Frequently Asked Questions About the PMP Exam – 1

Even though I have tried to explain about the PMP Eligibility Criteria, and Important Points About PMP Eligibility, I keep getting a lot of questions about Eligibility. So I will tackle a few I have received just in this month in the next few posts…

Question 1: Karen wrote “It’s quite clear that Support is an operation but if someone has to work on improving the Support function will that be a project or an operation?

For example, it could happen that a Customer Support Manager needs to work on increasing the efficiency of the CSRs by may be starting an incentive scheme or providing better training, etc. Now each of these could be individually looked at as projects too right but if you see it in the larger light, aren’t these part of a regular operation itself.”

Answer 1: I am sure many people working is Support/operations have similar questions. So here goes…

Yes, improvements to any area or process can be taken as a Project. This is only true if the scope of the improvement is clear/tangible/achievable, is time bound and specific (in fact these three things are from the definition of what is a project? )

For example, improving the customer satisfaction index from 4.1 to 3.1 in the next 3 months. We should not be worried about it not being a project just because we are improving the support/customer service area. As long as the scope is clear, and has a definite begin/end date, and/or result, it is fine.

Keep in mind that a generic goal like ‘Look for Improvements’ or ‘Let’s improve over time’ is not specific enough or clear enough. It is like saying ‘I want to be rich’. – It does not tell you how much is enough to be called ‘rich’. By When? There is no time line. If I give you another dollar, you are now ‘richer’, but you may not agree. Your definition of ‘rich’ in your mind is not equal to getting another dollar. But you yourself are not sure when will you be rich, and how much will make you feel ‘rich’. Thus the confusion…

So the first thing is to have a clear and specific goal. And the second thing is that it must have some time period, like ‘I will earn $180,000 per year by the year 2014’ or The Project is to ‘Improve the efficiency of the CSRs from 4.5 to 3.1 by the end of the year 2015, reducing the call time to 3 minutes, and waiting period to 2 days’.

This way, the CSRs will know where they are today, and where they want to be, and what is the time frame and then you can formulate the project activities that will be required to achieve this objective. So training, incentives, team building, contests, events etc. will have to planned, scheduled, executed, and the progress monitored along the way to see how the goal is being achieved.

And you can say that you worked on a project, even if you were working in the Operations or Customer Support department. The objective of the project was this, and this is what I did to achieve it. By doing this project, I helped the company save $x in Operations, by quantifying the time saved from reduced call waiting, call time, reduced number of support calls etc.

Hope this helps Karen. If you, or anyone else has similar questions, simply post it in the comments below.

Vinai Prakash


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