in your area of expertise. You need to widen your technical skills. For example, if you are a Java developer, you should have knowledge on databases.

You should have an overview of requirements analysis and test functions. You should develop your soft skills and presentation skills. You can show interest in taking a team lead role and get experience in leadership and problem solving. The next step would be to manage  a project/sub-project. If Agile is used, you should aim to be a product owner or Scrum master.

If you are a Business Analyst

Skills and experience you might already have Skills and Experience to develop
You have some analytical skills, domain knowledge and soft skills like communication and negotiation.

You will have experience in presentation skills and problem solving.

You need to have an overview of technical aspects.You can show interest in taking a test lead role or a test manager role and get experience in leadership and problem solving.

The next step would be to manage a project/ sub-project or be an assistant PM.

If you are a fresh MBA graduate

Skills and experience you might already have Skills and Experience to develop
You have the right educational qualifications. You need to widen your business skills, technical skills and soft skills.
You could take up courses on the art of negotiation and general technical knowledge depending on technology used in the particular project/ company.
You can show interest by identifying key challenges in the project and give your approach to solving them. Fresh minds can lead to new perspectives.
You can contribute towards knowledge management and documentation so that you are aware of the project working.
The next step would be to either take a role in the test team or Business Analysis team or be a project coordinator and gain experience to be able to manage  a project/ sub-project in the near future.

If you are a business domain expert

Skills and experience you might already have Skills and Experience to develop
You have business knowledge. You would be involved in meetings and negotiations and so will have experience in the softer skills. You need to have an overview of technical aspects. You should be aware of technology used, database etc.

You can show interest in leading functional teams which will help you gain experience in leadership and management aspects.

The next step would be to manage  a project/ sub-project.

You should talk to your immediate supervisor/ HR personnel about your career aspirations. They would be able to guide you and give you tasks and roles that can lead you to be a project manager. You can attain certification like PMP certification or PRINCE2 which will boost your skill set. As a project manager, you will be working and interacting with different types of people. You should have the maturity to allow people to grow within the project. You might not be the most popular person on the project and this should not bother you as project management is challenging but rewarding and you will be able to get into better and more crucial roles in the organization if you show competence in project management.

Up and Running with Basecamp

Basecamp is a cloud-based online project management tool. It is suited for small projects where communication and collaboration are required. As a project manager, you can use Basecamp to:

  • Set up a project in Basecamp
  • Track tasks
  • Add people to the project for communication
  • Manage the message board
  • Provide for file storage

Key features of Basecamp

  1. Simple View – It is very simple to create a project. When you create a project, a page like a sheet in a notepad is created wherein you can do the following –
  2. Add Project Team Members – As a project manager, you can add team members and their details. Client team members can also be added. This will help in keeping them in loop and giving the project higher transparency.
  3. Add Admin for the project – You can give the admin role to team members so that they can manage the project on Basecamp
  4. Create To-Do Lists – Tasks can be created in the project. You can assign a due date and a person to the task. An email can be sent to the person via Basecamp informing him/her about tasks assigned.
  5. Hold Discussions – You can create discussion topics, add content including attachments and send to people in the project. They can give their views. The discussion will appear on the project home page when the user logs in. Discussions can also be sent as an email to people not added in the Basecamp project but need to be notified of some project information.
  6. Create Documents – Documents can be created within Basecamp. These can be collaborative and other users with permission can edit it. Revision history can be seen and earlier version can be restored too. These documents can be opened in the mobile version as well.
  7. Manage Project Calendar – The Basecamp calendar is quite comprehensive. One can see projects, events and deadlines in one view. There can be a project calendar with events and to-dos of the project and a stand-alone calendar that can have other stuff like birthdays etc. Here is a snapshot of the project calendar –

  8. Project Calendar in Basecamp

  9. Track Milestones – Milestones are major events of the project that the team is working on. Milestones can be related to To-dos to indicate the tasks to be completed for a milestone to be achieved.        
  10. Have different project views – There are different views that give an update on the project. The calendar view allows to see tasks on a project on the basis of dates. Another view shows users and the tasks they are working on. A third view shows open and closed tasks.

Pricing and Licensing

Here is an overview on the various packages available


pricing in basecamp

Archived projects are not included in the number of active projects. You can buy extra space if required without changing your preferred package. The unlimited annual package gets priority support and more options for payment.

Advantages of using Basecamp

Basecamp is a simple and elegant tool to use. It is easy to use and intuitive. It allows for collaborative Project Management. It allows for integration with various third party tools for backup and synchronization. There are free (use up to 60 days) and paid versions available.


 advantages of Basecamp

It has some interesting features like the ‘Everyone’ tab allows you to have a quick look on who’s who in the team.
The ‘Everything’ Tab is where everything related to the project can be seen in one view.

Everything is autosaved. Even deleted stuff can be retrieved within 30 days. Completed projects can be archived. It offers an official application for iOS. Basecamp offers an open API to users who want to design their own 3rd party integrations. There is a strong security system which includes firewalls, daily backups for major systems, data encryption and surveillance.

Disadvantages of using Basecamp

On the other hand, Basecamp does not have features like creation of Gantt charts and task interdependencies. There are not many accounting related features. There is always some security issue with storing data on the cloud.

Conclusion

It is a good application for small projects where a lot of collaboration is required with clients and team or for internal projects. Let us know about your experience using cloud based or online project management tools.

Earned Value Management

How do you decide the status of your project? Is it progressing well? Are the costs and efforts in control? Will you reach the targeted profitability?

Lord Kelvin, the famous mathematical physicist and engineer said, “To measure is to know.” It is imperative to measure progress in business else you would never know performance levels. Managing and measuring project performance is important as it helps to know how the team is performing, profitability that will be achieved and whether delivery will be as per planned schedule, cost and efforts. Earned Value Management (EVM) is an effective tool to measure project performance. It can be used to measure past project performance, current project performance and in predicting future performance. EVM is a crucial aspect of software project management and therefore a key component of the PMP exam.

Let us understand EVM thoroughly. Earned Value Management (EVM) basically tracks the effort and cost that has been spent on the project and compares them with the value that has been delivered.

There are certain concepts to understand before calculating the EVM for a project –

understanding Earned Value Management

Once these concepts are clear, we can evaluate the project performance using the following indicators –

project performance indicators

Now we will use an example to understand these concepts better. Here is an example that will help us to understand how to calculate earned value for a software project –

You are the project manager of a project which has an estimated cost of $35000 and an estimated duration of 10 months. You and your team have been working on the project for 4 months now. The PMO office says that you have spent $8000 till date. How do you know how the project progress has been. What status will you report to the senior management regarding cost and efforts spent and the project spending forecast?

We will use concepts of EVM to report project progress –

reporting project progress

As per the EVM analysis, the CPI is over 1 which indicates that the project has earned more than the spending on it till the end of 4th month. The project is therefore under budget. The SPI is under 1 which indicates that the project is behind schedule.

The project stakeholders would also be interested to know how the project will perform in the future. EVM helps in forecasting performance too. Estimate at Completion (EAC) is used to find out the expected total cost of work in the project.

EAC can be calculated in three ways. We will use the same example to find out EAC –

  1. Assume similar cost variance will occur till the completion of project
    calculating EAC
  2. Cost Variance will not occur in the future.
    calculating EAC
  3. Current cost and schedule variance will continue in the future
    calculating EAC

There are two more measures that are useful to give the status of the project –

  1. Variance at completion will tell how much deviation from budget will there be at the completion of the project. It is calculated as –
    calculating EAC
  2. To Complete Performance Index gives the future CPI that must be followed if the project has to be completed within the budgeted cost.
    If the project is under budget, TCPI is calculated as –
    calculating TCIP

If the project is over budget, TCPI is calculated as –

calculating TCIP

EVM is an important component of PMP certification. PMP aspirants should understand the concepts thoroughly and prepare well in this subject area.