Thursday, January 13, 2011

Requirements Documentation: Will vs Shall

Recently, at work, while writing use cases, I was somewhat compelled(because everyone else was using "will", instead of "shall") to write requirements using "will" statements.

Though I never thought about its importance, I knew it is an important aspect when creating requirements document, especially if its an international project. And I must admit that today was the first time I actually thought of why I have always used shall statements in requirements? This aspect of requirements gathering was inherited from the company where I started writing the requirements.

As I research I found following interesting facts:

  1. This practice, using shall over will, is defined as best practice in RFC 2119 - standard set of best practices for communication.
  2. According to wiki, shall implies and obligation, while will implies intention or willingness.
  3. In English grammar, for second and third persons, will is declarative(willing), while shall is imperative(Obligation).

Example:
Intention: User will click on the start button. (Intends "willingness" - may do, or may not do)
Obligation: User shall click on the start button. (Intends a "must do")

The english language seems to be not really precise, unless you add or state very specifically what you mean in more words than people care to read. A good example between shall and will taken from here:
"Will" just indicates intention. You might say: "I will fix this bug" (you intend to)
"Shall" indicates obligation. You boss might say "You shall fix this bug" (it's an order)


Why its important?
It may not be important for those whose national language(not mother tongue) or major medium of communication is not English; but it may be important if you are dealing with an international project where, when used in contracts, may have severe legal implication; and probably, be challenged in the court of law.

And what should you do when you have a microscopic project timeline, and no time to discuss/argue?

Besides just following the instruction(yes, best thing - for the project success - is to follow the instructions), as a part of your responsibility you should "definitely", provide your feedback to the team/management; and provide with authentic sources to justify/backup your claim.

Before you enjoy, get that job done - highest priority and asap. (0:

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Action Plan: How to become a project management professional

I passed the project management professional test, on my first attempt, conducted by Project Management Institute(PMI).

So, why would you ever think about taking a PMP test?

Well, the question you just posed relates the level of interest that you have in your domain, whatever that is - Doctor, Engineering, Medicine, Architecture, etc; my reason was:

1. that, I wanted to learn more about project management
2. that, I had some time
3. that, it is an add-on in my skillset
4. A lot of other reasons, as well...

By passing the exam, you can say that you passed an international exam to prove your knowledge of project management. Since exam focuses on situations you might see in real world. The PMP certification is a way to set yourself apart.

Plus, whatever you do management and planning is involved in it - implicitly or explicitly. And since I believe in planning and executing, I did not plan to fail.

For those, who are interested in my experience of PMP, following are some thoughts.

First things first, let me share the sources that I utilized:

Books:
1. PMP Exam Prep by Rita Mulcahy. I used 5th Edition, because I started reading the book when 6th edition was'nt out.
2. PMI PMBOK v4.0; you can get your exclusive PMBOK Guide when you get the PMI membership.
3. PMP Project Management Professional Exam Study Guide by Kim Heldman; I used an older PDF version.

Be wary! The book by Rita is dangerously interesting, involving, and gluing to an extent that you might find your wife shouting out loud to grab your attention while you are in deep waters "with"(pun intended) Rita; so do not wonder.

I was so inspired by her writing style, after Paulo Coelho and Patrick Lencioni, that I called on her US number to thank her(her number is on every page of her book), and I kept on trying all afternoon until I realized that the other half of the world is sleeping - must be half past midnight then. This happened earlier last year. Later, during the end of the year, around September/October-2010 I tried an online lookup, and to my unpleasant surprise I found out that she died just a couple of months ago of breast cancer. I felt sad. And prayed for her family.

Fee Structure:
Following were couple of options that I was considering:

No.
Name
Fee (USD)
Fee (PKR)
Url
Option 1
Earn 32 Contact Hours  (PM PrepCast)
99.97
8597.42
http://www.project-management-prepcast.com/index.php
PMP Fee for PMI Members
405
34830
http://www.pmi.org/Membership/Pages/Types-of-Memberships.aspx
PMI Membership 
129
11094
http://www.pmi.org/Pages/default.aspx
TOTAL
633.97
54521.42
Option 2
Earn 32 Contact Hours  (PM PrepCast)
99.97
8597.42
PMP Fee for Non Members
555
47730
TOTAL
654.97
56327.42
Option 3
Earn 32 Contact Hours  (Local R.E.P)
?
40000
Local REPs fee ranges from PKR 35000 to PKR 50000
PMP Fee for Non Members
555
47730
TOTAL
654.97
87730



Note 1: Exchange rate was USD 1= PKR 86
Note 2: Re exam can be taken upto three times, in a year, till it expires; (Re Exam for Member is USD275, and Non Member USD375)
Note 3: According to the law of attraction, note 2 should not be a part of your plan or even your thought

Online Resources:
1. PMZilla.com (Not very much effective, but you can find 25 pretty diverse question bank there)
2. DeepFriedBrainPMP.com (Run by an Indian guy Harwinder Singh, works for Seagate, Singapore); his style of explanation is excellent; especially the "To Complete Performance Index(TCPI)" term.

Action Plan:
Following was my action plan; action plan meaning, I've read all the books, attempted all the questions at the end of each chapter, and now am ready for full fledge 200 questions/4 hours mocks.

Here, following table, are the exams that I took:

No.
Tests
Questions
Percent
Time
Incorrect
Status
1
PM Fastrack - PMP
200
80%
Afternoon
40
Passed
2
PM Headstart
200
82%
Morning
35
Passed
3
PM Fastrack - Super PMP
200
65%
Morning
70
Passed
4
Oliver Lehmann
175
68%
Afternoon
55
Passed
5
PMZilla
25
40%
Morning
15
Failed
6
Oliver Lehmann
75
67%
Morning
24
Passed
7
PM Study
200
71.43%
Morning
33
Passed
8
PM Fastrack - Super PMP
200
68%
Morning
63
Passed
9
PMZilla
25
95%
Afternoon
2
Passed
Average Score
71%


Success rate
86%
Actual PMP Score:
Moderately Proficient (Between 70% to 80 %)

Note: Morning means I used to attempt the tests from 6AM to 10AM, and evening means I wake up at 10 :) and start the tests at 12PM. Twelve till four. This includes, sometimes, bringing groceries from the store, as required and demanded by household "president/prime-ministers".


The above bar chart is the projection of the data/tests that I attempted to identity my future score (0:

Good luck with your PMP; and Welcome, to the brand new shiny new year! (0:

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