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Tuesday, 11 August 2020


By Maggie Kirk, Associate AIA 

Studying for the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) is a daunting task. When embarking on the journey, the hardest part is figuring out where to start. The value of an exam preparation course is that it gives organization to the vast amount of content these exams cover. On top of that, reputable prep courses are developed by those who are experienced in the profession and with the ARE 5.0. 

However, third-party materials should not be the only part of the process. Studying is reinforced through multiple other resources including readings, resources, flashcards, practice exams, videos, and more. It is necessary to access other resources when studying for these exams. 

The ARE® 5.0 Handbook provides a list of resources and references to study for each division of the exam. What is often daunting about the list is that, combined, the resources are thousands of pages and thousands of dollars. Researching which select resources are recommended for the exam can start to whittle down the list. Many of these recommendations come from the ARE® 5.0 Community from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). 

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) website is a valuable resource in regard to model contracts and model documents. Free samples are provided that help familiarize the exam candidate with the contracts most common to the architectural profession, as well as understanding roles and responsibilities of the parties involved in a project and within the matrix of various contracts. 

Flashcards are another valuable resource in reinforcing and understanding concepts and terminology. The terminology in the building industry is specific and meaningful, and flashcards help provide the terms and processes referenced within the industry and on the exam. Flashcards can be sourced through various resources including apps. However, the exam candidate should also make their own flashcards. Creating custom flashcards is a great way to keep track of various terminologies and concepts to reinforce the content of the exams from readings, resources, and other sources to tailor your study. 

Last but certainly not least, the ARE® 5.0 Community is what I consider a “go-to” when studying for the ARE 5.0. Accessed through the NCARB website, the community space is divided into topics: those related to specific exam divisions and otherwise. Within the community, you will find an eager and excited bunch of professionals and moderators, helping each other with content, giving moral support, and just being all-around cheerleaders. I highly recommend it as a resource to find best practices, exam tips and tricks, suggested resources, and content clarification from those who are in the process or who have completed their exam journey. It reinforces that this journey is not one to be taken alone, but that the exam candidate is part of a much larger community. 

No matter the path of that journey, there is more than meets the eye. Casting a wide net of resources and materials will support a universal understanding of topics and a better understanding of exam content. 

EduMind offers exam prep for all six divisions of the ARE 5.0. Click here to learn more about our comprehensive review courses and select the format that best suits your needs.

EduMind Inc at 07:42

Friday, 07 August 2020


By Robert Marshall, PhD, CSPM, PMP 

Projects are document intensive. Project documentation serves a myriad of purposes including project selection, design, engineering, management, implementation, and control to name a few. One indicator of the density of project documentation is the 1,600-plus hits returned when the latest edition of The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) is searched using “document” as the keyword. That number tells the story of how interrelated and interwoven documents are in the many actions and activities of a project. No matter the use or need, project documents have one thing in common. At their core, documents are communications tools. Their purpose is to transfer project understanding and knowledge. 

Project documentation is divided into two groups: “primary” and “secondary.” Primary documentation contains information not previously created or used before. Primary documents are the original and “first-source” of the information they contain. Secondary documents are derivatives of primary documents. Secondary documents are often a combination of two or more primary ones. Primary documents are indispensable and considered “essential” for any project. In order of their development: 

1. Strategic traceability document. A project is never “just a project.” A project is always a part of a larger organization and always undertaken to achieve one or more organizational goal. In that sense, projects are really “instruments of strategy.” We know this is true because projects can either enhance or diminish a firm’s competitive advantage. Knowing how a project fits into an organization and contributes to its strategy is key to understanding the role and importance of the project. A strategic traceability document is an effective method to do that. 

To create it, you will need to identify the following strategic elements: An organization’s strategic vision, its strategic goals or objectives, any legal mandates, as well as the goals of the project itself. With those in hand, show and explain their relative alignment. In other words, “trace” how each element contributes to the achievement of the next higher element. Applications like “Smart Art” do a nice job of documenting strategic traceability. Once created, the strategic traceability document is tantamount to the “north star” of the project. Never lose sight of it.

2. Project scope statement including a Work-Breakdown Structure (WBS). The scope statement is the most important document of a project. Without scope, there is nothing to “project manage.” Ideally, this document is a detailed description that paints the best possible picture of the intended result and outcome of the project. Part and parcel to the scope statement is a WBS. The WBS compliments the scope statement by providing structure and logic. The WBS serves as a framework for the scope statement and is critical to explaining it. As Albert Einstein famously said, “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.” A well-prepared scope statement and WBS will ensure you can do the former, while helping others with the later. Using an “organization chart” as a template does an effective job creating a basic WBS. A scope statement is only as good as its WBS.

3. Schedule. The schedule document follows the scope statement and WBS. A project schedule is a two-dimensional representation which depicts units of work on the Y-axis and units of future-time on the X-axis. Ideally, the units of work are correlated with the WBS. Carrying the WBS structure into the schedule document significantly enhances the schedule’s communications value. The most common displays of a schedule are the Gantt, PERT, or GERT formats. 

As an aside, an important thing to know about any project schedule is the existence of the “time-monster.” He is invisible, yet very real. He also has an insatiable appetite… and delights in eating any flavor of project whether in minutes, hours, and days. If you have ever uttered the words, “where has the time gone?” now you know. 

4. Cost estimate. Created next is the cost estimate document. Coming after schedule (which comes after scope) makes sense. Logically, the cost of something cannot be known without first identifying what it is (from the scope), and second, identifying when you will need it (from the schedule). When this sequence changes, warning alarms should sound. 

One often-overlooked component of any professional cost estimate is the basis of estimate, or “BoE.” The BoE is often much longer and richer than the numerical estimate itself. Like the relationship of the WBS to the scope statement, the BoE is the indispensable explanation of the cost estimate. The BoE details everything that factors in or influences the estimate including assumptions, constraints, sources of cost information, contributors, and any other important details not otherwise shown in the numbers. A cost estimate without a BoE is only half an estimate. The undisputed king of applications used to create a cost estimate is Microsoft Excel. 

5. Communications plan. Ending on the same note as we began, communications is the heart of all project documentation. The communications plan is therefore essential as it is the very “plan” to make sure that all documents, primary, and secondary are doing their job. The communications plan is the pumping heart of a project. Too little information and the project becomes faint, too much information and the project can seize, and if the information stops altogether the project dies. An effective communication plan makes firm commitments to every action or activity related to communications including all routine project meetings; executive briefings; client presentations; all scope, schedule, or cost updates; all social media announcements and marketing updates; and anything else that communicates project information. Never leave the dates for these items “TBD.” Commit to them and include them in the schedule for best results. 

While there are many more documents that are important in a project, without these it is unlikely a project will ever start or finish. They are the “essential documents.” While a project may get by without others, it will not get far without these.

EduMind Inc at 08:51

Tuesday, 04 August 2020


By Robert Marshall, PhD, CSPM, PMP 

There are many reasons to earn the Project Management Professional (PMP)® designation. One is its global appeal. The number of PMP holders has now reached 1 million, across more than 200 countries, according to the issuing organization, the U.S.-based Project Management Institute (PMI). By comparison, a similar designation issued by the International Project Management Association (IPMA), headquartered in the Netherlands, has a fraction of the holders, and represents far fewer countries (approximately 70). 

Many consider the PMP to be the de facto world-standard in project management. Supporting its strong multinational use is the availability of the PMP examination in many languages. Whereas the IPMA examination is currently available in English, German, and Polish, PMI offers the PMP examination in 14 languages including Chinese. Earning a PMP means recognition as a Project Management Professional no matter where your next project takes you. 

Another reason to earn the PMP, and much more importantly, is the credibility it confers on its holders. Few efforts bestow standing like earning a professional credential. Whether in information technology, software programming, or another discipline, credentials symbolize knowledge, skills, abilities, and even work ethic. 

Not all credentials are equal, however. The credibility of a given designation stems from the standing of the organization behind it and the rigor of the requirements to obtain it. As a leading practitioner, academic, and research organization, PMI is not only the largest dedicated project management organization, the standards it has set for obtaining its credential are among the most stringent. PMI has considerable standing among professional organizations as does its PMP credential. As a direct result, PMP holders enjoy the trust and confidence of their peers and clients. 

While recognition and credibility are two important reasons the PMP is worth earning, there is another reason that is frequently talked about: increased earnings potential. So, “how much does a project manager with a PMP make?” 

Project managers with or without PMI’s credential can earn attractive salaries. Those with a PMP distinction can earn even more. Those with the credential made 23% more than their non-credentialed counterparts, according to a 2019 survey conducted by PMI. For example, the average salary of project managers without PMI’s credential earned approximately $100,000.00 per year as compared to the median U.S. household income of $56,516.00 per year. However, with a PMP, project manager salaries increase significantly, with an average salary in the U.S. of $123,314. Holding the PMP pays off financially for those that have earned it! 

Three good reasons to earn the PMP designation: Global acceptance, professional credibility, and the opportunity to earn high salaries. Like most professional credentials, the PMP represents an investment that pays strong dividends to those that earn it.

EduMind Inc at 08:00

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