Aspiring PM’s are blown away when I share these two unknown tips with them
You excitedly submit your application for the PMP. Then…you are chosen for an audit.
I was one of the “lucky” ones who didn’t get audited. I’d like to think it had a bit to do with luck, research and some preparation.
While I cant help with the luck part (no winner – winner chicken dinner here), I can bestow upon you the research, tips and tricks that helped me get the approval to sit for the exam.
Ready for it?
In an effort to document my experience and the experience of others, I have talked to quite a few folks and stumbled across online forums where PMP aspirants have discussed their experience with the application audit.
What did I discover? There was a clear pattern. These applications lacked good project descriptions and did not align to the PMI/PMBOK way.
Take for instance this redditor:
Or this one:
They both talk about their experiences and how they come up short when it came to writing good project descriptions. Since this was a topic I had researched thoroughly before completing my application, I didn’t make those same mistakes and I’m here to help you avoid making them too.
Disclaimer: Since I took the exam in November 2017, some of the application requirements have been updated. What I did notice is that PMI gives better tips for completing the application. The two minor differences I read, is that PMI wants the description to include an outcome of the project and accepts abbreviations such as Initiation, “IN.” This will save on character count for the description. More on that shortly.
Lets jump in!
Length, Structure & Content
The description has to be clear and concise and be more than 100 words. The application will not allow you to submit until you can write a project description that is more than 100 words. The average description is 200-500 words for all eligible projects.
But that’s not it.
PMI does not understand your project lingo at work, so avoid it. Write PMI/PMBOK using the guide below:
- A brief, one-sentence project objective
- Project deliverables summarized by process areas (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing – abbreviations are acceptable IN, PL, EX, MC & CL)
- A brief, one-sentence project outcome
So about 6-7ish sentences.
How about some examples?
I have compiled three examples of answers that I have used successfully through PMI’s application screening. Take a look below:
Objectives: Move business functions to a SaaS platform, which included setup & implementation of data integrations and modules.
IN: A project assessment was completed
PL: Developed comprehensive project, risks, communication and training plans
EX: Delivery of tasks in per the approved plans
MC: Changes to scope, schedule or budget were addressed with the project leaders in progress meetings
CL: Final acceptance of deliverables than lessons learned were discussed.
Outcome: Project schedule was re baselined and delivered on time.
Objectives: Transition customer to an online certification process system
IN: A meeting was held to identify key stakeholders for the roll out
PL: Project plans were created to outline high level and detailed work packages
EX: Progress meetings were held weekly with the project team and as needed with stakeholders
MC: The performance was monitored daily to ensure all aspects of the plan were on track
CL: Following completion of the system, acceptable of deliverables were obtained.
Outcome: Project was delivered on time
Objectives: Implement electronic compliance system using the hired subcontractor.
IN: Assigned to lead customer transition to an electronic contract monitoring system
PL: Outlined the scope and work assignments in a meeting with the team and subcontractor
EX: Work performed based on deliverables/ work packages in the plan.
MC: Time sheets were monitored and checked weekly to keep the resource budget on track.
CL: A closeout meeting was held with all stakeholders.
Outcome: Project was placed on hold by client
Now it's your turn!
Use my templated terms below for your application to align best with the examples above. Here’s a list to get you started:
- Develop project charter
- Identify risks, assumptions and constraints
- Identify stakeholders
- Define high-level scope
- Perform project assessment
- Present project plan to stakeholders
- Develop WBS
- Collect requirements
- Define scope
- Prepare project schedule, budget, and other management plans
- Communicate with stakeholders
- Implement approved changes
- Manage project team
- Execute tasks defined in the project plan
- Obtain and manage resources
Monitoring & Controlling:
- Assess results of corrective action
- Monitor & control risks
- Ensure quality standards are met
- Manage changes to scope, schedule, and budget
- Measure project performance
- Archive documents
- Close project or phase
- Obtain administrative closure
- Document lessons learned
- Obtain final acceptance of deliverables
Putting it all together
So I have been babbling on awhile now. Are you pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down? (Love those dad jokes/puns by the way)
- Be sure you have enough hours and project experience
- Project descriptions should be 100 words or more
- Project descriptions should use the PMI/PMBOK lingo and be written with a sentence or so for each process group of what you did to manage the project
- Descriptions should also be written describing how you lead and managed projects
While PMI states that audits occur randomly (and I’m not saying they don’t) these are the key areas of the application that those who have been audited said they didn’t do, and those who have said they weren’t.
Also, we put together this great template to help you with your application. You can download it here!
P.S. – We’re all friends here. Share your experience from the audit so others can learn from your mistakes and not make them.
Or better yet, share your best dad joke/pun. That is more for me.