Saturday 7 December 2019

On becoming a certified PRINCE2® Practitioner

The tough thing
This morning at 7:40 AM, I clicked the ‘End Test’ button of my PRINCE2 Practitioner 2017 test, responded to a survey about my experience and waited for a few seconds for the test result to show.
It was a somewhat tough test, but I did not think I needed anymore study after all the work I had put in towards passing this test. However, I believe by process and application, I should be able to put my knowledge to good use and by that become an effective project manager.
My projected life
My working life has generally been impacted to various extents by project managers, ones who follow process and procedure and some that care nothing for the orthodoxy, they blag their way with offering the customer the impossible, harass their technical personnel to produce gold from dross and their ultimate goal is rarely to deliver a product or service but to tick boxes.
To say I have little time for such project managers would be an understatement. Whilst, I have not come to blows with any, I have found the unspeakable to say straight to their faces. I know the quality of work I want to deliver, and it would not be shoddy no matter who the project manager is. If you cannot first understand what it takes to deliver before you promise what can be delivered, then you will have to take up the consequences for why tolerances have been stretched and exceeded.
Schooled in hard knocks
My first encounter with formal project management processes was during my postgraduate course some 15 years ago, I took it as my second module, and it was an exercise in stress management and control towards delivery.
We were a team of 5 who had to take up the slack for one of us who was never present, never engaging and never delivering. Yet, he had the effrontery to demand that we make all allowances which could have left us all failing the module. The lecturer decided not to mediate but watch how we handled the tough issues.
We delivered our goals despite the issues, but the biggest lesson I took away from that experience was that I did not want to be a project manager. Our project management module was based on the Project Management Institute (PMI) Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide).
Not wasting time
Then, just 3 weeks ago, I was notified that I would be furloughed, on knowing this, I decided I would spend the time attending some courses. There is probably a lot I can do on the technical side, but I also need to leverage elements of 30 years of expertise in the coordination of projects, programmes and portfolios.
After taking some advice from a colleague project manager, I looked around for PRINCE2 classroom course and ended up with one provided by The Knowledge Academy. My enquiry led to being offered a deal that allowed the back-to-back courses for PRINCE2 Foundation and Practitioner combined in the first week and the TOGAF 9.2 Part 1 & Part II in the following week.
Getting ready for love
Apart from the preparation for the course, I had access through my PluralSight subscription to the retired PRINCE2 2017 course which I could run and learn from, then I also found the Projex Academy Prince2 Masterclass at cost, which had a rather innovative approach to covering the PRINCE2 syllabus.
The Projex Academy YouTube video PRINCE2 2018 MASTERCLASS Foundation Exam Tips and Hints, gave me the confidence to decide I had done enough to go for the test.
I had passed the paper test for PRINCE2 Foundation at the end of the second day of the course and then had to wait for the exam voucher from my course provider to schedule the PRINCE2 Practitioner test.
What a bother
This was fraught with a few difficulties as it is proctored online giving you the opportunity to run the test from home. However, to have a sterile enough environment to sit for a test for 150 minutes without being disturbed whilst keeping the setting clean enough not to contaminate the examination setting with material that could compromise the integrity of the test looked like an insurmountable problem.
I also could not find test centres to fulfil that need apart from opting for a paper-based test. I needed to find a hot desk office or boardroom. However, to schedule an online proctored test, one needs to find a slot that makes a proctor available for that slot. My solution after much uncertainty was to schedule the slot first, which I got for 5:20 AM, then I booked myself into a hotel. I ensured the room had a table and chair, an executive room or apartment hotel would do the job.
Testing hotel
This meant I would have no distractions and I did not have to do a spring clean of the room to have the setting that meets the requirements for online proctoring. Next, I downloaded the Exam simulator and ensured the setup with fully compatible, my laptop required .NET 3.5 and a Visual C++ distributable for the exam simulation to install. Then a number of tests for the audio, web camera and Internet connection were run. A wired connection is preferred but not compulsory.
Once that was done, I was ready for the test and I went to be bed early, my dreams overrun with PRINCE2 project scenarios. I did no additional revision, but I did tab my official manual, the Principles, Themes, Processes, Appendix A and C along with a few other pages. As the PRINCE2 Practitioner test is an open book exam, but that is as deceptive as it comes. You could easily run out of time rifling through pages looking for the piece of information that helps you answer the question.
The die is cast
When all was set with the capture of my identity document, the online proctor communicated with me by audio, he did not once show his face, but he could see me throughout the duration of the test. I turned my laptop around 360 degrees to show the room, then the table I was working on. Flipped through the official manual showed the blank sheets I would be working on and after typing in my middle name in the chatbox, I put my phone out of reach and started the test.
I wasted a lot of time on the first 10 questions out of 46 but eventually got a good pace, skipping one question until I had finished. By the time I was done, I had about 13 minutes to spare. I did not believe there was much else to review. I ended the test and my result came back as a pass.
When I was scheduling my test, I was offered the option to resit the test for 25% of the normal cost for a resit, the offer was valid until 15 minutes before the test. It is not refundable but serves as an insurance policy. I took it, but I will not cry over the loss of it rather than getting to use it to pass if I had failed. It would have knocked my confidence a great deal if I had failed the test, but I was not going to beat myself up for it. I have failed many times before and returned to take the prize.
However, for all the activity that presaged this situation, I am happy that my PRINCE2 Practitioner certification is in the bag. Now on to new things. The support of my partner Brian and best friends Funmi and Kola have been so invaluable, I am blessed to have these wonderful people cheering me on, through the good and the bad. Thank you. Meanwhile, I lament the inglorious step down from queen to prince.

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