Making the Most of Your PMP: Does That Project “Pencil”?


PMP® Exam Will Change in December 2019
Trust Me: I am a Project Management Professional —

Making the Most of Your PMP: Does That Project “Pencil”?

We are now only a few months away from 2020. Like 20/20 vision, will we be able to look back on 2019 with perfect hindsight? So, I’m thinking that maybe I could look ahead to the year with perfect foresight. To do that, how about just pretend that today is Jan. 2, 2020, and I’m looking back at all the projects I pursued in 2019. Did they “pencil?”

In my context, “Pencil” is an engineering term. A quick search on Google, though, shows it as a finance term. What it means: is the project or idea economically viable?

As a PMP, we learn the first stage of every project is the Initiation stage. In this stage, we are looking at the viability and feasibility of the project. But what if you’re brought into a project mid-stream that is already well down the road into the Execution part of its life cycle? Do you still need to look at if it “pencils?” I still think even at this stage it’s imperative BEFORE you jump into the stream, to lend your time and talents: take a step back and see if the project “pencils.”

From an Engineering Economics perspective, to assess if an idea is economically viable, you’d look at what it will cost you to create the solution vs. what having this solution is going to save or make you in the future over a fixed time period. I do this often when evaluating which energy improvement projects to pursue.

How does this relate to making a decision on which project to pursue? Evaluate BEFORE you get involved on how the project is going to help you get a return in 5 different dimensions of capital: Financial, Social, Knowledge, Brand, and Infrastructure. If the project is not going to provide an adequate return on the investment of your resources, it doesn’t pencil — don’t do it.

And this is how you create 20/20 hindsight ahead of time.

Watch a free webinar to see how to evaluate if a project will “pencil” for you: Improving ROI as a Project Manager – From Talk to Action.  (For more information about this hour-long webinar, please visit

UPDATE: PMP® Exam Will Change in December 2019

This is our 7th PMP Exam change in 18 years — and it’s the biggest one yet.

PMI is moving away from a Project-Management-Body-of-Knowledge-(PMBOK)-based approach to the PMP exam.

It’s more like what we saw when PMI created the PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP) Program. This is a major change to the PMP exam, and it will make irrelevant all the PMP exam prep material that is circulating on how to pass the PMP that just had to be updated incrementally.

When the PMI-ACP Exam Content Outline came out, we dove into it to create our own Cheetah PMI-ACP BOK. We are doing the same thing for this new PMP exam. We are validating this new approach to passing the PMP exam to roll out our new PMP Exam Prep course late February 2020.

Because this is such a significant exam change we are teaching our last PMP class for the old exam November 4-7, 2019, in Seattle, Washington, to give our students sufficient time to take the exam before it changes to the very different new exam.

Here is what PMI says about the new PMP Exam:

Update From the Project Management Institute (PMI)
Please visit

Project management continues to develop in new directions, and PMP-certified leaders are at the forefront of this exciting evolution: equipped with a diverse skill set to deliver successful project outcomes with the right approach for each project.


The PMP is evolving just like the profession — and the new exam focuses on 3 new domains:
1. PEOPLE — emphasizing the skills and activities associated with effectively leading a project team.
2. PROCESS — reinforcing the technical aspects of managing a project.
3. BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT — highlighting the connection between projects and organization strategy.

Content that spans the value spectrum, including PREDICTIVE, AGILE, and HYBRID approaches, are included across the 3 exam domains. The best way to understand what is included in the exam is to review the updated Exam Content Outline.


Every 3-5 years, we conduct research to understand how the profession has progressed, the impact of emerging trends, and how the responsibilities of project managers have changed. The last research was conducted in 2015 and resulted in the current PMP® Exam Content Outline .

Subject Matter Experts from leading organizations from around the world are currently working with us to define the PMP of the future. As this effort continues, we will share information here to keep you informed — whether you are thinking about earning the PMP or preparing to take the exam soon.

The NEW PMP® Exam Content Outline  provides the framework of what you can expect on the PMP Exam after 15 December 2019.

For Exam Content Outline, please visit You can download the outline at

TRUST ME: I Am a Project Management Professional

By Jean Steinmetz, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP

Jean Steinmetz is the Director of Admissions at Cheetah Learning and our Lead Cheetah Career Counselor, helping Cheetah students complete their PMI Eligibility Applications. For more information, please visit

Earning the Prestigious Project Management Professional credential is one part of the trust equation with developing good project teams.

If you’re like most Project Management Professionals (PMP) you share your expertise and lead teams. Along the way, you also inspire others to be the best they can to be. The number one requirement to develop people on your team is TRUST. Not only do you want to be able to trust your team; but also you want them to trust YOU. This takes time, and the more you can guide your colleagues in the right direction with the most up-to-date information, the quicker the better.

One of the ways we notice PMP’s helping out others in their worlds is with helping them also become PMP-certified. The first step in this process is with completing the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Eligibility Application. About 14 months ago PMI became much stricter in how they want to see projects described on their PMP application.

You, as a PMP, may have gotten your application accepted with a paragraph description of where you led and directed tasks on projects, keeping it to 500 characters or less. Today, applicants need to provide a 1-sentence project objective, Project deliverables summarized by the process groups (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing — (PMI expects folks to use these abbreviations), and a brief 1-sentence project outcome. Candidates still have just 500 characters to describe their projects. Every day I review new Cheetah students’ PMP eligibility applications to make sure they are completing it to these new standards.

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We have seen far too many PMP candidates being rejected because of a lack of ability to communicate their PM skills in PMI’s preferred style. If you, every once in a while, are helping out others fill out their PMI Eligibility Applications, then send them my way and I can make sure they have it done correctly.

Share your knowledge and lead best by providing your team with the most up-to-date and accurate information when it comes to obtaining their PMP. Save both them and you some time: send them to and tell them to tell me you sent themI can provide you with some prepaid pdus so you can maintain your PMP and never have to take that exam again.



About Author

Michelle LaBrosse, CCPM, PMP, PMI-ACP, RYT, is an entrepreneurial powerhouse with a penchant for making success easy, fun, and fast She is the founder of Cheetah Learning, the author of the Cheetah Success Series, and a prolific blogger whose mission is to bring Project Management (PM) to the masses. Cheetah Learning is a virtual company with 100 employees, contractors, and licensees worldwide. To date, more than 50,000 people have become “Cheetahs” using Cheetah Learning’s innovative PM and accelerated learning techniques. Michelle also developed the Cheetah Certified Project Manager (CCPM) program based on Myers-Briggs Type Indicator personality profiling to help students master how to use their unique strengths for learning, doing projects, and negotiating. Michelle is recognized by the Project Management Institute as one of the 25 Most Influential Women in Project Management in the world. For more information, visit

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