Which exam to take first?

  • 08 December, 2020

When preparing to take the ARE® 5.0, one question that an exam candidate is sure to ponder is: which exam should I take first? Honestly, a case could be made for each section of the ARE to be a good section to begin with. There are many variables including the focus of the architectural program at college, practical worked experience, and the fit with an individual’s strengths and interests. That being said, here is the case to consider taking the Project Planning & Design (PPD) section of the ARE first.

The PPD section of the ARE focuses on the preliminary design of sites and buildings. Candidates should be able to demonstrate skills in the development of code complaint and environmentally responsive design concepts. Most NAAB Accredited architectural programs in universities across the U.S. have a strong focus on design, and as such, students give this aspect of architectural practice the most attention by far while in school.

So, in theory, early in an exam candidate’s career, the PPD section of the ARE would be the section where they are likely to have the most experience. The other 5 sections of the ARE require a bit of balance between studies in college and actual hands-on work experience.

What exam to take first

Another reason to start with the PPD section of the ARE is that likely, at least for the first several years of a career in architecture, actual design experience (in a firm) is going to be the least available to candidates. Certainly not in all cases, but most firms place design responsibilities in the hands of very experienced staff and will rarely provide an opportunity for someone early in their career to be responsible for the design of a project. Most architectural interns begin their careers in the production phases of a project and grow from there. If you consider the phases of an architectural project, starting with Schematic Design, then Design Development, Construction Documents, Bidding, and Contract Administration, most interns begin the experience in a firm by contributing in the production of construction documents. As the years pass by, they gain more experience in the adjacent phases of a project. Often the phases at each end of a project (Schematic Design and Construction Administration) are the last areas for an intern to gain experience while working in a firm. Yes, there are exceptions to this, but overall, an intern’s practical experience (working in a firm) is first grounded in production.

So again, why is the PPD section is a good section of the ARE to begin the exam process? If you start the exams soon after graduating and qualifying, the PPD section of the ARE is likely the one section that dominated your experience in college and should provide you with the best opportunity to start the exam process with success.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 09:06 AM

What to Expect When Taking (and Tips for Passing) the PMP Exam?

  • 24 November, 2020

What to Expect When Taking the Exam?—Center-based (in person) & Online:
The PMP exam is timed, you have 240 minutes (4 hours) to complete the exam, and it consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. Of those, 25 are considered pretest questions (which means only 175 are scored), and these are placed randomly throughout the exam. You will get a pass/fail result at the end of the exam.

The exam is divided into two sections; there is a 10-minute break after you complete the first section (does not count toward the 240 minutes). Once your break has begun, you can’t go back and review any questions from the previous section.

The exam is preceded by a tutorial and followed by a survey, neither of which are required or are counted in the 240 minutes.

PMP exam questions are based upon and satisfy the test specifications outlined in the PMP Exam Content Outline (ECO).

You will be permitted to have scratch paper and a pencil, or a dry-erase board and marker(s). For online exams, you’ll have access to a virtual whiteboard. If you would like to know more about the online version of the exam and how it works, there’s a great tutorial video you can find on Pearson VUE’s website here.

Tips for Passing the Exam:

Have a strategy to combat/control anxiety:
This could include things like getting lots of rest before the exam and eating a good meal and drinking lots of water beforehand. Previously, one would use the tutorial time to write down their brain dump. But under the new policy, an individual can’t be writing down their brain dump until their exam actually begins. So, if someone spends 15 minutes writing the brain dump down, they just used 15 minutes of their overall exam time. Use these 15 mins only if you need and try not to waste any of your time spent on writing the exam. Plan this before you enter the exam center and try to avoid getting anxious over the last minute!

Stress management during the exam:
If you start to feel stressed or have anxiety, take a few deep breaths, and try to clear your head of the negative self-talk. Find a strategy that works for you and be sure to employ it during the exam. It may take some time to figure out what works for you to reduce your stress level, and this should be part of your exam preparation.

If you are unsure of the answer to a question, or several questions in a row, during the exam –don’t panic! Just take your best guess and follow the principle of the process of elimination – you should be able to eliminate two of the choices fairly quickly, so then you’ll have a 50/50 chance to determine the correct answer from the remaining two choices.

Tips for Passing PMP Exam

Have a good study plan that will allow you to focus your studies on the right content. Refer to the Exam Content Outline (ECO) for more information about what to prepare for on the exam.

The Number One best piece of advice I received before taking the exam was that it is best to answer every question, even if you must guess. Because a 25% chance to get it correct is better than a zero percent chance if you don’t answer it at all!

Also, remember that you have 4 hours (240 minutes) to complete 200 questions, which equates to approximately about 83 seconds, or 1 minute 20 seconds, per question. Keep this in mind as you’re taking practice tests and time how long it takes you to complete each question. This is a good strategy to combat anxiety and fully prepare for the exam.

When you take practice tests, try to simulate how the real exam will be as much as possible—complete your brain dump using scratch paper, have a timer ticking down, etc. If you know what to expect, this can help you feel more prepared, and that is a key to success – preparation!

Posted by EduMind Inc - 04:34 AM

PMP Exam Content Is Changing

  • 17 November, 2020

The Project Management Institute (PMI) is changing the PMP exam content effective January 2, 2021. You can locate the new Exam Content Outline (ECO) on PMI’s website here. The ECO outlines the Domains, Tasks, and Enablers that will be covered on the exam.

Please note that the PMP exam is available to take online; you can find more information about this process on PMI’s website.

Outline of Changes to the New PMP Exam Content

The new exam content will incorporate approaches relative to the value delivery spectrum. Approximately half of the exam will represent predictive project management approaches, and the other half will represent agile or hybrid approaches, all of which are found throughout the three domain areas listed below.

The following image identifies the proportion of questions from each domain that will appear on the exam:

PMP Exam Content Is Changing

Content Area Definitions and Examples

Each domain has tasks and enablers associated with it. Per the ECO, PMI defines the content areas as follows:

  1. Domain: the high-level knowledge area essential to the practice of project management
    1. An example of a high-level knowledge area would be People
  2. Task: the underlying responsibilities of the project manager within each domain area
    1. An example of a task would be Manage conflict
  3. Enabler: illustrative examples of the work associated with tasks
    1. An example of an enabler would be to interpret the source and stage of the conflict

Posted by EduMind Inc - 10:03 AM

PMP Exam: Study Plan, Tips, & Tricks

  • 10 November, 2020

By Rebecca Zapor, PMP

Studying for the PMP exam requires both a strategy and a plan, so I’ll share some ideas and suggestions for how to create ones that are customized to your specific needs.

Armed with this information, you should be able to come up with a solid strategy and plan that will help you effectively use the time you have available to study. Best of luck to you, and happy studies!

Understand the Exam Content:

First and foremost, it is important to understand what information will be on the exam—for this, you should locate the updated 2021 Exam Content Outline (ECO) found on PMI’s website.

Please be aware that the exam content is changing as of 2 January 2021, so it is important to understand this to ensure that you’re studying for the correct version of the exam. The advice I’m giving here is based on the assumption that you’ll be taking the new exam content.

Carefully reading and fully understanding the ECO is considered the first step because if you are unaware of what the content of the exam is or will be, then it’s difficult to know where to focus your studies. I’m certain that you wouldn’t want to put in months of work only to discover that you studied the wrong thing, so knowing what to expect is the first thing to take into consideration when creating a study strategy.

Set a Deadline to Take the Exam:

Now that you understand the exam content, the next step would be to set a deadline to complete your studying, and you can do this by selecting a date to take the exam (not more than one year out) and scheduling it.

By scheduling the exam, you’re giving yourself a finite deadline and ensuring that you have enough time to study. Plus, you’ll need to plug this information into the upcoming step of creating your study plan.

Create A Study Timeline:

So now that you know what content the exam covers, and you’ve picked a date that you will take the exam – you’re ready to create your timeline.

It is important to know how long you have to study for the exam when creating the study plan so that you know how best to break down your outline, and how long you’ll have to spend on each section.

In addition, this is where you’ll want to decide if you will take a PMP Exam preparation course; it’s important to note that if you do take a course, there will still be a lot of self-paced studying, so you’ll have to be disciplined, accountable, focused, and motivated.

Some questions to consider about PMP exam prep courses:

  1. Will it be self-paced (on demand) or led by an instructor?
  2. How long will the course last?
  3. How will I ask questions?

PMP Exam Study Plan

Create A Study Plan:

Now you’re ready to create your study plan.

The first thing you want to think about when creating your study plan is your learning style. You probably utilize a combination of multiple styles; knowing this information will help you create your strategy and plan, so you will know which strengths to capitalize on to best focus and maximize your studies.

Some examples of learning styles:
    1. Visual/spatial learners tend to learn best by utilizing graphs, tables, charts, colors, and diagrams
      1. Use color-coded highlighters, pens, markers
      2. Illustrate notes and unknown words
      3. Use flash cards
    2. Aural/auditory learners typically retain information better when it is spoken
      1. Use mnemonics, rhymes, auditory repetition (See #1 in “General Study Tips & Tricks” section below)
      2. Try to study in quiet areas where distractions will be minimized
      3. Read content aloud or have someone read it to you
      4. Play videos that audibly explain concepts
    3. Verbal/linguistic learners tend to learn best by utilizing both written and spoken words
      1. Use mnemonics and acronyms whenever possible
      2. Write down concepts/ideas that you’ve just learned about, and try to explain them in your own words
      3. Read content out loud, or listen to it being read (audiobooks, for example)
      4. Writing or creating your questions based on the content you have just learned is a great way to ensure understanding (can also be done in collaboration with others)

You’ll now want to use all of the information you have gathered to create a study plan outline. Once you have an outline, you will have a better idea of how long each section will take you to complete. Please keep in mind that you may need to revise your study plan as you progress.

When creating your study plan outline, here are some elements to take into consideration:

  1. Break your study guide into sections by chapter within the PMBOK Guide, 6th edition
  2. Think about the timing as well as the content
    1. For example, I chose to spend one hour per day during the week, and two to three hours on the weekend studying
    2. You should proceed at whatever pace works for you; this may require some trial and error
  3. Tailor your study sessions around the ‘320B’ principle
    1. This means you want to study 3 topics in 20 minutes, and then take a break
    2. This is a strategy used to account for the duration of our attention span, and studies have shown that this approach can be effective when learning this type of content
  4. Incorporate ways to learn relevant vocabulary
    1. Create your flash cards to help build vocabulary
    2. Please refer to the ‘Vocabulary Tips & Tricks’ section below for more tips & tricks
  5. Build in time to review what you have previously learned
    1. Practice creating/completing a brain dump
      1. This is a twofold exercise because it can be used while studying and also when you take the exam
      2. Time it so you have the information you’ll need during the first 15 minutes of the preparation time available before starting the exam (more on this in a future blog).
    2. Another review strategy is to build 10-15 practice questions into your study guide that cover the content you previously studied.
  6. Build in goals & rewards
    1. Make them realistic and manageable
    2. Try to incorporate weekly and/or monthly goals, or goals by chapter or concept. Do whatever works for you to help you stay motivated!

General Study Tips & Tricks

  1. Create your acronyms or mnemonics
    1. Examples include the order of operations in mathematics: PEMDAS (‘Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally’ which stands for Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction)
    2. Another example is the mnemonic used to remember the planets in the solar system: My Very Educated Mother Just Sent Us Nine Pizzas (which stands for Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto)
  2. Find a study/accountability partner
    1. Is there someone else at your company, or in your network, who is also studying for their PMP exam? Team up! Help each other out.
  3. Make sure that you take time to rest—give your brain at least one day per week to rest and have a break from studying
  4. Stay hydrated and fuel your brain with food that can help increase your energy
  5. Familiarize yourself with PMI’s Code of Ethics & Professional Conduct
    1. This is available via download from PMI’s website and is not specifically referenced as part of the PMBOK Guide, 6th edition. However, you will likely see questions related to this topic on the exam.
  6. Crunched for time and can’t make your flash cards?
    1. You can purchase some instead or use PMP exam study apps – there are some free ones, but some of the better ones require you to pay for them. This can be helpful to have access to practice questions and/or vocabulary on the go.
  7. Join or create a PMP exam study group on LinkedIn
  8. YouTube videos can be particularly useful learning tools.
  9. Are you a member of PMI? If so, it’s a good idea to be part of the local PMI chapter as well.
    1. This is a great way to network, meet other Project Managers, and find others who are studying for the PMP exam with whom you can buddy up
  10. If you purchase supplemental materials (for example, the study guides created by Rita Mulcahy, Crosswind Learning, or O’Reilly’s “Head First PMP”):
    1. Find out if they also have an app or online content available to accompany the book/study guide
    2. What other materials are available to you if you purchase their content? For example, do you get access to practice questions and/or flash cards?

General Study Tips and Tricks

Vocabulary Tips & Tricks

  1. Familiarize yourself with the Glossary & Index of the PMBOK Guide, 6th edition
    1. Familiarize yourself with all definitions in the PMBOK Guide as you’ll need to know them for the PMP exam
  2. Create your flash cards (or you can purchase them if you have the means to do so)
  3. Try to learn at least three new vocabulary words per week
    1. Explaining what the word means out loud to someone else can help solidify your understanding
    2. Practice using the new words you’ve learned in a sentence whenever possible; try to explain what concepts mean in your own words.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 06:00 AM

Top Six Regrets of Unsuccessful PMP® Examination Takers

  • 06 October, 2020

By Robert Marshall, PhD, CSPM, PMP

As professional exams go, the Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam is on the more difficult side. Composed of 200 multiple-choice questions, the exam covers five process groups (otherwise known as phases or stages of a project), 10 knowledge areas, 49 defined processes, and dozens of tools and techniques. It covers a lot of ground in four hours—and not a minute more. The passing rate for first-time candidates is about 60 percent. In other words, six in 10 people who take the examination will pass, four in 10 will not. The takeaway is, while the examination is very passable, it is not a walk in the park. You must be prepared and ready. One way to help yourself is learning from the pitfalls that have ensnared the unsuccessful. Here are their six biggest regrets:

Not starting a review early enough: This regret is a frequent one. As with anything, time has a way of sneaking up on you. Before you know it, the examination is around the corner and you have not started your review. Cramming is always an option, just ask any high school or college student. Unfortunately, cramming is not an effective approach for the PMP exam. The reason is because of what the exam measures. The PMP exam attempts to scientifically measure competence. Each question gauges how well you know the concepts and theory as well as how well you can integrate the right theory with a given set of circumstances. That takes higher order thinking and a cognitive ability. That level of knowledge needed only comes over an extended time period and can no more be reduced to a single marathon cram session than three years of experience can be reduced to 30 days. Give yourself many months ahead of the examination date to review each chapter of The Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) using frequent and short review sessions over as long a period as you can give.

Not using the latest edition of the PMBOK Guide: The PMP examination is based on the latest version of the Project Management Institutes’ PMBOK Guide. The latest version is the Sixth Edition. Editions do change from one edition to another. Sometimes a little and sometimes a lot. From its first edition in the 1990s, the PMBOK Guide has grown from 180 to 980 pages and added 12 new project management processes. The latest edition added an entirely new approach to project management, namely “adaptive” or “agile” as it is commonly known. Resist the urge to save money by borrowing an old copy from a co-worker. Be sure to check the PMI website to identify the latest PMBOK Guide version number, then buy a new copy for yourself. You will be glad you did.

Not being familiar with the exam question types: The PMP examination relies heavily on “scenario-based” questions. At a quick glance, scenario-based questions appear easy because of their multiple-choice nature. That is where the similarity ends. Scenario-based questions on the PMP exam measure several important aspects of competence not found on more ordinary multiple-choice exams. Not only are the questions designed to test what you know, but they also test your level of comprehension and your ability to apply your knowledge to a set of circumstances and facts. Getting to the right answer requires analysis, evaluation, and the integration of knowledge and experience. It is more difficult than it looks. The good news is that scenario-based questions have been around a long time—long before the PMP exam. Their design and structure are well known. The more you know about the organization of the question, the quicker you can identify the question “stem” and get to the right answer. Better review courses will include a review of the question types and how to approach them.

Regrets of Unsuccessful PMP Examination Takers

Being over-reliant on work experience as a project manager. As the age-old saying goes, experience is the best teacher. The importance of experience is a key reason why PMI requires all applicants to meet specific minimums. As invaluable as experience is, it alone is not enough to pass. Candidates must also have an excellent grasp of the underlying theories, concepts, and principles of project management along with an understanding of contemporary project management tools, techniques, and processes. In a word, successful candidates must have a strong handle on theoretical project management as well as applied project management. The primary theories, concepts, and principles are included in the PMBOK Guide, many by reference. The PMBOK Guide is a compendium of the entire “body of knowledge” of project management.

Not committing “inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs” to memory. While it takes knowledge and experience to pass the examination, here is one area where memorization is helpful. The PMBOK Guide includes well over 100 “tools and techniques” which include everything from “scatter-diagrams” to “team-building.” There are also at least 33 specific documents mentioned. The exam expects you to know which tools and techniques, along with which documents are associated with one or more of the 49 defined project management processes. The quicker you can recall the right tool, document, or technique for any given process, the more time you can devote to putting your knowledge and experience into the question.

Not taking a PMP exam review course. Finally, a common regret is the decision not to take a review course. This is perhaps the most short-sighted shortcut of all. A good review course is essential. Not only will it cover all of the process, tools, and techniques you need to know, it will also cover important considerations including time management, question-types, managing personal issues during the exam, and many other administrative details that build confidence and free your mind to do your personal best. Not all review courses are equal. Make sure that you enroll in a course from a reliable provider. Look for those that are PMI Registered Education Providers (REP). That way you know the material being reviewed matches the PMBOK Guide and the text.

EduMind is proud to be a Registered Education Provider through the Project Management Institute. Learn more about our comprehensive PMP exam review courses by clicking here.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 11:16 AM

How Many Times Can I Take the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam?

  • 29 September, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

The Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam is considered to be one of the most challenging exams, and it is not uncommon that a project manager may not pass on the first attempt. While it is every project manager’s goal to pass the first time, what happens if you don’t?

Passing the PMP exam

Much to the dismay of PMP candidates, the Project Management Institute (PMI) does not release a passing score on the PMP exam, nor do you receive a percentage score on your test result. While this may be frustrating, it is crucial to understand how PMI determines whether you passed or failed.

There are hundreds of questions in the PMP question bank. When you start your exam, 200 questions (175 that are scored and 25 that are unscored) are randomly selected from five domains:

PMP Questions from Five Domain

Each question has been weighted based on its difficulty, with more difficult questions having a higher weighting. That weighting is factored into the final pass/fail result. For example, if you have an exam with more difficult questions, the threshold to pass the exam will be lower.

What happens if I fail?

If you do not meet the necessary threshold to pass the exam, you will be notified immediately upon completion of your exam. In addition, you will receive a score report that indicates your proficiency level in each of the five domains. While the report does not tell you what questions you missed, it does map the results to the different tasks, which provides some essential insight.

You can take your PMP exam up to three times during your eligibility year. Your eligibility year begins the day PMI approves your application. Keep this in mind and ensure that you do not put off your exam until near the end of your eligibility year. In the event you do not pass, you want to ensure that you have time to repeat the exam within that time span.

The reexamination process

It typically takes about 48 hours after your failed attempt for the system to be updated with your result. Once that happens, you will receive an email from PMI advising you that you are eligible to pay your fees and schedule your reexamination. The fees for the re-take are $275 for PMI members and $375 for non-PMI members.

Preparing for your second (or third) attempt

A frequent contributor to a failing result is fear of the unknown and exam anxiety. Now that you have fully had the experience of taking the exam, hopefully, that anxiety is minimized. Take some time to review your results and go back to the areas where you need improvement.

To increase your chances of success, it is essential to prepare adequately, but at the same time, you do not want to put off your reexamination for too long, as you may lose some of your prior learning.

What if I don’t pass after three attempts?

While it is not common, occasionally, a project manager will use all three opportunities without passing. If you do not pass on your third attempt, you will need to wait a year before submitting a new PMP application and starting the process from scratch.

And remember, this is a tough exam! Not passing is nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. Instead, use it as an opportunity to receive some feedback to place yourself in the best possible position for success on your next attempt!

Project Management Professional (PMP)® and “PMP” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 11:03 AM

Tips for Selecting the Right Answer on the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam

  • 22 September, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

You have been studying and preparing for your Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam, and now it is time to put all of your preparation to the test… literally! You may have heard that the PMP exam is difficult, and the questions—many of which are very wordy—are challenging and often confusing. The good news is that with some proven tactics, you can work your way through even the most difficult questions.

Tip #1: Read the actual question first

Many of the PMP exam questions are long and wordy, and yet, there are typically only a few pieces of information that you may need. To best work your way through a long question, actually read what they are asking you first: skip to the bottom and look at the very end of the question. This is especially important before doing any type of lengthy math or calculations that may end up being a waste of time. And sometimes, you may find you do not need any of the information provided as a lead up to the question!

Tip #2: Read all four answers

You will typically find that one answer is wrong, one answer is kind of right, and the other two both seem to be correct. You are looking for the best right answer, so never stop at the first right answer. Read all four answers before selecting your choice. You may be surprised that there is an even better answer after evaluating all of the options.

Tip #3: Be mindful of keywords

Keywords in the question will enable you to determine the best answer to a question. For example, be on the lookout for words like “except,” “always,” “must,” “never,” or “rarely.” Undoubtedly you will get a challenging double-negative question that gets your head spinning a bit! Please slow down and read carefully what they are actually asking you to answer.

PMP Exam Tips

Tip #4: Know when to change your answer

This is a tough one, and there are a lot of mixed opinions out there. My advice would be not to change your answer under most circumstances. Typically, your first or gut response is going to be the correct answer, even if you are unsure of why it is the right answer. Second-guessing yourself can be detrimental in three ways: you are increasing your anxiety, which feeds your flight or fight response; you are losing precious time sitting on a question; and frequently your second answer will be incorrect.

There are two exceptions for when to change your answer: either another question alerted you that you answered the previous question incorrectly or it was a math problem, and when you double-checked your math, you realized you were off. Just because your math answer is there, does not mean it is correct.

Tip #5: Answer with PMI in mind

This can be one of the most challenging aspects of the exam, especially for more experienced or seasoned project managers. To pass the exam, you must answer the questions from the Project Management Institute (PMI) perspective, not using your own experience as a project manager. This means that there may be questions that, in practice, you would not handle the same way as you are going to answer on the exam. That can be tough, but remember, the goal here is that you pass your exam and hopefully on your first attempt!

While there is no 100% foolproof way to pass the PMP exam, using these tips can undoubtedly improve your likelihood. Good luck on your exam!

Project Management Professional (PMP)® and “PMP” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 08:21 AM

Top Strategies for Obliterating Anxiety on the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam

  • 18 September, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

The vast majority of people have some form of exam anxiety, and the intensity can range from just a little nervous to paralyzing or crippling impacts. Exam anxiety is even more common for an exam as challenging as the Project Management Professional (PMP)®. If you have considered pursuing this globally recognized credential, you have likely heard that the 200-question exam is not for the faint of heart. In addition to the difficulty, most folks spend a lot of money and time preparing for the exam, and some also face the additional pressure that their credential is a job requirement. This can significantly add to the pressure you may feel going into the exam, which, in turn, increases the probability of experiencing exam anxiety.

What is exam anxiety?

Unfortunately, the same beautiful brain that is going to enable you to pass the exam may also fight against you based on core biological behaviors that are hard-wired into us from our caveman days. Within the deepest mechanics of our brain lies the limbic system. As the central gatekeeper and communication system, the limbic system signals the fight-flight-or-freeze response when it perceives danger.

While we know that the PMP exam can’t kill us, our limbic system perceives it as just as much of a threat as a grizzly bear. Stress hormones get released, blood flow is redirected to your large muscles, your pupils dilate, and your heart rate and respiration increase. Your body is preparing you physically to deal with the threat while bypassing the logical (or executive) portion of your brain. This can be trouble on an exam that desperately requires your logical brain to be successful.

How can I reduce my anxiety?

The good news is that it is possible to curb your anxiety and decrease the negative impacts of being in fight-flight-or-freeze.

PMP Exam Strategies

· Name your emotion – as silly as it sounds, when your limbic system is being hijacked with anxiety, merely stating your emotion, out loud, invites your logical brain back to the party. This is extremely simple and yet extremely effective! If you are feeling nervous, say, “I’m feeling nervous about this exam.”

· Be prepared and be early – do your research and know what to expect before, during, and after your exam. The unknown is an intense fear provoker. Plan to arrive at the test site early, not giving yourself any extra stress from running late.

· Visualize success – the law of attraction is very real. What you put out is what you will experience, so see yourself being successful! Visualize sharing your success with your friends, family, and co-workers.

· Hydrate – while it may be tempting to skip the water to minimize bathroom breaks, trust me, you will want to be well hydrated! Optimal hydration is imperative for the functioning and processing of our brain and the transmission of information. Plus, because your brain is made up of more water than your body, by the time you are feeling thirsty, your brain is already dehydrated.

· Get rest – staying up all night before your exam will not increase your chances of success. In fact, lack of sleep can be incredibly detrimental, especially for memory recall and analytical tasks. Do yourself a favor and get some good sleep the night before your exam!

· Cycle through your questions – your PMP exam will be split into two sections, with an optional break between the sections. As you start your section, move through the questions at a good pace, answering any that you can answer within a few seconds. Continue to cycle through, answering more with each round. This low-hanging-fruit technique minimizes the fear of the unknown while also burning your adrenaline down to a more functional level. Do not sit on any one question for an extended period. This will simply increase your anxiety.

· BREATHE! Lastly, do not forget the importance of some nice deep breaths! The oxygen will do your brain and your body good!

While exam anxiety is a common concern, there are strategies that you can easily put into place to ensure that the anxiety does not prevent you from passing your PMP exam!

Project Management Professional (PMP)® and “PMP” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 10:17 AM

Why You Need Your Project Management Professional (PMP)® Credential?

  • 15 September, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

Regardless of your industry, if you are a project manager, you more than likely have considered pursuing your PMP® credential. As the most globally recognized project management certification, a PMP is undoubtedly a demonstration of your expertise. Still, the road to get those three little letters after your name may have you considering whether or not it is worth it.

To qualify to take the PMP® exam, project managers are required to document both their project management experience as well as their relevant education. If your application is approved, the final step is to pass a notoriously difficult 200-question exam. To best be prepared for success, candidates typically pursue exam preparation classes, invest in multiple study books, and devote time to studying and taking practice tests. So, is it worth it?

If you are serious about your career as a project manager, then the answer is most likely “yes!” There are several benefits to earning and maintaining your PMP that should be seriously considered when deciding if you want to pursue the credential.

· Earning the PMP credential demonstrates that you are an experienced and skilled project manager, as demonstrated by your achievement of the designation.

· According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), the median salary for project professionals with a PMP is 25% higher than those who are not certified.

· By maintaining your PMP over time, you are significantly increasing your earning potential over your career.

· The PMP may be the deciding factor in earning a position over another candidate that is not certified.

· In many circumstances and situations, PMP is a condition of employment.

· By maintaining your PMP credential, you are committed to continued education and professional development in the sphere of project management. This ongoing knowledge ensures you keep up with today’s trends for the most in-demand skills.

But isn’t the market saturated with PMP holders?

In 2020, the PMI surpassed 1,000,000 PMP-credential holders worldwide. That leaves some project managers to believe that there are too many PMP holders to make the credential valuable. However, that is not the case.

As the baby boomers leave the job market, as infrastructure becomes more technically complex, as more and more organizations recognize the tremendous value of project managers, and as the pace of change becomes swifter, there is an ever-increasing need for skilled project managers. Do not let the numbers dissuade you!

There is a real and pressing need for skilled project managers in today’s businesses, and there is no better way to demonstrate your capacity as a skilled project manager than with the PMP credential. As a matter of fact, many companies will only hire project managers if they have already earned their PMP.

A little caveat…

Just because someone earned their PMP does not mean they are a “good” project manager. And along with that, there are a lot of amazing, skilled project managers that do not have their PMP credential. Earning your PMP is just one step in your career of being a professional, skilled, and experienced project manager.

Project Management Professional (PMP)® and “PMP” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 07:11 AM

What are the PMP Certification Requirements?

  • 11 September, 2020

By Robert Marshall, PhD, CSPM, PMP

One of the most effective ways to demonstrate credibility in almost any career field is to obtain a professional certification. The field of project management is no exception and the Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential does just that. Around the world, project managers with the PMP designation are recognized and sought-out for their high level of project management knowledge, skills, and abilities.

The requirements for earning the PMP represent a competency framework that encompasses an applicant’s past, present, and future. The Project Management Institute (PMI) requires a combination of general knowledge and experience, joined with specialized knowledge and experience, all obtained in the last eight years. PMI understands that at the point where theory meets practice is the moment that the highest levels of competence and readiness occur. To that end, PMI requires applicants to demonstrate the following:

· A four-year degree (bachelor's or the global equivalent); along with at least three years of project management experience of which 4,500 hours must be leading projects. In addition, PMI requires 30 hours of project management training.

· For non-degree holders, a secondary diploma (high school or the global equivalent); along with at least five years of project management experience of which 7,500 hours must be leading projects. In addition, PMI requires 35 hours of project management training.

Applicants who successfully meet the required background requirements will receive an email notification with an eligibility identification number shortly after they apply. The eligibility ID allows the applicant to move from the past to the present.

Within one year of receiving the identification number, PMI requires all applicants to schedule and take the PMP examination. The purpose of the examination is to ensure that everyone awarded the PMP credential has achieved, by observation, an acceptable standard of project management knowledge, skills, and abilities. Just as an applicant’s self-reported education and experience are reliable indicators of competency and readiness, the examination is an equally reliable method of measuring it. Passing the exam means PMP holders have the demonstrated competency to lead and manage projects of all sizes and types.

Are the requirements for the PMP challenging? Yes. Are they achievable? Absolutely. As of this writing, PMI reports that one million project managers in over 200 countries hold the PMP credential. These one million men and women share two things in common: Not only have they met the requirements to earn the certification, but they also have the professional credibility that goes along with it.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 07:30 AM

Can I Self-Study for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam?

  • 08 September, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

The Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam is considered to be one of the most challenging certification exams. With the proper preparation, organization, and dedication, however, you can pass this exam and reap the benefits that come with holding a globally recognized certification.

Why is the exam so difficult?

Three facets contribute to the difficulty of the PMP exam:

  1. An extensive volume of information
  2. Vocabulary that may be unfamiliar
  3. Challenging exam questions and a lengthy exam

These three facets have a direct impact on the need for proper preparation to be successful on the PMP. Preparing for the exam may involve taking an exam preparation course, self-studying, or a combination of both. There are pros and cons of all options, and it really is up to you to determine what makes the most sense in your particular situation.

Not studying is not a legitimate option, no matter how good you are at passing exams! This is not a test that you can “logic” your way through.

The self-study option of preparation

For some project managers, self-studying to prepare for the exam may be a legitimate option. Self-studying may eliminate the cost of an exam preparation course, but it will most likely increase your time commitment required.

If you decide to self-study, there are some serious considerations for your preparation approach: the pace of your study plan, the source of your material, and the alignment of your learning with the current version of the exam.

Study plan pace

There is a delicate balance between going too fast and going too slow to prepare for the exam. Attempting to “cram” or study quickly in a short amount of time will leave you feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and, most likely, poorly prepared. While the content is not necessarily difficult, there is a lot to learn! And regardless of how experienced you are as a project manager, it is more than likely that there will be many new topics and vocabulary terms to learn.

On the flip side, it is essential to stay on-task and focused when learning the content. If you take too long to learn the material, especially without the proper reinforcement, you may find yourself forgetting the concepts you learned earlier in your preparation.

Source of the material

There is a lot of PMP exam preparation materials on the market. Quantity, however, does not equal quality. I encourage you to be incredibly diligent when purchasing any exam preparation material. Keep in mind that each book is written from that author’s perspective of the exam, and as such, each author may describe the context differently. Validate that the author is exceptionally well-versed in preparing project managers for the PMI (Project Management Institute) exams, not just simply someone who holds the PMP themself. Passing the test is one thing. Having the capability to teach others how to pass is another skill set altogether.

Alignment with the current version of the exam

PMI updates the PMP exam regularly, and some of these updates can be very significant. Verify that any and all study materials that you are using are in alignment with the current version of the exam. For further benefit, it is incredibly vital that the materials you are using include access to exams, preferably online exams, to replicate the actual exam experience as closely as possible.

Self-studying is a viable option for individuals that:

  1. Have the time for a set studying and preparation schedule
  2. Have access to top-of-the-line preparation materials
  3. Are disciplined with their studies
  4. Can develop a strong understanding of complex topics
  5. Can stay on-task, on-point, and disciplined with their learning

While self-study may not be the best option for everyone, with time, dedication, and discipline, it can be done.

Project Management Professional (PMP)® and “PMP” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 10:25 AM

Top 7 Tips for Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam Preparation

  • 04 September, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

The Project Management Professional (PMP)® exam is undoubtedly a very challenging test. However, there are some proven tips and tactics that can significantly increase the probability of a successful outcome. Having taught, mentored, and advised hundreds of project managers on preparing for the exam, I have found that these seven tips build the most robust foundation.

Tip 1: Do not underestimate the difficulty

There are two common misconceptions related to the difficulty of the exam: if you’re good at taking tests, the PMP will be easy, and if you’re an experienced project manager, you will have no problem passing. These are both blatantly untrue. While you will yield some benefit from being a good “test taker,” the PMP is not an exam that you can simply “logic” your way through, no matter how smart or experienced you are. It is essential to understand the project management concepts as described and enforced by the Project Management Institute (PMI), which may or may not align with your experience or practice.

Tip 2: Use reputable resources

There is no shortage of preparation materials available. It seems that everyone who has passed the exam in the past 40 years has decided to write a book. However, merely passing the exam does not make someone an expert in helping others prepare for the exam. Use sources that are authored by credible experts in the field of project management and adult education.

Tip 3: Exercise caution with advice that is given

Just as many PMP holders feel they can write a book, many also feel like it is their moral duty to advise anyone that is preparing for the exam. And while they should be very proud that they passed their exam, take any advice with a grain of salt. Remember that there are hundreds of questions in the question bank, and their experience may not be the same as your exam. People tend to have very selective amnesia upon completing the exam. Do they hate critical path? Guaranteed they will tell you they had a dozen critical path questions when, in reality, they probably had two.

Tip 4: Set the date

An underutilized technique is setting the date to take your exam. And when I say set the date, I mean actually schedule it with PMI. Believe it or not, we work best (and most efficiently) when there is a deadline. Student syndrome is a genuine thing! It is like having kids: if people waited until they could afford them, the human race would cease to exist! If you wait until you feel 100% confident about the exam, you will never take it. Schedule your exam and work tirelessly towards a successful attempt.

Tip 5: Practice, practice, practice

Reading and knowing the information for the exam is just one aspect of being successful. It is imperative that you take multiple practice tests. This will get you used to not only what information they may ask you but also how to work through complicated questions. Just verify that the questions align with the current version of the exam. And be skeptical of free exams. You get what you pay for!

Tip 6: Speak the concepts

Restating the concepts, out loud, is a potent tactic to ensure that you fully understand the project management concepts. While many people read the materials, that is only going to get them so far. To amplify your learning, try teaching the concepts to someone else: your spouse or partner, a work or study buddy, or heck, even your pets may make good listeners.

PMP Exam Preparation

Tip 7: Leverage your experience

I have yet to meet an experienced project manager that uses the exact same vocabulary or follows all of the processes that are detailed within A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). However, I encourage you to “map” the concepts of the PMBOK Guide to your work experience. What PMI may call the project charter, you may know as the project authorization form. By drawing the correlations between the concepts and your experience, the material will be much easier to retain.

Project Management Professional (PMP)® and “PMP” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 07:56 AM

How Do I Take the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam?

  • 01 September, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

The Project Management Professional (PMP)® credential is one of the most globally recognized credentials for project managers across all industries and organization types. In today’s competitive landscape, having the coveted PMP credential increases your job and salary opportunities. There are multiple steps required to earn your credential. Being organized and prepared can make this process easier and less stressful!

Step 1: Verify that you meet the criteria

To qualify for the PMP credential, you will need to meet the defined criteria. If you have a four-year degree or higher, you are required to have 36 months leading projects and 35 hours of project management education (or the Certified Associate in Project Management [CAPM]®).

For candidates without a four-year degree, the experience requirement increases to 60 months leading projects and the 35 hours of project management education (or the CAPM).

Step 2: Complete the online application

Once you are confident that you meet the requirements, it is time to complete the online application at www.PMI.org. It is at this point that you will also be required to set-up your profile with the Project Management Institute (PMI).

To complete the online application, you will need to document where you did your project work, your roles and responsibilities, the approximate project budget, team size, and the duration of your projects. Each project must represent professional project experience (not a personal project, such as a home improvement project), and you must have been responsible for leading and directing the work of the project. You will also document your education on the online application.

WARNING: Approximately 25% of applications are randomly selected for audit. Be sure you can provide proper verification in the event you are in the lucky 25%! In other words, do not lie on your application.

Step 3: Pay for your exam

As the saying goes, “nothing in life is free,” and that is true for the PMP exam! The exam fees are $405 if you are a PMI member and $555 if you are not a member. HINT: given that you save more than the price of membership, it is definitely worth it to become a PMI member, at least while you’re pursuing your credential.

Step 4: Schedule your exam

Once your application is approved by PMI and/or you have successfully completed the audit, it is time to schedule your exam. An exciting change was put into place in 2020, where PMP candidates can now complete their exam proctored online. No need to leave the safety and comfort of your home or office! If you prefer to take your exam at a testing site, the PMP exam is administered at Pearson VUE locations around the world. When scheduling your exam, leverage the time of day when you know you can perform at your best! Remember, this is a 4-hour exam: it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

PMP Exam

Step 5: Pass your exam

And the most exciting step is passing your PMP exam and demonstrating to the world that you are a serious, experienced, and professional project manager. You will be notified immediately upon completion of your exam as to your results. You will receive a proficiency rating in the five domains: initiating; planning; executing; monitoring and controlling; and closing.

With the proper preparation, you will be well on your road to being a PMP! Good luck!

Project Management Professional (PMP)® and “PMP” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 09:30 AM

Meeting Your Project Team for the First Time: Introduce Yourself Like A Pro

  • 28 August, 2020

By Robert Marshall, PhD, CSPM, PMP

Are you taking over a new project team? Are you meeting your new team for the first time? This information is for you if so. How you introduce yourself will either confirm or inform your team's expectations. Your introduction will either motivate or deflate. Make it count, make it professional. Here’s how the professionals do it:

· Start by sharing a few key personal details: For example, you might share your previous role either in the same organization or another, along with the nature of the work you did. You could share your marital status, the number of children, and pets. You could share where you went to school, your favorite professional teams, or the sports you enjoy playing. Also, try sharing something about yourself that is not widely known even by your past collages. You may have climbed Pikes Peak in Colorado all the way to the top, or you are in the Guinness World Records book. By offering the team a window into your life, you allow them the opportunity to make instant connections with you. Sharing a few personal details about yourself is an important first step.

· Share the strategic importance of the project: A project is never “just a project,” but rather, projects are “instruments of strategy.” As a part of a larger organization, projects are purposefully selected and undertaken to achieve organizational goals. An organization’s goals, in turn, contribute to its strategic intent. Optimal alignment between the project, the organization’s goals, and its strategy is the “fit” of a project in the organization. In that sense, projects connect to strategy. We know this is true because projects can either enhance or diminish a firm’s competitive advantage. Share with your new team how the project at hand fits into the organization and how its result contributes to the organization’s strategic success.

· Share the triple obligations you have as the project manager: All project managers (PMs) have three primary obligations:

First, PMs are responsible to the organization they are working on behalf of. If it is an internal project, the PM is an associate or officer of the firm with an obligation to not only keep its leaders informed but also to deliver the expected strategic value of the project. If the project is an external one, the PM is typically a contractor-partner, yet has the same obligations, by contract, to inform and deliver value for the client.

Second, PMs have an obligation to the project. Project managers are ethically bound to do their best to meet the goals and objectives of the project. A PM’s every action and decision should aim to lessen the risk, conserve resources, enhance performance, strengthen the project team, and deliver the expected goods, services, and benefits.

Third, PMs have an obligation to their team. As the PM, you have a responsibility to be forthright and honest with your team, to be respectful and fair, and to lead by example. You also have the obligation to ensure each team member’s role is clear and each member has the tools, support, and authority to perform their personal best. When they excel, you excel.

Meeting Your Project Team for the First Time

· Share with the team what project success looks like: Paint a picture of the positive outcomes of the project. For example, if it is a newly launched product, describe its success in the marketplace and how consumers' lives are enhanced. If it is a new internal IT system, describe the increase in the organization’s competitive advantage as a direct result of improved and streamlined processes. Project success means positive outcomes. It also means improvements and/or enhancement in the lives of one or more groups, whether consumer groups or some other. Identify who and how lives will be bettered, and describe these positive outcomes with images, pictures, and metaphors as best you can. Nothing motivates a team like an inspiring and achievable vision.

· Wrap it up in 30 minutes but leave the door open for more information sharing later: Let team members know you will be reaching out to them individually, as a follow-up, to see what if anything they might need to excel, and that you look forward to working with them. Encourage them to stop by with any questions, comments, and suggestions. Leave all communications channels wide open.

There you have it. How to professionalize your introduction. You will likely need to revisit the organization’s strategic plan as well as the goals and objectives of the project. When you understand it well enough to explain it, you will be well prepared to introduce yourself like a pro!

Posted by EduMind Inc - 11:23 AM

ARE® 5.0 Demo and Testing Strategies

  • 25 August, 2020

By Maggie Kirk, Associate AIA

To best perform on the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) and all six of its divisions, it is imperative to be familiar with the exam format. The last thing an exam candidate should do is to show up on test day without any experience with practice exams. I found that, for me, half of the battle was learning the format of the exam. A great aspect of the exam is that it is consistent across all divisions. It follows the same format which promotes familiarization. Once that format became more familiar, I found myself becoming confident enough to test out strategies.

The majority of the ARE 5.0 consists of discrete items and case studies. Because the exam is timed, many test-takers suggest completing the case studies first. The case studies involve looking at resources that may take some time. Completing the case studies first allows for getting the most time-consuming part out of the way.

I found my strategy was to do a once-through until I got to the case studies, meaning that I would go through and answer the discrete items as I could within a certain time frame (around 20-30 seconds max). The exam offers the option to mark questions for review. If I answered a question but was not sure, I would mark for review to note that I was not fully certain in my answer. This was especially the case when I would read through a question quickly. One of the things I have learned from the exam is not to read too quickly—you will surely miss something! If a question has a lot to read, I suggest leaving it until a future pass. The exam will allow you to review the questions and go back to answer any that you skipped. It’s not over until you say it is, or until the time runs out.

Also, consider that the exam does not start until you hit start. The appointment time is padded and if you check in to the testing center quickly, you have time before you start the exam. I usually take a little bit of time before starting the exam to breathe deep and calm my nerves. You will be given paper and a pencil at the testing center so, before you begin, you can use that to download anything that is in your mind such as concepts, terminology, etc.

You are given a 15-minute break at your discretion to take at any time during the exam. Use it! I was in the habit of plowing through the exam, not taking a break until I realized I should take a break to relax my mind (typically after I have looked through the exam once). I would step outside, get some fresh air, and clear my thoughts so I could start again fresh.

Remember, what works for you is what works for you—but practice! Practice exams are great for familiarizing yourself with content and for testing strategies!

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.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 07:51 AM

How to Get Motivated After Failing the ARE® 5.0

  • 21 August, 2020

By Maggie Kirk, Associate AIA

There are a few certainties in life: death, taxes, and failing a division of the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®). Okay, some people have passed all the divisions on the first try (not me), but if you look at the passing rates—hovering around 50 percent, with one division in the 60s and another at 70 percent—the odds are against you. A fail is frustrating. An already long journey has become longer. It’s a sinking feeling, but don’t give up.

Get Motivated after Failing ARE 5.0 Exam

One of the best sayings that I heard from taking the ARE 5.0 was that you don’t fail, you just don’t pass. Many will admit that if they had to take an exam again after a pass, they may very well fail. It can go either way. The goal is not to let it derail your progress.

When you fail an exam, or even after you take an exam regardless of pass/fail, take a day or two off from studying. Go out to dinner and reconnect with the world. Blow off some steam so you are ready to get back in the ring. Give your brain a rest. I suggest (before going to dinner) downloading what you can remember from the exam to a document.

For me, that served as a study guide for the next time around. The plus side of taking the exam once is that you have a better idea of the content on the exam. The second time around may be more familiar. The download allows you to go back and review concepts that may have been weak points. A suggestion would be to compare your download to your Score Report, which is issued shortly after you have taken the exam, regardless if you pass or fail. The report indicates competencies and demonstrates areas of weakness.

It is important to keep going. Yes, a fail is demotivating, but it is best to get back into the groove and continue with the exams because the next ones could be passes. Don’t let one, or even many fails dictate forward progression. You are not alone in the process. I suggest that if you ever feel you are, turn to the ARE 5.0 Community on the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) website. The positive spirit, encouragement, engagement, and camaraderie reinforce that you are part of a professional community where every member is valuable and seeking success.

Whether or not you fail, I think that motivation is needed throughout the process—and maybe more so when there is a fail. My motivation was that I wanted to understand more about the profession of architecture. I found myself connecting to the content on the basis that it was making me a better professional. I didn’t need a pass or a fail to see that transformation in the exam-taking process.

So, remember that no matter what, don’t give up on the process because then you are giving up on your growth toward becoming a licensed architect. You got this.

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.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 08:52 AM

How to Read an ARE® 5.0 Score Report

  • 18 August, 2020

By Maggie Kirk, Associate AIA

When taking the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®), the candidate has the option to view their provisional score at the conclusion of the exam. The provisional score allows the candidate to see whether or not they have passed the exam, pending further approval. Viewing the provisional score is an option, not a requirement, so one can skip that step if desired. If the candidate chooses not to review the provisional score, they will get their pass/fail and a Score Report within a short period of time.

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) tests minimum competency and the cut score is between 57 and 68 percent, depending upon the exam. NCARB does not issue an actual test score. Instead, they simply note a pass or fail. The Score Report is the only way to assess how the candidate performed on the exam. However, there are very few specifics.

At the top of the Score Report, you will find the division taken, whether it is a pass or a fail, and the expiration date of the exam. If you pass the division, the Score Report lists the candidate’s progress with the exam process and results, the division statement, and the concepts of that particular division. The Score Report for a failed exam looks a little different.

After failing a division, the Score Report notes performance levels in addition to the information on the pass report above. The role of the performance levels is to give the candidate an assessment of competency for the divisions from level one to level four. Levels three and four do not qualify for a passing competency, while levels one and two qualify. Where one’s score falls into a particular level, it is indicated by a filled circle. If within levels one and two, the circle will be blue. If three or four, the circle will be grey.

Input on a failed section is provided with the division statements above the performance. It gives the description of the division sections and the content covered. If the candidate failed that section, they could reference the division statement to see the content of that section and focus more of their studying on failed sections.

Should the candidate not agree with the score, they have the option to pay a fee and have their exam validated. The charge is $100, and an NCARB staff architect will review all questions and performance. There is a limited amount of time to request this verification. Should the feedback from NCARB not be accurate pending the review, NCARB will refund the exam and verification fee and the score report will be adjusted.

An exam review is another option for the candidate. In this case, the jurisdiction for the exam will review the exam. Questions missed will be issued but their answers will not. It is up to the local jurisdiction to challenge and it also involves a fee.

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.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 09:26 AM

The Best Time to Take the ARE® 5.0

  • 14 August, 2020

By Maggie Kirk, Associate AIA

The process of becoming an architect is not an easy one. According to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), after 5.6 years of education, data shows that it takes about 4.6 years to satisfy the Architectural Experience Program® (AXP®) requirements needed to sit for the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®).

At that time, the average age of a candidate is around 33 years old. In addition to that, it takes an average of 2.2 years to complete all six divisions of the exam. One of the most common concerns I hear about the exams is that life is well underway when a candidate becomes eligible to sit for them. In addition to work obligations (the hours and demands of the profession), a candidate often has a busy personal life as well, typically with a young family. This can get discouraging when faced with the task of completing the exams and becoming a licensed architect. The question is: When is the best time to take the exams given the time needed to study, and the time needed to take—and potentially retake—the exams? My answer: There is none.

Now, my answer is not meant to be discouraging but it is meant to demonstrate that there is no magic date or year in that definition of time. Consider my response setting an expectation. There is no missed boat because there just is no right time to take the exams and everyone’s situations and constraints are different. And that is OK. What works for one may often not work for all.

Best Time to take ARE 5.0

So, before hands are thrown into the air and frustration ensues, let me offer this bit of advice. Understand that while there is no best time in terms of date or year, it takes dedication. The best ‘time’ is time well-spent. I recommend setting aside 2-3 hours per day to study, and sometimes more. It is not a sprint, but a marathon and should be a consistent practice. Any small breaks in studying could lead to bigger breaks and then studying can become sporadic. These study sessions should not only be reserved for reviewing the content of the division—third-party study material, recommended readings, flashcards, and practice exams—but should be a time of dedicated concentration. Distracted learning makes it difficult for the material to sink in.

The best “time” is the time when your family and friends can support your journey. Often, the exam journey is not a solo expedition but involves the support of others. If the situation cannot lend that support, maybe it is not the best time to start. However, once started, the best “time” is completing the exams within the five years of the rolling clock so that exams aren’t at risk of expiring.

So, while there is no magic formula, understand that it takes the journey of ourselves and those closest to us. When everyone's on board, then that is the best time.

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.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 06:31 AM

Best Way to Reinforce ARE® 5.0 Study Material

  • 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.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 07:42 AM

Ultimate Guide to the Five Primary Documents of Any Project

  • 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.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 08:51 AM

Why should I get a PMP?

  • 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.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 08:00 AM

What to Do When You Fail a Section of the ARE® 5.0 Exam?

  • 31 July, 2020

By Richard J. Mitchell, AIA, NCARB

As the old saying goes, “Embrace discomfort, because it is an opportunity to grow.” This perspective is something that I have carried with me as I have progressed through my career in architecture. Let’s face it, failure is just about guaranteed in the architectural profession. Whether it is failing a section of the ARE® exam, a design idea that the client didn’t accept, or a proposal for new work that was rejected, failure will become part of any career in architecture.

What can you do with failure? Isn’t failure, to some degree, a diagnosis that you weren’t quite ready? After processing the emotions that come with any form of failure, the thing that I fall back on time and time again is to embrace it as an opportunity to get stronger, better, and more advanced. Looking at it another way, how can you grow if you already know everything? Failure, if embraced, can be an opportunity to grow! Make the most of it.

If you find yourself in the position of failing a section of the ARE, your self-confidence can certainly take a hit. I once heard a college football coach say following a loss the previous week: “We don’t want to let them continue to beat us all season.” The coach wasn’t referring to playing the same team each week. Instead, he was talking about not letting that one loss creep into the heads of the players to the extent that they lost the motivation needed for taking on their next opponent. The same thing applies to the ARE. To some extent, you need to shake off the disappointment and move forward.

My advice for what to do when you fail a section of the ARE has a few aspects to it. First, if you can recall specific areas where you know you struggled during the exam, jot them down as targets for re-study. Then, hit the books with a vengeance. Push yourself hard. Make a new goal to not only pass, but to get a high score. Challenge yourself to master the material. This will not only result in improving your chances for the next exam attempt, but it will also help you get stronger as a professional.

Next, look at your failing score. How close were you from a passing score? If you were close, it’s an indication that you weren’t that far off, and perhaps only a modest amount of additional preparation is required before you make another attempt. If you had a low score, it could be an indication of a couple of issues related to an understanding of content or comfort with the exam format itself. In my experience, it usually is a combination of both. Again, the best remedy that I have found is a relentless effort to master the content. Nothing is more effective for navigating the “land mines” the exam writers embed into the exam format than a high level of content knowledge. In addition, mastering content builds the confidence you will need when you make your next attempt.

What to do when you fail ARE5.0 Exam

Lastly, I recommend that you share your experience with peers and highly trained architects. There are often a few benefits to this: One is that talking about failing will help you get past the disappointment; Another is that you may learn from others about their experiences with the exam, and perhaps those insights will help you focus your re-study efforts.

Failure isn’t initially something that feels satisfying. But, with enough work and effort, it certainly can be.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 07:59 AM

The Project Management Plan: Topics to Learn for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam

  • 28 July, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

You know what they say about project management: “plan the work and work the plan.” While that adage is a bit out of date with the advancement of agile and adaptive project development techniques, planning is still at the core of any successful project. According to the Project Management Institute (PMI) and A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), the ultimate tool for planning, managing, and monitoring and controlling your project is the project management plan.

Think of the project management plan as the ultimate “how-to guide” for your project, defining and describing how the project work will be determined, managed, monitored and controlled, and closed. This includes information on change management, configuration management, what project life cycle and approach will be used, and how all aspects of the project management will be handled. Depending on the complexity of the project and the environment, the project management plan may be a simple high-level document or something much more in depth.

There are two primary components of the project management plan: the subsidiary plans and the project management performance measurement baselines.

Subsidiary Plans

The word subsidiary refers to being a part of something bigger. That is exactly what these plans are: a component of the overall project management plan. Subsidiary plans provide a more detailed level of information and direction around a specific area or aspect of the project. Subsidiary plans may be developed for any of the knowledge areas, such as a cost management plan, a schedule management plan, a stakeholder engagement plan, a scope management plan, a communication management plan, etc.

Subsidiary plans may be simple bulleted lists or much more detailed, depending on the complexity of the project. Not all subsidiary plans will necessarily be used on every project. For example, if you will not be working with any sellers or vendors, a procurement management plan would be unnecessary.


Performance measurement baselines are developed at the start of the project and define the intended performance of the project. There are three primary baselines: scope baseline, schedule baseline, and cost baseline. Consider these baselines as the measuring sticks, against which you will measure the performance of your project. The baselines are created through the planning processes and are considered a key component of the project management plan.

To accurately assess project performance, the baselines are “frozen” and only updated when there is a significant authorized change to the scope of the project. This could include adding scope or work to the project or removing work from the project. These baselines are used during the monitoring and controlling processes to assess the performance and progression of the project and determine the need for any type of corrective or preventive actions.


The project management plan is one of the essential tools for managing any project, from simple endeavors to large, complex engagements. PMI considers the project management plan to be mandatory as it reduces risk to the organization while also providing clear guidance. Should the project manager or a key team member leave the project, the project management plan enables successors to get up to speed quickly on project specifics.

On the PMP® exam, many of the questions ask, “what is the first thing/best thing/next thing you do?” and frequently, the correct answer is “check the project management plan.” On the exam, PMI may refer to the project management plan as the project plan, removing the word management.

Project Management Professional (PMP)®, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), “PMP,” “PMBOK” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 08:12 AM

How to Ace the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam

  • 24 July, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

The PMP exam is challenging, even for the most experienced project managers. But with the proper preparation and some keen insight, you can pass the exam and earn this industry-leading credential. It takes time, focus, and commitment, but passing this important exam will make the effort worth it.

The first step toward acing your exam is verifying the current exam specification and content. Ensure that any study material you are planning to use is updated and aligned with the current version of the exam. You can find this information at www.PMI.org to confirm the exam version. The PMP exam changes every two to three years, either due to an update of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK)® Guide or to incorporate the results of a role delineation study.

Some project managers mistakenly believe their experience in managing projects will be enough to pass the exam. However, experience alone will not provide the insight and context you will need to answer the 200 questions. Creating a deliberate and comprehensive study plan and approach will help you develop a strong foundation for answering the questions from the PMI perspective.

As part of your study plan, be sure to incorporate plenty of practice questions that reflect the types of questions and the content that will be on the exam. To add to your preparation, it is beneficial to use timed questions, giving you a better feel for the actual exam. The majority of questions on the PMP exam are situational, asking things like “What’s the first thing you do,” “What’s the next thing you do,” or “What’s the best way to handle this situation?” Reliable mock exams will include a number of these types of questions. To ensure readiness, you should be scoring at least 75% to 80% on these practice tests.

While preparation is incredibly important, do not minimize the impact of your behavior during your exam. Most people have at least some level of exam anxiety, but with the right approach and a few behavioral hacks, you can still be successful on this exam. Anxiety is fear of the unknown, which can plunge us into a ‘fight, flight, or freeze’ response. However, this is not conducive to answering 200 questions!

When we are in that heightened state of anxiety, our prefrontal cortex (the logical part of our brain) is left out of the communication loop. What you want to do is bring the adrenaline and other stress hormones down to a level where they can help you versus hurt you. The most effective approach is to skim through the questions, only answering those you can answer within a few seconds. Moving through the 200 questions removes the fear of the unknown because now you’ve seen all the questions, and it is reducing your adrenaline down to a more functional level.

Once you get through all the questions, you will have the option to filter by the ones you left blank. Cycle through again, answering what you can. Continue this way until all questions are answered. Be careful to leave no questions blank! Go with your gut if you’re not sure. If you leave a question blank, it will count against your total score. Do not change your original answers unless you are 100% certain the first answer is incorrect. Frequently, our first answer is the correct one, even if we are unsure about it.

It is helpful to have a well-thought-out approach to taking the exam. For more complex questions, read the actual question at the bottom first. This will allow you to work through all of the details more efficiently. Remember to read all four possible answers and see how they work with the actual question. Do not just assume the first answer that sounds good is correct.

Finally, do not get distracted with your subject matter expertise. The PMP exam is a generalist exam, meaning that project managers from all industries are being tested. Identify the project management concept they are asking you about and ignore any content that may appear to be industry specific.

How to Ace the PMP Exam

With a solid plan for preparation and sound techniques for approaching the questions, you will be better prepared to ace your PMP exam. EduMind’s comprehensive PMP exam review courses can help you get ready with confidence! Click here for more information.

Project Management Professional (PMP)® is a registered trademark of Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 08:29 AM

Project Development and Documentation (PDD): Roof Design and Details

  • 21 July, 2020

By Richard J. Mitchell, AIA, NCARB

Based on my observations of hundreds of architectural staff working on literally thousands of projects over the decades, I think it’s safe to say that of all the components of a building envelop, the roof is perhaps one of the “less popular” design elements to develop. The plans and elevations normally take the top spot in the interest category among the team, at least initially. After all, if the project has a “flat roof,” especially with a parapet, it’s not normally visible from adjacent grade. If it is a simple sloped roof, it is something that often fades away from street view at an angle, and not likely to draw much attention.

These factors are among several that contribute to the delay of developing the roof design until a bit later in the project, which can cause problems down the line. As an example, I recall one municipal building project that had a simple shed roof over the entry, forming a sort of canopy. Because this portion of the roof was visible from the interior of the building, as the entry lobby was open to the second-floor level and had windows overlooking the front of the building, the designer wanted to use a standing seam metal roof for a clean appearance.

The details were developed late in the project, and the project went out to bid. In the construction phase, the roofing subcontractor noted that the roof was “too flat” to comply with the warranty of the standing metal roof that was detailed and specified. With all the framing in place, the alternative was to use a standing seam membrane system that would look similar in appearance. The kicker was that it cost the client an additional $10,000! Since public projects have very tight—if not fixed—construction budgets, this situation resulted in much grief all around.

In the situation above, had the designer done their homework early enough in schematic design, they could have used the originally specified standing seam metal roof if they adjusted the roof pitch just slightly. Having been in practice for well over 40 years, I have seen many roof issues that could have been resolved with the proper attention given to it early in design.

In another example, I know of a flat-roof distribution center project that used perimeter roof scuppers, leader boxes, and downspouts to provide the proper roof drainage. This is actually a very common approach with industrial buildings, especially in wet climates. However, in this case, the roof design was developed a bit late in the project, and the downspout locations became a difficult challenge. Among the elements to coordinate for the positioning roof scuppers were rooftop equipment and overhead door locations along the building elevation.

This became so difficult that the team decided to reduce the number of scuppers and downspouts required by instead opting to provide the needed capacity by upsizing fewer drainage components. That approach worked out well until the required bend in the upsized downspouts (now 10-inches in diameter instead of the standard 6- or 8-inch diameter) to coordinate with structural footings and connect with the lateral storm line created a condition where portions up to 6-feet in pipe length were exposed above-finished grade! It turns out that the “standard detail” for downspout bends at footing locations was developed for pipe sizes of 8-inches or fewer.

This all could have been avoided had the roof drainage been thought about earlier in the project, and mechanical equipment, overhead doors, and footings could have all been coordinated to work with the number of 8-inch downspouts needed to provide the proper drainage.

These are just two reminders of how important it is to consider the roof design early in the project. While a roof may not be the most exciting of architectural features, it is one that requires attention early on.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 09:13 AM

Passing the PMP® Exam

  • 17 July, 2020

Getting your PMP certification is important for professional project managers and essential for consultants. For consulting, the PMP is often required to be eligible for consideration. Much like the CPA for accountants, the PMP represents a common level of understanding of concepts, standard principles, and vocabulary. Ample preparation for the exam is critical.

Choosing the right approach for you is half the battle. For some, it may be as simple as getting the current Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) and reading it from cover to cover. However, this approach has a low probability of success in passing the exam for most examinees.

You might buy a book that is designed for exam preparation. This is a low-cost approach with a reasonable chance for success for those who learn well by reading. However, this requires a lot of perseverance and discipline and may become problematic if you get stuck on or misunderstand something. In addition to the inherent risks of self-teaching, you also risk using information that may be out-of-date or not relevant to the exam. If the outcome is not a certification, you will need to determine what went wrong and how to take corrective action.

The best approach for most people is to take an exam preparation course from a Registered Education Provider (REP). REPs provide the best opportunity for success for several reasons. They have access to the most current materials and experience in helping students successfully prepare. They also have resources proven effective in preparation, such as practice exams and study aids. Additionally, most REPs include remedial action if things don’t go well during the certification exam. We all have one of those days from time to time. Having someone in your corner if that happens during your exam is invaluable!

So now that you’ve decided on the right approach for you, what’s next?

First, establish your regimen for studying and preparation. If possible, set up an area where you can spend some time every day reading and practicing your preparation approach with everything you need, such as references, paper for notes, index cards (for flashcards), etc. Schedule when and where you will take the exam, allowing yourself plenty of time for preparation.

If you take a preparation course, you should consider taking the exam shortly after the class is concluded, but probably not the very next day. You will want to spend some time taking practice exams. Do them as many times as it takes until you consistently pass with a comfortable margin.

Avoid the urge to cram the night before your exam is scheduled. Like our muscles recover from working out to be stronger, your brain needs to de-stress for improved memory. The night before you take the exam, make sure you get some light exercise, eat something healthy, and get a good night’s sleep.

During the exam, take advantage of the tools available to you along with a strategic approach. If you have memorized equations, images, phrases, or a mnemonic to recall useful terms or concepts, you can use the online whiteboard if taking an online exam. For onsite testing, you will not be permitted to bring calculators or scrap paper into the test site. However, according to the PMI handbook, the following items will be provided for you by the test center on the day of the exam:

· Calculators are built into the CBT exam and will be provided to those candidates taking a PBT exam.

· Writing materials for taking notes during the examination: either scrap paper and pencils or erasable board and markers

On your first pass through the exam, read each question carefully and be sure to note any negatives, such as “Which of these are NOT…” Answer the questions you know and mark those of which you are less certain.

Passing the PMP Exam

Next, go back to the unanswered questions. Resist the urge to change a prior answer unless you have a clear and specific reason to change it. Often, people change from the right answer to a wrong answer unless they realize they overlooked a “not” or come across another question that contradicts their first answer.

Frequently we find that some questions in the exam may answer another question in the way the question is posed. Answer all the marked questions using the information you gathered from the rest of the exam. In some cases, you will find the answer outright, while others you will know enough to exclude one or more wrong answers. Using this process of elimination will help improve your odds of choosing the best answer from those remaining.

Do NOT leave any questions unanswered. Even if you just guess, you still have a 25% chance of getting it right. Using the process of elimination can improve that to 33% or even 50%. An unanswered question is automatically wrong.

Following the study approach with a REP and following these steps is the best way to achieve your desired outcome—becoming a certified Project Management Professional. EduMind is a REP that can help you achieve your goal with comprehensive exam review courses offered in a variety of formats. Click here for more information and to determine which option is best for you.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 06:24 AM

Monitoring and Controlling the Project: Topics to Learn for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam

  • 14 July, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

In A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), 6th Edition, there are 12 processes within the monitoring and controlling process group. These processes are performed throughout the project, from inception to completion, and are essential to managing and monitoring the progress of the project. Twenty-five percent of the questions on the PMP® exam will be from these 12 processes.

As the project manager, you want to be diligent and proactive in understanding the health of your project and, thus, the importance of these monitoring and controlling processes. Monitoring and controlling provide the project manager and the team with critical insight to enable proactive decision-making versus succumbing to reactive actions.

Baseline Variances

When planning the project, the project manager develops a plan that incorporates the subsidiary plans and the scope, schedule, and cost performance measurement baselines. These baselines represent the intended progress of the project and are the ideal tool for assessing any variances from realized risks or other unforeseen project events. The control scope, control schedule, and control cost processes will evaluate the project’s progress against these performance baselines to determine the need for any type of corrective or preventive actions.

Earned Value Analysis and Forecasting

To calculate the impact of any variances, the project manager can use an earned value analysis to determine the cost variance and schedule variance of the project. This earned value analysis is conducted at set intervals throughout the project to reveal project trending data.

In addition to an earned value analysis, several forecasting techniques can be used to determine the estimate to complete (ETC) the project work and the estimate at completion (EAC) forecast. When the EAC is compared to the budget at completion (BAC), the project manager can determine if there will be a negative variance at completion (VAC). A negative VAC indicates the project will exceed the given budget.

Integrated Change Control

Critical to the management of any project, is a defined and communicated change control process. Integrated change control is considered a component of project monitoring and controlling. While ideally changes to your project are limited, realistically, changes will be requested or necessary. The integrated change control process evaluates the change requests, leveraging a change control board (CCB). The CCB includes the key stakeholders and the project sponsor, and it is generally facilitated by the project manager.

Reporting and Communication

Effectively managing stakeholder expectations throughout the project increases the likelihood of project success and product acceptance. The work performance information generated throughout the monitoring and controlling processes is used to create the work performance reports (also known as status reports). Following the agreed-upon protocol in the communications management plan, the work performance reports are distributed to the appropriate parties on a consistent schedule. If, at any time, there is an indication that communication is not adequate, the communication processes should be revisited.

The project manager is expected to be honest and transparent in their communications with the sponsor and stakeholders regarding the status of the project, any variances that have been identified, the impacts of those variances, and the recommended and implemented actions.

In Summary

Mature and skillful project managers understand the critical importance of project monitoring and controlling to gain insight into the health of their project. The information gained from monitoring and controlling, evaluating progress against the project baselines, and a strong change control process, enables the project manager to be proactive in making recommendations and changes.

Project Management Professional (PMP)®, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), “PMP,” “PMBOK” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 06:01 AM

Getting Ready for Your Next Career Step

  • 10 July, 2020

Organizations that predominantly operate using a project construct are undergoing a substantial shift to a product approach. In practice and theory, we more collectively refer to the flow of value through our organizations. This becomes a disruption driver in the digital reality unfolding before us.

As this happens, there are several pertinent shifts in the landscape of our organizations. Efficiency is not king at the moment because we should first be aware of our relative effectiveness. To be efficient without effectiveness is to waste resources faster. Those who are digitally inclined will be those who reconsider their value propositions as value streams and manage them appropriately.

This is apparent in several of our professional areas or domains—such as project managers, operations, technology, and even organizational structures—as we increasingly implement Agile, DevOps, or ITIL v4 in a cloud environment where essentially everything is available as a service (XaaS).

1. Recognize Opportunity

Unfortunately, there may be fewer PMs in the future than we have today. The role is evolving to be closer to its roots as a means of developing and delivering a new product or capability, largely because of shifts in how work is defined and executed.

The next step for most is to move from a matrixed functional organization to a team-based, iterative, value-focused organization with virtuous cycles that we can sustain indefinitely. Organizations that have done this have consistently disrupted their markets. This will mean a significant reduction in the number of projects that are needed. Most of the kinds of work we projectize will become managed as a product where we have the consistency of team and eliminate the start-stop inefficiencies in favor of a pull-based flow of value.

Work item management shifts to teams and product owners via backlogs. Forecasting is replaced with projections and financial reporting is completely automated. Many project managers are perfect candidates for product owners.

2. Look at the Big Picture

Product ownership is a leadership opportunity with an increasingly critical role as organizations grow and scale. Product owners are charged with understanding the current and future term needs of the consumers of their value and how we can best deliver that value in a mutually beneficial value exchange. PMs must have big-picture skills along with the ability to manage the details. Having experience and exposure in a wide range of domains is a strong indicator of the ability to manage the diverse demands in managing value streams. Look for product roles as increasingly occurring and in-demand opportunities for good PMs.

3. Build Transformation Skills as a Core Competency

US Navy Seals say, “The only easy day was yesterday.” Change is that way for everyone. The frequency and amplitude of change will only increase, with possible temporary plateaus. Understanding your resilience mechanisms and being prepared to adjust or evolve will be life-changing for the better. Like so many other things, awareness and maintaining situational awareness are key drivers. Keeping up to date professionally, especially from a technology perspective (DevOps, Site Reliability Engineering, Agile Product Owner, for example) will enable you to be proactive in recognizing the right role and opportunity.

4. Take Control of Your Future

With the current COVID-19 crisis still in full swing, there is much doubt regarding what tomorrow may bring. Life will eventually go back to normal for some, but for many, the new normal will be a bumpy ride. What will prevail is impossible to know at this point.

Having current training and certifications makes you more competitive in the marketplace over those who are still operating under the old model. During this time of pause, where most work is being done remotely, do your research and consider the “what if” of becoming part of the gig economy.


“The best defense is a strong offense.”[1]
“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”[2]


Posted by EduMind Inc - 09:19 AM

Determining Appropriate Documentation: Code Requirements

  • 07 July, 2020

By Richard J. Mitchell, AIA, NCARB

One of the most common misunderstandings about building codes is that the requirements are always “black and white” and very clear to follow. That is simply not true.

Let’s start with the perception that code is set, fixed, and 100 percent clear. While there are certainly some elements of the code that are clear and direct, there often is much room for interpretation. This makes sense if one considers that it would be nearly impossible to develop codes to govern each condition encountered in an architectural project. Instead, the code normally addresses the biggest issues, often those impacting or influencing the health, safety, and welfare of the site/building users.

Sometimes, the design team finds itself in the position of not knowing exactly how to comply with code. Here is an example that I encountered a few years back: My project was a municipal government office building that included a strong, public-facing entry which was required to be part of the accessible path to the building. This meant (among other things) that wheelchair access needed to be provided from the front directly to the building entry. The grades were a bit challenging, but a switchback layout provided the needed compliance for maximum ramp slope and landings.

One modest “bend” in the ramp was required to navigate around stormwater and landscape features close to the building entry. The bend was very slight, something close to a 15-degree pivot at a landing. The accessibility code for this project noted that 90-degree turns in ramps required a full 60 inches of clear wheelchair turning diameter. A very clear diagram was provided in the code to facilitate compliance. However, the design team considered the ramp pivot for our design as very minor, and not requiring the full 60-inch clearance at the landing. The thought process was that, while it made sense to have the 60-inch clearance for a wheelchair to safely navigate a hard 90-degree turn, the ramp as designed had only a 15-degree bend and would not require any special maneuver by someone in a wheelchair. As a result, the ramp was designed and submitted for permit review without the 60-inch clearance at the landing.

When we received our plan check comments during building permit review, the issue was raised by the building official. He felt that a 60-inch-diameter turning clearance was required at the landing because the ramp had a bend. He agreed that the code didn’t address ramp landing width requirements beyond those that included 90-degree bends, but our ramp had “a bend,” so his interpretation was that we needed to provide the 60-inch turning clearance at the landing.

OK, game over! The local building official stated his case and we needed to comply, right? Not exactly. The design team then submitted the issue for a state-level building code interpretation, and the state building official determined that our ramp, as designed, met the intent of the code. We presented our findings to the local building official and he accepted them.

In the end, the design team did devise a simple tweak to one side of the ramp to create a slight “V” at the landing. This provided the 60-inch clearance anyway, while not compromising the design objectives. As I eluded to before, the building code is often “gray” as opposed to “black and white,” leaving many issues up for interpretation as a project is designed.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 09:13 AM

Predicting a Passing Score on the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam

  • 03 July, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

The Project Management Professional® exam is undeniably tough, and passing the exam requires dedicated attention and a focused study plan. But how do you know if you are ready to pass the exam? And can you predict a passing score? While a passing result cannot be guaranteed, there are some things that you can do to significantly increase the probability of success.

Let’s start with understanding what it takes to pass the PMP exam, because it is not as simple as having a set score or percentage of questions correct. In the earlier years of the PMP exam, the Project Management Institute (PMI) assigned a passing score to the exam. This score was communicated to the candidates.

At one point, PMI decided to increase the passing percentage, making the exam much more difficult. There was an adverse public reaction to this, and it was shortly after this situation that PMI made the decision not to release the passing score. To make it even more of a mystery to candidates, PMI did away with a defined percent score and moved to a weighted model.

Today’s PMP exam is scored based on a weighted model that is applied to each candidate’s set of questions. There are hundreds of questions in PMI’s question bank, and each question has been evaluated and assessed for difficulty. Questions that are deemed to be more difficult will have a higher weight and vice versa. Hypothetically, if your exam has more difficult questions, the required passing score will be lower. If your exam has more straightforward questions, the required passing score will be higher.

The best indicator of your success on the exam is going to be practice exams. But not just any practice exams. They must:

· Be based on the most current version of the exam. Verify that the questions are reflective of the current version and are not out of date. PMI changes the PMP exam every few years.

· Include lengthy and detailed questions. Get practice working through wordy questions, identifying the keywords and concepts.

· Ask scenario-based or sequencing questions, such as “what’s the next thing / best thing / first thing you do?” or “how would you handle this situation?” This is an excellent reminder that the PMP exam is not a test of memorization, but rather an application of the concepts.

· Have a timed element that corresponds to the timing of the actual exam. The exam is a 4-hour, 200-question exam, meaning you have less than a minute and a half per question. Practice working under time pressure!

· Be provided by a reputable source. Using an unreliable set of questions can cause much more harm than good in your preparation. EduMind provides a comprehensive PMP exam review course taught by industry experts to help you prepare, practice, and pass your exam.

· Include at least 100 questions in one sitting. The PMP exam is a marathon, not a sprint. Practice with an extended set of questions to replicate the exam experience.

If the practice exams you are taking meet all of the above criteria, a score higher than 80% indicates that you are very well prepared and will most likely be successful on the actual exam. Now, even though you may have achieved a comfortable score, do not sabotage yourself on test day. To further improve your chances of success:

· Take your test within a short timeframe after achieving a good practice test score. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

· Get a good night’s sleep the night before your exam. Forfeiting sleep for some last-minute studying is counterproductive. You will function at a much higher level when you are well rested.

· Remember proper nutrition and hydration. Feed and hydrate your brain to tackle this 4-hour exam.

· Employ proven strategies for dealing with exam anxiety, arrive early at your test center, and remember—most importantly—to breathe.

With a focused and dedicated study plan, a wide variety of practice exams, and proper self-care, you can be successful on your PMP exam.

Project Management Professional (PMP)® and “PMP” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 09:08 AM

ARE Prep: Using Cognitive Skills to Improve Learning

  • 30 June, 2020

By Richard J. Mitchell, AIA, NCARB

In architecture, as well as just about any profession, there is a great deal of information to process, understand, and retain. The range varies from highly technical processes to subjective theories, to common-sense communications. With so many different forms of knowledge to process, understand, and retain, it becomes challenging to just rely on simple memorization.

Over the course of my career, I have developed cognitive skills to help me develop understanding and to retain and communicate the knowledge that I have gained. Specifically, these skills are based on making connections between things I encounter in the profession and everyday life. I have found if I do that, I can improve my ability to retain knowledge and, perhaps more importantly, recall that knowledge when I need it.

As a physical example, let’s take the rather technical concept of resolving for reactions at supports of beams that are carrying a known load. This involves the calculations needed to sum moments (the force multiplied by the distance from a point). When I was first presented with this information in architectural school, it was a bit challenging to understand. What exactly are moments, and how do they relate to rotation of the beams at the supports? To help me lock-in to this, I experimented with a long stick with a weight suspended by a string. I was able to draw the load close to my hand (the support) and slide it further out to the end of the stick (away from the support). Doing this, I could see how different it felt in both positions. With the weight close to my hand, I could easily support it. The further the weight was moved toward the end of the stick, the more the load increased and was causing the support (my hand) to resist the force of the stick to rotate. With this simple physical example, I could better understand the concepts of resolving for moment loads on beams. That has stuck with me for the past 45 years, so I can tell you it works.

Now let’s consider more of a “mental” example, specifically using analogies to make connections. My firm is a multi-disciplined practice with architects, interior designers, planners, landscape designers, and both structural and civil engineers. A few years back, we made a concerted effort to have each discipline manage their scope independently. The idea was to create a higher sense of ownership of the work being produced by each discipline. To a degree, this worked, but there were also some unintended consequences that resulted. After a while, we noticed that gaps were forming in work jointly produced by two or more disciplines. Basically, each discipline was drawing a boundary around what they were to do, and where the next discipline had to pick it up.

This was resulting in increases in errors and omissions in our work, and that was impacting our financial performance. As the lead principal in our company, I had to examine what was going on and try to explain it to others in a way that we all could understand and retain. The analogy that I came up with was “silo-ing.” The classic silo used in agriculture was the mental picture that I needed not only for my understanding of the problems, but for the entire company. I used my example of silos to represent each discipline and the spacing of the silos represented the gaps in our collective work. The analogy caught on and soon each discipline was making efforts to eliminate silo-ing.

These physical and mental pictures are examples of cognitive concepts that have helped me make the connections that I need to learn, retain, and communicate the vast array of information that exists in the architectural profession.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 09:22 AM

Qualitative versus Quantitative Risk Analysis: Topics to Learn for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam

  • 26 June, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

Managing risk is a crucial aspect of managing projects. It is wise to anticipate multiple questions on the exam about project risk management and the processes from the risk knowledge area within A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). Two of those processes that are commonly confused are Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis and Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis. For exam success, it is vital to understand the differences between these two processes.

Project risk management involves:

  1. Planning the approach to risk management for the project
  2. Identifying the risks to the project, including both negative risks (threats) and positive risks (opportunities)
  3. Analyzing the identified risks, qualitatively and perhaps quantitatively
  4. Planning and implementing the risk responses
  5. Monitoring risk throughout the project

Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis

All risks that have been identified on the project will be qualitatively analyzed. This analysis is performed on both threats and opportunities to assess and establish the priority of the risks, as well as determine the need for possible quantitative analysis and risk responses.

A qualitative risk analysis involves subjectively assessing the probability, or likelihood, the risk event will occur as well as the impact, or effect, if it does occur. The probability and impact scales are numerical scales that are agreed-upon and documented in the risk management plan.

For example, the probability may be assessed on a 0 to 1 scale, where 0.3 would correspond to a 30% probability. The impact may be assessed on a 0 to 1, 1 to 5, 1 to 10, or another agreed-upon scale. Multiplying the probability score by the impact score will return the individual risk score. For example, a risk is assessed as a 0.2 probability and an impact score of 4. The overall risk score would 0.8. It is the risk scores that allow the risks to be prioritized, with the highest rated risks being considered for quantitative analysis and risk response planning.

Because a qualitative analysis is subjective, the biases, attitudes, and opinions of the assessors should be considered. However, having documented criteria that correspond to the impact level can assist with minimizing the subjectivity of the evaluation.

Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis

While all risks are evaluated through a qualitative risk analysis, only the highest priority risks will be analyzed quantitatively. While a qualitative analysis is a subjective numerical scale, a quantitative analysis, in contrast, assesses the project risk impact in terms of dollars and/or time. For example, qualitatively, the risk impact may have been assessed as a “3,” whereas quantitatively, the risk is assessed as having an impact of $3,000 or an impact of a 20-day delay.

Quantitative analyses are dependent upon high-quality data, fully loaded project models, and possibly high-end tools and software. Therefore, it is not typical to perform a quantitative analysis on all risks, but instead, it is performed on a subset of risks, such as those deemed to be the most impactful.

Unlike a qualitative analysis that is relatively quick and easy to perform, a quantitative analysis is typically more time-consuming. Techniques used to perform a quantitative analysis include Monte Carlo simulations, decision tree and expected monetary value (EMV) analyses, and sensitivity analyses.

In Summary

The perform qualitative risk analysis and perform quantitative risk analysis are both processes within the PMBOK® Guide, 6th Edition risk management knowledge area. A qualitative analysis assesses all risks that have been identified, is subjective, quick and easy to perform, and prioritizes the risks for further action by assessing the probability of the risk occurring and the numerical assessment of the impact if it does occur.

A quantitative analysis, on the other hand, is more time-consuming, requires good data and robust tools, and is only applied to those risks that have been prioritized through a qualitative risk analysis. In a quantitative risk analysis, the impact is evaluated in terms of financial and/or schedule impact, not merely a numerical scale.

Project Management Professional (PMP)®, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), “PMP,” “PMBOK” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 09:07 AM

Estimating Techniques: Topics to Learn for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam

  • 23 June, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

As a project manager, you are most likely responsible for estimating the duration of the project activities and the costs for the project. As part of the PMP® exam, you will be tested on the various estimating techniques. This requires that you have a strong understanding of the differences between the techniques and even possibly calculating some estimates based on the data provided.

There are four techniques used for both cost and duration estimating: analogous, parametric, three-point, and bottom-up.

Analogous Estimating

Analogous estimating is used when there is very little detailed information about the current project, so we leverage a similar, past project as the basis for the estimate. Think of analogous as an analogy: we are comparing two similar items. Because it considers an overall project or segment of the project for the estimate, it is considered top-down. On the exam, they may use either term to describe this technique. The past project must be as similar as possible to the current project. Analogous estimating is a combination of historical information and expert judgment, is quick and easy to do, but will not be as accurate as other estimating techniques.

The website project last year took three months and cost $6,000. To launch a similar website this year, the project manager estimates that it will take three months and also cost $6,000.

Parametric Estimating

Parametric estimating uses a statistical relationship between variables to calculate the cost or duration. The statistical relationship could be a unit cost or productivity rate. As with analogous estimating, parametric estimating also relies on historical data and expert judgment. The underlying data must be stable and scalable.

Based on previous projects, the editor can complete 20 pages per hour at a rate of $25 per hour. For a 100-page user guide, the project manager estimates that it will take five hours at a cost of $125.

Three-Point Estimating

Also known as a PERT (program evaluation and review technique), a three-point estimate factors uncertainty into the estimate by considering the average of the optimistic, most likely, and pessimistic estimates. There are two PERT estimates: triangular and beta. For a triangular estimate, the calculation is (optimistic + most likely + pessimistic) ÷ 3. For a beta estimate, the most likely duration or cost is weighted by a product of four; therefore, it is divided by six instead of three: (optimistic + 4(most likely) + pessimistic) ÷ 6.

The activity has an optimistic duration of 6 days, a most likely duration of 10 days, and a pessimistic duration of 15 days.

The triangular estimate would be: 10.3 days

The beta estimate would be: 10.2 days

The activity has an optimistic cost of $700, a most likely cost of $1,000, and a pessimistic cost of $1,600.

The triangular estimate would be: $1,100

The beta estimate would be: $1,050

Bottom-Up Estimate

The opposite of an analogous estimate is a bottom-up estimate. The most time consuming, but also the most accurate, a bottom-up estimate involves determining the cost and/or duration estimate for each activity and then rolling that up into an overall estimate. For costs, the sum of all of the estimates would provide the overall estimate. For the duration, however, the project manager needs to consider which activities are happening concurrently to come up with the most accurate overall project duration.

The employee orientation project will involve the following costs:

Lunches $50, handbooks $30, badges $20, laptops $900 = $1,000 estimate

Based on the duration of each activity, and the dependencies and sequencing of the activities, the duration estimate for the project is six weeks.

Understanding these estimating techniques, how they differ and compare to each other, and also knowing how to calculate the estimates will be vital in passing the PMP exam.

Project Management Professional (PMP)® and “PMP” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 07:58 AM

Design Development Phase, Achieving Design Continuity

  • 19 June, 2020

By Richard J. Mitchell, AIA

This is the third article in a series on “A Day in the Life of an Architect,” this time focused on the design development phase and how to improve design continuity. To some, if not many, the design development phase of an architectural project might be a bit of a “lost phase.”

These days, there seems to be a rather accelerated project progression from schematic design to construction documents without taking the time to improve design continuity or to determine what elements of a project need further development.

Like many processes with the advent of technology, some traditional practices are fading away while being regarded as unnecessary. With the many software options used today in architectural practice, design concepts can almost automatically be converted into something that nearly represents a completed set of construction document details. This phenomenon has contributed to the diminishment (if not elimination) of the design development phase.

One might ask, “So, is that a bad thing?” To get at that answer, I will attempt to describe the traditional approach to the design development phase, and some of the positive impacts that would result when it was a thriving phase of an architectural project.

First, as practiced in the past, the design development phase was more of a design phase than a “document phase.” The project designer could set the big idea for the project with minimal plans and sketches and turn it over to the team to develop the design. For those developing the design, it was a very rewarding experience because there was a great deal of design challenge remaining in this phase. As an example, often in the schematic design phase the designer would establish only a singular view of the building—normally the “front”—that left at least three other sides to examine and refine to achieve continuity of the design throughout the building exterior. The challenge was to resolve potential conflicts by providing continuity of the design concept on each side of the building as windows, brick coursing, reveals, canopies, doors, etc., were explored.

For those of us that experienced this traditional approach to design development, it was exciting to be participating in the design process at such a significant level. Normally, the same team members that developed the design would stay with the project through the construction document phase and even through construction. I can tell you that this traditional approach created a strong sense of participation and ownership in the design among the team members. That sense of ownership also contributed to fewer errors and omissions in the construction documents. This shared sense of ownership of design is something that is fading out with the more-technically advanced methods of practice used today.

Another benefit of a more traditional approach to design development was in the discovery of what needed to be drawn and why it was needed for the construction documents. One of the first steps in the traditional design development phase was to quickly cut hand drawn sections in larger scale drawings (plans and elevations) and identify areas requiring further refinement. The key was to cut a section at every changed condition in the plan or elevation. This was not an exhaustive effort, often just a single line section providing a reasonable outline or profile of the building at this location. Doing this allowed the design team to quickly see where they could standardize many details and eliminate other unnecessary drawings. This yielded two primary benefits: One was that the details developed were stronger, more consistent, and gave the contractor clear direction. This helped reduce questions during bidding and construction. The second benefit was that this approach allowed the design team to eliminate unnecessary drawings that could overly complicate the bidding and construction process.

All of this isn’t to say that today’s approach to design development doesn’t have its benefits, but wouldn’t it be great if we could recapture some of what has been lost from the past?

Posted by EduMind Inc - 08:19 AM

Schematic Design Phase, Getting to Closure

  • 16 June, 2020

By Richard J. Mitchell, AIA

Obtaining an education in architecture is certainly a broad and challenging experience. As students, we are immersed in all things related to architecture. We learn about art and architectural history, we study design and engineering, and we are enlightened by many courses intended to develop our capacity to be creative. While all of this may provide a great foundation to build a career in architecture, if you are like me, you’ll discover that there is so much more to learn as you practice in the profession.

That brings me around to this second article in a series on “A Day in the Life of an Architect,” this time focused on the Schematic Design Phase and how you reach closure with a client. In my experience, one of the biggest barriers to project profitability often occurs in the Schematic Design Phase, and that is an inability to reach closure or obtain well-informed approvals by the client.

Schematic Design Phase

It turns out that it is not just about the strength of a specific design concept, and it isn’t necessarily just about how innovative the solution may be. Over my 41 years in this profession, I have found that having some abilities to persuade and sell are just as critical as any architectural-specific skill set. Selling design includes being persuasive in presenting to the client, team members, and other stakeholders in such a way as to achieve understanding and approval of design before proceeding with future phases of a project.

Now, don’t get me wrong, clients need to have their programs and design criteria addressed. They also need to have construction cost and schedule aspects resolved. Even if all of that is provided, the client might still be unsure if they are “sold.”

Over the years, I have observed that not reaching closure with the client in the design phase can lead to project delays, a higher probability for committing errors, and the need to re-work design solutions in more advanced phases of the project, all of which can be very costly for the architect. Sometimes, not reaching closure with the client in a timely manner can result in a tremendous financial hit to the project, and a firm overall.

So, how do you reach closure with a client beyond providing sound design solutions? In my experience, there are two critical elements to closure: confidence and engagement.

Let’s start with confidence. From a client’s perspective, the design process (and the practice of architecture) can be bit mysterious and unknown. As such, clients often lean heavily on the experience of an architect to provide them with advice and a clear direction. It’s only natural then to expect that the client needs to sense that the architect is conveying a great deal of confidence in the solutions they are presenting. How an architect talks about the process and how persuasive they are in presenting become critical. The best way to build confidence in presenting is to practice, and practice often. There are people all around who could role play as a client in practice sessions. They include co-workers, other design team members, and even other clients that are not directly engaged in the project. During presentation rehearsals, the “mock clients” can ask questions and provide feedback. Doing this regularly should result in increased confidence, and improve reaching closure.

The second aspect to gaining closure is creating a high level of client engagement during schematic design. The client needs to feel that they were brought along at each step in the process. If the architect gets too far ahead of the client, they could be presenting solutions that leave the client wondering about the exploration of other options (even if the architect has already considered and discarded them). This could result in doubt developing in the client’s mind—and worse—the client may not share their doubt with the architect until much later in the project. Obtaining closure and approvals will improve if the architect engages the client and paces them through the design process. Doing so will avoid gaps that can often occur when an architect is too far in front of the client.

Remember, you will learn a lot of things as you practice architecture and sharpening your communication skills will be one of the most important among them.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 09:09 AM

General Area of Professional Practice (ARE): Pre-Design

  • 12 June, 2020

Topic: Day in the life of an Architect - During the Programming Phase

Recently, I was asked to consider what a typical day is like for an architect. As I thought about this, I quickly concluded that really, no two days are the same. It is constantly changing. This constant change has made for a very interesting and challenging career for me personally, and I have to say, that the time seems to fly by when each day brings new problems, analysis, and solutions.

As I thought more about how to describe a typical day for an architect, I decided that perhaps the best way to proceed is to progress through the different phases of a project. So, this first view of “a day in the life of an architect” is through the lens of the Programming Phase (or Pre-Design).

First, what is programming as it relates to the practice of architecture? Early-on in my career, I learned to think of architectural programming as the phase when an architectural problem gets defined. After all, it is very difficult (and extremely inefficient) to try to problem solve without knowing as much as you can about the problem itself. Too often, architects rush to design solutions for problems that are not fully explored, and the result is that the problem gets exposed in “slow-roll” fashion throughout the project, resulting in a great deal of back and forth and redesign. I’m sure that this phenomenon is at least partly why architects struggle to be consistently profitable in their businesses.

Through my experiences, I’d say that a day in the life of an architect during the Programming Phase is always very interesting. It’s when the architect works with the client team to define the project in broad terms. Often, this begins with developing a solid understanding of the big picture goals for the project. As an example, in a recent fire station project (which was a full replacement of an existing fire station), the high-level goal was to get a new station funded. Without funding, there would be no project. To get funding, voters had to approve and pass a bond measure, which means they had to support the project so much that they were willing to vote to increase their own property taxes. That challenge required a unique strategy to programming, one that engaged the community from the beginning, so that there would be an opportunity to develop a strong sense of buy-in for the project.

This programming process began by sitting down with the client and mapping-out how and when to engage the community, then develop a project schedule so that each touch point was identified and coordinated with our overall programming efforts. We then evaluated the current fire station for overall status of conditions, noting how it stacked-up against today’s essential facility standards, and developing opinions on life expectancy of various building and system components. We also developed a cost estimate to remodel the current fire station and complete with seismic and other essential facility upgrades to bring it up to current standards.

At this point, we held our first meeting with the community to share our findings, including our estimate of costs to remodel the current station. We held an “open house” at the fire station and invited the community in for a presentation. We began by sharing our findings, and then conducted tours through the station so that people (voters) could get the best understanding possible regarding the need to either upgrade the current facility or replace it altogether.

Next, we worked with a diverse team of Fire District staff to develop typical program criteria including identifying space needs, adjacencies, and high-level site criteria for a full replacement fire station. Armed with this, we could develop very preliminary “block” site and building plans. We then held our second public forum at the existing fire station and invited in the community once again. At this meeting, we presented our preliminary block plans (pre-design plans) and engaged the audience in a discussion about aesthetics for public buildings in their community. This was not a detailed discussion, but enough to provide an opportunity for the community voices to be heard.

Day in the life of an Architect

Based on the feedback we received in the second community meeting, we then developed conceptual level plans and renderings for a new fire station and produced a full project cost estimate. This was all presented at a third public meeting, and by then, we could see from responses we were receiving that support for replacing the current fire station with a new one was growing strong.

A few months later, the project was on the local ballot, and the bond measure for the design and construction of a new fire station was passed with an 80% approval rating!

Now, back to that idea of a “day in the life of an architect”. If you consider that every project has it’s own unique properties including the type of project, who will use the project when it is completed, and how it will be funded (among many other variables), it is safe to say that no two days are quite alike, and all are very interesting indeed!

Posted by EduMind Inc - 09:01 AM

Four Keys to Project Management Career Growth

  • 09 June, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

There is a continually increasing demand for skilled project managers across all industries. Senior project managers are not only at the forefront of driving change for their organizations, but their position typically involves a substantial salary base. There are four keys to successful career growth and development within the project management field of expertise:

· Knowledge of various approaches to project management
· Well-developed leadership skills
· Strategic thinking with tactical application
· Certification

Project Management Approaches

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to project management. As the project manager, you will need to have a strong understanding of the project constraints, environmental considerations, and product development options to select the best approach when working on a project. Traditional or plan-driven approaches are appropriate when the work is well-defined: plan the work and work the plan. In environments with increased uncertainty and a perceived level of complexity, adaptive or agile approaches may be more appropriate. In today’s business environments, it is common to see project managers applying hybrid approaches. A strong project manager understands the different approaches, the pros and cons of them, and what would best serve the project needs.

Leadership Skills

A project manager is no longer a task-manager but rather a strategic leader that is guiding and influencing not only their team members but also the organization. The project manager is uniquely positioned to provide leadership in all directions. Having solid leadership or soft skills is at the core of successful project management. Soft skills to be developed include emotional intelligence, communication (both written and verbal), creating a vision, inspiring others, giving and receiving feedback, and meeting facilitation. Regardless of title or authority, the project manager is in a position to be a leader to those involved in and impacted by the project.

Strategic Thinking

In the early days of project management, the project managers were considered to be task managers, not leaders. However, in today’s complex environment, organizations expect their project managers to be considering their projects from a strategic alignment perspective. As projects are selected, initiated, and monitored and controlled, the project manager is responsible for benefits management to validate that the project results will return a benefit to the organization, while aligning with the strategic direction of that organization.

While it is essential to think strategically and create a vision, a skilled project manager must also be able to put together a technical and tactical plan for achieving that vision. This may include leveraging expertise outside of their own, building a strong team, and engaging stakeholders throughout the project, taking all of the steps necessary to deliver the project that supports that vision.


One of the most credible methods of establishing yourself as an experienced and skilled project manager is to pursue and achieve one or more project management certifications. The most globally recognized certification is the Project Management Professional (PMP)® issued by the Project Management Institute (PMI). The PMP® credential signifies that the project managers have not only met the educational and experience requirements for certification but they have also passed a rigorous 200-question exam.

Project Management Career Growth
PMI also offers other specialized project management certifications that can further elevate your status as a skilled project manager, such as the PMI Risk Management Professional, PMI Agile Certified Practitioner, Program Management Professional, and the PMI Scheduling Professional. More information on the various project management certifications can be found at www.PMI.org.

Project management is an ever-growing and ever-changing field that provides significant opportunities for project professionals. By creating a deliberate plan for growth and personal development, you can continue to progress in this lucrative professional role!

Project Management Professional (PMP)® and “PMP” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 07:00 PM

Cost of Quality: Topics to Learn for the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam

  • 05 June, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

Project success is determined, in part, by the quality of the product being produced as well as the quality of the project itself. The quality of the product is determined by how well the product, service, or project outcome meets the stakeholders’ needs and expectations. The quality of the project is determined by the ability to deliver the project within the defined constraints of schedule and cost, while also providing the intended value to the organization.

Project quality management involves managing, estimating, and controlling the costs associated with product quality. The cost of quality can be categorized as the cost of conformance and the cost of non-conformance. Costs associated with both conformance and non-conformance should be considered, analyzed, and monitored throughout the project. The costs of conformance and costs of non-conformance are inversely related, meaning that theoretically, the more we spend on conformance, the less we will have to spend on non-conformance.

Cost of Conformance

The cost of conformance is money spent to ensure quality, for both prevention and appraisal activities. The cost of conformance for prevention includes process documentation, training, and quality activities. The cost of conformance for appraisal involves activities such as testing, audits, and inspections. The cost of activities that fall under the umbrella of quality assurance is also considered the cost of conformance. Quality assurance typically involves evaluating and auditing the processes that are in place to ensure they support producing high-quality products or results.

During project planning, quality and acceptance criteria and quality risks should be evaluated and analyzed to determine the acceptable level of spending associated with the quality activities on the project. This budget will vary from project to project depending on the project outputs and deliverables. For example, a project to develop a $3 item will most likely spend less on quality activities than a project that is developing a $1 million product.

Cost of Non-Conformance

The cost of non-conformance is money spent because of failures. Non-conformance are those costs associated with failures, including those discovered by the project and those discovered by the customer or end-user (escaped defects). Within the project, non-conformance costs may come from inconsistent results, scrap, and rework, for example. External failure costs may stem from damage to the organization’s reputation, paying for warranties, or having returned items or send-backs.

The challenge with the cost of non-conformance is that it is often difficult to estimate those costs until after the non-conformance has occurred. Therefore, the project manager must balance what they spend proactively on the cost of conformance to keep the cost of non-conformance within an acceptable range.

In Summary

Quality management is and should be a significant focus for any project manager. Being able to analyze, estimate, and monitor the costs associated with quality activities is an expectation of all skilled project managers. Cost estimating and budgeting must include the cost of quality, encompassing both the cost of conformance and the cost of non-conformance. As with all project work, the project manager should consistently monitor any variances between the expected costs of quality and the actual money spent on conformance and non-conformance.

Project Management Professional (PMP)® and “PMP” are registered marks of the Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 07:34 AM

ARE Prep: Additional Sources/Resources for Study Materials

  • 02 June, 2020

By Richard J. Mitchell, AIA, NCARB

Being an architectural intern can be stressful. Having graduated from a much more structured learning environment (college) means that a shift to a more “self-directed” education is needed to prepare for the ARE exam. One question you might have: “What are the resources for study materials?”

Certainly, there are many study guides and lectures/webinars for purchase online, and most are well done and very effective. Some companies have been producing written materials since the ‘70s, and they do a good job of assembling the basic information needed to get ready to take the architectural exam. But in my experience, those resources aren’t quite enough by themselves. Below are some ideas of additional resources and tips to help you further navigate self-directed study.

First, if you are like me, you probably saved some of your old college textbooks. Perhaps not on all subjects, but those that addressed more technical content. In my case, I kept all my structural engineering materials from college. These ranged from the text for statics class, to lecture notebooks, and the timber, concrete, and steel manuals. I even saved examples of homework and tests/quizzes that were more complex and addressed resolving truss reactions, wind problems, calculating bending and shear forces in beams, and solving for deflection in complex monolithic concrete design.

I also saved much of my texts and class materials from the environmental control systems (ECS) course. This covered a great deal about a range of subjects such as rainwater harvesting, passive solar design, natural ventilation, and daylighting strategies to name just a few. If you didn’t retain these materials from college, I’d recommend contacting your old college professors and asking them what version of the texts they are using now and see if you can obtain a copy to study.

Other sources that may be helpful include materials readily available at the office. Most architectural firms have standards, policies, and procedures that are well documented and vetted by years of experience. These resources are also likely to be based on industry standards, which are very likely to be encountered in the ARE.

Another great resource for architectural practice in general is the AIA’s Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice, 15th edition. This handbook covers just about all aspects of architectural practice and in a way that is easy to absorb and understand. Topics include narratives addressing all phases of architectural services, office/business operations, and documents of service (including contracts). Again, in my experience, information provided in the handbook has appeared in the ARE in some form or another, making it “must read” on my list of recommended ARE preparation materials.

Lastly, I have one non-conventional resource to recommend, which I used myself some 40 years ago. I recommend that you find and connect with architects inside and/or outside the office who have recently taken and passed the ARE. Interview them, ask them questions about the exam. Ask them about their experience with what worked well, and what didn’t work for them. When I was preparing for the ARE, I probably had eight to 10 individuals that I would pepper with questions about preparing for the ARE. I was careful not to exhaust any one individual resource, hence the large number of architects that I had in my resource pool. Often, I could frame my questions about the ARE around projects that I was working on in the office. I found that this was an effective way for me to get—and retain—information.

ARE Prep Materials

The key to finding the appropriate materials to study for the ARE is to diversify and get creative. It is surprising how much information is right in front of us and available for use. Good luck!

EduMind offers comprehensive exam review courses covering all six divisions of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE)® 5.0. Learn more about our classes and study materials on our website.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 08:14 AM

Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam Details and Process

  • 29 May, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

Project Management Professional (PMP) certification is the highest industry-recognized project management credential. The PMP recognizes individuals who have demonstrated competencies and experience in leading project initiatives. Along with documented experience and education, candidates for the PMP must pass a rigorous 200-question exam.

Step 1: Evaluate Your Experience

Evaluate your Experience

The first step toward obtaining your PMP certification is to evaluate your project management experience. That experience must be within the last eight years and within a professional context, meaning you were compensated for your work. Projects are considered temporary initiatives that create unique products, services, or results. If you have a four-year degree or higher, you will need to document 4,500 hours / 36 months of project experience. Without a four-year degree, the experience requirement increases to 7,500 hours / 60 months of project experience. You will also need 35 hours of project management education or a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® certification.

Step 2: Submit Your Application

Once you have confirmed that you meet all requirements, you can complete your application on the Project Management Institute (PMI) website. It is highly recommended that you have all your information gathered and handy when you start your application. The application will stay open for 90 days for you to enter the required information. After 90 days, it will close.

Submit your Application

PMI will conduct an application review to verify that what you submitted on your application is appropriate and valid. The application process typically takes about five days, at which time you will be notified via email of the result. PMI may contact you for additional information during this time, or you may be selected for an audit.

If you are selected for an audit, you will be instructed to provide proof of the work and education that you submitted on your application. Education audit requirements are fulfilled by supplying a copy of your training transcript, certificates of completion, or copies of your diploma. A supervisor or manager will be required to submit signed experience verification forms confirming that your experience is accurate. All audit materials must be submitted to PMI in a hard-copy format.

Step 3: Schedule Your Exam

Once your application is approved, you can pay your PMP exam fees. As of April 2020, the PMP exam fee is $405 for PMI members and $555 for non-PMI members. Your eligibility year begins on the day PMI approves your application. After your fees are paid, PMI will email you your eligibility ID, which is required to schedule your exam at a local Pearson VUE location.

Schedule your Exam

Step 4: Complete Your Exam

The four-hour PMP exam is administered by Pearson VUE and consists of 200 multiple-choice questions. Of the 200 questions, 25 are considered pretest, meaning they do not count against you if you miss them. However, there is no indication during the exam regarding which questions are pretest.

Before beginning your exam, you will have 15 minutes during which you will take the test tutorial. After the tutorial, you can start your test. You will be given one question at a time and will have the option to answer the question, leave it blank, or answer it and mark it for review. After the last question, you will be provided with a review screen, indicating which questions you have answered and which have been left blank or marked for review. Be sure to answer all questions, as those left blank will count against you.

When you have answered all questions, submit your exam. The testing system will evaluate your exam answers and return your pass or fail results. The exam proctor will provide you with a hard copy of your test results. In addition to the pass or fail, you will receive one of four proficiency ratings for each domain: above target, at target, below target, or needs improvement. If you do not pass your exam on the first try, you will have two additional attempts available within your eligibility year.

Complete your Exam

If you are interested in PMP certification, EduMind can help you prepare for and pass your exam. With various course learning format options to choose from, you can find the one that works best for you. Click here to find out more.

Project Management Professional (PMP)® and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® are registered trademarks of Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 09:05 AM

How Difficult is the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam and Certification?

  • 28 May, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

If you are a project manager who has considered certification, you have likely heard horror stories about how difficult the exam is to pass. As certification and credentialing exams go, there is no doubt that the Project Management Professional (PMP) is one of the more difficult ones to attempt. But even getting approved to take the exam poses a challenge.

To be approved to sit for the exam, candidates must demonstrate either three years (4,500 hours) of experience with a four-year degree or five years (7,500 hours) of experience without a four-year degree, plus experience leading and directing project activities. While the application simply asks for the description of the project work, approximately 25% of applicants are randomly selected for audit. Audited applications require further documentation of their experience.

The PMP exam is based on A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and “other relevant sources,” which contribute to the difficulty of the exam. The PMBOK Guide is a large text with 49 processes that all have inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs. Realistically, it is very unusual that a typical project manager will have experience with most of those processes, let alone have a sound understanding of the various tools and techniques. As such, it can be intimidating to learn all of these details and the vocabulary. The “other relevant sources” are not identified by the Project Management Institute (PMI), so there is an inherent level of ambiguity in fully and adequately preparing for the test.

The next factor contributing to the difficulty is the questions themselves. The vast majority of the questions on the PMP exam are scenario-based or application questions. You will find that many of those questions will ask, “What is the first thing you do,” “What is the next thing you do,” or “What is the best action to take?” So even if you have a strong knowledge of the processes and the inputs, tools and techniques, and outputs, the questions will want to validate the appropriate sequencing and application of those processes. Typically, you will find that there will be one incorrect answer, one answer that is not entirely right, and two that may both seem correct. You’ll have to choose the best right answer.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the exam is that you will need to answer the questions from the PMI perspective, not based on your own experience. Likely, you may fundamentally disagree with the correct answer to some questions. However, to be successful on this exam, you must answer in alignment with the PMI approach. It has been said that the more experienced project managers find the exam more difficult than those who just barely meet the experience requirements. As a seasoned project manager, you may have developed your own approach and best practices, which may or may not align exactly with PMI. You will need to challenge yourself to answer in alignment with PMI instead of your own point of view.

Finally, the wording of the questions themselves also proves challenging. The majority of the questions and even the answers will likely be very wordy. Working your way through these particular questions can cause anxiety, especially considering that you only have about one minute and 20 seconds per question. Leaving these long or confusing questions to the end of your exam is often helpful.

How difficult is PMP Exam and Certification

There is absolutely no doubt that the PMP application and exam are notoriously difficult. However, with the proper preparation and leveraging the right tools, you can and will be successful. Create a strong study plan with the appropriate coursework and mentoring, use mock exams, and have an excellent “dump sheet” of memorized formulas to increase your chances of success.

If you are interested in becoming a certified PMP, EduMind can help you prepare for and pass your exam. With various course learning format options to choose from, you can find the one that works best for you. Click here to find out more.

Project Management Professional (PMP)®, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide), “PMP,” and “PMBOK” are registered trademarks of Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 01:37 AM

Determining Structural Systems

  • 22 May, 2020

By Richard J. Mitchell, AIA

One of the most fundamental architectural design processes is to decide on the most appropriate structural system for a project. There are several factors involved and, let’s face it, it’s not always a clear-cut decision.

In fact, sometimes considerations compete with others making the weighing of priorities even more important. Is “first cost” the most important consideration for the project? How about life-cycle costs? Can those two be at odds with each other? The answer is often yes. Now about sustainability? Would a material’s recycled content outweigh the other considerations like durability or aesthetics? Certainly, there is a lot to process in the early stages of architectural design, and there almost always is a bit of give and take (compromise).

In my career, the prominent factors in determining the most appropriate structural system include:

  1. The building code: Fire-resistive, non-combustible, heavy timber, ordinary/composite system construction, etc.
  2. Costs: Both first costs and life-cycle costs
  3. Fit with the architectural concept and design criteria
  4. Sustainability: Material content, resource extraction, contribution to carbon footprint, and thermal performance, etc.
This is not the complete list of considerations, but simply a very general summary of the ones that I have experienced the most often.

To better understand the decision process, here are a couple of examples of very different projects with widely different drivers for selecting the appropriate structural system:

Recently, I worked on a fire station project in a rural community of about 25,000 residents just a few miles outside of Seattle. Most of the buildings in the community were of a variety of materials, but wood is the most predominant. This community also had a general appreciation for what they called “the Northwest style,” which is a term given to buildings with sloped roof forms and a fair amount of exposed wood structure. These drivers were generally compatible with several other considerations including lower first costs, sustainability (locally and sustainably resourced), and code requirements as the building footprint, overall size, and occupancy would allow for wood construction.

However, there were also other factors at odds with the considerations mentioned above such as life cycle costs and durability. These were in conflict as wood buildings can deteriorate faster over time than those of other materials and can require greater levels of maintenance. In this case, the Fire District established their priorities and opted for a wood structure with the acknowledgement that they may have a greater level of maintenance (or even a shorter lifespan for the building).

Another project with a very different focus was a high-tech, clean technology building that prioritized flexibility over all else. The client for this project often retools their manufacturing floor to adapt to changes in technology and to meet market demands for their products. In this case, the materials under consideration were mainly steel or concrete. Ultimately, concrete was preferred for its mass and resistance to vibration, but which concrete structural system (of the many possibilities) to use? It turns out that this client needed to have a floor slab that allowed for the flexibility to make penetrations over most of the floor area from underneath without diminishing the capacity of the slab. Very quickly, the choice narrowed to a two-way waffle slab to satisfy the criteria for penetrations. With the waffle slab system, the client could visibly see where they could make penetrations (from the floor below) without compromising the capacity of the slab. Penetrations could occur in the pan areas as the steel reinforcing was primarily located in the two-way beams and at the column capitals.

This decision to use a two-way waffle slab was not driven by costs or code requirements. In fact, the waffle slab was one of the most expensive first cost options available. But for this client, the flexibility meant everything, and totally outweighed any of the differences in cost.

With all the many factors to consider when determining the appropriate structural system, for the architect, it becomes a process of exploration of options balanced against the priorities of the project. The key is to navigate the design team and client to achieving the highest priorities first and establish a willingness to accept compromise.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 08:09 AM

Project Management Professional (PMP)® Exam Tips and Tricks

  • 19 May, 2020

The PMP exam is notoriously difficult, but there are some strategies you can employ to increase your chances of passing on the first attempt. While there is no shortcut on the road to PMP success, here are the top ten strategies to pass your exam!

Tip #1: Commit to a Date – If you put off your exam until you are 100% confident, you might never take it. Your brain and behavior will perform better when you have a set date that you are working toward.
Commit to a Date

Tip #2: Take Practice Tests – Merely reading books, blogs, and other materials will only get you so far in your preparation. You must practice by taking mock exams to help you identify any gaps and deficiencies. This includes an evaluation of your timing, your knowledge of the material, and your test-taking capabilities.

Take Practice Tests

Tip #3: Understand Versus Memorize – You may have heard that memorization is the key to passing any exam. However, memorization is not enough, especially on the scenario-based questions. Instead of memorizing, work to truly understand the concepts, tools, and techniques and how and when they are applied.

Understand vs Memorize

Tip #4: Master Your Dump Sheet – When your exam clock starts, you can jot down what is referred to as a dump sheet, which should include all of the earned value, forecasting, and estimating formulas you have memorized in preparation for the exam. Be careful not to make the dump sheet too extensive because it could eat into your allocated exam time.

Master Your Dump Sheet

Tip #5: Get a Good Night’s Sleep – Do not underestimate the importance of getting a good night’s sleep before your exam. This is not the time to pull an all-nighter! Lack of sleep has a significant detrimental impact on your logical processing, and you’ll need all the brainpower you can get.

Get Good Night's Sleep

Tip #6: Stay Hydrated – Given that your exam clock keeps ticking even when you use the restroom, you may be tempted to skip getting a drink of water as well. But don’t! Being fully hydrated increases the flow of information within your brain, improves recollection, and increases attention. Keep in mind that your brain is made up of more water than your body, so by the time you feel thirsty, your brain is already dehydrated!

Stay Hydrated

Tip #7: Know Your Circadian Rhythm – All creatures have natural circadian rhythms, which are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. It is essential to work with your body and not against it for your exam. Recognize what time of day you are at your peak analytically. If you are a morning person, schedule your exam for an early slot. Night owl? Look for a late-afternoon exam time.

Know Your Circadian Rhythm

Tip #8: Eat Well – Nourish your body, nourish your brain! Choose your meals wisely the day before and the day of your exam to give yourself the proper nutrients and stamina to power through this four-hour exam. Remember, this is a marathon exam, not a sprint! You don’t want to crash halfway through.

Eat Well

Tip #9: Arrive Early – The Pearson Vue exam centers reserve their computer terminals based on the length of your exam. If you are late, you will likely be asked to reschedule your exam, costing you money and time. Plan to arrive early and minimize the potential for traffic or other unforeseen delays. This will enable you to enter as relaxed as possible. Use the extra time to visit the restroom, review some notes, and maybe have a quick, healthy snack.

Arrive Early

Tip #10: Dress Comfortably – Dress in something that will keep you comfortable for four hours in a test room. You will not be allowed to take any type of sweater or jacket off and on during your exam, so it is best to wear something light with long sleeves that can be pushed up if you get warm or pushed down if you get chilly.

Dress Comfortably

When you are ready to take the PMP exam, EduMind can help you prepare for and pass it with confidence. With various course learning format options to choose from, you can find the one that works best for you. Click here to find out more.

Project Management Professional (PMP)® is a registered trademark of Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 08:54 AM

ARE® 5.0 Tips and Tricks: Time Is of the Essence

  • 12 May, 2020

My best advice related to taking the ARE 5.0 is to do it as soon as possible following graduation from architecture school. Too often, intern architects put off taking the ARE, only to later find themselves so short on time or unfamiliar with the material that it becomes an even greater challenge.

When I graduated from college in 1981, there was a culture in architectural internship that has long since faded. That culture included being anointed as part of an internship class. Since internship lasted three years on average, you were part of an internship class immediately upon graduation from college. I was part of the internship class of 1984 (the sum of 1981 plus a three-year internship). The culture included an expectation that you took the ARE for the first time somewhere within those first three years. Ideally, you would be successful and become an architect at the end of year 3. That was me—architect by 1984. That was nothing special nor exceptional—I was just doing what everyone else was doing and what was expected. Honestly, if you were out of school and not licensed by year 5, others in the profession would begin to wonder if something was wrong. It was real.

My point of telling you all of this is really two points:

1. Today, there is no architectural internship culture like the one I experienced (for many reasons, not the least of which include changes in the exam itself). Interns often get around to getting licensed (if they do at all) by their mid-thirties.

2. The second point is that when interns do begin to study and take the ARE, they now have a steep re-learning curve. They will need to regain the knowledge they likely had as they graduated from college but that has faded with the passing of time.

ARE 5.0 Tips and Tricks

The exam may have changed formats over the years, but the information that an architect must know has not. The exam will cover the essential areas of engineering that we all studied in college. I took four full years of structural engineering classes. I had classes in basic statics and materials and designing with wood, steel, and monolithic concrete. I learned to size beams, columns, footings, trusses, shear walls—you name it. We checked for bending moments, shear, deflection, and bearing for just about all the basic approaches to structural engineering. In addition, I took courses in long-span structures and composite systems. Guess what? All of this was on the ARE but none of it was covered in my experience as an intern.

How about mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering (MEP) systems? In college, I took a year-long course in environmental control systems (ECS). We learned to design passive cooling, heating, ventilating, and daylighting systems. We also learned to design active energy systems as well as rain collection and harvesting. Again, all these topics appeared on the ARE, but none were enhanced by my internship experience. This was not a unique situation. Truthfully, if I were to estimate the percentage of material on the ARE that was linked to my experience as an intern, it might be 10% to 15%. That means that a minimum of 85% of the content of the ARE consisted of topics I learned only in college.

The bottom line is to take the exam as soon as possible upon graduation from college, and I bet you will be so glad you did. You’ll avoid having to re-learn things like how to calculate bending stresses and shear in beams when you are ten plus years out of college and perhaps seriously time challenged by life.

There is a definite correlation between the length of time between graduation from architectural school and the ability to successfully pass the ARE. So why leave it to chance? I know, many are burned out at the end of college, tired of studying and taking exams. But didn’t you go to college to become an architect? Isn’t becoming registered as an architect still the goal? If it is for you, please take my advice. Don’t put it off—it only gets tougher with time.

Regardless of when you decide to take the exam, we can help! EduMind’s ARE® 5.0 exam review courses cover all six divisions of the exam so you can get ready with confidence. Click here for more information.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 08:38 AM

What Are the Project Management Professional (PMP)® Certification Requirements?

  • 05 May, 2020

Belinda S. Goodrich, PMP, PgMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PMI-ACP, CAPM

If you’re an experienced, professional project manager, you may qualify to earn your PMP certification. You will need to meet both project management experience and project management education requirements in order to take the exam. Keep in mind that you do not have to hold a formal project manager title. You do, however, have to be in a position of responsibility for leading and directing project activities or a subset of project activities.

A project with a unique outcome is considered a temporary initiative. Eligible projects are those conducted within a professional setting for which you were compensated. In other words, personal and volunteer projects would not be applicable.

Depending on your achieved college education, there are two sets of PMP certification requirements. If you hold a four-year degree or higher, you will need three years of experience (4,500 hours) leading and directing project activities in addition to 35 hours of project management education or a Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM®) certification. Without a four-year degree, the experience requirement increases to five years (7,500 hours) leading and directing projects along with the 35 hours of education or CAPM.

Your experience must be within the last eight years and does not need to be sequential. Although you may work overtime on your projects, Project Management Institute (PMI) will allow you to claim no more than 40 hours per week toward the eligibility requirement. Your projects must not only span the calendar months required (36 or 60) but also provide you with the requisite number of hours.

For example, if you managed two projects full time from January to December 2019 and split your time equally between them, you would be eligible to claim approximately 1,000 hours for each project (or 2,000 hours). However, you would only be eligible to claim 12 months of experience, as the two projects were happening concurrently.

In documenting your project management experience, you will need to demonstrate that you have work hours in each of the project management domains of initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing. Although you do not need hours in all domains for every project, you must cumulatively show that you have had hours across them all. For example, if you are submitting a project that is currently in process, you may have no hours in the closing domain, so you would need closing hours on another project.

Unlike your project management experience, there is no eligibility window for project management education, other than that it must be completed before submitting your application. Your project management education may be one class or a combination of courses on any project management topic. If you have your CAPM, you will not need to provide proof of education.

Upon submitting your PMP application, PMI will do a review to ensure that the experience and education you have claimed meet their criteria. This process typically takes about five calendar days. Some applications are selected for audit. To successfully and easily navigate the audit process, ensure that all information you have provided can be verified.

PMP Certification Requirements

Once PMI approves your application, you will be instructed to pay your exam fees. PMI will then provide you with an eligibility ID, which is required to schedule your exam at a Pearson VUE location. Your eligibility year begins on the date your application is approved by PMI. The final requirement to achieving your PMP certification is passing the 200-question exam, which must be completed within your eligibility year. To maintain your PMP, you must submit 60 hours of education (professional development units) every three years.

If you are interested in PMP certification, EduMind can help you prepare for and pass your exam with confidence. With various course learning format options to choose from, you can find the one that works best for you. Click here to find out more.

Project Management Professional (PMP)® and Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)® are registered trademarks of Project Management Institute, Inc.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 09:03 AM

ARE® 5.0 Tips and Tricks: Approach to Study

  • 28 April, 2020

In preparing to take the ARE, the first thing I did was make a high-level study plan. I organized it around the six divisions of the ARE and the content each would address. I then gathered all my own resources that I still had from college, including textbooks, manuals, notebooks, old exams, graded homework assignments, and pretty much anything that I thought could help me. I assessed what I had and what I would need to cover all the content in the exam itself, and I researched where to purchase exam prep materials. Fortunately, there were (and still are) several providers of exam prep materials, including books organized into chapters with quizzes and a full mock exam at the end.

I then set aside a period (usually a month) to focus entirely on just one division of the exam. I read all the materials that I had on the subject, using a highlighter to identify stronger points and concepts presented in the materials and underlining what I considered key points. After each chapter of study, I took the quiz. My rule of thumb was, if I scored 80% or higher, I would move on to the next chapter. If I scored less than 80%, I re-read the materials and tried again. When I finished reading a study guide as well as all the content that I had from college related to the subject, I would take the full mock exam at the end of the study guide. Again, if I scored 80% or higher, I would consider myself done (for now). If not, I would re-read sections and re-take the mock exam a few days later with fresh eyes.

I basically repeated this approach for each division until I had made it through all the study materials. I then went back through each study guide and the materials that I had from college, and re-read all the highlighted sections, paying even more attention to the things that I had underlined. As I was doing this, I started a handwritten notebook summarizing all the content that I thought represented the most important concepts, formulas, ideas, and so on. I made one of these notebooks for each division of the ARE. Then a few days before taking a given division of the exam, I would only re-read my notebooks. I did not go back and review the study guides or the large college textbooks. I really wanted to have the strongest concepts and points related to each topic in the forefront of my mind as I was about to take the exam.

This approach worked well for me. I passed all of my exams with scores in the 90s. I took the studying very seriously. I did not get paid time off from work to take the exams, and I had to pay for the exam and my study materials myself. So, with my money on the line, I wanted to give each exam all that I had to avoid further expense, both in time and money.

ARE® 5.0 Tips and Tricks

In the end, this all worked well for me for several reasons. First, it was an organized approach that broke things down into manageable pieces (areas of study). I never felt overwhelmed because I was taking things one step at a time. Another reason my approach worked was because I forced myself to identify the key concepts and most important aspects related to each section of the exam. I was conservative for sure, and probably over-highlighted my study guides, but in the end, it worked!

I hope this will be helpful to you as you prepare to take the ARE. Just as a career in architecture is complicated and demanding but can be highly rewarding, the same can be said for preparing for the ARE.

When you feel ready to take the exam, we can help! EduMind’s ARE 5.0 exam review courses cover all six divisions of the exam so you can prepare with confidence. Click here for more information.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 08:56 AM

Project Management: Projects on Hold During the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • 21 April, 2020

During these uncertain times, it is important to make sure that you clearly communicate with your clients. This is especially true when the client puts a project on hold. There are several assumptions the client could be making when they put a project on hold, and it can be critical to your firm’s operations that the client has all the facts.

This is especially true when it comes to accounts receivable. The client may be assuming that since the project was put on hold, they won’t be seeing any invoices until the project restarts. That is most likely an incorrect assumption, and something you’ll want to proactively correct. Most firms issue invoices every 30 days and allow the client another 30 days to pay without accruing interest for late payment. This means that at the time a client puts a project on hold, they could be just about to get one of two invoices. This compounds if the client is on a longer payment cycle such as 60 days. The best approach to take is at the time the client puts the project on hold, coordinate with your accounting team, and make sure to inform the client of how many invoices they can expect, (and provide an approximate amount). Taking this step will eliminate any confusion about invoices during the project hold.

In addition, it is a good practice to inform your client that there will be additional efforts involved in properly putting the project on hold for a while. The original scope of the project likely assumed a progressive flow to developing the design and construction documents, and stopping the project suddenly was not anticipated. You should encourage the client to consider that it will take some effort to wrap up elements of the project that are in midstream and to close it down in a way that facilitates a smoother project restart. These efforts and the related fees are normally outside the scope of work identified in the contract, and the architect is entitled to be compensated for them. Having this discussion at the time the project is put on hold will have better results for all involved.

Projects on Hold During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Another subject to discuss with the client is what to expect at project restart. Architectural projects are very complex, and it’s not practical to expect that a project can be simply activated without some challenges. For one, there is the issue of staff availability. Can you get the same staff on your team that you had when the project was put on hold? Will you have to bring new team members up to speed? What about the project schedule? When states relax the stay-at-home orders and people begin to return to work, will there be new conditions in the workplace that present challenges to staffing your project? You might not know the answers to these questions now, but it’s best to have an open dialog with the client as the project is being put on hold to addresses the possible challenges to project restart, most of which will likely impact the schedule.

In the end, best practices related to project management require a strong emphasis on clear communication with your client, especially in these uncertain times. Doing so could greatly improve your firm’s ability to resume normal operations and to thrive in the future.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 06:50 AM

Programming and Analysis: Building Setbacks

  • 14 April, 2020

Long ago, buildings were constructed with the excitement of technology—meaning buildings could be as tall as technology allowed. The Equitable Building in New York City is one of the most famous examples of this. A large, bulky building, it seemed like a giant fortress (at almost 600 feet tall) but there were no regulations governing setbacks at the time.

The Equitable Building is a behemoth, constructed in 1915. A new building code for New York City would be issued in 1916, changing the form of buildings for centuries to come. This new era of building code ushered in the advent of the wedding cake building—a style of building to be the new vernacular of the New York City skyline.

The wedding cake building style was not a commentary on aesthetic deliciousness but was, rather, a commentary on the necessity of buildings to take on that form due to the new code. Although any proponent of the building code will emphatically deny that it dictates the aesthetics of buildings, the wedding cake shape is a result of important function and developing urban living.

Programming and Analysis - Building Setbacks

Wall Street serves as an infamous example for the case of sunlight being accessible to all. It is often said that due to the wall-like nature of Wall Street in lower Manhattan (pre-wedding cake), the sun and other resources were blocked out from the street level, creating a cavernous experience and potentially unhealthy conditions.

The turn of the century also brought concerns with the increasing height of buildings and the potential for fire. In 1904, the city of Baltimore suffered a devastating fire during which more than 1,500 buildings were completely leveled, and more approximately 1,000 more were severely damaged. The property loss from this disaster was an estimated $100 million. Consequently, building codes were adopted stressing fireproof construction. The wedding cake building style refers to the typology of building that resulted from this new code. These buildings got their name because they are stepped to acknowledge the setbacks required to allow light down to the street level and to accommodate separation between buildings to make them safer as they rose higher.

The separation between buildings is an important component in the high-rise building. The setbacks allow for distance should a fire break out in one building. That distance impedes the spread of fire while disabling or slowing it from spreading from one building to the next. This is particularly important, as the resources for firefighting were not as advanced as they are now.

Slowing or stopping the spread of fire is not the only task of building setbacks. As noted above, they also provide access to light and fresh air at street level and afford some privacy—especially as distance grows between tiers—creating easier access for building maintenance.

Although setbacks still exist with the modern building code, access to light and air, as well as safety are rights that should be afforded every community member of a municipality and are recognized as imperative in promoting healthy, urban living.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 08:31 AM

Project Management: Client Reduction of Scope

  • 07 April, 2020

A client comes to an architect with a project. During the process, the client agrees to the design and budget and signs a contract with the contractor for a stipulated sum. While under construction, the client says they are unable to afford the project and reduces scope. What is the team supposed to do?

Unfortunately, this is a bit of a gray area and a very tricky situation. At the time of construction, the contract between the owner and contractor is based on a stipulated sum—that which is set by the cost of work issued via the schedule of values. That is the basis for their contract and, if the architect’s fees are a percentage of cost of construction, that serves as the basis for the architect’s fees as well.

It is the right of the contractor to request that the owner provides proof that they can financially support the cost of the project; however, that often does not happen on smaller projects.

There are instances when the client, after the contract is signed, says they want to reduce scope—not only to lower construction costs but often to avoid architect’s fees as well. I wish this was the exception in the industry, but I have seen it time and time again. What to do?

First and foremost, this is considered a breach of contract, as it should be. The client has not only committed to a contractual cost via the bidding and negotiation phase but has committed to a scope of work. Contracts aside, an architect has set aside time and could be missing out on potential work due to the commitment to this project. Should a project not live up to its promise (or contractual duties), the risk reaches further into the architecture firm, allocating additional resources (money) to cover work being performed, etc. The AIA contracts provide verbiage concerning the termination of the contract, but that is just that—the contract termination, which the client can do for no apparent reason.

Project Management - Client Reduction of Scope

If the client does not terminate the contract, they are obligated to adhere to the agreed-upon conditions. They essentially have two options: to stay the course and fulfill their contractual duties, or to terminate the contract. In terminating the contract, they may very well end up with an unfinished project and increased costs due to restarting the work after it has been stopped. It may be in their best interest, then, to continue with the project and stay on track. The unfortunate part of contracts is that the architect and contractor can only terminate the contract if the client does not pay within due notice. They are not allowed recourse in this situation, whereas the client can terminate the work at any time for any reason.

Should this happen, it is best to educate the client on the issues that arise from reducing scope and fees, as they may be unaware as to how it affects an architect’s business.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 08:40 AM

Project Management: Instruments of Service

  • 31 March, 2020

A client comes to an architect asking for his drawings, models, and everything else that he has created to design a building. The client’s justification is that they paid for those materials, so they should rightfully be theirs.

The materials used to create the design and development of a building project are not owned outright by the client. This is a common misconception because those materials are classified as instruments of service. What is necessary in understanding the concept of instruments of service is what the architect provides—and that is a service. Although architects design buildings, they do not provide the product of the building but rather the service of designing the building. The instruments of service are a part of providing that service, not a product.

Per the agreements and contracts between the architect and the owner, the owner is given the right to use the instruments of service for their project at a certain location within a certain timeframe. There are instances when the contracts may be amended to be able to use these instruments of service as derivative works—commonly for developments—but that necessitates an agreed-upon change to the formal contract through negotiation.

The risk the architect runs in surrendering the instruments of service could be personal or professional. It could be personal if the architect is not being compensated for the derivative works should the client build multiple versions of the design. The professional liability is presented when the derivative works are built—built to substandard conditions (especially if the architect is not involved), does not follow the regulations of the local AHJ (authority having jurisdiction), and is not designed for specific considerations like a building designed within an area of high earthquake activity. These reasons could have serious consequences for the architect.

Federal copyright law covers not only the instruments of service but also the building itself from being copied. This verbiage is also included in the contract between owner and contractor to ensure that the contractor is also aware of this provision.

That is not to say that the instruments of service are not released. As noted above, often for development projects where repetition is necessary as part of the business model, instruments of service are issued for replicating a model project. For the architect, however, this type of situation should be compensated fairly and should be addressed within the contracts. This situation should necessitate the acknowledgment of this repetition and legally, how to cover this instance in regard to the responsibility of the architect.

Transfer agreements are also issued to outline the responsibilities of the owner and the architect in the event of transfer.

In all, it is imperative that the architect understands what constitutes an instrument of service and its role in regard to the services the architect provides. It is not a right of ownership by the client but can be an opportunity for developing a project further with the client without assuming liability.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 08:34 AM

Project Management: Value Engineering

  • 24 March, 2020

A building project has undergone a substantial design process; however, when it comes to the bidding and negotiation phase, it is discovered that the project is grossly over budget. Uh oh. First of all, contractually, it is the architect’s responsibility to keep track of costs with each phase. During schematic design, these costs may be square footage or unit costs, which are very general. Design development adds more detail and costs may be associated with the quantity of square feet for specific materials or assembly costs—the cost of a certain assembly per linear foot.

The bidding and negotiating phase is when a prospective contractor assigns actual costs to compile the cost of work. This is the most accurate cost for the work; however, the architect should always track costs throughout the process.

So, the costs come in grossly over budget. What to do? It is the responsibility of the architect to be mindful of budget. The architect can solicit the owner for additional funding, or else they turn to value engineering. Value engineering often has a negative connotation because it is commonly associated with replacing a material or system with an often-inferior material or system due to cost. However, that is not how value engineering should be perceived.

Value engineering is a concept in which, by definition, a substitution occurs embodying a relationship to the value of function and cost. Although part of the equation with value engineering is to provide a substitution at a lower cost, that cost cannot and should not compromise the function of the material or system to be substituted.

A poor model of value engineering would be the example of replacing a wall system in an acoustically sensitive area. Should a particular wall assembly be replaced with one that is substantially less expensive but does not manage acoustics as well as the original proposed assembly, the assembly sacrifices functionality, which can greatly affect the use of the space. This is not conducive to the original intent and can require extra, future costs to remedy the inefficiency.

A good model of value engineering would seek solutions to balance cost, value, and function. Value is somewhat hard to define as it contains varying objectives but, most often, it connects cost and function. For example, the value, which could attach an extra cost, is necessary due to the function it provides for that extra cost. In that case, it may not be best to value engineer that assembly out of the project. An element that may not have such a weight on function and be more aesthetic is a good place to start with value engineering. Costly marble may be substituted with a less costly engineered stone.

Whatever the change, the process necessitates that the contractor provides substitutions for approval by the architect. The contractor cannot perform the value engineering as it is the responsibility of the architect to confirm—and subsequently approve—the appropriateness of the substitution, which should be value based, not strictly based on cost.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 06:21 AM

Practice Management: Direct vs. Consequential Damages

  • 20 March, 2020

Per AIA contracts , there is a lot of verbiage regarding damages. Often, all parties agree to the waiver of claims due to damages in the AIA contract A201, the general conditions of the contract for construction.

The waiver of claims means that all parties bound together by this contract agree to hold the other parties harmless should damages be claimed. This is done for many reasons, but let’s first look at the matter of definition.

First, what is a claim and what makes it direct or consequential? A claim is a formal request to a surety (an insurance company) to be compensated for damages. A direct damage is one that can be directly connected to damage. A common example is that of a roof that has caved in. This would assume that the roof was newly constructed and has failed due to the incompetence of the design. A claim for direct damages would request that the roof be rebuilt if it is found that there was negligence in the design of the roof. Consequential damage is damage that is a theoretical or disconnected effect due to the failure of the roof. An example of consequential damage would be the loss of rent due to the roof failure and the loss of rent to come due to its repair. The cost of rent is not directly connected to the roof damage and is, therefore, consequential—a result of the consequence. It should be noted that contract breaches could be considered consequential damages but, in court, the definition is wide and varied, and often consequential damages are limited to those defined as a result of a loss or consequence.

As noted, in the AIA’s A201 contract, these are waived among parties. One reason could be that, with consequential damages, especially, they could be ill defined and could lead to contentious relationships within the contract. However, the contract should anticipate the worst and set up for the best—the best way to deal with unknowns and with contingencies to cover costs should something happen that leads to delays and added costs, etc. Building projects carry risks, and those risks should be managed by all parties. A contract based on rosy situations that does not anticipate issues can be problematic.

However, a main reason for waiving claims for damages is due to business. A construction company or an architecture firm often does not have the assets of wealthy clients or development companies. Bringing claims such as these could bankrupt construction companies and architecture firms. At the very least, the damages could far exceed the profit for the particular project. It is for this reason that many companies will not work with an owner who suggests striking that waiver from the contract.

Practice Management

How to deal with these situations? Coming up with alternative methodologies for covering such issues, other than a striking of the waiver, is what is best in these situations. However, this is often covered by professional liability insurance. No matter what, changes to the contract need to be reviewed by lawyers experienced in the construction process so that everyone is mutually covered in these agreements.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 03:28 AM

Project Development and Documentation: Refrigeration Cycles

  • 17 March, 2020

Refrigeration cycles are used in many mechanical systems and can be somewhat difficult to understand at first. There are four main components to the refrigeration cycle: compressor, condenser, expansion valve, and evaporator. A refrigerant flows within the lines (pipes) of the system and enters through those components. To start at a point (since it is a cycle), the vapor leaves the low-pressure side of the evaporator to the high-pressure side via the compressor. The compressor compresses the refrigerant, making the vapor the hottest at that point. After the vapor leaves the compressor, it enters the condenser where the condenser rejects the heat and the vapor turns into liquid state. The liquid then travels to the expansion valve/thermal expansion valve where it enters the low-pressure side of the system and through the expansion valve to turn back to liquid state. It then travels through the evaporator, where heat is absorbed and continues in the loop to the compressor. There is a phase change between liquid and gas with the mediating substance.

Why a refrigeration cycle? For one, it creates a closed loop system that supplies both heating and cooling—potentially. It is most common in smaller systems like a through-wall air-conditioning unit. The compression and expansion of the refrigerant (which is designed to do this efficiently) work to create cooling by removing the heat from the system. That is an important concept in cooling systems. Cooling is created by removing the heat from the system, not by adding actual cooling, which is a common misconception. The refrigeration cycle removes the heat from the interior to the exterior (this works the same in refrigerators). Pressure is employed to create this system—when the pressure compresses, heat is created. When pressure is released and the agent is expanded, cooling occurs. This all happens within the coils of the system. Fans are employed to run air over the coils and expel cool or warm air, depending on the cycle. Often, units with a refrigerant cycle work in one direction, supplying heating or cooling. However, there are reversible systems that supply both heating and cooling by reversing the loop.

Refrigeration Cycles

The medium within the coils—the refrigerant—is an engineered substance in which the properties of the substance meet operating pressures. Traditionally, these substances have been considered toxic or harmful for the environment as well as contributing to the depletion of the ozone layer. Because of this, refrigerants are assigned classifications and ratings of OPD (Ozone Depletion Potential) and (GWP) Global Warming Potential.

In regard to the larger system/unit, a COP (or coefficient of performance) is determined, which is a measure of efficiency for the mechanical unit. The COP is measured by the amount of heat removed as a ratio to the amount of work needed to do so; however, the COP differs between the heating and cooling cycles. Often, the COP or other energy-efficient measurement (SEER) is requested by AHJs to prove the efficiency of mechanical equipment.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 07:24 AM

Project Management: Billing and Fees

  • 13 March, 2020

It is often said that billing and fees for architectural services are nothing short of an art form. It is a balance between the work to be performed, fair compensation, and the satisfaction of the client. Whatever the outcome, the fees set by the architecture firm should be measured against recordkeeping but also must acknowledge that an architecture firm is also a business and needs to be viable as such.

That viability includes maintaining a profit with every job. No matter the fee structure—hourly, percentage of construction cost, and so on—there should be an added profit calculated into the fee. If you look at a fee schedule, there is a billable rate that is much higher than what actually appears on a paycheck. For example, a project manager may earn an annual salary of $83,200, which equates to an hourly wage of $40/hour. However, the fee schedule for the firm may charge the client $120/hour for their services. Why? Should they feel cheated that they are not getting full compensation for work?

Businesses should charge more for the hourly services of their employees—in fact, an architecture firm on average charges about three times as much. Doing so ensures that the business can pay its bills and then some. Concepts like the break-even rate and overhead rate, as well as an additional percentage for profit, all play into setting the fees for a firm.

Before these fees can be calculated, the expenses of the firm must be determined. These are the indirect expenses—expenses that cannot be billed directly to a job/client—and include utilities, software, rent, insurance, etc. These numbers determine many things for a firm. Are there too many expenses? Are the indirect expenses benefitting the firm? These are matters of everyday business. On top of that, overhead rate is a factor to give the break-even rate. However, that does not account for profit. A typical business—and an architecture firm should be no different—aims for a 20% profit. This is also added to the hourly rate to ensure that the firm is making a profit off of every hour of wage.

Project Management - Billing and Fees

Profit is not a bad thing, and I have known many architects who sell themselves short thinking that they are being greedy trying to make a 20% profit or any profit! But it’s business. Profit is needed to keep a firm alive, and that is actually for the benefit of the client. If a firm cannot stay viable, that may actually affect the client because if a firm folds and closes due to mismanaged finances, it could have very bad effects for the client, the job, and everyone involved (which I have also seen). It is with this mindset that projects should have a healthy financial base to maintain the growth of the firm and to ensure the success of a project.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 07:53 AM

Programming and Analysis: Net, Usable, Rentable Areas and Efficiencies

  • 10 March, 2020

When designing buildings, architects are often employed by clients who are concerned about the efficiency of space. Building efficiencies look at the ratio of net assignable space to gross area for the overall building, usable versus gross for the base efficiency, and even how large a building should be (gross square feet) in relation to the net assignable square footage versus the percentage of efficiency. What these all compare, in different ways, is the relationship of usable space to unusable or unassignable space.

Net area or net assignable space is the usable space subtracting secondary circulation. In an office, for example, this may be the area of the actual office space versus building corridors. Usable area is the net assignable area plus the secondary circulation, and the rentable area is the usable area, area for services and circulation, and excludes elevator shafts and stairs.

The reason for determining efficiencies has many benefits to the client. For example, a client may want to develop a building to rent to others (in the case of an office building). In that case, if their goal is to make the most rent from this office building, they may ask the architect to design with the least amount of circulation, which can affect the floorplate configuration for the building and its core.

A corporate office building tends to have the least efficiency and a warehouse the most. Why is that? There must be circulation and means of egress by code. If the calculation for the overall efficiency is net assignable square feet divided by the gross area, and the net assignable square feet is about half of the gross, a building with a gross square footage of 50,000 square feet would have an efficiency of 50% (overall efficiency = 25,000 ft2/50,000 ft2). Alternately, a warehouse is essentially all circulation and all net assignable square feet simultaneously. A 50,000-ft2 warehouse (using the same calculation) would produce almost 100% efficiency (or close to, it since net square footage does not account for the area of the exterior facade).

Programming and Analysis

Efficiencies can serve as a very useful tool in determining if enough space is being allocated within a building for certain programs. They can also turn the design discussion to consider space planning as well as determining the choice of mechanical system (a central system versus split/local systems or a hydronic versus air-system), structural system, envelope system, and anything that could greatly affect space. It is also important to consider that just because these are termed efficiencies, that does not always equate to better. It may actually be in the best interest of a company to have less office space and more health-based space. A healthier space (such as yoga rooms, or room for a ping-pong table) can create a more efficient staff. A company may opt for less employees but a higher level of production with such amenities. These efficiency equations cannot account for the qualitative experience of space, however, and should be used solely as a quantitative tool.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 08:06 AM

Programming and Analysis: How to Size a Building

  • 06 March, 2020

With the construction of increasingly taller buildings, how does one determine how large a building can be? That comes down to the codes. There is not one but many codes to reference for the design and construction of a building. For sizing a building, there are a few main codes to reference— zoning code, the IBC building code, and local codes/deeds that may include provisions for easements and the like.

Easements determine if there are any utilities or other services for the public or special site conditions that necessitate the dedication of a portion of private land for its function. These often restrict blocking, removing, or building on certain areas.

Zoning codes are municipal codes that determine the density and character of cities—usually more urban areas. Zoning codes spell out the ability to build on a lot including the floor area ratio (FAR) and building height limitations. FAR determines how much a site can be built upon, which can start to determine the number of stories, etc. For example, in an R-1 residential zone, there may be a FAR of 0.5. R-1 zones are low-density, typically detached single-family homes. A FAR of 0.5 indicates that the building can only occupy 0.5 or 50% of the lot square footage. So, if there is a lot of 2,400 square feet, the allowed floor area of the building is 1,200 square feet. Zoning also indicates how much of the lot can be developed, including the width of front, rear, and side yards, etc. The FAR is different from the footprint of the building. If the footprint of the building is restricted to 600 square feet (as an extreme example, but it makes the math easy) and the building is allowed 1,200 square feet, does that mean I have to give up 600 square feet? No. It means that the building can be two stories (or more) with a total of 1,200 square feet for the building. What counts toward FAR is defined in the definitions of the zoning code, since spaces like mechanical rooms are typically not counted toward the FAR.

How to Size a Building

However, there are often height limitations. Those are included in the zoning code along with restrictions due to the sky-exposure plane, height of street walls to maintain, occupancy classification, types of construction, building frontage, the requirement of sprinklers, parking requirements, etc.

The IBC building code also includes provisions for height and area limitations due to the type of construction, occupancy, and sprinklers.

These two codes work hand in hand to define the buildable area for a structure and should be referenced at the beginning of the process. The most stringent code is the one that takes precedence and codes—especially zoning codes—change. It is very common practice for areas of a municipality to be rezoned, allowing for different occupancies/mixed-use program, and constructing taller buildings. Designing a building is a network of information and knowing how the zoning code interfaces with the building code and vice versa is the strongest start to the process.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 06:12 AM

Building Orientation and Energy Efficiency, Part 3

  • 03 March, 2020

I write this blog post as a personal reflection about the additional effects of terrain and how they can affect building construction and planning. Although this post is not directly connected to climate and energy efficiency per se, it demonstrates the necessity of understanding how the concepts of wind flow, temperature, and terrain can affect building design and development in both a positive and a negative way.

I saw firsthand the devastating effects of fire in the community of Paradise, California a couple of months after the infamous wildfire left the town in a charred entanglement of destruction. I was not there for my own personal gain but to offer an academic discourse to propose rebuilding the community through the proposals of my design students. More importantly, I was there to offer solidarity and hope for rebuilding. From what I saw, and through the stories I heard from the survivors, it was incredible that so few lives were lost.

I am not a stranger to the aftermath of natural disasters, having also witnessed the destruction of communities due to hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding. However, nothing could have prepared me for the destruction at Paradise.

The question that was continually asked by the community was how to make communities safer, especially in areas prone to wildfire. As this is my profession, I could not help but have that in the back of my mind and I pose it to you, the reader because I have yet to find that answer.

To understand rebuilding is to understand the source of destruction. Much like the illustration of the previous blog post of wind, air temperature, and terrain, the same can be applied with natural disasters like wildfire.

Air rises when heated. As air is heated in a valley (via sun or fire), it flows through the valley with increased speed, constricted by valley walls (the Venturi effect) and rises up and over the valley walls. Paradise is situated at the top of multiple valleys, and the fire was exacerbated by the strong winds blowing through those valleys, causing it to spread at great speed.

Building Orientation and Energy Efficiency

This is not to gloss over the great complexities of this particular disaster—there are a multitude. The first two parts of this post examine the role of the environment in building design and siting for energy efficiency. However, architects are also charged with protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public. In that light, it is imperative to understand the potential negative effects of building siting with these factors, especially in regard to microclimates. The ARE® exam will almost certainly not get into these complexities but rather will focus primarily on strategies for energy efficiency. However, in practice, it is important to have a universal understanding of these strategies and to weigh the pluses and minuses in order to balance energy efficiency, design, and the duty of the architect to the public—especially in areas prone to disaster.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 06:39 AM

Building Orientation and Energy Efficiency, Part 2

  • 28 February, 2020

Part 1 of Building Orientation and Energy Efficiency examined the role of building siting and passive strategies according to the major climatic regions. As a recap, those four major climatic regions are: cold, temperate, hot-arid and hot-humid.

We covered the orientation in plan regarding sun exposure and internal heat gains for the benefit (or detriment) of the building. In addition to location in plan on the site, the vertical orientation of a building—especially on a hill—is also as important.

Air moves with temperature and terrain. Different terrains channel the wind in varying paths. These—along with the climate regions—create microclimates, which are essentially the climates of the immediate site based on a very local set of conditions. Besides the terrain channeling or dispersing/moving wind in unique ways, we must also recognize how temperature affects air movement.

Hot air rises because it is less dense than cold air. During the day, air moves over land and through valleys and rises as the sun warms it. Because of this, air moves uphill in valleys throughout the day. As that air cools during the evening and night, the direction reverses as the land cools. This is due to the loss of heat in the air resulting in the air flowing down the valley walls and settling in the valley floor, only to start the process again once when the sun comes up.

Building Orientation and Energy Efficiency

The temperature changes in the air and land can create different effects throughout the day and in different seasons. For example, in a cold climatic region, buildings placed on the tops of hills (especially within narrow valleys) should be avoided, especially without a windbreak. This is because of the cold winds to which the building would be exposed in those locations. Assuming conventional construction (not air-tight or similar), cold air can infiltrate a building and introduce cold air into a warm interior, making it inefficient to heat the building on the interior (cold climates need higher internal heat gains as they are heat dominated). Additionally, buildings should not be located at the bottom of a hill, where cold air can pool in valleys, etc. for the same reasons.

Buildings in hot-humid climates are often lifted off the ground to promote air movement around and through them for natural ventilation and to keep them away from the humid ground covered in vegetation.

Buildings in hot-arid climates benefit from being located at the bottom of a hill/valley because of the pooling of cooler air and the potential of shadows from the valley walls that may block harsh sun.

Often, when siting buildings for construction, the solar path takes the dominant priority. However, siting in regard to the environment, is complex. Sun and shading are two factors. Wind movement and terrain profile are equally as important in considering the factors that can affect a building’s performance.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 06:30 AM

Building Orientation and Energy Efficiency, Part 1

  • 25 February, 2020

Mechanical systems consume a lot of energy in buildings—approximately 35% of a building’s total energy use. While HVAC equipment is becoming more efficient, the main strategies that can reduce building energy consumption start at building planning and siting.

There are four major categories for climatic regions: hot-arid, cold, temperate, and hot-humid. Each of these regions offers a unique set of climate conditions when designing a building. Regarding the design of mechanical systems, these regions determine if the building needs more heating, more cooling, more or less humidification, or a balanced system. Not understanding this and designing a building without considering its integration with the climate could potentially create an environment that is inefficient and more taxing on the environment and resources.

Designing an efficient building begins with the building site. One of the first steps that the designer should consider is the climatic region of the project, as it can affect the building form depending on the particular region.

In cold regions, the concern for building design is the loss of heat as well as infiltration through the building envelope. Building form should be compact to minimize the surface area and should be oriented to allow for the maximum exposure to solar radiation.

Temperate regions favor a building that is elongated in the east-west axis allowing for maximum solar exposure in the cooler season while employing shading devices to keep out the hot summer sun. This introduces the natural heat of the sun during the times of the year when it is needed and keeping it out when it is not needed—designed using the solar angles of the sun determined by the solar path. The building orientation for this region minimizes exposure on the east and west facades, which are harder to control with shading, and gains are far greater in summer months.

Building Orientation and Energy Efficiency

Hot-arid regions suffer from exposure to hot air and harsh sun. In these climates, the building should be well-shaded (not only through shading devices but vegetation, if possible). Inner courtyards are an effective design feature that may employ water features to promote evaporative cooling as the wind travels over them creating cooler air that enters adjacent building spaces. As an aside, what I find particularly interesting about this methodology is that it can be found back in ancient times. Windcatchers were prominent in desert regions, and this passive strategy is still relevant today.

Lastly, there are hot and humid regions. For these regions, like temperate regions, buildings are elongated in the east-west axis reducing the east and west facade exposure. Shading devices are used to reduce solar heat gain. Additionally, the incorporation of inner courtyards promotes the movement of air through spaces providing cooling through evaporation and making the hot air more comfortable with air movement. A schematic of this orientation is given in the above figure.

While there are other passive strategies that can also reduce the need for mechanical systems, these focus on integrating the building with the climate for determining site strategies. Part 2 on this topic covers the location of a building vertically regarding climatic regions.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 07:02 AM

Thermal Comfort

  • 21 February, 2020

What makes the human body thermally comfortable? It’s not just temperature alone. A common misconception is that thermal comfort—the state in which the mind is comfortable with the thermal environment—is strictly due to air temperature. However, our bodies are complex organisms and as such, it takes a lot more to make us comfortable or uncomfortable.

In addition to air temperature—that is just one puzzle piece—factors such as relative humidity, activity, mean radiant temperature, and air motion all play into comfort. Air temperature is the temperature of the air measured as the dry-bulb temperature—the temperature of the air without humidity or moisture. Relative humidity accounts for the moisture, or humidity, in the air. The mean radiant temperature measures the temperature radiating off of surfaces. Then there is the movement of air. Oftentimes, the weather seems a lot cooler due to increased wind speeds (wind chill) on a cool or cold day (or vice versa). In addition to the above factors is our individual bodies’ metabolism, which may make some people feel warmer or cooler than others.

Because everyone is different and has their own thresholds of thermal comfort, it is nearly impossible to assign a thermal comfort level to all people. A classic example is air conditioning within an office environment. When it is turned on, some people may still be too warm, others may be just right, and others may resort to wearing a sweater (another factor considered for thermal comfort)!

In fact, the standards for setting thermal comfort only account for most of the occupants of a particular space. ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) sets the thermal comfort standards for office spaces and other programs. This is outlined in the ASHRAE 55 standard, which is based on the predicted mean vote (PMV) and predicted percentage of dissatisfied (PPD)—a method devised from a percentage of people who are thermally dissatisfied. From this, the thermal comfort of a space is essentially geared toward about 80% of the population of a certain space. The range of thermal comfort in temperature is about 68° to 72°F but can be shifted due to the other factors noted above.

With thermal comfort, however, physical comfort is not the only consideration in the design of spaces and integration of building systems, such as mechanical systems. The body’s thermal comfort can play a substantial role in the physical and mental well-being of a person, especially in promoting a healthy indoor environment and experience. A hot or stuffy indoor environment due to poor air circulation or high humidity can have adverse effects, making the indoor air quality poor and subsequently affecting the performance of those occupying that space. It is because of this that many healthy building standards promote a high-quality indoor environment. Thermal comfort and a person’s well-being are intertwined and, therefore, involves a lot more than simply air temperature.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 01:00 PM


  • 18 February, 2020

When it comes to sound, there are multiple ways to determine the movement of noise through assemblies. Sound travels in many different ways and as waves. Different ratings depend on the medium through which the sound waves travel. The emphasis tends to be placed on STC (sound transmission class) ratings, but others are just as important—or maybe more applicable—depending on the situation. This post will focus on the difference between IIC and STC—both very common ways to measure the transmission of sound through assemblies but approaching the source of sound differently.

The STC rating is concerned with the travel of sound or noise (sound above a certain threshold for which it is considered unwanted) through the air. The STC measures how well an assembly of materials absorbs the transmission of airborne sound/noise. Assemblies not only include interior partition walls, ceilings/floors, and exterior walls, but also include windows, doors, and so on.

However, sound waves do not just travel through the air, but are also transmitted through waves moving through materials. In this case, it may be more appropriate to focus on the IIC (impact insulation class) rating, which is more concerned with the travel of sound through materials and measures how well an assembly blocks impact noise. The IIC rating—although applied to assemblies—is more appropriate for floor/ceiling assemblies because that is where the impact noise will most likely occur.

Depending on a variety of factors—but most likely which assembly (such as the wall, floor, or ceiling) is being rated and for which program—the employment of one rating over another may be better suited for measuring the impact of noise in a space and the design of assemblies. For example, in a dense, urban area, while there is a lot of noise traveling between walls, there may be more concern for the sound that is traveling through floors and ceilings within a building. In this case, it may be more appropriate to review IIC because that noise not only comes from side to side but also from above and below as well. In the case of offices, the clicking of high heels (always a common example when discussing sound) travels through structural members and flooring (typically wood in older construction), which may affect the space more so than airborne sounds. In this case, it would be more appropriate to be concerned with the IIC since it focuses on the sound transferred via materials through floors and ceilings. Conversely, STC may be more appropriate in isolating spaces from each other due to program—such as a wall between a quiet office and adjoining loud conference room, when the noise will most likely travel through the air.

Not all sound is created equal, and when addressing acoustics, knowing the source is just as important as the rating because the sound comes from all over. Recognizing that and applying the ratings appropriately will allow for more successful strategies in alleviating the transfer of noise.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 01:00 PM

Gross Versus Net Square Feet with Code

  • 14 February, 2020

There are some instances when gross and net square footage are calculated. Gross square footage generally refers to all of the square feet, whereas the net square footage accounts for some subtractions. An example for this could pertain to cost estimating, where gross square feet would include the interior floor space as well as interior and exterior walls. It would account for “all” of it, with the exception of open courts within a building, walls that extend outside of the footprint of the building/roof overhang at ground level, and so on.

With net square footage, there is typically an accounting of some loss. Again, considering cost estimating, net square footage accounts for floor space but does not account for exterior walls and other elements such as corridors, toilets, mechanical rooms.

With gross square footage and how it pertains to code... Well, this is where it gets a little tricky because it does not follow that typical definition and tends to trip up a lot of people in application.

For measuring gross square feet per the code—and, again, this pertains to this particular instance— the gross square footage does not include the exterior walls. The gross square footage regarding code is measured to the interior face of the exterior walls.

Don’t believe it? Let’s reference it.

The International Building Code (IBC) gives definitions to certain terminology that can be found in Chapter 2—the chapter designated for definitions. If a term is not found in this chapter, it is assumed that the definition of that term is consistent with practice and the industry and is well understood making further and/or specific definition unnecessary. The terminology for these definitions is italicized throughout the code indicating that there is a specific meaning for each italicized term. Per the definition in Chapter 2 of the IBC, the gross floor area is listed as “Floor Area, Gross”. This definition states that the gross floor area, per code, is, “The floor area within the inside perimeter of the exterior walls of the building…”

This is tricky, but again, it’s a matter of definition and can be especially tricky compared with all the ways to measure space. What is important to know is that this definition differs and that the code defines it in a way that it does not include the exterior walls. So, when determining occupancy, for example, the code allots a certain area for certain occupancies. Some are measured in net square feet and others in gross square feet. For the latter, that measurement would be the gross square feet; the entirety—excluding vent shafts and courts but including corridors, closets, ramps, stairways, and so on—to the interior perimeter of the exterior walls. It may not be consistent in the way that it is measured with other instances and with other tasks, but concerning code, gross square feet is to the interior of the exterior walls.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 01:30 PM

Project Management: Change Orders

  • 11 February, 2020

One of the most frustrating parts of a construction project can be change orders. They have given a building project a bad reputation but oftentimes, they are inevitable. Things change. This can be due to field conditions and uncovering something unexpected, or it can be due to a design change per to a client or the architect. Rather than not accept any changes whatsoever (which is, more often than not, unrealistic), changes are accounted for and built into the process. In architects’ contracts, contingencies are often included to cover design changes should they arise. Contingencies may also be included in construction contracts to cover construction costs associated with changes. In documentation, changes are handled using three different methods to formally change the contract for construction/contract documents:

1.An architect’s supplemental instruction (ASI)
2.(Formal) change orders
3.Construction change directive

Any change will have a connection to cost, schedule, and scope.

If there is no change in cost, schedule, or scope, then an ASI is issued (AIA document G710-2017 or a version thereof). It is only to be used for minor changes and oftentimes serves to provide clarification.

If there is a change in cost, schedule, or scope, a change can be handled in two ways: through a formal change order or a construction change directive. Despite being treated as two separate entities, they are essentially two different ways of getting to the same place—authorizing a change through a formal change order. To clarify that point, the end goal is to have the change approved and work performed and compensated. A formal change order (AIA document G701-2017) is straightforward. It lists the change in scope and the time and/or costs associated with the change. It is an agreement between the owner, architect, and contractor that is signed by all parties. When it has been signed, the work is done and compensated to cover the extra costs (and may be covered by the contingencies added to contracts).

However, sometimes this process does not run so smoothly. Sometimes a contractor may issue a change order for approval, but the owner does not agree with the cost or time. Any disagreement could delay the project further. The contractor could be liable for any change in schedule or projection completion could be delayed. This is the role of the construction change directive (G714-2017), which directs the changes to be made while the terms (cost and time) are being hammered out. This is an efficient way of performing the work and keeping the project on schedule, even in a time of conflict and discord. It is recommended that the construction change directive, when approved, is superseded by a formal change order, which is why they are two ways of getting to the ultimate goal: an approved change order.

These documents not only track the changes in the work (possibly with an accompanying log) but are the three ways to formally change the contract for construction.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 01:00 PM

Programming and Analysis: Owner’s Responsibilities/Surveys

  • 07 February, 2020

The roles of the parties involved in a construction project are of critical importance. Clear responsibilities contribute to a process that runs more smoothly, promotes better communication, and hopefully makes the process less contentious. The roles of the owner, architect, and contractor are outlined in the AIA contracts. In general, the architect is responsible for the design intent, the contractor for the work and construction site, and the owner for the site.

The owner’s responsibilities to the site include possessing the information necessary to understand site conditions. This includes (but may not be exclusive to) geotechnical reports and surveys. The reason why the owner is responsible for the site is essentially tied to risk. The Owner, in regard to the existing site conditions, is the party to whom it is most appropriate to assign that risk.

There is not one but multiple surveys to consider. The most common surveys are metes and bounds, plat of survey, and American Land Title Association (ALTA) surveys.

Metes and bounds surveys measure off of benchmarks. Between the benchmarks are distances/ dimensions and angles noted from the cardinal points. What benchmarks are chosen depends on the site. Common benchmarks include trees, water features, rock piles, etc.

A plat of survey, also called a plat survey or boundary survey, is a much more accurate survey and serves in an official capacity. Plats of the survey are connected to property deeds and are compared against the deed when created. For instance, iron bars are installed at different corners to set up points of reference. What I find interesting about these (and ALTA) surveys is that because they are used in an official capacity, the procedures and requirements are outlined in standards of practice issued by the responsible jurisdiction and/or organization. These standards include the size and type of iron bar to use, the depth to which they are to be installed, soil conditions for installation, and so on. These plats of the survey are performed by a licensed, professional land surveyor and require a seal and signature on the survey.

An ALTA survey is much more detailed than a plat of survey and is recommended particularly for commercial properties where risk is higher. Due to a higher level of detail, they are also more expensive but offer more protection in case of disputes. ALTA surveys follow standards per ALTA and American Congress of Surveying and Mapping (ACSM).

The types of surveys needed for a project depend on the project type, location, if it is on vacant land or in a dense urban area, insurance requirements, acquisition, etc. Although it is the responsibility of the owner to provide the survey, the architect absolutely must know about the different types and the level of detail, as they often make recommendations. Often, the owner will ask the architect to order the survey, but that should be discouraged because in doing so, the architect assumes the risk that should be allocated to the owner and could be held liable.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 06:00 PM

AIA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct

  • 04 February, 2020

A membership in the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in any capacity brings with it an expectation for the highest standards in competency, professionalism, and integrity. The AIA lays out what is expected of its members through the AIA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct (“the Code of Ethics”). It is important for both candidates taking the Architectural Registration Examination (ARE) and those with an AIA professional affiliation to understand this Code of Ethics because noncompliance can lead to disciplinary action. To understand compliance, the Code of Ethics must be understood. You can access this code for free on the AIA’s website (aia.org).

Code of Ethics

The AIA’s Code of Ethics begins with a preamble which, among other information, includes descriptions of its three tiers. I am not going to elaborate on the rest of the information beyond the three tiers, with a little explanation, but what is interesting is the history of the AIA and antitrust. Due to this, they cannot control setting service fees, etc. I think it is a fascinating part of the AIA’s history and recommend learning about it to any candidate or AIA member.

The AIA’s Code of Ethics is separated into three tiers:

2.Ethical standards
3.Rules of conduct

There are six canons, which essentially note the larger topic with a bit of an explanation. They are listed in order of precedence. Beyond the general obligations, the obligations are to the public, client, profession, colleagues, and the environment. This means that the obligations to the public are listed first after general obligations, and that is the first order of obligation according to this Code of Ethics. It may seem odd that the public is considered before a paying client, but the AIA member is obliged to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public first and foremost. Often, in doing so, you are protecting the client as well, but the first order of responsibility is to the public.

The ethical standards, or goals, follow the canons. They list the goals in short and then follow up with a short expectation of the member.

The rules of conduct are what make the AIA Code of Ethics enforceable. To underscore that point, they are in bright red in the Code of Ethics—you can’t miss them. The rules of conduct (“Rule(s)”) note what is expected of the member. Sometimes a Rule includes a commentary, which is not always included, nor is it considered a tier. The commentary elaborates on a Rule giving more specificity/clarification to a point/term.

Knowing and understanding the Code of Ethics is essential, in my opinion, not only in preparing for the ARE but in understanding what could be disciplined by the AIA.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 07:00 PM

ARE Practice and Business Content

  • 16 January, 2020

When taking the Architectural Registration Exam (ARE), I often wondered why it included content that I felt was more relevant to business and out of place on an exam for licensing architects.

Over time, it became clear to me that it all goes back to the architect’s duty to the health, safety, and welfare of the public through licensure.

The health of a business is crucial in any instance, but it is even more important to keep an architectural business healthy. Not to negate the work of other businesses and the importance of what they do, but an architect takes on some pretty hefty work. Architects shoulder a heavy responsibility, which is not always immediately apparent in schooling and training, and one that should not be taken lightly. The best explanation I have heard was by comparing architecture with medicine. The backstory was the question of why architects have to go through such rigorous schooling, training, licensure, and exams that are comparable with those of medical professionals. The response was that while a doctor is responsible for one person at a time, architects are responsible for potentially thousands of people at a time!

When an architect designs a building and/or supervises its construction, it must be secure for the health, safety, and welfare of the public, which is why it is imperative to have the necessary knowledge for licensure. Think of it this way: if an architectural firm goes belly-up in the middle of a job (which, unfortunately, is not uncommon), what happens? There could be restructuring and/or the owner may have to hire another firm to finish the work, which could lead to delays, changes in relationships, degradation of a site due to weather conditions and exposure, etc. Maybe the client does not have the funding for a new contract due to inflation or added costs of starting up work again (which could take years to solve), which could lead to choosing sub-par materials, sub-par contractors/subcontractors, and so on. During the interstitial time, codes could change, causing the proposed building to no longer be up to code. The job site could potentially be abandoned during this period and could have unauthorized occupants using the unfinished space. This might expose them to potentially dangerous conditions, or they might create dangerous conditions on that unfinished site, posing a threat to the larger public.

ARE Practice and Business Content

This is all purely conjecture, of course, and much more complicated than what is suggested here. But hopefully it illustrates the importance of the business content of the exams and why every licensed architect should have the tools to build and maintain a successful business—not just for themselves but for their duty to the public.

Posted by EduMind Inc - 07:18 AM

Practice Management: Top-Down and Bottom-Up Budgets

  • 14 January, 2020

Budgeting and contracts are nothing short of an artform when applying them to the practice of architecture. They are always trying to hit a moving target—you never know what the outcome will be.

With budgets, the moving target is the work needed to perform the services and allocating them in order to make a profit. In the following example, we are looking at the budgets for an architectural firm’s services.

Top-Down Budget

Referencing the example above, top-down budgets start with the estimated cost of construction and the allocation of the architect’s fee from a percentage of estimated construction costs (note that this assumes that the architect’s contract is based on a percentage of construction costs for their service fee). That gross fee then subtracts the consultant’s fees (per the B101-2017 contract, the architect’s services includes consultants: structural, mechanical, and electrical engineers) in order to produce a net service revenue. The net service revenue is the monies that should be allocated for the architect’s services. However, the direct expense budget and the contingency budget should also be considered. Direct expenses are billable to a specific project and should be set aside as there are always direct expenses for a project. Contingencies cover any expenses should there be design changes. Top-down budgets set aside a direct expense budget and a contingency budget to cover unexpected expenses as a safeguard, so they don’t come out of the service revenue—the monies needed for the actual services of the contract to be performed. If they are not used, they are considered profit. Those expense budgets subtracted from the net service revenue results in the project labor budget, which is then broken down per phase and service percentages (e.g., 5% may go to bidding and negotiation because that is the typical percentage breakdown of that service phase).

With bottom-up budgeting, services are broken out by how long the architect thinks it will take to perform the service per phase multiplied by an average service fee. A bottom-up budget is much more organic and relies on experience to be able to allocate the time per service.

What is important to remember is that, again, this is trying to hit a moving target. How do you know which method is right when, compared side by side, they can have a huge difference? What’s important is to recognize that difference in going through the exercise. It should be common practice to work with both budgets side by side and if differences are way off, more time may need to be added/ subtracted per phase (bottom-up) or a different percentage may be allocated (top-down). The point is to see if the budgets meet in the middle and how. However, it is also important to review this along with other business expenses to ensure that compensation is not only fair but attributes to the health of the business practice in other areas (covering benefits, payroll, overhead, etc.).

Posted by EduMind Inc - 07:04 AM