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Project Management FAQ: PMP Answers


We sat down with Pash Lal, resident Project Management expert and Firebrand instructor, to answer your burning PMP questions. Pash is a qualified trainer in PRINCE2, PMP and Polychor Integrated Change.

Q. As a Project Manager, is PMP certification really necessary?

A. Yes. The PMP is an internationally recognised verification of your existing skills, knowledge and experience. 
Improve your project management skills and lead better projects
Image courtesy of  Renjith Krishnan / morgueFIle
The exam is based on 200 multiple choice questions, each having varying degrees of difficulty. 
Going through each question to read, digest, understand and identify what the questioner is really asking for, takes time. In order to select the correct answer, your level of analysis could vary from 30 seconds to five minutes (if you are not careful).
You are not just relying on what you may have learnt during the course and what you have picked up through reading the manual. You’ll also be relying on your own skills, experience and expertise to arrive at the correct answer.
The PMP exam assumes you understand all 42 processes, their inputs, outputs, tools and techniques. Some processes will require you to utilise up to 15 of the tools and techniques.
The employer needs a way of being able to compare between different Project Managers from other PMs and this is one way of doing so.

Q. What are the core principles of PMP?


Q. Is there any way round PMP pre-requisites?

A. No, these are the PMI rules and REPs are not allowed to bend or bypass them.

Q. What is the best book to help me prepare for PMP certification?

A. There is no one book which, on its own, will fully prepare you for the PMP exam. 
I would recommend you have the PMBOK Guide Fifth Edition as a minimum as this is what the exam is based on.  However be aware it does not contain everything required for you to be able answer each of your 200 exam questions correctly.  After all, it is only a guide to a vast Body of Knowledge. 
If you have this book, then look carefully in each section and where it mentions other areas, techniques, theories or specialisms, as you will need to research this yourself. 
The Rita Mulcahy book “PMP Exam Prep Learning Exam” is well thought out and structured and a lot of people rate it highly.  However the authors have added processes which do not map out against the PMBOK Guide® processes and are potentially confusing. 
The Kim Heldman book “PMP: Project Management Professional Exam Study Guide” is also well thought out and structured, however its flow is against the 5 domains and the author has not allowed for easy mapping against the PMBOK Guide®’s knowledge areas.  Additionally the question style needs to be brought up to date and maybe this has been or will be done in the move to the 5th edition.

Q. What is the main difference between PRINCE2 and PMP?

A. PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioneris the accreditation offered by APMGin the UK, owned by the Cabinet Office and is crown copyright. 
It has a structure of:
  • 7 Processes: that contain many activities
  • 7 Themes: alongside information, guidelines and content to be able to carry out the process activities
  • 7 Principles: bedrock principles which, if not applied, the project is not a PRINCE2 project
  • 3 Procedures
  • 2 Techniques

The techniques are both optional.  It is seen as structured and applicable (read apply-able) to all projects of any size in any industry but it does not give a focus at all to the people skills without which the project will fail. 

Just ask yourself which Project Manager would you rather work with?  Project Manager #1 is in a constant bad mood, takes no interest in his/her team, barks the orders and castigates you publicly if things don’t go according to plan.  Or Project Manager #2, who smiles when he/she walks in, greets you and asks you how you are, shows a genuine interest when they ask you about your project and individual progress, makes you feel valued, etc…
Deciding which Project Management course to study can be a difficult choice
Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / morgueFIle
The PMP is an accreditation offered by the PMI (Project Management Institute) and is their copyright.  It is a structured methodology which has 5 process groups with 42 processes (47 in the 5th edition), each of which has inputs, tools and techniques and outputs. 
It includes a focus on:
  • People skills
    • Leadership
    • Motivation
    • Communication
    • Stakeholder management
    • Team building
    • Conflict resolution
  • Scheduling techniques
  • Communication and procurement


All of these focuses are covered to a level not seen in PRINCE2.

Q. How long does the PMP certification last?

A. The certification lasts for life.  You have to demonstrate your continuing professionalism and dedication to maintaining your expertise and knowledge, through recording a minimum of 20 PDUs (professional development units) each year in a 3 year cycle.

Q. Will I need to recertify when PMBoK 6 comes out?

A. You do not need to take the PMP exam again for the rest of your life.  You only have to demonstrate your continuing professionalism and dedication to maintaining your expertise and knowledge, through recording a minimum of 20 PDUs (professional development units) each year in a 3 year cycle.

Q. How do I record and prove 4500 hours for PMP pre-requisites

A. By looking carefully at the work you have done over the last 3 years either working in a project or more preferably, in managing a project.  The character limit is quite small, set at between 300 and 550 characters, so you don’t have much room to describe what you have done.
They need your submission to be short, sharp and focused, a bit like your behaviour and performance as a Project Manager in real life.
I would recommend a one liner to describe the Project Objective (that’s right, just one or you may have used your entire limit without having described what you actually did) e.g. Objectives: to design a new staffing structure and implement across the 5 functions.
Next should be the deliverables which you produced and handed over e.g. Deliverables: stakeholder analysis completed, requirements gathered, best practice research conducted, new structure designed, stakeholders consulted, board approval obtained, new structure communicated and implemented.
Just to put this in perspective, just these two lines above (Objectives and Deliverables) are 302 characters including the spaces!
Lastly I would suggest you have a finishing line to detail the outcome e.g. Outcome: New staffing structure designed, communicated and implemented successfully; customer satisfied.
The above is 406 characters and there is space for some more words but not too many as you can see.
The next bit is then adding up the hours and apportioning them across the 5 domains.  If you had worked on this project full time for 10 months, and worked an 8 hour day, then 8 hours x 306 days x (6 months x31 days and 4 months x 30 days) = 2,448 hours.  This one project is about half of your total required.  Obviously you will need another project to get to 4,500 hours or more.
For each project you will need to work out how much time you spent on each domain (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Control, Closing) and record them in each box provided.