Friday, September 24, 2010

My Lessons Learned for PgMP Panel Review

PgMP application includes answering to 8 questions, which helps judge one's Program Management experience. These answers are intended to understand the extent of candidate's Program Management experience.

Following are the eight questions which are asked

Question#1
Describe the characteristics of a program that you managed and that consisted of multiple related projects. In your answer, please describe:
  • Your program and its multiple related projects
  • How your program related to the company's strategic business and/or organization's objectives
  • How the projects added value to your overall program
Hints from PMI on how to answer this question

Cite specific examples where you coordinated management of multiple related projects directed toward strategic business and other organizational objectives.

Describe how you, as a program manager, managed multiple related projects (don't just list the names of these projects).
  • How did the projects relate to the company’s strategic business and/or organization’s objectives?
  • How did these projects add value to the overall program objectives and other organizational objectives?
  • What were the intended benefits?
  • How did these projects relate to each other?
  • What program management techniques did you use in order to accomplish this?

Question#2
Describe how you managed your program that spanned functions, organizations, geographic regions, and cultures. In your answer, please address:
  • How you managed cross functional teams from different organizations, regions and cultures
  • What difficulties you encountered and how you overcame such difficulties
Hints from PMI on how to answer this question

Using your program management experience, describe activities that spanned functions, organizations, geographic regions, and cultures.

Describe the program management activities that were required and that spanned functions, organizations, geographic areas, and cultures.
  • How did you manage cross functional teams from different organizations, regions, and cultures?
  • What difficulties did you encounter and how did you overcome such difficulties?
  • How did you achieve these activities?
  • Which processes did you use?

Question#3
Describe how you built and maintained credibility and rapport with all internal and external stakeholders within the program that you managed. In your answer,
please address:
  • How you applied program management processes
  • What management and/or leadership techniques you used
  • How you gained trust and confidence from your sponsor, peers, and subordinates?
Hints from PMI on how to answer this question

Demonstrate how you built credibility, established rapport and maintained communication with stakeholders at multiple levels, including those external to the organization.
Which program management processes did you use to establish and maintain credibility, rapport, and communications that spanned functions, organizations, geographic areas, and cultures?
  • How did you use persuasiveness and/or influence toward the outcome (for change control, issues management, quality management, program and project scopes etc.)?
  • How did you gain trust and confidence from your sponsor, peers, and subordinates?
  • How did you use these processes to achieve these activities?

Question#4
Describe how you selected and assigned project managers to component projects.
In your answer, please address how you evaluated and assigned project managers

Hints from PMI on how to answer this question

Describe which program management processes you used to evaluate and assign project managers to do project management level jobs.
  • How did you make the final decision?
  • How did you use these processes to achieve this?

Question#5
Describe how your program stayed in alignment with strategic business and/or organizational objectives. In your answer, please address:
  • Which monitoring techniques you used to validate and maintain alignment
  • How you applied corrective actions to maintain alignment
Hints from PMI on how to answer this question

Describe how you maintained continuous alignment of program scope with strategic business objectives.

Describe which program management processes, tools, and techniques you used to maintain alignment between program scope and business objectives (Quality Management techniques).
  • How did you prevent deviations from happening?
  • How did you use these processes to achieve this?

Question#6
Describe how you controlled your program's scope. In your answer, please
address:
  • How you defined your program's scope
  • How you controlled and managed change in your program's scope
  • How you managed the influence of component projects' scope change on your program
Hints from PMI on how to answer this question

How did you control project scope in your program management role?
Describe the program scope management processes you used to control program scope and to ensure effective component project scope within the context of the program.
  • How did you manage the Change Requests from individual projects?
  • How did you prevent deviations from happening?
  • How did you use these decision making processes to approve or reject project scope change?

Question#7
Describe how you integrated projects to the overall benefit of your program. In
your answer, please address:
  • How you planned and implemented constituent projects for the benefit of your program
  • How you managed and optimized the sharing of resources (such as financial, physical, equipment, human) across constituent projects
Hints from PMI on how to answer this question

How did you integrate projects to the overall benefit of the program?
Describe which program management processes you used to determine whether a new project was to be included and/or an existing project was to be changed/terminated due to program-level changes.
  • How did you explain that a new project added value to the program?
  • How did you integrate project deliverables to satisfy program product delivery?
  • How did you use these processes to achieve this?

Question#8
Choose four of the following areas to demonstrate how you applied your advanced
skills to your program. In your answer, please provide program specific examples.
  • Finance
  • Cross-cultural awareness
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Influence
  • Negotiation
  • Conflict resolution

Hints from PMI on how to answer this question

How did you apply your program management styles and/or skills in at least 4 of the 7 areas (limit to 50 words/each area):
Finance, Cross-cultural awareness, Leadership, Communication, Influence, Negotiation, Conflict resolution
Choose 4 areas (limit to 50 words/each area) in which you can elaborate on key considerations for each of the 4 areas.
  • How did you resolve these considerations?
  • What problem solving skills did you use?


My Lessons Learned from PgMP Panel Review
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#1. July 7th 2010, I started filling the PgMP application

#2. July 15th 2010, I submitted my application

#3. July 16th 2010, I received a mail from "PgMPSupport@pmi.org" with subject "PgMP Certification Application" stating
You must select a minimum of twelve (12) unique raters to complete your survey. Your reference contacts should consist of at least: one (1) supervisor, four (4) peers, four (4) direct reports, and three (3) professional references of your choice. The application you submitted currently indicates 31 individuals to participate in evaluating your ability to perform tasks that are relevant to program management. It is important to choose contacts who know your work and who will respond. Please verify that you are interested in including all 31 individuals in the MRA process

and

Experience Summary Statements: Please review your responses to the eight summary statements. I have attached a document that may assist you in formulating your responses. While the panel will make the final decision on your responses, I recommend that you take this opportunity to ensure that your responses concur with the explanations on the attached document. These responses should show clearly your experience as a program manager

The PgMP Role Delineation states that candidates for the PgMP credential:

    • Under minimal supervision, program managers are responsible and accountable for the coordinated management of multiple related projects directed toward strategic business and organizational objectives. These programs contain complex activities that may span functions, organizations, geographic regions and cultures. Program managers build credibility, establish rapport and maintain communication with stakeholders at multiple levels, including those external to the organization.

    • Program managers define and initiate projects, and assign project managers to manage cost, schedule, and performance of component projects, while working to ensure the ultimate success and acceptance of the program. Program managers maintain continuous alignment of program scope with strategic business objectives, and make recommendations to modify the program to enhance effectiveness toward the business result or strategic intent. Program managers are responsible for determining and coordinating the sharing of resources among their constituent projects to the overall benefit of the program.

    • Program managers possess the knowledge and skills needed to be effective in both the project and business or government environments, and to make decisions that accomplish strategic objectives. In addition, the program manager should have advanced skills in finance, cross-cultural awareness, leadership, communication, influence, negotiation, and conflict resolution.


Additionally, if you have not done so, please read the following:

#4. I made few minor changes to the application and resubmitted on the same day, July 16th 2010

#5. July 21st 2010, I received mail asking me to pay the fees. I paid the fees online the same day and immediately got the message that my application is randomly selected for Audit review.
I was asked to download "Program Management Experience Audit Report" form and have it signed by my Supervisor. I was also asked to send copy of my masters degree.

#6. The next day I got my Supervisor to sign the form in which my Program Management experience including Program details were documented. My boss then also signed on the flap of the envelope to prevent it from tampering. I also made sure to use company envelope to send the forms. I then couriered the sealed envelope along with my masters degree copy. I choose ground option to FedEx since I was not in a hurry.

#7. August 3rd 2010, I got email congratulating me that my application has cleared the PMI's Audit Process and I will be notified about the next steps

#8. Same day I received another mail stating that

Your responses to the Program Management Experience Summaries on the PgMP application are currently being assessed by a panel of subject matter experts. Your professional work experience will be reviewed to verify that you have been responsible for the coordinated management of multiple, related projects and, in many cases, on-going operations directed toward a common organizational goal, under limited supervision.

This process can take several days to complete.


#9. August 16th 2010, I received a mail stating
Your PgMP® certification application recently completed the panel review process and unfortunately, you have received a below-passing mark.
According to the panel, your experience summary statements did not align with PMI’s Program Manager role definition.
And I was given two options
Option 1: Amend the Experience Summary Statements OR Option 2: Accept the panel review decision as Final.

In Option1 I get to amend my experience and this time, base my answers more in align with Program Management Experience
In Option2, my application would be closed and I will be refunded $700

For Option1 there was a note stating
Note: Please note that if you choose to amend your summary statements, I must re-open your application so that you are able to make your edits. You will have three weeks to respond. **

I selected Option1 and requested to reopen my application.

#10. My application was reopened. I then approached Jeff Hodgkinson, Senior Program Manager @ Intel Corp and few others for guidance (Shared the names below). I got great response from all the people I reached out to and I appreciate all the help. Most of the folks I reached out to are part of "PgMP Credentialed Networking Group". I have shared what I learned from others below

#11. August 22nd 2010, I resubmitted my application with revised answers to the 8 questions.

#12. August 23rd 2010, I received the eMail confirming that I have successfully completed the Application Review process and another mail followed soon, telling me that I am now eligible to schedule the exam.


My Tips & Tips from Others Experience
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#1. Difference between Program Mgmt and Project Mgmt is being strategic Vs. being tactical. Include words like strategy, objectives, benefits, organizational goals, how they were aligned with your program. Do not use words which reflect that 'how' you managed team because that would be more Project Mgmt. Use words where it mentions more on 'Why/What' of program

Bear in mind following
How to represent strategic work of Program Manager rather than tactical work of Project Manager
  • Programs deliver outcomes but projects deliver outputs
  • Program management is concerned with doing the right projects
  • Think strategically and articulate what you did or did not – Describe scenario(s) in which you thought strategically and articulate what (why) you did / what (why) you did not
  • Program managers maintain continuous alignment of program scope with strategic business objectives, and make recommendations to modify the program to enhance effectiveness toward the business result or strategic intent
#2. Most important tip is use empirical data like $ (Money and try putting in USD), # (Number like # of years, # of Project managers, # of team members, # of projects), % (percentage of increase in efficiency, growth, revenue increase, scalable)

#3. Use more empirical data and less verbiage

#4. You can use acronyms that are universal like SMEs (Subject Matter Experts), PMI, PMP, etc

#5. When you are mentioning how you selected project managers, you could possibly mention one selection criteria as PMP and someone who understands PMI standards

#6. Stay on purpose while answering (Tip I got from James L Haner)

#7. Keep your answers between 950 - 998 characters

Besides the above I got few tips including one from Brian Grafsgaard, who shared a tip in one of the discussions in LinkedIn and I am including it here.
As a Panel Review Committee (PRC) member I have reviewed nearly 200 applications. The advice above is spot on. Focus on what YOU did (use "I", not "we") and review the Program Mgmt Std at a high level before you respond, especially the three themes of program management, which are highlighted in Edition 1 but not so much Edition 2. Think strategic, like a program manager, not tactical, like a project manager. Program Managers do not manage the individual constituent projects; your responses should not reflect how you managed the "projects" (a common mistake).

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge following people (In no particular order), who shared their experience & knowledge to help me get through. I appreciate all their help