In my last article I explained why attending a well-built PMP boot camp is a critical step to being successful when writing the PMP exam. Simply put, there is so much complex theory to understand, most people find it helpful to have it explained in detail. They find working with other individuals who are working toward the same goal and having the opportunity to work with a facilitator who can explain the Project Management Institute (PMI®) methodology are tangible benefits that are not available from reading a book.
This article explains how to maximize the benefits that will come from attending a boot camp such as the intense Global Knowledge PMP® Exam Prep Boot Camp. During the five days, students find themselves working through well over 1,000 pages of material. Since most participants have minimal training from PMI, it’s a VERY challenging week. Not only do they need to digest the PMI methodology that consists of 10 knowledge areas and 47 processes, they need to learn how to do tactical calculations such as critical path analysis, earned value management and expected monetary value. It’s an exhausting week so the question is: What can be done in advance to make the course easier to manage and maximize the learning experience?
The following four bullets are suggestions — listed sequentially from how to be most prepared to how to be minimally prepared — of things to do prior to attending a PMP or CAPM® boot camp:
- While accumulating the final portion of your 4,500 or 7,500 hours of project experience required by PMI, attend as many courses as possible. The courses should be built around the PMI methodology. A good example of these types of courses are the “core” courses offered by Global Knowledge (full disclosure — I deliver all but one of these courses for Global Knowledge). Simple how-to courses won’t suffice if the goal is to achieve certification. Ensure the courses follow PMI’s methodology so you will be aware of the concept of “Inputs, Tools and Techniques, and Outputs (ITTOs).” Take the courses as quickly as is feasible prior to taking the boot camp. You will enjoy a significant advantage over your PMP boot camp classmates, and more importantly, you will be in a much better position to be able to digest the in-depth theory.
- Borrow a copy of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)—Fifth Edition (you will be getting a brand new one if you take the Global Knowledge boot camp). Spend at least five to 10 hours familiarizing yourself with the flow of the methodology. Read the early chapters (they are actually quite informative and easy to understand) as well as the appendices. It’s unlikely you will be able to read through all of the PMI knowledge areas and the 47 processes but at least get an idea on how ITTOs work. Also, read parts of the commercially available study guides. These excellent books walk through the PMBOK® Guide and try to eliminate the confusion that first-time readers frequently experience.
- Meet with a PMP and have her/him walk you through the PMBOK® Guide and explain the flow of the methodology. Follow that with at least five hours of independent study. You will at least now know what you don’t know and will be better prepared for the classroom experience.
- The best training companies such as Global Knowledge send out precourse exams and other preparation material. Complete the exam and be ready to discuss your concerns with the classroom facilitator.
A good PMP/CAPM boot camp is hard work, lasting four or five days. You will get significantly more benefit from the 35 hours of training if you invest time in advance of the class.