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Self-Study APM PMQ Tips

Whilst self-study is a necessary step for anyone studying for the APM PMQ, or indeed most other project management qualifications, it can be difficult to know where to start. We have put together some helpful tips to help you get the most out of your self-study.

Organisational Roles in Project Management

Consider the roles and responsibilities of the following:

  • Sponsor – The person with overall responsibility for the outcomes of the project
  • Project manager – the lead when it comes to planning, executing, controlling, monitoring and closing out projects. Accountable for all project scope, the resources and team, the budget for the project and the success or failure of the project.
  • Team members – contribute to the project objectives and collaborate with other members of the team
  • Project supplier – supplying essential resources and supplies and providing expertise and correct information.

Remember to relate these to the responsibilities laid out in the APM body of knowledge.

The Different Parts of the Project Management Plan

The project management plan is made up of several parts, the main ones of which are:

Executive summary

  • Purpose scope, main deliverables
  • Strategy for procurement
  • Criteria for success
  • Project dependencies and constraints
  • Organisation and roles in the project
  • Assumptions

Policy and procedures

  • Risk management for both plan and policies
  • Quality plan
  • Procedure for change control
  • Information management plan
  • Safety plan
  • Configuration management plan

Project schedules and plans

  • Change log
  • Risk register
  • Budgets and cost plan
  • Communication plan and stakeholder analysis
  • PBS/WSB
  • Schedule – Gannt chart

Requirements Management

This is the module that covers all of the requirements from the management sections of the “APM Body of Knowledge”. It is important to look at the descriptions of the requirements management process, including:

  • Capture – pulling together all relevant data and creating connections that are useful
  • Analysis – the analysis of business operation processes in great detail
  • Prioritisation – working out the priority of your projects so that you can allocate resources effectively for the best outcome
  • Testing – planning and allocating resources effectively, including human resources and testing environments
  • Factors used to structure requirements
  • Importance of requirements management

Read up on all the parts of the process and ensure you understand each element’s individual requirements.

Project Success And Benefits Management

Remember to consider all the factors of project success and benefits management, including:

  • Success criteria – timescales, budgets and successful outcomes according to project scope
  • KPIs
  • Critical success factors – those factors that are necessary in order to achieve the project goal
  • Benefit management process – the aim is to ensure that desired benefits are measurable, specific, agreed upon, realistic and also time-bound.

Budgeting and cost management

In any successful project, the management of budgets is critical. The following should be considered:

  • Accruals
  • Commitments and accruals
  • Planned and variance analysis
  • Controlling actual expenditure
  • Forecasting work
  • Cost to come

Remember to consider those points that you know about that need to form part of your budget and also those that you do not yet know about, those costs that could arise from something unexpected occurring. You need to leave room in your budget for the latter, although there is a possibility that you will not need them.

Gantt Charts and Items not on the Critical Path

Drawing Gantt charts can be complex for those who have not had much experience, so it is well worth taking the time to read up on these. One question we have been asked on a fairly frequent basis is, “How do you show total float on a Gantt chart?”

Defined as the amount of time that an individual task or a project can afford to be delayed without any impact on the overall completion time for the project – total float is an important factor in any project.

Within any good project management software with the capability to produce Gantt charts, you will find appropriate menus to select total float, as well as other types of float. These will then appear in your chart in the order you have selected them. The order can be changed within the menu.

Project Quality Management

This part of the course covers a range of issues within the project environment. These are the aspects that you should consider reading up on as part of your self-study:

  • Quality planning
  • Quality assurance
  • Quality control
  • The benefits of quality management

Sample questions

A very important part of self-study is remembering that it is not enough to simply read through your notes and books. This will help you to remember some of the information, but it is also important to test this knowledge in a more complex manner. This can be best achieved through sample questions which cover some of the more  complex areas of the APM PMQ syllabus.

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