At PM Workshops, my business partner and I are currently writing a book of sample questions for the PMP exam and the PMI-ACP, which will ultimately be tied into PMBOK 7 when it comes out. And as I try to write thoughtful questions and include extracts from case studies we have worked on, I am reminded by how much more challenging the test has become since I first took it over a decade ago and how much more applicable it is as well. When I first took the exam, there was hardly any mention of Agile, but that has all changed in the last few years, which is a great thing. Even in traditionally “waterfall” projects, there are always components in the project, which benefit from an Agile approach; and vice versa.
Back to the book: what I have found the most interesting part, as well as more rewarding, is the fact that the questions are based on what I have seen in my experience, even the ones where I did not pick the correct option per the PMBOK. And as I go over the questions now, I realize what a difference it would have made if I had selected correctly. However, like most things in life, project management is not an exact science at times, plus it takes a lot of experience to see your way through a project. And having time to gain the experience necessary can be a luxury, as is the ability to perform a full 360 review and learn from both successes and failures.
In the past, I have written articles regarding the importance and reliability of the PMI certifications, and I still stand by that. The fact that the PMBOK gets updated periodically means that they keep abreast of the project management field’s changing landscape. The latest updates are taking into account, more and more, the human factor. Whether dealing with conflict, attrition, or team building, the human factor has been given a more important place in the project management guidelines. In addition, there is obviously a clear trend towards incorporating more and more Agile tools, techniques, and processes, which is not to say that waterfall is on its way out, but rather that both approaches can and need to work together.
On the cover of our book, I include the tag line: “Don’t JUST pass the exam: improve your project management skills,’ which is ultimately what the certifications are trying to achieve. However, since there is such a focus on passing the exam to achieve certification, the goal of “learning” gets lost in just being “taught.’ Therefore, we have fashioned the book in a way that, as you read the case studies, you get more of a full picture of the situation, which leads the reader/student to work out the best approach and select the correct answer, which is crucial since none of us knows what will be on the exam. Therefore, the goal is to train our minds, read the facts, understand the approach, and select a, b, c, or d as straightforward.
Studying for the PMI-ACP and PMP