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Monday, March 20, 2017

Organizational Influence on Project Management

If you are someone who has played the role of a Project Manager in more than one company you would know that the organization has a direct influence on how projects are managed. I have worked as a Project/Program manager in a few companies and I can vouch for this fact. 

In the PMP Exam series there were 3 articles that covered this topic and I have explained in great detail about how Organizational structure & culture impact projects. 

They are: 

Trivia: Some people use terms like Cultural Norms when they talk about an Organizations Culture. 


Organization structure is the hierarchical relationships of various entities within the organization that collaborate with each other for project execution. Different organizations, by virtue of their objectives and core philosophies, carry different organizational structures. The structure of an organization determines the operational model used in the organization. Organizational structure determines the responsibilities for different functions and entities. 

You could refer back to the article titled Understanding the Organizational Structure to know more details because I don't want to repeat the same details once again. 


The structure of a functionally structured organization is based on the functions performed by each component of the organization. Such organizations would have different departments that are responsible for different functions and the Project Manager would work with all those departments to get the project done. From the view point of a Project Manager, this type of organization is the hardest to execute projects. 


The structure of a projectized organization is based simply on the projects the organization executes. It follows that project managers have complete responsibility over all projects assigned to them. They are provided complete authority to define priorities, use resources, and direct and monitor work making this the best organizational structure for us to execute projects. 


The matrix structure effectively combines the best attributes of the functional and the projectized structures. 

In a matrix-structured organization, team members report to both their functional managers and project managers. Effective management of this dual relationship is critical to overall success of the project. Thus, matrix structures require clear cut role definition. Also, team building in a matrix-structure organization is often difficult because of the dual reporting structure.

Depending on how close the Matrix Structure is, to either the Functional style or Projectized style, it can be categorized into 3 groups: strong matrix, weak matrix, and balanced matrix 

Strong Matrix

In organizations with strong matrix structures, project managers have greater authority or right to command than functional managers. Such organizations closely resemble those with projectized structures and have full-time project managers and full-time administrative staff for projects.

Weak Matrix

In organizations with weak matrix structures, project managers do not have as much power as functional managers. In a weak matrix, the role of a project manager might be more that of a project expediter or project coordinator, and, as a matter of fact, no official designation as “project manager” exists. The project expediter acts primarily as a staff assistant and communications coordinator and is not authorized to make or enforce decisions, whereas the project coordinator has moderate decision-making powers and reports to a higher-level manager.

Balanced Matrix

In organizations with balanced matrix structures, the powers of the project manager and the functional manager are about equal and in balance. Here, although the need for project managers is recognized, the project manager is not provided full authority over the project and project funding.


No matter what sort of Organizational structure your company is following, certain things need to be taken care of, if you want the proposed methodology of handling projects to be successful. Some of them are:
  1. High Transparency
  2. Strong Management Support 
  3. Continuous Monitoring
  4. Clear and On-time Communications 
If an organization can take care of the above 4 aspects, chances of their projects succeeding go up considerably. 

Organization process assets (OPAs) are assets of an organization involved in project implementation that can be used to influence project success. Organizational Process Assets is just a fancy term for documents & templates that your company uses as per the project management & governance structure put forth by the PMO. Read this article about OPAs as I will be skipping the details and move on to key specifics quickly. 

Updating OPAs is generally the responsibility of the project team members as only they would have the complete details of the work they do especially those related to technical artifacts.

OPAs are grouped into two categories:
  1. Processes and procedures
  2. Project knowledge base — knowledge repository where filled-in templates and other data are available
Examples of process assets include formal and informal plans, procedures, processes, guidelines, “lessons learnt,” and historical information. Generally, OPAs appear on an organization's intranet site, so that team members can refer the procedure or process easily. Such an intranet may also carry filled-in templates and documents from other projects for reference. 


Enterprise environmental factors are factors that surround or influence project success – basically the environment in which the project is being executed. Of course, they may have a positive or a negative influence on project outcome. These factors are used as inputs to the planning and initiating process because a project cannot be planned without analyzing available infrastructure, tools, and software. 

An organization's structure and infrastructure are good examples of the enterprise environmental factors that would govern any project management initiatives the organization may undertake. For more info on Enterprise Environmental Factors read this article from the PMP Exam series.

That wraps up the basics of Project Management related topics. The next section would deal with basics of Agile Project Management

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Project Stakeholders

stakeholder is a person, a group, or an organization that is actively involved in the project or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by the results achieved by or the completion of the project. As I have extensively covered this topic in my previous article in the PMP Exam prep series we will keep this article short. 

Please do refer to the article to understand more about the different stakeholders in a project because irrespective of whether the project management style is Agile or Traditional, the concept of stakeholder doesn't change. 

A project manager should identify both the internal and external stakeholders of and their influence levels on the project as early as possible (in terms of projects life cycle)

Why are Stakeholders Important? 

Individual stakeholders often have different conflicting objectives. For Example, if you are given the responsibility of setting up a new factory in a city, you could have stakeholders that welcome the move (politicians in the area) whereas you could also have stakeholders who oppose the move (locals who don't want to sell their land for the factory). As project manager, your responsibility includes identifying all the stakeholders who will have a positive or negative influence on the project so that you can foresee potential risks & impacts on your Project. 

In my article on Stakeholders, I have listed down the 12 Most common stakeholders that every Project would have. Don't forget to check it out by Clicking here

Though Stakeholder Management was part of PMBOK 4th Edition, in the 5th Edition, a new Knowledge Area got introduced called Project Stakeholder Management. That is how much importance PMI gives toward managing project stakeholders. The following articles from the PMP Exam series on Stakeholder Management will also be useful for you to understand more about Stakeholder Management. Check them out.  


You the Project Manager is an extremely important stakeholder for the Project as well. That's why I spent an entire article talking about just you. The article is titled “The Most Influential Stakeholder” which is appropriate because you will have a direct impact on the success or failure of the project.  

Do take time and read it before you move further on this series. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

Project Program and Portfolio Management

Even though the PMI ACP is focused at managing projects the agile way, as a project manager we would still need to know the difference between a Project, Program and a Portfolio to be able to do our jobs better. Most people have a misconception that they are one and the same. Hopefully by the end of this article you would understand that they are not the same. 

In the Series on PMP Exam Prep, I had published an article titled “Relationship between Project, Program and Portfolio” which you should visit to understand more details as I wont be covering the exam same details once again here. Click here

What is Project Management? 

According to the PMBOK – Project Management is the application of Knowledge, Skills, Tools and Techniques to Project Activities to meet the Project Requirements. 

Project management aims to converts the abstract concept or vision the organization has to reality.

Trivia: Remember the Trivia from the Previous Article on Project Life cycle? Even though every project goes through the 5 life cycle stages as per project management standards, the number of steps or phases in an actual industry project need not have the exact same 5 stages/phases. You need to keep this difference in mind when answering Questions. 


The Project Manager is someone who is responsible for multiple things in the project and spends most of his time communicating with the rest of the project team members. The project wouldn't have even a remote chance of success if the Project Manager is unable to build relationships with his superiors, peers, end users, sponsors and every other stakeholder of the Project. 

Some of the common Management and Interpersonal skills a PM needs include: 
  • Leadership – Leadership skills refer to developing a strategic plan and motivating team members to achieve their objectives. Leadership and management skills help project managers to realize successful project completion
  • Motivation – Motivational skills involve energizing people to achieve high levels of performance and overcome barriers to change
  • Problem Management – Problem solving skills involve the combination of problem definition, alternatives identification and analysis, and decision making
  • Conflict Resolution – Conflict management skills refer to conferring with others to enable an agreement to be reached
  • Negotiation – Negotiation skills refer to the implementation of a give-and-take policy whereby parties involved are happy with the outcome of the deal and a win–win situation results
  • Communication Skills – One of the most important skills of a project manager is effective communication. Effective communication involves exchanging proper information to meet the objective of communication and ensure smooth relations with team members. Merely conveying your want is not enough: You need to communicate in such a manner that you get the desired response out of the person with whom you are interacting. Effective communication is, thus, a two-way process.
  • Etc. 

Yes, the PM needs Project Management Skills but he also needs a ton of Soft Skills to be successful. There will be an entire section/set of articles on soft skills so lets not waste too much time here and move on to Program Management. 


According to the PMBOK, a program is a group of projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits and control that would not have been obtained had the projects been managed separately. 

Program management focuses on project interdependencies and helps to determine the optimal approach for effectively managing them. An example of a program would be a new communications satellite system program, comprising projects for designing the satellite, constructing and integrating the individual systems, and launching the satellite.

In the exam, you may be given an example program and asked to identify possible projects associated with that program. So understand programs and projects and the relationship between them. A project may or may not be part of a program. A program will always have projects.


By portfolio, we refer to a collection of projects or programs that have been grouped together to facilitate effective management to meet strategic business objectives.

Portfolio management refers to the selection process based on the need, profitability, and affordability of the proposed projects. The projects or programs that belong to a portfolio may not necessarily be interdependent or directly related. Portfolio management also refers to the centralized management of one or more portfolios, as detailed in the following section.

To understand how these 3 are related, look at the table below: 

Exam Tip: The distinction & relationship between Projects, Programs and Portfolios is provided more from helping you understand the bigger picture rather than from an exam perspective. The ACP exam only tests your ability to manage a small agile project. Program, portfolio related topics will not be in the exam. 

Now that we know the difference between a Project, a Program and a Portfolio, am also going to cover a small topic here. 

The primary function of a project management office (PMO) is to support project managers in the company in a variety of ways. They provide Coaching & Mentoring to the Project Managers and ensure consistency in the project management practices in the organization. In the PMP Exam series, I had written a detailed article about the Role of the PMO. I would suggest you revisit the article to learn more about what the PMO does in an Organization

Prev: Project Life Cycle

Next: Project Stakeholders

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Project Life Cycle

The life cycle is the Key factor that uniquely distinguishes projects from non-projects. The project life cycle defines the beginning and the end of a project and the various milestones associated with it. Although every project has definite planned start and end dates, the deliverables vary across projects.

As part of the PMP Exam Prep series, I had published an article on Project Lifecycle which is still very valid for the PMI ACP Exam as well. So, I would suggest you revisit the page and understand the details because I am going to skip the core details that are already covered there. Click here

The project life cycle provides the basic framework for managing a project, regardless of the specific work involved. In general, a project life cycle refers to a logical sequence of activities undertaken to accomplish goals or objectives. 
According to the Project Management Principles outlined by PMI, every project would have 5 different stages or phases in the Projects Lifecycle. They are:
1. Initiation

2. Planning
3. Execution
4. Monitoring & Control
5. Closing

Trivia: Some people use the terms Project Life Cycle and Project Management Lifecycle interchangeably. Even though PMI Defines a Project to have the above 5 different life cycle stages, its more from a Project Management Stand point. So, a Pharmaceutical project could easily just have 3 Phases – Research, Develop and Sell but each of these Phases would require proper planning, execution and closure which is where Project Management comes in… 


The following are some of the salient characteristics of a project life cycle:
1. Cost and staffing are low at the beginning of the project.

2. Stakeholder influence is high at the start of a project.
3. Uncertainties are also high at the start of a project.
4. The ability to influence the final outcome characteristics of a project without impacting the cost is high at the start of a project
5. The likelihood of a project not being completed at all is highest in its initial stages. 

As the implementation of the project matures and recognition of its perceived value to the organization increases, risks and uncertainties that were associated with the project during initiation decline.


Projects are generally so complex and ridden with uncertainties that they are divided into Phases. At the end of each phase we expect a set of deliverables. Also, the skill sets needed and cost associated with each of these phases is very different. 

You may be wondering why I am talking about Relationship between these Project Phases (Or Lifecycle stages). Most people feel that these phases happen one after the other and often ignore the other types of relationships they could actually have with one another. 

Sequential relationships – This is the simplest Relationship type and also very common. In projects whose phases bear a sequential relationship with each other, a subsequent phase starts only when the implementation of its immediately preceding phase is complete. This project life cycle model is called a waterfall model because, like flow of water in a waterfall, the implementation of a project is carried out phase by phase, from top to bottom; for example, the completion of the requirement phase precedes the start of the design phase.

Overlapping relationships – In projects whose phases bear an overlapping relationship with each other, a subsequent phase starts even before implementation of its immediately preceding phase is complete; for example, coding might actually begin before Design is complete or Testing might begin before Coding is fully Complete. Waterfall model with feedback is an example of overlapping relationships. Sashimi model, and V model are also examples of overlapping relationships

Iterative relationships – In projects whose phases bear an iterative relationship with each other, at any given point in time, implementation of only one phase is planned, and if required, the same phase is executed again, depending on outcomes; for example, requirement analysis alone may be executed many times over until the requirement has been clearly defined. This project life cycle model is also called the RUP, spiral model.

Phase transition stages are convenient and appropriate points to update baselines, conduct senior management reviews, and evaluate project costs, quality requirements, and schedules, as it indicates the end of particular types of work like requirement gateway, design etc. Specialist review can be conducted at the end of the phase as this point determines whether we can take the project forward or not, and what actions are required to bring the project back to control.

A project completion phase is also called a phase exit. Exit criteria entail getting an acceptance from the customer, called sign-off.

Prev: What is a Project? 

Next: Project, Program and Portfolio Management

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What is a Project?

Before getting into details of how you would manage an Agile Project, its essential that we first understand what a Project is… 

In my previous series on PMP Certification I had published a couple of articles about Projects. They are very much relevant to the ACP Certification also so, it would be good if you could refer them and learn more about Projects. 

  1. Introduction to Projects 
  2. Understanding Projects  

Official definition of a project 

According to PMI, A project is defined as a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.

Temporary Endeavor? 

PMIs definition of Temporary does not mean that the duration is very small. According to PMI every project must have a specific Start Date and an End Date. Anything that comes to an end is Temporary, would we be right to say that? PMI does not specify exactly when this End Dates needs to be. As long as we have one, we are fine. In fact, I have seen projects that run for years before it reaches its End Date. 

Projects are usually started to achieve a strategic or business objective and these objectives change over time. So, it is not practically possible for a project to go-on forever because business direction or objectives keep changing from time to time. For ex: Film Cameras were the hip thing to have when I was in college. Lets assume I started a project to manufacture those film rolls for 25 years and sell them, do you think I would need the project still? Film Cameras as antiques now with barely anyone using them. Everyone has moved onto Digital cameras. 
Get the picture? 

Unique Product, Service or Result? 

By the definition above, a project involves work that has not been attempted before and is therefore unique. However, unique does not mean that a project is completely so. We may use reusable components of past projects or existing systems to simplify our efforts. 

Suppose we develop a inventory management software that requires coding for 10 components. This requirement does not mean that we need to write the code (develop) for all 10 components of the software. We can reuse existing components from our previous projects, and write the remaining components afresh. But, as you may note, the resultant combination would still be unique.

Though we are reusing some old components, there are still many new components that we need to build in order to create the new Inventory Management software – right? At the beginning of the project, we would have the uncertainty about whether we can actually build those new components and also about whether these new components would work fine with the old ones. So, we are faced with an uncertainty about whether the Inventory Managemnet System will be fully functional at the end of the project – right? 

The Project Manager manages this Uncertainty. If we are able to anticipate the uncertainty to an event, we have a better chance of handling or managing it better. 


The outcome of a project may be:
1. A product 

2. A capability to perform a service 
3. A result, such as an outcome or a document 

Most projects, especially those that involve building Products, all the requirements aren’t known at the start. The project features or characteristics get defined over a period of time. PMI uses the term Progressive Elaboration very often where we start small and slowly build and move forward to create valuable results. 

Progressive elaboration refers to developing in steps with continuous improvement. Goals and objectives that we set in the beginning are slowly elaborated and made clearer and more detailed as the project progresses. Progressive elaboration allows a project management team to manage at a greater level of detail as the project moves along. Basically, it is the process of identifying the characteristics of a project.

You could refer to my article on Progressive elaboration written as part of the PMP Exam Prep series which also includes an Example of how Progressive elaboration works. Check it out: Click Here

Difference between a PROJECT and OPERATIONS

One of the areas where people often get confused is about distinguishing between a Project and Operations. People use either tem interchangeably while they are both very different. 

While Projects are Temporary Endeavors, Operations are continual or ongoing activities which get repeated every day. A simple example would be – Designing the Honda Civic 2018 model would be a Project. Once the design is ready when the manufacturing plant starts producing them it becomes an operation. 


A Project creates a unique outcome – we created the Honda Civic 2018 model and then the project Ended. Now during manufacturing we are rebuilding the same car over and over again which means its no longer unique. Therefore it becomes an Operation. 

Get the picture? 

Of course Projects and Operations do have some similarities for ex: Execution is done by people, resources are limited, a lot of planning happens beforehand etc. However like I said, the outcome of the two are very different.

It is very important that as a Project Manager (agile or traditional doesn't really matter) you clearly understand this difference. Of course from an exam perspective a question could show up where your ability to distinguish between a Project and Operations determines which is the best answer. 

Why do organizations start projects? 

Organizations start Projects for a Variety of Reasons. The most common reasons why Organizations start projects are: 
1. Market Demand (For a Product or Service) – Whenever there is a demand for a product or service it is only a matter of time before someone starts a project to produce that product or service. With the advent of smart phones, almost all banks wanted to tap into the mobile banking craze and enlisted the help of software firms to build an iphone or android app for their bank. This is a classic example of Market Demand Driven Projects. 

2. Business Needs – Companies initiate projects all the time to meet strategic business needs. For ex: A company may have a need to expand into newer markets. A project could be started where a few senior staff members visit different/new markets and test out the waters before the company decides to open a branch in the place. 
3. Customer Requests – As a continuation to the Market Demand item, when customers request a specific product or service, companies start projects all the time. Going back to the example from point no.1, when a bank approaches an IT company to build a mobile app, the IT company would start a project too. 
4. Technological Advances – With the technology landscape evolving super-fast, industries and companies are forced to start new projects to upgrade themselves to use the latest technologies. 
5. Legal or Regulatory Requirements – Whenever the Legal or Regulatory landscape changes, it results in a ton of new projects. Every year the governments worldwide try to adjust the income tax policies. When the tax rates change, the accounting software have to be updated to reflect the right taxation rules. Even though this is a recurring pattern almost each year, it would be considered a project as the change every year is different. 
Prev: Project Management Basics - PMBOK

Next: Project Life Cycle

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Project Management Basics – The PMBOK

If you had read the article on Tips & Tricks to pass the PMI ACP exam in the first attempt, you would’ve noticed that, one of the tips there was to review the PMBOK guide. We all know that this series of articles is about the Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) so, you are probably wondering why I put up that point – right? 

Does Agile Project Management need the PMBOK? 

Irrespective of whether we are talking about Traditional or Agile methodology, both are aimed at accomplishing one thing – To Manage a Project Better. The Project Management Body of Knowledge is still going to be valid here because we are still talking about Managing Projects. 

Of course, the entire content of the PMBOK may not be valid for the PMI ACP examination but many of the concepts that the PMBOK covers are very much a part of the PMI ACP Exam syllabus. 

As you can see from the Top Navigation Bar of this blog, I have already published numerous articles about the PMP certification where the syllabus is the PMBOK. So, during the course of this ACP Exam series, wherever a topic that is covered by the PMBOK comes up, I will place a reference to the old article from the PMP Series for you to refer for more information. 

Sounds Good? Lets move on… 

PMBOK Basics 

The Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) is a guidebook, published by the PMI, which is used as a standard worldwide for managing various projects across many industries. The PMBOK describes project management processes, tools, and techniques used to manage a project toward a successful outcome. 

This standard is unique to the field of Project Management and is interrelated with other disciplines like Program and Portfolio Management. The 5th Edition of the PMBOK Guide contains 47 Processes that can be categorized as either by Process Groups (which are organized per the Project Life cycle Stage) or Knowledge Areas. 

Exam Tip: The ACP Exam is not going to test your ability to memorise the PMBOK or the names of the processes, its inputs, tools or outputs like in the PMP Exam. However, knowing the names and how the processes interact with each other at a high level including the life cycle stage where they happen will help you correlate to their equivalent activites (where applicable) in an agile projects life cycle and answer situational questions better. 

What is a Process? 

process is a set of interrelated activities performed to create pre-specified products, services, or results. Simple right? 

What is a Process Group? 

A set of Processes that are related to the same life cycle stage of a Project. for example the Initiation Process group contains all of the processes that need to be executed when a Project gets Initiated. We have a total of 5 Process groups where the 47 processes are distributed as follows:
1. Initiation – 2  
2. Planning – 24  
3. Execution – 8  
4. Monitoring & Controlling – 11  
5. Closing – 2 

To know more about the Project Life cycle Stages, check out this article:  Click Here

What is a Knowledge Area

There are various different aspects of the project that you as the Project Manager would need to properly Manage and take care of. The easiest example would be Project Scope. All the Processes that need to be executed, that pertain to the Project’s Scope get grouped into the knowledge area called Project Scope Management. Get the picture? 

The PMBOK version 5 has a total of 10 Knowledge areas where the 47 Processes are distributed. They are: 
1. Integration Management – 6  
2. Scope Management – 6  
3. Time Management – 7 
4. Cost Management – 4  
5. Quality Management – 3 
6. Human Resource Management – 4 
7. Communications Management – 3 
8. Risk Management – 6 
9. Procurement Management – 4 
10. Stakeholder Management – 4 

To know more about the different Knowledge Areas, check out this Article: Click Here

Note: As of PMBOK 4th Edition, we only had 42 processes and 9 Knowledge areas. The Stakeholder Management knowledge area was introduced in PMBOK 5th Edition along with one extra process in the Time Management area taking the total process count to 47. The picture below will tell you the names of all these 47 Processes. I would recommend you try to memorize at least the names and the knowledge area/process group each of these processes belong to. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Tips and Tricks to Crack the PMI-ACP Exam in your First Attempt

The title of the post might sound ironic, coming from someone who isn’t certified yet and is also preparing to take up the exam – right? 

Yes, its true that I am not PMI ACP Certified Yet but I do have 4 other certifications (two from PMI) in the area of Project Management that we all cracked successfully in the first attempt. So, the tips and tricks you see in this article are based on my past experience with other certifications and something that can be expected to work.  Of course, I will be following the same as well…

Update: On 26th May, I successfully passed the PMI ACP Exam in my first attempt and yes, I followed all these tips. 

Preparing for the Exam

This is probably the hardest and most time consuming part. Unless you prepare effectively the exam will be extremely difficult. Most people fail professional certification exams because they underestimate the complexity of the exam and don't spend enough time preparing for the same. Below are some tips that you could keep in mind about Exam Prep.

  1. Take at least three months for your preparation. 
  2. DO NOT try to attempt the exam without sufficient preparation.
  3. Try to schedule your exam date well in advance (This is something I always do because until you actually lock the exam date the seriousness doesn't set in fully. Once you know that the exam is let’s say 4 months out you will try to make time out to actually sit and prepare instead of procrastinating)
  4. Read the PMBOK Guide at least once to understand the traditional Project Management concepts. Even though this certification is about Agile Project Management, many of the traditional concepts still hold validity in the agile world too. 
  5. Take Mock Exams and review the answers every time (The more the merrier) 
  6. Choose a good book and make sure you read it thoroughly at least Two times 
  7. Use a Highlighter when you are reading the book to highlight key points. This would be useful for you to quickly review the key points closer to exam date 
  8. Be aware of tools and techniques. 50% of the exam is based on tools and techniques. Remaining 50% is based on knowledge and skills required to execute Agile projects.
  9. Except Formulae, don't try to memorize anything. PMI does not test your memory in this exam. They will test whether you are able to understand and apply the concepts effectively. 

Day Before the Exam 

With such an important certification exam just one day away, everyone is bound to be Nervous. It is very natural so don't worry too much about it. Don't let that become into a high-stress scenario. 

Remember that you have spent months of preparation and hence you have no reason to be ultra-stressed today. Cramming today and trying to review every possible review material you can find isn’t going to help. Stay relaxed and try to spend some time reviewing the key points you had highlighted using the marker on your primary study material. 

Don't eat super heavy or oily food ro drink alcohol on the day before exam. You don't want to be recovering from a hangover or an upset stomach on the day of the exam. 

Try to go to bed early and get a good night’s sleep. If your body is refreshed, your mind works much more effectively than it would if you spent the night cramming through study material. 

Prepare a “To-Go” package that contains the Authorization letter from PMI as well as your Id (Drivers license/Passport) and keep it along with your wallet or car keys. This way you can make sure you have all the requisite paperwork to be allowed to take the exam and more importantly avoid unnecessary stress. If you are someone who gets thirsty or hungry often you can even pack some snacks, fruit juice or water to take along with you. 

Also, it would be a good idea to check out transportation options to the exam center. If you drive, check out alternate routes, parking spots etc well in advance so that you don't get stressed out on the day of the exam. 

Just Before the Exam 

Make sure to reach the exam center at least 45 mins to 1 hour prior to the exam. Contact the center coordinator and register right away so that they can assign you a desk with enough time for you to get settled prior to the exam. Don't stress yourself out by trying to read last minute study material. This type of cramming usually doesn't help. 

During the Exam

  • Spend the first 10 mins writing down important formulae on a piece of white paper which they will give you for working out questions related to Math. You are free to note down other important points for reference as well (Though you may remember all the formulae now, when you are actually answering questions, you may not be able to recollect them at the heat of the moment. Writing them down will ensure you don't miss out such Q’s) 
  • Each question would take roughly about 1 minute to answer so, you should be able to finish answering the 120 questions in about 2 hours. That would leave about 40-45 mins for reviewing all the questions you marked. 
  • Don't spend more than 90 seconds on any question. If you think you are unable to finalize on an answer after 90 seconds, just mark that question and move on to the next one. Staying on one Q for too long is not a good idea 
  • Don't get stressed out if you are unable to answer a few questions. It is perfectly normal and just keep moving on. 
  • Keep track of Time. By the end of the first hour you should’ve finished around 30-35 Q’s and by the end of the second hour you should have finished at least 100 Q’s or more to give yourself enough time to review the answers
  • If you are feeling tired or sleepy or feel your concentration levels falling, take a break for 5 mins. Wash your face, drink water, use the restroom and make sure you are refreshed and get back to the exam desk
  • Read all answer choices before you select one. The answer choices that PMI gives are in such a way that at least two or more answers would sound like a reasonable choice but there will only be ONE best choice. So, unless you read all answer choices, chances are high that you will miss out this Best choice. 
  • Use the Elimination method if you are unsure of the Best choice. By eliminating choices which you are sure are “Incorrect” you narrow down the options and increase your chances of identifying the best choice answer. 
  • Look for words like ‘next,’ ‘best,’ ‘never,’ ‘most,’ ‘always,’ ‘except,’ ‘most likely,’ ‘less likely,’ etc. The answer choices will contain options that include both scenarios where the exam taker reads or misses them. If you miss this key word, even if you think the answer you chosen is the best option, it would still be wrong. 
  • Even if you are unsure of the answer and want to mark a Question for future review, go ahead and still select the answer you think is the best choice as of Now. This will help you when you are actually reviewing the question and decide if its right or wrong. 
  • Don't click on the finish button until you have actually answered all the questions. Even if you are unsure, select an answer because there is No Negative Marking. Every choice has a 25% chance of being the right answer and you have nothing to lose here. 
An Update after my experience with the exam: 

The new test taking software also gives you options to highlight certain portions of the question you feel are most relevant as well as allows you to strike off answer choices which you feel are not valid to the question at hand. These two features will greatly help you eliminate incorrect answer choices and narrow down the best answer. I wish they had this feature when I took the PMP and PMI-RMP certifications few years back. They would've been very useful...

Also, don't spend too much time trying to understand the mathematical calculations while preparing for the exam. Some ACP Exam prep books have extensive calculations while some don't. Based on my exam experience, there was hardly any questions asking you to calculate things like NPV or ROI or IRR. In agile terminology, they are nice to know items and aren't mandatory for the exam. 

The Results will be shared with you right away. Don't forget to Party after you crack the exam!!!

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