Part 2: How to Create PMP Study Plan? | Important topics for the PMP Exam from PMBOK Guide 6th Edition


Hello and welcome back to this video series on creating your PMP exam study plan, today is going to be part two of this series. Today, I am going to talk about the important topics for the exam. If you recollect in part one I talked about exam success tips and basic planning, be sure to watch the part 1 of this video series. So, in part 1 I covered the exam success tips basically things like studying the PMBOK guide, practicing lots of questions, understanding the nature of the exam, using an exam study guide, reading the PMI articles- the latest articles, also understanding the PMI code of ethics as well as the exam syllabus, which is the content outline, and also finally motivating yourself and enthusing yourself using techniques like visualization and so forth; by focusing on the end goal rather than getting stressed about the hard work you have to do, alright? So, now in part 2, I'm going to talk about what's important and let me go step by step with those important topics. I am also going to explain to you what could be important, how you can decide what is important. PMI has published the exam syllabus or the content outline in the initial pages of the content outline there is an allocation of marks by process groups. So you remember, right? That there are five process groups the initiating group, the planning group, the executing, the monitoring and controlling, and the closing group. Each of these groups has a marks allocation, PMP has 200 questions. So initiating has got thirteen (one three) percent allocation, what does that mean? Thirteen percent means 26 out of 200, so this is just a guideline- so you can expect about 26 marks for initiating or maybe 26 questions assuming one question one mark, right? What are these initiating processes? Develop project charter and identify stakeholders, these two combined will be worth 26 marks, alright? So I hope you know about that. Let me move on to planning; planning has got 24 processes and it's got twenty-four percent marks allocation, right? So, it's quite a lot it's about one percent per process but there is no guideline like that, one percent process, it is an overall guideline twenty-four percent meaning forty-eight out of two hundred marks will be for planning approximately, right? So, if you see scope management has got several planning processes, schedule management has got several planning processes, risk management, cost management they have got several planning processes. There are other topics, other knowledge areas which have got just one or two planning processes. Coming to executing, executing has got thirty-one percent marks allocated, which is quite a lot, thirty one meaning sixty two out of two hundred is executing which are the executing processes. There are ten executing processes, there are two of them in integration- we have got managed projects knowledge and we have got direct and manage project work. If I go to Quality Management, I have got manage quality, in resource management, we have got acquire resources, develop a team, manage a team, then we have got conduct procurement under procurement, you have got implement risk responses under risk management, then I've got manage stakeholder engagement manage communications. These are the executing processes, right? So please make sure you study this little thoroughly because it's got a lot of marks allocated to these processes, and I also got managed communications I think I mentioned that yes.

Monitoring and Controlling 

Then I'm moving over to monitoring and controlling, that's got 12 processes and 25% marks. Which means 50 marks is for monitoring and controlling, yeah? And which are those monitoring and controlling processes? We have got two of them in integration management the master process of monitor and control project work, and we also got perform integrated change control, which is the main control process for changes and you've got one control process in every knowledge area so control scope, control cost, control schedule, control quality, control resources, communication, stakeholder, procurement, and risk, by the way, it's called monitor risk, monitor communications, and monitor stakeholder, it is just a terminology instead of using control.


Moving on to the next one which is closing; closing has got seven percent marks which means 14 out of 200 reserved for closing, and there's only one closing process which is a closed project or phase right. So it's important to study their process in detail because 14 questions are likely from that process. So, this finishes off my first tip about important topics for the exam, understanding the exam content outline from a marks allocation perspective.

Change Control

Now moving on, the next thing which comes to my mind is change control; change control is essential and important for any project, a project manager should ensure there is a proper change management process. So, please study in particular in integration management- perform integrated change control, alright? And just to explain to you briefly what that is; a change is raised, the impact analysis is done, it's passed on to the change Control Board or the change authority, they further review the impact. They also look at what possible solutions have been provided by whoever has requested, or whoever has analyzed it, and then they give approval. Sometimes they give a conditional approval, right? Once this change is approved, we need to update the documents, we need to update the project plans or the relevant baselines. Without updating the baselines we cannot implement anything because the implementation is based on the plan documents, right? This is in brief about change control.

Moving on what else could be important? I've got fewer things coming up; so, I am reminded of the new processes in the PMBOK guide- there are four new processes in the PMBOK guide, the first one manages projects knowledge in integration management, then we have got manage quality in quality management, then we have got the implement risk responses in risk management, and then we have got control resources in resource management. These four, out of the three are executing processes; remember executing has got 31% marks, right? So, three of these will be part of those executing processes which have 31 percent or 62 out of 200 marks. We have got calculations- several calculations- in the PMBOK guide,  formulas which are also essential. The first thing which comes to my mind is the estimation techniques, in particular, the three-point estimate or the PERT estimation technique. We have got the formula, right? The beta distribution formula and the triangular distribution formula, very simple formulas- optimistic plus four times most likely plus pessimistic divided by six this is the beta formula. Then we have got the triangular formula optimistic plus most likely plus pessimistic divided by three, right? The beta one is the default formula. Do you have to know the formula for the standard deviation (p-o) divided by six- pessimistic minus optimistic divided by six, alright? Also, good to be prepared with formulas for variance; variance is the square of standard deviation, sometimes more advanced formulas are required- standard deviation of a set of activities, right? How does it work out? You do the standard deviation of activity 1 square it adds it to the square of the standard deviation of activity 2 and so on; so you add the sum of the squares of all the standard deviation and take a square root of that. So, it is essentially taking a square root of the sum of all the variances; that's the standard deviation for a set of activities. Similarly, the variance for a set of activities is more complicated, you need to add all the variances of each activity and divide it by the number of activities, alright? You can actually search these formulas on the internet, and some of the basic PERT formulas are given in the PMBOK guide, but you need to know a little more as just like what I explained. 

Moving on, there are some more formulas, another important one which comes to my mind is the earned value management formulas, right? The planned value, the earned value, the actual cost, then you've got the schedule variance, the cost variance, CPI- the cost Performance Index, Schedule Performance Index, budget at completion, estimate at completion, estimates to complete, to complete performance index. Please ensure you work out some calculation problems, and understand these formulas very well. They are not complicated it just requires a little bit of attention to the concepts and you can handle any type of questions. Then there is also the critical path method, you have to understand how to work out the critical path in an activity diagram. The longest path among all the paths is the critical path. Of course, there can be more than one critical path, isn't it? And once you know the critical path you can also calculate the float, you need to remember the formula for total float at least which is late finish minus early finish or late start minus early start. So that's the formula for total float, right? There's also a free float formula which can be little more complex and please study that as well. What else? Also be aware of the contract management calculations, particularly the CPI of contracts; where you have a profit and loss sharing between the buyer and the seller, right? The CPI F cost price plus incentive fee. So make sure that you know, you understand what happens when the target cost is exceeded by a certain amount, that excess amount is absorbed to some extent by the buyer and to some extent by the seller. So, you need to do this kind of problems also; depending on the cost overrun or the cost underrun from the seller’s side, the buyer is going to give an incentive to the seller. So that's one part, there's also a more complicated formula in procurement contracts which is basically the PTA- the point of total assumption, which is a more complicated one and it is also the ceiling price, right? So this is more about what happens when the seller exceeds the PTA level when the seller exceeds the PTA level the seller starts losing some of the profit; but when the seller exceeds the ceiling price actual cost perspective, then the seller starts making a loss. So, please study these as well, though it's a little more complicated. But, it's an emerging practice so it could be important. I got just, I think one or two more formulas left and I am reminded of the risk management, the expected monetary value of the risks. What you do is, take the probability and multiply that by the amount and you get the EMV there. So, you add up all the EMV of all the risks in the project and you get the EMV of the entire project. And lastly, the number of communication channels, even though this is not mentioned in the PMBOK, it's good to know it because there is an explanation about communication channels in the PMBOK the importance of that. So, you need to have the formula- it is given in the PMBOK version 5, not in version 6; but it's very simple, a number of stakeholders multiplied by the number of stakeholders minus 1 divided by 2. Alright, so that finishes off the discussion on all the formulas. So, I hope you know this gave you some clarity about what is important for the exam and now I'm also going to allow you to think what could be important. Now let's say I'm a project manager; so, when I think about projects, to my mind it comes up that stakeholders are important, communications are important, risk management is important, project control, change control, in particular, is important. So you could expect questions in those areas. Why because anything which is important in project management will eventually lead to project success. So I think it's a good idea to evaluate the examinee in terms of- are they aware of project success parameters? 

Lastly, I would like to mention one more thing; nowadays, the project environment is also changing; projects are becoming agiler, there's a lot of tighter control, tighter budgets, there's also a lot of demands from the customers in terms of quality, in terms of better risk management, in terms of better communications dashboards, reporting, right? And also I know they want to, they want their aspirations also to be fulfilled while the stakeholders are supporting projects. So, these aspects also become very important, and eventually, project managers provide leadership. So, leadership aspects are also gaining a lot of importance in project management so you can expect some questions in that area, right? This is just a general guideline, nobody knows what kind of questions eventually will come up there. So, thank you so much for watching this video, this was part 2 important areas for exam success which is part of the overall exam study plan. Be sure to watch part 1 as well where I covered the exam success tips and also be sure to come back next week to video number 3, where we have got the topic- what's new in the PMBOK guide 6th edition, and that would be interesting because I'm going to talk about the new areas like agile which are included in the PMBOK guide. Even though there is a separate agile practice guide, but a lot of agile concepts are already included in the PMBOK guide. And also there are some emerging trends and practices, and there are some new processes I'll talk more about them. Alright, thank you so much take care and do well. Wishing you success!

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Muralidhar Gaddam