PMP Project Management – Interface Technical Training https://www.interfacett.com Wed, 21 Jun 2017 19:26:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Business Analysis Tools as found in PMI PBA Business Analysis and the IIBA CBAP https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/business-analysis-tools-as-found-in-pmi-pba-business-analysis-and-the-iiba-cbap/ https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/business-analysis-tools-as-found-in-pmi-pba-business-analysis-and-the-iiba-cbap/#respond Wed, 10 May 2017 17:58:43 +0000 https://www.interfacett.com/?post_type=infct_blogpost&p=11295 For more PMI-PBA Business Analysis Certification Training see our 5-day course available both in classroom and online with virtual instructor-led training. PMI-PBA: Business Analysis for Project Managers and IT Analysts (PMI-PBA Certification) For more PMI-PBA Videos see: PMI-PBA Business Analysis Common Features The Difference between PMI-PBA Business Analysis Certification and IIBA CBAP Certification Business Analysis Tools … Continue reading Business Analysis Tools as found in PMI PBA Business Analysis and the IIBA CBAP

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For more PMI-PBA Business Analysis Certification Training see our 5-day course available both in classroom and online with virtual instructor-led training.

PMI-PBA: Business Analysis for Project Managers and IT Analysts (PMI-PBA Certification)

For more PMI-PBA Videos see:


By Steve Fullmer (PMI-PBA and PMP Instructor)

In this video, PMP and Business Analysis Instructor Steve Fulmer presents the toolsets that are available to Business Analysis as found in PMI’s Professional Business Analyst Certification (PMI-PBA) and the IIBA Business Analyst Body of Knowledge (BABOK), the Certified Business courses.

Video Transcription.

Tools are tools. We’re getting a little bit of a preview of the kind of content you’re going to see in the class, if you attend our PMI‑PBA Business Analysis for Professionals, Project Managers, interested parties.

One of the things that I think is important to help people understand is that tools are tools. The tools of business analysis, whether you want to learn from IIBA, through the Business Analyst Body of Knowledge (BABOK), the Certified Business Analyst practice areas, there are 6 of them.

CBAP Practice Areas:

  • Business Analysis Planning and Monitoring
  • Elicitation and Collaboration
  • Requirements Lifecycle Management
  • Strategy Analysis
  • Requirements Analysis and Design Definition
  • Solution Evaluation

I hate to say they’re silo‑centric. It’s more situational, I think would be a better term. These are sets of tools that help apply to meet different needs or characteristics of the Business Analyst profession.

There are 6 practice areas, from planning business analysis to eliciting requirements, collaboration amongst your various stakeholders, your technical and functional personnel versus your customers, your sponsors, process oriented personnel, actors, personas, all kinds of terminology associated with the people that are affecting all of your business practices, not just project related ones.

Identifying requirements and making decision for which requirements is certainly part of Project Management, but it’s a bigger set of tools when we talk about the business analysis arena than it is just under Project Management.

PMI-PBA Practices (Domains):

  • Needs Assessment
  • Business Analysis Planning
  • Requirements Elicitation and Analysis
  • Traceability and Monitoring
  • Solution Evaluation

If we take a look at it simply from a Project Management Institute (PMI) perspective, this is the focus of the course. PMI refers to the practice’s domains, and there are 5 instead of 6. The difference is, as I suggested in a separate video (The Difference between PMI-PBA Business Analysis Certification and IIBA CBAP Certification), is there tends to be a sequential approach to helping you identify which tools you might use. It’s just a different way to look at tool selection, tool application.

As an example, we identify whether a business has a need. Not all needs turn into projects; some of them can simply be operational changes, operational improvements. Yes, we can affect those through projects, but sometimes they’re not of such a large scale that demands that.

An example that a Business Analysis might suggest is the concept of “Just in Time.” A customer needs something as quick as you can get it to them, so you’re going to figure out what solution tools you have today to affect the solution that you hand to your customer just in time, like it as fast as possible.

That doesn’t lend itself to the more formal processes that might be used for a Predictive Lifecycle, or an Adaptive Lifecycle, which includes the concepts of Agile methodologies or programming.

We have lots of ways to identify needs, some of which turn into projects, but we don’t need to do customized business analysis planning.

That’s the role of identifying what the business analysis deliverables need to be. Does the Business Analyst need their own communication management plan, or do they simply supplement a project communication plan that would be inside of a Project Management Plan, and who owns which?

In a Project Management Communication Plan, we’re identifying how we’re communicating with the stakeholders as we go through the temporary unique aspects of a project. How do we make sure that stakeholder needs are met?

In PMP Project Management Fundamentals and Professional Certification, you learn about the interest/influence, or interest power grid, depending on which version of the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) you learned that from.

That’s how do we interact with people during the project, but a Business Analyst has to be concerned with more communication than just the Project Stakeholders. A Project Management Communication Plan is about the project, but a business analyst communication plan is about how the stakeholders communicate with each other all the time, potentially independent of projects.

If that’s a concern that you’ve got as a Business Analyst, either during the support of a project, or independent of projects, it’s a different approach. Do you need one, or don’t you?

As you go through Business Analysis Planning, you’re identifying which of the different deliverables, the different tool sets, you might need, but that’s based upon the needs assessment of the customer. Is this a long term predictive type of approach? Is this a purely operational approach? Is this an Agile, let’s see, if we can go through this intuitively or cyclic, in order to try get the solution that we need?

It’s the environment and the needs that you identify during needs analysis that help us identify what business analysis deliverables we have, which in turn drive the requirements and elicitation we might use, which in turn drive the traceability and the monitoring of the requirements.

Quite often, we have projects that moves so quickly, we don’t have the ability to take the great detail necessary to do thorough traceability of each of our requirements, so we look at those requirements that are high priority or maybe regulatory in nature.

It’s simply a different focus in terms of how we gather, track and trace requirements in the bigger scheme than rather just a single project. But it is sequential in nature. This is the big difference, I believe, and why I like the idea of providing the PMI‑PBA approach. It gives you a logical approach.

You’re not going to use Agile and adaptive methodologies, unless your approach suggests the need you got are iterative or adaptive in nature.

You’re going to use more specific tools, so we follow this logical approach that says, if we use this kind of, essentially, needs assessment, we’re more likely to use a particular kind of business analysis plan and a different kinds of requirement elicitation.

It’s really about the business analysts thinking and strategizing, regularly and repeatedly. It’s figuring out the best approach to take, while others are trying to scurry off as fast as they can to make specific activities, deliverables, or overall projects meet the multiple needs inside of a business.

I look forward to seeing you in the classroom or online.

Steven Fullmer
Interface Technical Training Staff Instructor

Steve teaches PMI-PBA: Business Analysis Certification,  PMP: Project Management Fundamentals and Professional Certification, Windows 10, and CompTIA classes in Phoenix, Arizona.

 

 

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The Difference between PMI-PBA Business Analysis Certification and IIBA CBAP Certification https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/the-difference-between-pmi-pba-business-analysis-certification-and-iiba-cbap-certification/ https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/the-difference-between-pmi-pba-business-analysis-certification-and-iiba-cbap-certification/#respond Wed, 03 May 2017 20:12:08 +0000 https://www.interfacett.com/?post_type=infct_blogpost&p=11253 For more PMI-PBA Business Analysis Certification Training see our 5-day course available both in classroom and online with virtual instructor-led training. PMI-PBA: Business Analysis for Project Managers and IT Analysts (PMI-PBA Certification) For more PMI-PBA Videos see: PMI-PBA Business Analysis Common Features The Difference between PMI-PBA Business Analysis Certification and IIBA CBAP Certification Business Analysis Tools … Continue reading The Difference between PMI-PBA Business Analysis Certification and IIBA CBAP Certification

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For more PMI-PBA Business Analysis Certification Training see our 5-day course available both in classroom and online with virtual instructor-led training.

PMI-PBA: Business Analysis for Project Managers and IT Analysts (PMI-PBA Certification)

For more PMI-PBA Videos see:


By Steve Fullmer (PMI-PBA and PMP Instructor)

Video Transcription

With the addition of PMI’s Professional Business Analyst Certification (PMI-PBA)  the question arises, do you want to try to get the IIBA, International institute of Business Analyst certification under your belt or do you want to go with the PMI Certification track?

Now there are different organizations that offer aspects of Business Analyst Certification, but these are the two organizations most actively promoting Business Analysts and Business Analysis as a profession, and helping to refine an understanding of the tools, terms, and techniques. But their approaches in the certifications are just a little bit different, so which one is for you?

Here at Interface Technical Training, I’m teaching the PMI, Professional Business Analysis, but I was a founding officer of the Phoenix IIBA Chapter in its founding years 2003, 2005 as some of the first chapters, the concept of IIBA, and the development of the Business Analyst Body of Knowledge (BABOK), were founded.

I chose to focus on project management because that’s my career, but I have a deep passion to help people promote business analysis going either way.

What’s the difference if you’re trying to make a decision for which way you want to go from a certification/career track path? The audiences are quite different.

CBAP or PMI-PBA?

Target Audience: Biggest Difference

CBAP

  • Entire Business Techniques – Approach BROAD
  • Promoting Business Analysis (BA) Field, proposing new standard adoption
  • IIBA membership: 27,000 worldwide
  • IIBA founded 2004, BABOK and first certification 2008

PMI-PBA

  • Integrated with Project, Program and Portfolio Selection
  • Common with modern practice – Before, during and after
  • PMI membership; 480,000 worldwide
  • PMI founded 1969, PMI-PBA handbook and certification 2015

 

That’s one big difference in terms of doing it. That’s why we selected, here, to focus on a PMI‑PBA in addition to the fact that I teach Project Management Professional (PMP) courses.

The CBAP, Certified Business Analyst Professional, is about entire business techniques. The approach is very broad. You’re learning lots of different tools across the domains or the knowledge areas of the Business Analyst Body of Knowledge (BABOK), and you’re learning how to apply the tools in a situational basis, sometimes in a project sometimes not.

It’s a great encyclopedic look at all the tools of business analysis. The challenge that I find with it is a lot of those tools are the leading edge or bleeding edge. They’re proposals to become standards on business analysis across industries, across companies, not all of which are heavily or fully adopted.

Some of them are essentially tools that are being promoted by a single business who created the model, tool and the technology. They’re great solutions, but they’re not necessarily best-practice in current adoption.

PMI tends to, for instance with the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), promote content that is best-practices today, that meet the needs for most people most of the time, rather than leading edge.

It’s just a selection of, do you want to be one of the proponents, often having to sell your ideas and tools and concepts, or do you want to be able to understand how to immediately go and apply current practices?

It’s a personal choice. If you’re in it for the long haul you might want to go to the IIBA, and the BABOK, and the CBAP approach. If you’re like for immediate need recognition, then the PMI‑PBA is better.

Now they’re both, in my mind, equivalent certifications. They require almost equal experience. They both require classroom training and knowledge. You can’t just go and say, “Poof, I want to be one.” You have to pass criteria for both of the exams or certifications before you’re allowed to sit for the exam.

One of the other reasons to consider this is essentially the visibility, the promotability of your certification, particularly if you’re adding this after your name on a document or a resume.

IIBA has approx. 27,000 worldwide members as of the end of 2016/early 2017, and was founded in 2004. The first release of the Business Analyst Body of Knowledge (BABOK) and certification was offered in 2008. We’re currently in the 3rd edition of the Business Analyst Body of Knowledge, and IIBA has just recently changed some of the requirements to sit for their now four certification levels, all associated with Business Analysis.

PMI has integrated the Business Analysis aspect with Projects, Programs and Portfolios.

Portfolios are about the selection of best projects or programs and assets for the business. There is some aspect of Operations and Business Management in the Business Analysis aspect from PMI, because of their focus on portfolios. It’s just a slightly different shift.

PMI-PBA is common with modern practice and PMI has more than 480,000 members worldwide and over 500,000 members who’ve passed at some point their PMP certification. We also have the CAPM, the PgMP and other PMI Certifications, all of which integrate well with the PMI‑PBA approach.

PMI has been around since 1969 and most of PMI standards have been supported by ANSI or ISO, and so they’re internationally recognized as the Standard Approach to affect business, affect projects, etc.

Goal/Focus Comparisons

IIBA

  • Organizational Improvement
  • Promotional/Futuristic
  • Independent/Situational
  • More Associative

 

PMI

  • Portfolio – Program – Project
  • Current Practice
  • Integrated
  • More Sequential

 

What’s the big difference in the certification? Another way to look at it might that IIBA is about organizational improvement. They are about looking at businesses and companies and helping them to improve their processes, their focus. Their operation is not just on a project basis.

PMI does tend to be more portfolio/project/program based. It depends on what your focus is, which way you might best have a certification, an understanding and knowledge, and ultimately mastery to be able to apply what you learn in the classroom.

A lot of the focus of IIBA is very promotional in terms of the current, futuristic and where they hope to take the Business Analyst career and industry. PMI is very much about current practice and current standards. Again, it depends on where your interest lies.

I would say a lot of the tools that are identified in the Business Analyst Body of Knowledge and the approach to certification are situational. Certainly, the test is a situational exam. There are 150 questions on the exam provided by IIBA for the Certified Business Analyst Professional (CBAP).

You’re going to read a case study or a situation and answer a set of questions related to that specific situation. It really is the approach that IIBA and the BABOK takes to solving business analyst solutions.

PMI is more integrated with practices.

PMI-PBA integrates with Projects and Projects Tools. For example, a Project Manager understanding how to integrate their skills with a Business Analyst, not to essentially have them as one role but two roles that work together as opposed to two roles that work independent of one another and then have to figure out how to integrate their efforts. PMI is integrated by its design, right up front.

Another way to look at it is in terms of thought processes. There are thought processes that are Associative, and that’s the way we solve problems. For example, “I’ve got a problem.” I think of all the things that I know about and find a possible solution that fits in an integrated way, but on a situational basis.

A lot of people like to solve problems in what I call a more sequential fashion. We teach a lot of technology courses here at Interface Technical Training and a lot of IT people in particular, like a more sequential approach. The, “If I find this, then do this,” or “Let’s put together the scientific method to look for a root cause,” and deal with it in a very logical, sequential manner as opposed to an independent situational manner.

That’s a difference between the approach to the contents you need to learn to get certified and the approach taken by the two organizations in deliver of best standards, practices, and tools. Same tools, just a different approach to help you figure out how to best apply them.

If you understand how you think, you understand how you learn, and you understand where you want to apply it, that might be another tool that you use in your selection process to find a great class.

I would not recommend that anybody solely try to prepare for either the CBAP or the PMI‑PBA exam through a boot camp. I know a lot of you do.

If you’ve got great experience and can prove all the hours that you need, then all you’re doing is learning the content that you have to be very proficient at and understand the exact vocabulary for the exam.

But if you’re trying to learn the material, you’re looking for a course where you’re going to get mastery, where we understand the difference in the application and can give you context, not just content that you have to memorize or learn by pure repetition before you take the exam.

I look forward to seeing you in the classroom or online.

Steven Fullmer
Interface Technical Training Staff Instructor

Steve teaches PMI-PBA: Business Analysis Certification,  PMP: Project Management Fundamentals and Professional Certification, Windows 10, and CompTIA classes in Phoenix, Arizona.

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PMI-PBA Business Analysis Common Features https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/pmi-pba-business-analysis-common-features/ https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/pmi-pba-business-analysis-common-features/#respond Tue, 02 May 2017 20:39:57 +0000 https://www.interfacett.com/?post_type=infct_blogpost&p=11250 For more PMI-PBA Business Analysis Certification Training see our 5-day course available both in classroom and online with virtual instructor-led training. PMI-PBA: Business Analysis for Project Managers and IT Analysts (PMI-PBA Certification) For more PMI-PBA Videos see: PMI-PBA Business Analysis Common Features The Difference between PMI-PBA Business Analysis Certification and IIBA CBAP Certification Business Analysis Tools … Continue reading PMI-PBA Business Analysis Common Features

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For more PMI-PBA Business Analysis Certification Training see our 5-day course available both in classroom and online with virtual instructor-led training.

PMI-PBA: Business Analysis for Project Managers and IT Analysts (PMI-PBA Certification)

For more PMI-PBA Videos see:


By Steve Fullmer (PMI-PBA and PMP Instructor)

Video Transcription

You’re considering learning more about business analysis. Well, what is business analysis? Consider colleges and universities that teach business administration, or you’re going for business courses, there could be economics, there could be scheduling, understanding, there’s certainly IT based and non‑IT based materials.

The common foundation behind business analysis is a practice in a career, includes the bullets here.

 

 

If you’re thinking about becoming a business analyst and studying business analysis, these are the topics that you want to focus on.

Communicating and Communications

Because we have a lot of students who come to me for project management, let me help you understand the difference.

Inside of a project, you’re identifying stakeholders, and you’re going to figure out how to communicate with each of the stakeholders in your projects based on their needs. Like I talked about a power influence grid, there’s other modules associated with that.

When we get to business analysis, you’re talking about understanding how communication happens between stakeholders because of processes and systems within your business, as well as, an enhanced understanding of communications for projects with project managers, between project managers and business analysts, and the different roles that business analysts, project managers, and stakeholders play in guiding the success of a business, not just the success of a project.

Needs Identification and development (Business asses)

 

You’re also working on needs identification. Now, in a project, someone has typically written a business case that says, “This is the high‑level need of a project.” Well, it’s the business analyst who does that internal rate of return, net present value, cost‑benefit analysis, or other mechanisms, to help you identify that you have a need that might be solved by a project.

We also have other business needs. Process changes, organizational structure changes, organizational management changes, general change, management, HR, and operations kind of questions, that might be analyzed using business analysis tools that are outside the arena of what you would do for a project. They’re operational in nature.

 

Requirements

 

Business Analysts help to do essentially elicitation of requirements and needs using some more tools, but the tool sets broader in Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) than it is specifically in Project Management (PMP).

 

Business Analysis: Modeling – Tools – Terms

Other common concepts of business analysis are some of the modeling tools, and terms we use are unique to the industry or the career. We work on that in a classroom to help you understand what those models are.

Such as Unified Modeling Language and Requirements Modeling Language. There’s a new System Modeling Language (SysML) that talks about how systems are integrated with people, hardware, software, process, etc.

This is the bigger picture of what Business Analysts look at. A simple way to look at it is what is our system? As-Is States or Models? We want to be able to change it to make it better, so that’s what will it be? The to‑be or will‑be state. That’s where Business Analysis changes or differs from Project Management.

We’re looking where we are today, what do we need to do to change it, and where will we be tomorrow? Those two end pieces are what help to tie together great projects, but they work outside the scale of projects as well.

 

Verification (testing) and Validation (acceptance – value)

We also talk about verification and testing. Verification is confirming quality and performance, while validation is making sure that customer needs are being met. This is not just in a project, it’s beyond that.

 

Drive Business Value – Before, During and After

The other common concept that’s within the field or the career of business analysis, to make sure that you’re driving business value in all you do.

Not simply meeting a criteria, doing something that’s on a checklist or punch list, but actually making sure that each of the things that you do, each of the decisions that you make provide value. Before projects are even initiated, during projects if that’s the way you choose to approach it, and even after projects have long been completed and the product has been delivered to the customer.

Business Analysis (PMI-PBA) covers all these areas. Most of the Business Analysis courses  at Interface Technical Training either touch this on a broad‑base or dive deep to help you understand specific tools, skillsets, terms, solutions and mechanisms.

The course that we’re teaching or adding today, in PMI-PBA: Business Analysis for Project Managers and IT Analysts (PMI-PBA Certification) is giving you both the broad overview and preparing you to take any of those deep dive courses you might want to take.

Steven Fullmer
Interface Technical Training Staff Instructor

Steve teaches PMI-PBA: Business Analysis Certification,  PMP: Project Management Fundamentals and Professional Certification, Windows 10, and CompTIA classes in Phoenix, Arizona.

 

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PMP: Vocabulary – The Intersection of Hard and Soft Skills https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/pmp-vocabulary-intersection-hard-soft-skills/ https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/pmp-vocabulary-intersection-hard-soft-skills/#respond Wed, 25 Jan 2017 20:52:22 +0000 http://www.interfacett.com/?post_type=infct_blogpost&p=10721 “One forgets words as one forgets names. One’s vocabulary needs constant fertilizing or it will die.” Evelyn Waugh Looking for blog topic ideas when two recent conversations collided and provided this topic. The words that we use set our goals, and put projects – CHANGE – in motion.  Select the wrong words and the goal … Continue reading PMP: Vocabulary – The Intersection of Hard and Soft Skills

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“One forgets words as one forgets names. One’s vocabulary needs constant fertilizing or it will die.”
Evelyn Waugh

Looking for blog topic ideas when two recent conversations collided and provided this topic.

The words that we use set our goals, and put projects – CHANGE – in motion.  Select the wrong words and the goal escapes us.  Use clear, concise words and the goal is clear, even if the path is unknown.  This concept is true whether we are setting personal goals, or assisting stakeholders to establish project goals.

In our Project Management Professional Certification course, I teach candidates to focus on customer needs.  To effectively peel back the surface of a request often stated as ‘wants’ to get to the core need.  To create objectives from subjective statements.

When we use the wrong vocabulary, we confuse ourselves and others.  Meaning disappears.   Requests for assistance result in limited (or no action), or even unintended resistance.

During a recent conversation, a friend suggested that they wanted to achieve and maintain inertia.  I heard what they said, and I thought I understood their intent, though as the conversation continued my brain became befuddled by their use of vocabulary.  Inertia is a state of immobility.  Given their workload, and alpha personality, my immediate interpretation was their desire to find respite.  Perhaps to enjoy summer activities with family.  To laze at the beach.  To attend a Jimmy Buffett concert.  As the conversation continued, I came to realize that they were speaking about overcoming inertia – breaking the stalemate holding them in place rather than moving toward a goal.  The words associated with their request and their desires where in direct opposition.

I offered some advice.  Pointed them toward a few of my motivational mentors and moved on.  I believed that I had helped my friend further toward their goal.  Until a second conversation slapped me mildly upside the head (metaphorically speaking).

While undergoing therapy for a recent soft tissue injury, I received some semi-solicited metaphysical queries and advice.  $6,000 in western medicine co-pays and no resolution led me to an eastern medicine practitioner and a working solution.   A solution set that uses a different vocabulary than western medicine.  When someone is helping you, it is best to listen and to process the input.  They asked about my 2016 goals.  Given the scenario, I stated “health, wealth, and creativity”, which are the key words for more specific agendas.  They asked for clarification and specifics.  The approach had my attention – project management application has that effect on me – at least relative to helping me with my health goals.

They shifted the topic to wealth, and I responded with another keyword, “abundance”.  Their response was “abundance of what? Money?  Stuff? People? Work?  Projects? Stress?”.   Wow!  They had me.  We get what we ask for and what we set our goals upon.  I had certainly been dealing with an abundance of ‘stuff’.  The wise practitioner suggested I refine my goals for a better outcome.

Choose the correct and concise words.

I looked up ‘abundance’.  A plentiful or over sufficient quantity or supply.  Affluence and wealth also apply, though whoever has been listening to my goals (prayers, affirmations, etc.) may have been hearing a different meaning. I have since refined my goals.

Jim Rohn lessons continue to mentor me.  Amongst them “4 Tips for Setting Powerful Goals”.

  • Evaluate and reflect
  • Define your dreams and goals
  • Make your goals S.M.A.R.T.
  • Have accountability

One frequently cited project management tool is S.M.A.R.T.   Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. Or if you prefer a modern interpretation of the mnemonic, finish the list with achievable, relevant and time-bound.

Specific – the key concept for this blog – is about your vocabulary.  The term in the mnemonic I have the most difficulty clarifying to students other than through the use of synonyms.  Specific: precise, special, concise, particular, proper, unique.  Yet, how do we apply specific as a concept?  More on that in a moment.

Per Feigenbaum, Demming, and others, if you measure your efforts toward the goal you will more successfully reach it.   Find a metric – a measurement system – and apply a starting number as a goal, then continuously improve your efforts using the system to refine your approach toward the goal.

Attainable or achievable.  If we see the goal as attainable or achievable, either because we see the path or we find examples set by others, then we have a means to break the barriers that prevent us from adopting change.  If we see neither the path nor examples, then we break the effort into smaller, achievable steps.  (Watch my video about Agile methodologies for a better understanding of the project life cycle and possible approaches to planning projects with less readily visible goals.)

Realistic or relevant. I prefer the words believable and contextual.  Can the goal be achieved? Do the steps help you toward your ultimate goal?  Paint a picture that fits the science, sociology, and environment within which you are attempting to achieve the goal.  Much like a puzzle, if the vision or the picture is presented first, snapping the pieces together is less daunting.

Timely or time-bound.  The concept behind a project includes a temporary effort and associated state.  Humans can endure almost any effort within a fixed timeframe.  Setting a timeframe and sticking to the schedule enables the mind and the process to overcome even large barriers to change.

Back to specific.  The vocabulary that we utilize.  If the words are equally clear to the customer, to the team, and to you, then everyone is pulling in the same direction toward the goal.  Specific is now more apparently about the words that we use, and how they are interpreted by the entire stakeholder audience.

The words we share are clearly the intersection between setting goals and achieving support.

Use that thesaurus and look up the words you are using.  Provide clarification and meaning for yourself and for others.  Specificity includes assuring that everyone is on the same page.

So I looked up inertia. noun uncaring attitude, lack of interest. Synonyms: indifference, insensitivity, lethargy, aloofness, coldness, coolness, detachment, disinterest, dispassion, disregard, dullness, emotionlessness, heedlessness, insensibility, insouciance, lassitude, listlessness, passiveness, passivity, stoicism, unconcern, unresponsiveness, half-heartedness.   He absolutely did not want to achieve and maintain any of those states.  None of these words match my friend or their goals.

I felt compelled to share my insight.  My friend changed the wording of their goal, and shared it with his core support team.  He called me back a few days later and shared that help was appearing from multiple venues once everyone understood the goal and the barriers.

Progress.

Have you checked the wording of your goals?  The words being used in your project specifications?  Are they clear and understood by the customer and the team?

Keep refining your words – your specifications – until they have clear meaning for you and are understandable by those from whom you desire support.

I look forward to seeing you in the classroom, or online!

Steven Fullmer
Interface Technical Training Staff Instructor

Steve teaches PMP: Project Management Fundamentals and Professional Certification, Windows 10, and CompTIA classes in Phoenix, Arizona.

 

“Right!”
“Right!”
“You can get there!”
“I can get there!”
“You’re a natural at counting to two!”
“I’m a nat’ral at counting to two!”
“If you can count to two, you can count to anything!”
“If I can count to two, I can count to anything!”
“And then the world is your mollusc!”
“My mollusc! What’s a mollusc?”
Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms: The Play

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld comic fantasy series satirize political, cultural and scientific issues often by applying parodies to classic literature.  Vocabulary is critical to the message.

 

 

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Planned Value – A simple explanation for an Earned Value concept https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/planned-value-a-simple-explanation-for-an-earned-value-concept/ https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/planned-value-a-simple-explanation-for-an-earned-value-concept/#respond Thu, 06 Oct 2016 17:30:02 +0000 http://www.interfacett.com/blogs/?p=?p=22839 One of my students regularly applies Project Management topics as a means to reinforce the lessons. Earned Value Management (EVM) is a simple and powerful tool, albeit seldom applied. EVM is most often applied to large, complex projects particularly with a technology focus.  An overview of EVM was published in the first edition of the … Continue reading Planned Value – A simple explanation for an Earned Value concept

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One of my students regularly applies Project Management topics as a means to reinforce the lessons. Earned Value Management (EVM) is a simple and powerful tool, albeit seldom applied. EVM is most often applied to large, complex projects particularly with a technology focus.  An overview of EVM was published in the first edition of the PMBOK® in 1987. EVM rose to prominence during the 1990’s when applied to highly publicized U.S. Government procurement efforts by the Department of Defense, NASA, Department of Energy.  EVM earned additional visibility with the passage of the Sarbanes- Oxley Act of 2002.  EVM is regularly applied to development or procurement projects within industrialized nations.

Though as I teach in the classroom (and PMP Project Management videos) you can apply the basic principles of EVM to projects of any scale.

The question that prompted this blog:

‘There is simply no better way for me to understand the results and the process then for me to just put it into practice and do it. Therefore, I have a question. I understand what planned value (PV) is – from the books we got from Interface TT “What you expect to spend on the work that you completed at this time. Also – What you expected to earn if the project was executed precisely to plan.” While the definition seems very straight forward, I am trying to figure out how to get that information and that doesn’t seem so straight forward. Meaning…………..

I could just take the mathematical approach using SV = EV – PV and using algebra come up with PV? (PV = EV-SV) – simple enough.

But, if I don’t do that and I use project data….how do I really get PV? it seems as though this could be a value that you could obtain from the project data uniquely, but because it has EV in the calculation, I am not so sure. This is what I am curious about. Do you have any suggestions?’

And my answer:

PV is actually the very easiest value to determine for a project – if you have planned well.

For each dollar you PLAN to spend, you PLAN to acquire one dollar of Value. So planned spending over time is also planned value over time. The planned VALUE is nothing more than a point exactly on the S-curve at each point in time (T). PV is ALWAYS just a point on the S-curve. If you didn’t create an S-Curve for your project, then you cannot calculate PV, and you cannot use Earned Value Management as a monitor and control tool.

001-PMP-Planned-Value-A-simple-explanation-for-an-Earned-Value

Just like the exercise in class, you merge knowledge about the PLANNED schedule and the PLANNED budget to estimate or PLAN spending relative to time.

Let’s say you determine an annual food budget of $6,000.  That’s just $500 per month.

Your project Schedule would look like this:

002-PMP-Planned-Value-A-simple-explanation-for-an-Earned-Value-concept.gif

Your line item budget might look like this:

003-PMP-Planned-Value-A-simple-explanation-for-an-Earned-Value-concept

To develop the S-Curve, you plot the spending on the time line, recognizing that from a planning perspective you can only allocate money when you PLAN to do the work, and will PLAN to get the same VALUE for each dollar you spend. The shape of the spending pattern per time period needs to match the shape of the Precedence diagram you created in the schedule.

004-PMP-Planned-Value-A-simple-explanation-for-an-Earned-Value-concept

And from the Total Cumulative cost you plot the S-Curve.

005-PMP-Planned-Value-A-simple-explanation-for-an-Earned-Value-concept

The S-curve looks like a straight line unless you calculate more for holiday months (Nov-Dec), birthday celebrations, etc. But for the sake of discussion, let’s say an even $500/month. Therefore PV for January would be $500. PV for February would be $1,000. You would add $500 per month to create the curve.

The money you actually SPEND may be higher or lower. That is called the ACTUAL COST (AC).

So you compare each month, any day of the month what you actually spent versus what you planned to spend at that point it time. PV is planned. It’s what you planned to spend up to a point in time. It does not change unless you throw away your entire plan and re-plan the entire project (not a good measurement approach to identify successful effort.)

We would be comparing our planned (PV) versus actual dollars expended (AC), if all we did was compare against the line item budget. We NEVER do this for a well-managed project. You need to know whether you acquired the groceries you actually NEED to serve your monthly food requirements.  So Earned Value might be the dollar value of your purchase, but it might just as easily occur that you used a coupon so that Actual Cost is lower than the value you Earned for the period. Or the price of milk and bread might increase one month, or your typical brands aren’t available and you need to purchase a higher cost option one month – that would be higher than your Plan, but you get to recognize the Value you associated with the purchase as EV, and the Actual Cost you spent for the higher cost milk and bread as AC.  The AC you spent would then be more than your Plan (PV) but you would recognize the value relative to your Need as Earned (EV).

Through all of this AC and EV may fluctuate, but PV NEVER changes once you have a time based spending plan – called the Cumulative Cost or S-Curve.

It really is that simple. PV is your plan. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Hope this helps!

I look forward to seeing you in the classroom, or online!

Steven Fullmer
Interface Technical Training Staff Instructor

Steve teaches PMP: Project Management Fundamentals and Professional Certification, Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and CompTIA classes in Phoenix, Arizona.

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PMI’s Continuing Certification Requirements Leadership PDU’s – How to Claim Them https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/pmis-continuing-certification-requirements-leadership-pdus-how-to-claim-them/ https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/pmis-continuing-certification-requirements-leadership-pdus-how-to-claim-them/#respond Wed, 07 Sep 2016 20:32:03 +0000 http://www.interfacett.com/blogs/?p=?p=23298 I have found Leadership PDU’s amongst the most enjoyable to explore and obtain.  With the changes to PMI’s Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) Program, the ability to discover and report exemplary personal development options is both expanded and easier to fulfill. If you haven’t explored the re-certification process recently, you should start with a quick review … Continue reading PMI’s Continuing Certification Requirements Leadership PDU’s – How to Claim Them

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I have found Leadership PDU’s amongst the most enjoyable to explore and obtain.  With the changes to PMI’s Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR) Program, the ability to discover and report exemplary personal development options is both expanded and easier to fulfill.

If you haven’t explored the re-certification process recently, you should start with a quick review of the PMI Talent Triangle.  Renewal of your PMP requires 60 professional development units each three years, including at least 10 hours within each of the three Talent Triangle areas of expertise: Leadership, Strategic and Business Management, and Technical Project Management.  The focus aligns well with the changing public and executive perception of project management roles.  We are no longer merely managing tasks (technical project management), we are now coaching and guiding both people, project, programs, portfolios and processes (strategic and business management); as well as developing the vision and setting the example as leaders (leadership).

PMP-talent-triangle

As you visit the Talent Triangle overview, you will be directed to an ever changing and expanding set of PMI reports, webinars, and training opportunities that will assist with your self-development efforts.

You might even wish to visit the Continuing Certification Requirements System (CCRS) Claim site for a quick review of the many formats through which you can earn qualifying education units.   The following screen shot, representing the ‘Report PDUs’ section of the site, guides you through a vastly simplified reporting process.  Perhaps more importantly, reviewing the site before you start your search for training may inspire a more creative process.  (You are always welcome to schedule a course at Interface Technical Training, watch one of our video series, or replay one of our many recorded webinars.)

PMP-learning

I have several preferred mentors that have guided my Project Management career, some living and some of whom are only available as recorded or written content. (With a tip of the hat to my mentor Ed O’Connor who authored several Project Management courses and encouraged me to teach in the field of project management and leadership.)

PMI serves as the final validation for your PDUs, though the following suggestions have been my mentors and availed me of both PDUs and course materials through the past decade.  You can find current and relevant one hour webinars, teleconferences, live events, and recorded training.  Whichever mode and venue serve your preferences, availability, and budgets.  Each of the mentors that I list have offerings that range from free to thousands of dollars – depending on your time, focus, and interest.  Explore their free content, and then move to additional content when you find the mentors that match your taste and interest.

Offerings effectively match the categories offered on the CCRS site: courses and training, organizational meetings, online or digital media, reading, and informal learning.  Once you select a mentor and take advantage of their resources, you need only match the media to the CCRS category and report the number of hours per category based on the mentor and the topic content being reported.

PMP-pdu-claim

  • Jim RohnAmerica’s Foremost Business Philosopher
    • A wealth of leadership, technical, and strategic business knowledge in every format imaginable.
  • Success Magazine
    • Originally founded in 1897 with such noteworthy publishers and editors as Napoleon Hill and W. Clement Stone, the magazine was acquired and re-established in 2008 with Darren Hardy as the publisher. You can subscribe to the magazine in printed or digital formats, sign-up for weekly webcasts and frequent webinars, or join the weekly Podcasts (through iTunes or online) to gain an hour of useful content each week.
  • Darren Hardy
    • More than the publisher of Success Magazine, Darren has access to most of the successful business people and leadership development gurus on the planet. You can read his three bestselling books, attend his courses in person or on-line, or subscribe to his daily feeds and occasional podcasts.
  • John Maxwell
    • An author, professional speaker, and pastor whose primary focus is on leadership and leaders developing leaders. Books, blogs, courses, and a wealth of additional resources as well as redirection to other thought leaders.
  • Tony Robbins
    • One of the world’s most recognized life coaches. As Jim Rohn suggests, success leaves clues.  If you want to learn about creativity and motivation, then Tony is your source.
  • Seth Godin ]
    • Author of a dozen top selling books that challenge to status quo. Just what a project manager needs to inspire creativity and affect change.
  • Guy Kawasaki
    • Not to be confused with Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Dad) – a mistake some might make… Guy was the original marketing evangelist for Apple Computers. Guy is a highly recognized evangelist, author, and speaker on the topic of innovation.
  • Jim Collins
    • Author of Built to Last, Great by Choice, Good to Great, and more. Check out his audios and videos for some poignant and relevant quick learn sessions.
  • Ted Talks
    • Okay, so I am cheating somewhat with this one. Just search for leadership, or any of the leaders listed above and provided as alternatives below.  If you can find several relevant videos on topics you enjoy to fill several hours of viewing and self-education, then you don’t really want easy PDUs.  Just be certain that you fairly report your time for these, and reference the URL in each instance, since there are shortened versions for many of them scattered across the Internet.

Want to dig more deeply on your own?

Launch Jeff Haden’s article “Top 50 Leadership and Management Experts”  on Inc.com.   There are several on Jeff’s list that I reference in my courses and speeches that provide excellent content, though whose media might not lend themselves as easily to PDU reporting – amongst them the likes of Malcolm Gladwell, Tim Ferriss, Richard Branson, Tom Peters, Kenneth Blanchard, and Stephen R. Covey whose books fill my shelves.

Filling the ten required hours should be simple at this point.  In fact, you can probably fill many of the required PDUs beyond the 30 mandated for the Talent Triangle if you watch videos, and take a short course of two.

Once you get started, I bet you’ll be hooked on a greater path of self-development.

I look forward to seeing you in the classroom, or online!

Steven Fullmer
Interface Technical Training Staff Instructor

Steve teaches PMP: Project Management Fundamentals and Professional Certification, Windows 10, and CompTIA classes in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Summer Slump for PMP Project Managers https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/summer-slump-for-pmp-project-managers/ https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/summer-slump-for-pmp-project-managers/#respond Fri, 08 Jul 2016 20:56:56 +0000 http://www.interfacett.com/blogs/?p=?p=23149 Yesterday I attended a fantastic teleconference titled Summer Surge: 10 Strategies to Beat the ‘Summer Slump’ by my mentor Darren Hardy. The content got me to thinking more deeply about the term ‘Enterprise Environmental Factors’ related to Planning Human Relationship Management. For instructor-led PMP Certification training see our Project Management course schedule.   Darren’s presentation shared … Continue reading Summer Slump for PMP Project Managers

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Yesterday I attended a fantastic teleconference titled Summer Surge: 10 Strategies to Beat the ‘Summer Slump’ by my mentor Darren Hardy. The content got me to thinking more deeply about the term ‘Enterprise Environmental Factors’ related to Planning Human Relationship Management.

For instructor-led PMP Certification training see our Project Management course schedule.  

Darren’s presentation shared some extremely noteworthy statistics regarding human behavior and motivation that is fairly universal during the summer months. I often share concepts associated with circadian rhythms and work planning in my course and in webinars. (For instance: The Wayback Machine – A look backward and then forward at scheduling.) Darren’s material provided some additional fodder for thought and investigation.

Throughout human history, the Dog Days of Summer – marked by the point on the calendar when the star Sirius rises at the same time as the sun – has been associated with inactivity, disaster, and a decline in productivity. Financial experts coined the phrase the Summer Doldrums, since financial markets consistently decline between May and October.

Statistics gathered by the American Express Open forum demonstrate even more precise impacts:

  • Productivity drops by 20%
  • Employee attendance drops by 19%
  • Projects take longer by 13%
  • Lunch hours increase by 2.6 times (that’s 156 minutes to have a salad or sandwich and walk around the block!)
  • Personal shopping during work hours increases 200%
  • Personal trips increase by 130%
  • And searching for another job increases by 120% (this has to affect employee commitment??)

My initial research suggests that Project managers need to spend time beyond topics suggested within the PMBOK™ 5th Edition in order to better understand team motivation.

The PMBOK™ 5th Edition lists the following environment factors (recognizing that the list serves as examples rather than a closed group).

  • Organizational culture and structure
  • Existing human resources
  • Geographical dispersion of team members
  • Personnel administration policies
  • Marketplace conditions.

For starters take a look at the American Express Open Forum for a few new ideas. There are several great articles under the section Building Your Team. For instance, An Unlikely Way to Build Company Culture: Get Out of the Office, as suggested by a response to their survey results. Within the Building Your Team subsection titled Leadership I have already book marked a dozen articles that I will read later.

PMI.org recommends additional resources within the Human Resource Management  category, so I looked into a few to see if they talked about season impacts or cycles on human productivity. Most address human resource management, project politics, management methodologies and models, and emotional intelligence.

Two in particular looked promising. Given the highest retail cost amongst the entire offerings list, they are probably the least acquired or read. One offered online PDF review – the next stop on my quest.

In his book Project Success: Critical Factors and Behaviors, Emanuel Camilleri dedicates Chapter 13 to Employee Commitment and Participation. Employee commitment is considered a key prerequisite for the successful completion of projects.  As might be expected the content heavily emphasizes bi-directional relationships amongst the team members, the project manager and the organization, as well as the individual commitment of the team members themselves.

001-Summer-Slump-for-PMP-Project-Managers

[Project Success: Critical Factors and Behaviors, Emanuel Camilleri, pp. 259]

Yet, even Mr. Camilleri’s highly lauded book seems to focus on human interaction, with little insight into the biochemistry, perceptions, and external influences that historically affect human focus and effort.

Sharon De Mascia’s book Project Psychology comes highly recommended for project leaders seeking to understand human psychology while improving their people skills. I searched for an extract or additional insight and found a good review by Dr. Greg Mulhauser, Managing Editor of Counseling Resource, Sharon De Mascia on Project Psychology. Dr. Mulhauser describes the book as an extended literature review rather than providing specific insights. I’ve added the book to my possible resource list, but moved on for more direct results.

I started to search for ‘Summer Slump and Human Motivation’.

Almost immediately I landed on a set of three articles published as a set that provide a scholarly analysis of incentives as a form of human motivation based on an analysis by Alfie Kohn entitled Why Incentive Plans Cannot Work, and responses to his article. The bibliography alone made this article set worth both printing and bookmarking. My summary of the analysis – rewards and incentives are insufficient alone to promote individual productivity and might produce either no or negative results. Clearly human motivation is not as clear as Maslow, McGregor, or Herzberg might suggest.

If you really want to dig into motivational psychology, subscribe to Motivation and Emotion published bi-monthly by Springer Press since 1977. Though I didn’t find anything specific to ‘summer slump’, there are multiple articles related to motivation associated with light, temperature, daily and diurnal activities, time series, and patterned efforts. The results to affect motivation given varying environments and demands all appear consistent with Darren’s advice: plan and schedule focused efforts that take into account both internal and external factors, then reinforce the plan through pre-meditated and self-reinforced repetition.

There are several articles that provide advice for beating the summer slump that are consistent with best project management practices. Amongst them:

Yet most solutions tend to address organization policy and implementation rather than personal motivation.

Now that I have done some more research, I truly appreciate Darren Hardy’s strategies, a subset of which are paraphrased below.

  • Schedule time to reset, revitalize and recover.
  • Switch on or switch off. Fully focus on work at work, and play at play.
  • Create a summer schedule – not a summer environment.
  • Make plans for your family (and others) – set summer boundaries.
  • Use your calendar effectively. Before you start your day, plan it and follow the plan.
  • Compress your intensity. Work four intense 10 hour days so you can create 3 day weekends – but just for the summer months where you want more ‘outside’ time.
  • Start work 2-3 hours earlier once or twice a month – take advantage of the extra sunlight.
  • Summer is about fun – so create some ‘fun’ competitions to inspire effort.
  • Assemble your team into growth groups – working together helps to create the environment.

The first step toward positive change is awareness.

Now that you know just a little more about the summer slump, go and make a difference.

I look forward to seeing you in the classroom, or online!

Steven Fullmer
Interface Technical Training Staff Instructor

Steve teaches PMP: Project Management Fundamentals and Professional Certification, Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and CompTIA classes in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Three Point Estimates in Six Sigma and PMI https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/three-point-estimates-in-six-sigma-and-pmi/ https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/three-point-estimates-in-six-sigma-and-pmi/#respond Wed, 01 Jun 2016 18:01:40 +0000 http://www.interfacett.com/blogs/?p=?p=22940 Both PMI and Six-Sigma Certifications rely on an understanding of statistics and in particular very basic terms, formulas and distributions. The topic generally leads to multiple examples, assistance with labs and sample questions, as well as after hours tutoring. So I decided to write a blog to which students might refer when they need a … Continue reading Three Point Estimates in Six Sigma and PMI

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Both PMI and Six-Sigma Certifications rely on an understanding of statistics and in particular very basic terms, formulas and distributions. The topic generally leads to multiple examples, assistance with labs and sample questions, as well as after hours tutoring.

So I decided to write a blog to which students might refer when they need a boost or a review.  While looking at several references for CAPM, PMP, and Six Sigma Distributions, I found a prolific volume of confusing information. Confusing, at least, for anyone who does not have a background or an interest in statistics.

First, a few basics.

Testing leads to data samples. There are many goals for testing data. Two common goals for project managers and Six-sigma practitioners are: finding the root cause of an issue by mapping the set of symptoms, or achieving execution conformance so that a desired outcome might be consistently achieved. Test samples might be random, scattered but correlated, grouped or clustered, linear or curvilinear, or related through more complex associations.

The PMBOK™ 5th Edition references multiple Quality tools that may be used to analyze data including the cause-and-effect (Ishikawa) diagram, check sheet, control chart, histogram, Pareto chart, flow chart, and scatter diagram.

When the data sample demonstrates a linear or curvilinear distribution, we can apply more advanced statistics to acquire both deterministic (cause) and predictive (forecasting) results. A test result population plotted on a histogram (bar chart) can also result in a curve drawn through or over the histogram data set(s). The curve’s shape, center, and spread can be used to apply mathematical analysis.

For the CAPM, PMP, and Green-belt Lean Six Sigma certification, the emphasis on shape and the relevant formulas and relationships are limited to the normal distribution or bell curve.

NOTE: I discovered multiple references to the beta distribution while researching this article. Similar statistical analysis may be applied to a beta distribution, but it does not bear the same characteristics as a normal distribution such that some of the assumptions used to solve normal distributions do NOT apply. For instance, the three-point estimating technique used for PERT does NOT consistently apply to a beta distribution.

Some more terms.

Mean. (Not the emotion or human characteristic). The mathematical average of a population. Calculated by totaling the values for all of the data samples and dividing by the number of samples. Often called the average.

Median. The mid-point of a population or sample curve. Count the number of samples, then start at either end of the curve and count to the middle.  Remember all those ‘curve breakers’ in school? The one’s with results way above or below the average? They shifted the curve so that the median and the mean are not the same value.

Mode. The data point that occurs most often in the sample set. In the data string : 1, 2,2, 3,3,4,4,4,4,5,5,6  the number 4 would be the mode because it occurs the most frequently.

Variance. The difference between two values. In statistics the Variance is a little more complicated. It is calculated as the average of the squared differences from the mean. (So take the difference between the mean and each sample, then square the results, then work out the average of all the squared values … sum them all then divide by the number of samples. Go find a computer and use a spreadsheet or a program for this one…)

Standard Deviation.  The square root of the statistical variance. The symbol is the lower case Greek letter Sigma – σ . The standard deviation tells us about the spread of the curve. In a normal distribution, the standard deviation follows a recognizable pattern and allows for both simple and clear calculations.

Normal distribution

The normal distribution is often referred to as a ‘bell curve’. The population samples are evenly distributed on either side of the mid point, such that the mean (average) is statistically identical to the median (middle number) and the mode (most common number) in the population. The standard deviation follows a pattern that enables the statistician to easily determine population patterns with limited information.

001-Three-Point-Estimates-and-Six-Sigma

The normal distribution is typically displayed with six standard deviations as shown in the drawing above.

In the CAPM/PMPC course [http://www.interfacett.com/training/pmpc-project-management-fundamentals-and-professional-certification/], I suggest that all test candidates memorize the following distribution populations as provided in the PMBOK™ 5th Edition:

  • + 1 σ = 68.26% (34% on either side of the mean)
  • + 2 σ = 95.46% (34%+13.5% = 47.5% on either side of the mean)
  • + 3 σ = 99.73% (34%+13.5% + 2.5% = 49% on either side of the mean)

Since the beta distribution is so often mis-characterized in test preparation materials, I provide just a little information so that you can see that is not the same shape and therefore not identical mathematics.

A beta distribution as discussed originally by Karl Pearson is a solution of a differential equation wherein the mean, median, and mode are not the same value. In other words, the values associated with the population are shifted so that the curve is more like a ‘cocked hat’, J-curve, U-curve, or other shifted and re-scaled shapes.

002-Three-Point-Estimates-and-Six-Sigma

 

If you are curious about other statistical distributions, J. DeLayne Stroud offers a great article in the iSixSigma site called Understanding Statistical Distributions for Six Sigma. Note that even Mr. DeLayne’s article stresses the emphasis on the normal curve as the basis for Six-Sigma green belt certification.

Okay. Back to our normal distribution.

Using the three point estimating technique, our well trained project manager interviews the work-package owner or subject matter expert to obtain time or cost estimates. In return, the respondent provides their most optimistic (O), most pessimistic (P), and Most Likely (ML) estimates for work results.

003-Three-Point-Estimates-and-Six-Sigma

P exists somewhere within the 2.5% at one end of the distribution, while O exists within the 2.5% at the other end of the distribution. ML resides somewhere within the +2 σ or -2 σ (a total of 4 σ) in the middle of the distribution.

Hence to calculate the best estimate using a three-point process, we use the following formula:

(O + 4*ML + P)/6

The result is more accurate, given that the answers really do exist within a normalized population, than a pure average of the three answers.

At this point, I feel compelled to clarify a standard misperception stated by many project managers. Even those with a PMP.

PERT, which stands for Program Evaluation and Review Technique, is a schedule planning process developed originally by the U.S. Navy in the 1950’s.  PERT uses a Precedence Diagram Method (PDM) to apply the Critical Path Methodology (CPM). PERT schedule diagrams rely on a time scale that is represented in seconds or minutes. The accuracy required for such a tight time scale requires the three-point estimating process (at a minimum – or optimally computer simulations that better tighten the standard deviation.)

You should associate three-point estimating with PERT. But three-point estimating is NOT PERT and PERT is not an accurate label for three-point estimating. A PERT chart is a schedule network diagram, not a statistical distribution or a detailed scope statement as often mis-represented.

One other formula that may be applied to the normal distribution is the ability to determine the standard deviation (σ) given only the Pessimistic (P) and Optimistic (O) estimates. Because of the even population distribution:

σ = (P-O)/6

Some Examples

We provide Aileen Ellis’ PMP Exam Simplified book with our CAPM/PMP course delivery. Aileen’s examples are as challenging as you might see on a certification exam, so I am borrowing two to demonstrate the application of the normal distribution and the three-point estimate.

You are a project manager for a logging company. This month you are charted to deliver 10,000 units that are 60 centimeters each. Your upper control limit on your process is 63 centimeters. Your lower control limit on your process is 57 centimeters. Approximately what percentage of your units will be above 61 centimeters?

Let’s solve this. We have the upper and lower control limits, which represent the two ends of a normal distribution. So P=63 and O=57. So σ (one standard deviation) = (63-57)/6 which is 6/6 or 1. σ is one centimeter. The mean is your target, which is 60 centimeters. So, using the distributions, 68% of the population will be between 59 centimeters and 61 centimeters – this is + 1 σ. How much will be above 61 cm? Everything in the +2 σ and +3 σ sections of the population. So 13.5% + 2.5%, = 16%. Using the more precise ranges provided in the PMBOK™ 5th edition the result would be 15.9%, but you would likely spot the slight difference on a test question.

Second example, also borrowed from Aileen.

The pessimistic time to complete Activity A is 22 days. The optimistic time is 10 days. The standard deviation for activity A is?

Wait a minute …. Before you read my answer, try this one yourself!

Go ahead. Grab a piece of paper and give it a try.

Really.

Okay … here is how you solve it.

One standard deviation (σ) is (P-O)/6, so (22-10)/6. This is 12/6=2. Since the units in this question are days. The standard deviation is 2 days.

I knew you could do it! And I look forward to seeing you in the classroom, or online!

Steven Fullmer
Interface Technical Training Staff Instructor

Steve teaches PMP: Project Management Fundamentals and Professional Certification, Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and CompTIA classes in Phoenix, Arizona.

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PMP Exam Content Changing – November 1, 2015 https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/pmp-exam-content-changing-november-1-2015/ https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/pmp-exam-content-changing-november-1-2015/#respond Mon, 20 Jul 2015 20:27:28 +0000 http://www.interfacett.com/blogs/?p=?p=21078 PMI is changing the question emphasis on the PMPC exam effective November 1st, 2015. There will be no exam transition overlap as occurs with most PMBOK edition updates since this is NOT a PMBOK update. The exam remains based on the PMBOK 5th Edition™ and the additional reference materials upon which our course is based. … Continue reading PMP Exam Content Changing – November 1, 2015

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PMI is changing the question emphasis on the PMPC exam effective November 1st, 2015. There will be no exam transition overlap as occurs with most PMBOK edition updates since this is NOT a PMBOK update. The exam remains based on the PMBOK 5th Edition™ and the additional reference materials upon which our course is based.

In other words, only the relative distribution of content on the exam will shift on November 1st, 2015. This should have little impact on candidate preparations if you took your pre-requisite 35 hours at Interface Technical Training. The Interface Technical Training Course covers all relevant content for either exam format. We will likely shift delivery during the week to more heavily focus on content being emphasized starting on November 1st, although the exam remains based on the five process groups and ten knowledge areas as delineated in the PMBOK 5th Edition.

Overall, the emphasis shift appears minor. The content additions within the five process groups will be slightly more significant. For those of you who have attended my course: As always, ‘before and during’ will continue to require more emphasis than ‘after’.

 

Domain
Percent of Questions

Through 10/31/2015

Percent of Questions

Starting 11/1/2015

  Initiating   13   13
  Planning   24   24
  Executing   30   31
  Monitoring and Controlling   25   25
  Closing   8   7

 

You can find a copy of the new Exam Content Outline on the PMI.org website. The press release covers changes approved June 15, published July 15, and in effect November 1, 2015.

The exam will continue to be based upon the PMBOK 5th Edition. This exam update is based upon a Role Delineation Study (RDS) that re-defines the current role of a Project Manager across industries and business types. The RDS changes the content emphasis on the exam to assure a current recipient is prepared to perform their professional role upon credential receipt. The material covers the same type of career evolution and updates that a credentialed PMP should follow to obtain Professional Development Units and maintain their PMP credential.

We previously mentioned the change in PMI Continuing Certification Requirements (CCR). You can review additional changes on the PMI certification site which focus on the PMI Talent Triangle: Leadership, Technical Project Management, Strategic and Business Management. The exam changes appear to be consistent with the knowledge, skills and behaviors required of project managers in an evolving business environment.

PMI released a webinar through Brainshark on July 15, 2015 that provides an overview of the exam changes that will go into effect on November 1, 2015. The webinar is about 15 minutes long, so there is no need for me to repeat the content available through the webinar. I will however, highlight and clarify a few elements.

First and foremost, if you have taken the PMP Certification course from Interface Technical Training in the past six to twelve months, you have already been exposed to many of the changes that will appear on the exam starting in November. We continue to share best practices in project management within our classroom, as well as industry trends and directions.

The tasks listed in the Examination Content Outline have been updated and slightly modified. The PMI announcement released July 15th may be found at CERTIFICATION EXAM UPDATES: What You Need to Know. The exam content outline listed on the PMI website still reflects the August 2011 requirements. You can find the June 2015 requirements (which will take effect on November 1, 2015) via the press release page or here.

The press release refers to the addition of 8 tasks not previously incorporated within the Examination Content Outline. I have displayed the eight tasks relative to the five process groups in the following table.

001-PMP-Exam-Changing

The 8 “new” tasks as listed across the five process groups above will receive greater emphasis on the exam. The webinar suggests that the addition of these tasks will create 25% new content on the exam as related to the new tasks. The exam remains the same format, question count, scoring mechanism, and duration.

These eight tasks are already defined and explained in the PMBOK 5th Edition™ and Interface Technical Training PMP course.

  • Identify key deliverables based on business objectives (Initiating, Task 2)
  • Conduct benefit analysis with key stakeholders (Initiating, Task 7)
  • Inform stakeholders of the approved project charter (Initiating, Task 8)
  • Develop a Stakeholder Management Plan (Planning, Task 13)
  • Manage information flow by following the Communication Management Plan (Executing, Task 6)
  • Maintain Stakeholder relationships (Executing, Task 7)
  • Capture, analyze, and manage lessons learned (Monitoring & Controlling, Task 6)
  • Monitor Procurement activities according to the Procurement Management plan (Monitoring & Controlling, Task 7)

As I have previously discussed, the creation of the Stakeholder Engagement Management knowledge area, the separation of tools from the communication management knowledge area, and the role of the Project manager’s interaction with stakeholders will continue to influence the evolution of the PMP Certification. The new exam changes are directly in keeping with this evolution.

As suggested by Aileen Ellis, those of us who create test materials including questions have a lot of work ahead of us.

The one change you can count on from Interface Technical Training, is fresh content that will help you to prepare for your certification and help you in your efforts to expand your project management career.

I look forward to seeing you in the classroom, or online!

Steven Fullmer
Interface Technical Training Staff Instructor

Steve teaches PMP: Project Management Fundamentals and Professional CertificationWindows 7Windows 8.1 and CompTIA classes in Phoenix, Arizona.

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Multitasking Hurts Productivity … and your Stakeholders https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/multitasking-hurts-productivity-and-your-stakeholders/ https://www.interfacett.com/blogs/multitasking-hurts-productivity-and-your-stakeholders/#respond Fri, 17 Jul 2015 16:23:07 +0000 http://www.interfacett.com/blogs/?p=?p=21071 During my recent webinar, Understand the Mind, I had the opportunity to live chat with participants. One of the more frequently asked questions that arose was “how do I prove this to my boss/spouse/team/sponsor/client/co-workers/etc.?” Other than reading a copy of Daniel J. Levitin’s The Organized Mind , or providing a copy to your team mates, there … Continue reading Multitasking Hurts Productivity … and your Stakeholders

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During my recent webinar, Understand the Mind, I had the opportunity to live chat with participants. One of the more frequently asked questions that arose was “how do I prove this to my boss/spouse/team/sponsor/client/co-workers/etc.?” Other than reading a copy of Daniel J. Levitin’s The Organized Mind , or providing a copy to your team mates, there is a wealth of current and ongoing research.

So that you don’t have to multitask, I have done some of the work for you. This blog will aim at you at multiple, credible references that provide impactful summaries. If nothing else, they will get your audience to consider the facts, and perhaps to assist you in modifying dialing work processes and schedules toward better productivity.

Once again, sitting for a 90 minute focused session allowed me to outline, research, compose, review and submit this blog. The method works. You just need to be willing to create a work cycle that is contrary to the design imposed by our high technology society or environment. Control the machine before it controls us. Skynet isn’t here yet!

In order to understand the fallacy of multitasking, start with one of the most recent presentations. Start current – a video by Dr. Sanjay Gupta that encapsulates the concept, without detailed background. The topic is current, and relevant. If you are attempting to help your clients, sponsors, team members understand the concept of focused work versus multitasking share the video. Share it with all your stakeholders. They might thank you for this one distraction.

Your brain on multi-tasking – A video my Sanjay Gupta, MD., April 2015

This helps you to understand how the brain works when attempting to ‘multi-task’. Only 2% of the population are genetically super-taskers. Actually, multi-tasking tends to reduce quality performance by 30-40%.

Or present the information with a historical approach. The information is NOT a fad. The medical, psychology, and business productivity sectors have been aware for nearly a decade at this point. Changing human perception, unfortunately takes time. Start with a medical journal article from 2008 and move yourself forward in time to Dr. Daniel Levitin’s summarization of current neurological understanding.

Why Multitasking Isn’t Efficient, WedMD Magazine, August 2008.

This is your Brain on Multi-Tasking in Psychology Today, Feb. 2012

Don‘t Multitask: Your Brain Will Thank You, Time Magazine, April, 2013

Multi-tasking damages your brain and career, Forbes Magazine, October 2014

What MultiTasking Does to Your Brain, in Fast Company, October 2013

Why the Modern World is bad for your brain, The Guardian, Neuroscience, Jan, 2015 contribution by Daniel J. Levitin. Provides a great introduction to how modern technology makes us less efficient.

Okay, now you have some evidence for why multitasking doesn’t work. Let’s find some alternatives that suggest focused work and limiting distractions.

16 Ways to Keep a Razor-Sharp Focus at Work in Zen Habits, May 2008.

For a simplified approach that covers several points (without the clinical justification), check out WikiHow, Stay Focused. This ‘how to’ article expounds on a simple, medical answer from Dr. Amit Sood of the Mayo Clinic entitled Multitasking isn’t working for me. How can I focus my attention and improve my concentration?

Or go for Entrepreneur Magazine online, How to Stay Focused: Train Your Brain. This article will redirect you to several others:

There. Now you have about 60-90 minutes of reading, review and refinement ahead of you. That should do the trick.

Oh, by the way, forward this blog to all of your over-busy friends. Suggest they take a few minutes to understand how they too might become more productive project managers (or teammates, or family members).

I look forward to seeing you in the classroom, or online!

Steven Fullmer
Interface Technical Training Staff Instructor

Steve teaches PMP: Project Management Fundamentals and Professional CertificationWindows 7Windows 8.1 and CompTIA classes in Phoenix, Arizona.

 

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