Exchange 2013 – 70-342 (Advanced Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013)

Hi all,

I took the Exchange 70-342 exam – Advanced Solutions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 while it was still in Beta in November 2012 and there weren’t many resources available for assist us with preparation, so I ended up reading through most of Technet.

As a friendly sort of chimp, I decided that many of you guys out there would be able to benefit from some short summarized info docs explaining the various features, components and commands for the knowledge areas tested in Exchange 2013. So here’s what I’ve done, I’ve posted up a number of short articles, called Road Chimp’s Exchange 2013 Briefs.

You can reach them at the menu section on the top of this blog. I’ve also decided to post links below. Put a like on this post if you’ve found it useful. 🙂

1. Exchange Unified Messaging
2. Site Resilience
3. Information Rights Management
4. Mailbox and Administrative Auditing
5. In-Place Archiving
6. Data Loss Prevention
7. Message Records Management
8. In-place eDiscovery
9. In-place Hold
10. Coexistence with Exchange Online (Hybrid)
11. Coexistence with Legacy Systems
12. Cross-Forest Coexistence
13. Exchange Federation

PMP Exam Prep – Part 15: Project Procurement Management

The PMBOK addresses Project Procurement Management from the buyer’s perspective, in other words, we play the role of the buyer looking to contract some project work to a seller that is external to our Organization. Buyer and seller are common terms that are used in the exam as opposed to contractor and owner. This is not an exam that focuses on the legal aspects of contracting and procurement and questions typically relate back to processes of Project Procurement Management.

Exam questions frequently put the candidate either in the position of the buyer or the seller. Care should be taken to verify which perspective you need to take when answering a question during the exam. For example, you may be asked to identify whether the buyer or the seller bears the most risk when work is performed via a fixed price contract. The answer is that the seller bears the most risk. This is because in a fixed price contract, the seller agrees to do the stipulated work for a fixed sum of money. This means that if there should be any unanticipated increases in costs to the project, the buyer is not obliged to pay any more money to offset these costs and it falls entirely on the seller to  absorb these costs. The seller therefore bears the most risk.

Project Procurement concepts covered in this section

There are several procurement concepts that we will cover in this section

  • Project Procurement Definition
  • Statement of Work (SOW)
  • Contract Categories
  • Solicitation Process
  • Contract Negotiations
  • Contract Clauses

We will take a look at the types of procurement planning and the issues associated with procurement planning and solicitation planning as well. We will also delve further into solicitation when it comes to source selection; contract administration; contract closeout and the Organizational issues relating to procurement.

Plan Procurements

Procurement Planning is the very first step. A lot of Project Managers do not get involved at this stage. According to the PMBOK, however, the Project Manager is responsible for describing the subcontract requirements in terms of the specification, so the Project Manager is responsible for procurement planning. As the buyer, we need to define what we need the seller to perform for us.

  • Specification: A specification is defined as a precise description of a physical item, procedure or result for the purpose of purchase or the implementation or an item or service. It is important that the Project Manager specify exactly what it is that he or she wants. Additionally, we can also use drawings to complement or supplement the specification. For example, when procurement planning is performed in the construction industry, it is common to define out technical specifications as plans and drawings.
  • Delivery dates: The delivery dates of the product or service must be laid out in the specification as well.
  • Independent Estimate: The independent estimate refers to a cost estimate that the project team obtains from a vendor or external stakeholder that is not directly related to the project delivery.  Independent estimates are commonly used when a buyer is trying to obtain a rough idea of how much money a particular work package might cost, or when the buyer is wants to verify that the quoted prices received by potential sellers seem to be reasonable and accurate.
  • Assistance: It is important to note that the project manager has assistance from his team when coming up with the details that support the procurement exercise. For example, technical specifications are developed with some help from the engineers allocated to the project.

Make-or-buy decisions

Essentially we are trying to determine if we should perform the work ourselves or whether should we simply buy the finished product from another party. This is analysis is not always going to result in an either / or decision. It can go into many degrees. For example, we may choose to do some of the work ourselves and go outside of our project team for the rest.

In the PMBOK, the possible outcomes from a make-or-buy analysis include:

  • Procure virtually all goods or services from a single supplier
  • Procure a significant portion of the goods and services and make the rest
  • Procure a minor portion of the goods and services and make the rest
  • Make all of the good and services

Statement of Requirements / Statement of Work

The project team uses the Statement of Work to communicate their requirements in the event that a decision is made to procure a portion of the deliverables of a project. The Statement of Requirements (SOR) or the Statement of Work (SOW) is a document package that describes the specifications and other details required to tell external parties exactly what is needed to fulfill a procurement need.The SOW is an output from the procurement planning process and this is a fundamental document that you have to be very familiar with for the exams. PMI may sometimes use the acronyms SOW or SOR interchangeably in the exam.

Contract Types

In addition to the Make-or-buy decision, we also need to make a decision as to what type of contract we are going to use in order to procure that product or service. For the exam, you will need to be familiar with the various types of contracts that can be used to structure formal business relationships.

  • Fixed Price Contracts: The principle of shared risk applies to Fixed Price Contracts. In this case, the risk of the contract is shared between both the buyer and the seller.
    • Firm Fixed Price Contract (FFP): This is the most common form of Fixed Price contract and is also known as the ‘lump sum’ contract. In this particular type of contract, the seller bears all of the risk because she agrees to provide all of the goods and services for a fixed price and regardless of the costs incurred. There is one upside to a Firm Fixed Price Contract for the seller. The upside is that when the FFP contract type is used, the seller has the greatest chance to make a profit. There also is one other benefit that both buyer and seller will realize from this type of contract, which is that this type of contract has the least amount of administrative hassle.
    • Fixed Price plus Incentive Contract (FPIC): Here, the seller takes on more risk than the buyer. This is because regardless of the incentives put into the contract, the seller has to deliver the work at a fixed price. If that price is exceeded, the seller is going to incur those additional costs. For any range of costs or pricing mechanisms, the seller has the incentive to earn more fees, but generally as specified in a contract, if a particular level of cost is exceeded, then the seller will not realize any profit from performing the work and every dollar that the seller spends to complete the work will come directly out of his or her own pocket. The Point of Total Assumption occurs when the seller starts to take on all the costs of the contract because the seller is close enough to the ceiling of costs as specified in the contract. The seller is not necessarily losing any money at this point but is assuming 100% of the total costs from that point forward within the contract. The ceiling price as set within the contract can be thought of as being the level where buyer has specified that he will not pay any more money that this level for the work to be performed.
  • Cost Reimbursement Contracts: These are the most unfamiliar types of contracts in the exam, particularly for international candidates.
    • Cost plus Percentage of Cost Contract: This contract type has zero risk to the seller and stipulates that the seller is going to pass all of her costs directly on to the buyer. The profit that the seller is going to make out of this contract will be based on a percentage of the costs incurred. In other words, the higher the costs incurred, the greater the profit for the seller. The obvious motivation for the seller would be to incur as much costs as he possibly can, since his profits will be increased as a factor of those costs. This contract type is illegal in the United States Federal Government. The buyer has all of the risks and the seller has no risks for this type of contract.
    • Cost plus Fixed Fee Contract (CPFF): At the outset of a contract, the costs are going to be estimated by the buyer and the seller for the work prior to the work being performed. Based on these cost estimates, a fee is going to be fixed for the seller. For example, if a job is going to cost $2 million dollars to get the work done, the buyer and seller can agree that 8% of the fee or $160,000 is going to be a reasonable fee. In the event that the job was performed under the agreed to cost of 2 million dollars, the seller is still going to get her fee because the fee is fixed. In fact, if the seller incurs a cost above 2 million dollars, he or she will still get the originally agreed upon fixed fee. The cost may vary, however the fee is going to be fixed. However, there might be a clause in the contract that the fee may have to be re-negotiated if the costs go beyond a pre-determined threshold amount.
    • Cost Plus Incentive Fee Contract (CPIF): A CPIF contract is a risk-sharing contract between the buyer and the seller. All CPIF contracts share one common quality known as the sharing ratio. The sharing ratio can be expressed as 70/30 or 60/40 or 50/50, but is always expressed as buyer share/ seller share. You may see questions in the exam that indicate that you have a CPIF contract and you have a 70/30 sharing ratio and then proceed to ask you who has the 30 percent share. The answer in this case would be the seller, because 30 is the second part of the ratio.
  • Unit Price Contracts: A unit price contract is really a derivative of a fixed price contract. The unit price follows fixed pricing but just on a unit-by-unit basis and not the sum total of a number of units. In this case, we are looking towards a fixed price for a single unit of an item or service. The unit price will be fixed, but it is fixed for each particular unit of goods or service that we want to acquire. For example, we are setting up a new office and we need to buy some desktop computer systems. We can go to suppliers and tell them that we need 1,000 computers. We can also give them the specifications in terms of the specific hardware requirements for each computer. We can tell suppliers that we want a fixed price for a particular quantity of a product or service and we can collect bids and we will generally select the supplier who has the lowest price and conforms to the specifications. This is an example of fixed price. Let us say that we have acquired the 1,000 computers and we realize that we need a few more computers but this time we’re not exactly sure how many computers to obtain. We might just want to buy them two or three at a time. In this case, we would like to get a unit price for each computer. This is an example of unit price.

Comparing Cost Plus and Fixed Price Contracts

In cost plus contracts, all of the allowable fixed costs of the seller will be covered in the contract. When it comes to a fixed price contract, all of the allowable costs may not be covered because the seller might exceed what was allowed under the ceiling price of the FP contract. A tip for candidates to identify incentive contracts such as fixed price incentive or cost plus incentive based contracts is to look for terms such as ‘target costs’; ‘target price’; or ‘sharing ratio’ which will denote that the question is referring to an incentive based contract.

Additional Incentives

There are additional incentives that have not been discussed as yet when it comes to contracts. These incentives need not always be financial. These incentives can be thought of as benefits that the buyer will give to the seller or Organization performing the work if they can complete the work ahead of schedule or below costs.

Solicitation Planning

Solicitation planning comes after procurement planning. At this point, we want to take our SOW and other procurement documents and go to the outside world and start obtaining bids and proposals for our work.

We need to solicit bids and proposals from a number of suppliers and we are interested in putting a procurement package together to help potential sellers or vendors. We have a particular process and we need to structure this process in a standardized way that will be easy to follow and well known for potential sellers.

Contract Origination

There are various accepted ways for an organization to go about looking for potential vendors to fulfill their requirements.

  • Unilateral Contract: A purchase order is a good example of a unilateral contract. One party signs the contract. Typically there is no negotiation required and the contract is of low monetary value. We are looking at standardized solicitation and we are buying commodity items. A good way to look at what might be a unilateral contract is to ask yourself if you can send something via a fax. If you have the ability to send a contract via fax and not expect any reply and just expect work to be done after it is sent, then you can look at this document as a unilateral contract.
  • Bilateral Contract: Bilateral contracts are more conventional and have a tendency of being a lot more involved. There are 3 basic forms of bilateral contracts.
    • Invitation for Bid (IFB): An invitation for bid is a form of contracting which is appropriate for routine items. The primary objective as a buyer is to find the best price. The buyer is able to clearly describe what it is that he or she wants and is able to identify the completed product or service when a potential seller presents it to the buyer. There is typically no negotiation involved in this process and the buyer is usually looking for the lowest price. When you see an IFB, the buyer is not looking for any extra qualities aside from what is described in the initial specification.
    • Request for Quote (RFQ): Requests for Quotes are used for generally low monetary purchases of commodity items. Essentially a certain number of items and exact specifications are known to the buyer and the RFQ is going to be sent out to a few pre-selected and pre-qualified suppliers and the objective is to find the best price.
    • Request for Proposal (RFP): The Request for Proposal is generally used for complex or non-standard items. The monetary value of procurement in this case is going to be higher than in an RFQ or and IFB. What distinguishes and RFP from an RFQ or IFB is that there is going to be some discussion between the buyer and the seller. The buyer will attempt to describe what he wants in the clearest terms that he or she possibly can. The buyer is very interested in not only receiving proposals from vendors but also interested in talking to sellers about his or her needs. The seller might have a better idea of how the work can be performed.

For example, if you are involved in a complex software development project for your Organization, you would be issuing an RFP and not an RFQ or IFB. In this particular case, the buyer wants to meet with different sellers and determine from them the best approach to take in order to write the software, implement it and train the people on how to use it.

Proposal evaluation techniques

At the end of the solicitation process, the buyer would have received responses back from interested sellers and we are now interested in putting these responses through some kind of evaluation criteria. The evaluation criteria can be objective or subjective. There may be metrics to measure the different proposals, or sometimes the buyer will simply want to get a feel for how the contractor will meet the requirements of the contract.

Common evaluation criteria are listed below:

  • Management approach
  • Financial health
  • Contractors understanding of buyers requirements
  • Overall/lifecycle costs of proposed solution
  • Type of contract which should be used

Solicitation

Once a number of responses from respective vendors have been received, it is now time to identify which parties to send the solicitation to. Sometimes, it is hard to pick, it is hard to find the right vendors. It is hard to find out who or where you go looking for vendors. You can go looking for a variety of sources. The project manager is heavily involved in this process. The project manager is not working alone in this task, but is instead working with contracting staff. PMI is looking at this from a centralized contracting perspective.

When it comes to solicitation and source qualification, we’re looking in catalogs; we’re looking in contacts, talking to other suppliers, looking at trade journals. We’re looking at anybody that might be able to meet this particular need. The solicitation is issued with the help of the contacting staff.

  • Source Selection: Once we go through the solicitation, we then go through the source selection where we pick those vendors who responded to our original solicitation itself. There are a variety of issues associated with evaluating these contractors. As we evaluate perspective contractors, the PMBOK talks about a number of different ways to do this.
  • Evaluation criteria: We are going to apply our evaluation criteria to the proposals. We are going to use a weighting system.  A weighting system is a method for quantifying qualitative data to minimize the effect of personal prejudice. For example, imagine a group of three to five people sitting around a table and looking at various proposals from a number of vendors. We are attempting to apply our evaluation criteria to the vendors such that we come up with a  number using a scoring system of some type. We are trying to assign numbers to our various evaluation criteria and we are going to weight our criteria. This means that certain criteria would have more importance to us than other criteria.
  • Screening System: According to PMI, we establish minimum performance requirements for one or more of our evaluation criteria. A common example would be that one of the criteria we have in a project is to require a project manager who has significant project management credentials and inexperience in the field. Using the screening system in our criteria, we can say that the project manager that is offered by the vendor must have a PMP or a master’s degree in a relevant profession. If that project manager does not have a PMP or the relevant master’s degree, then we can rate that particular contractor low or kick them out of the whole process.
  • Team aspect of solicitation: All of the above screening criteria work under the premise that everyone is going to be focused on working together to come up with one solution. Sometimes we don’t have the time to sit around and sort through all of the vendors. Sometimes we delegate the task to one person who can do the job and do it well.

Sole Sourcing

Is there ever a time when we skip to the chase and cut out the entire process and simply hire somebody? There are cases where we know that competition is good and competition keeps prices low but we just know at the outset that we have one supplier in mind and we know that because they are so uniquely qualified that we can’t find anyone else to do the job, so why waste all of the time to look for vendors. There are also times where we can go to one contractor which is known as sole sourcing. Or sole source where we might have the in-house expertise to evaluate the contractors for reasonableness and accuracy.  In other words we have significant expertise and we know if the contractor is going to be good for this job and we really don’t need to have multiple vendors come in and give us prices.

When our project is under extreme pressure for time and the procurement process and the planning involved as well as the other steps requires time that we are is short supply of. There are occasions where we simply don’t have time and there are situations where we know of a contractor and we’ve used him before and he has a great track record and for the sake of the project and the sake of the client we are going to go to that contractor and negotiate a price and move forward. So we are going to sole source you need to know that term for the exam. Sole source means going to a vendor without considering other vendors.

Procurement Negotiations

When we get into a lot of these environments to meet with contractors, it very often involves contract negotiation. We need to be comfortable with the contract negotiation process. One of the issues here is that PMI has changed terminology over time and we need to know a variety of terms for the different issues associated with contract negotiation.

There is a series of steps and you can never afford to jump over a step regardless of how the questions in the exam might try to convince you of otherwise.

  1. Protocol or Rapport Setting: Introductions are made and the atmosphere is set and we are trying to get ourselves organized for discussing the pros and cons of working with one vendor and taking a look at their prices and trying to get an understanding from them whether they truly understand the work that we would like to have them do.
  2. Probing: Probing is where we go in and we are trying to ferret out what the contractor is after and what are we after and what we are able to share with them and that they are actually interested in and what they are going to be able to share with us.
  3. Hard-core Bargaining or Scratch Bargaining: This is where we’re starting to make our concessions and both parties are trying to give and we are trying to come up with a good mutual agreement for a situation that both the buyer and the seller are basically unhappy with in some ways and we are both satisfied that we are basically starting to move forward and that each party has gotten what it thinks it needs to move forward. The buyer has gotten the right price and the seller says yes, I am going to benefit by this particular relationship.
  4. Getting to Yes: PMI is pretty big on the concept of getting to yes they are looking for win-win situations when we get into a contract. And if you have a question in negotiations and it implies that your opponent is trying to crush you like a grape and you decide that you are here to try to get to yes. Trying to achieve a win-win situation, this is what PMI wants you to be thinking
  5. Closure: Closure occurs where we are summing up our positions and most times when you go through a negotiation you’ll often get to closure and find that you didn’t understand what they thought they said that they didn’t understand what they thought you said and you’re back into hard-core bargaining. Again,
  6. Agreement: The important thing about this last stage is that it is documented and the parties sign a document and by their signing indicate that yes, they have complete understanding of this particular relationship

Negotiation Tactics

As you go through negotiation, there are many strategies that can be applied. We will look at a situation where a real-estate broker is trying to sell you a house.

  • Deadline strategy: The broker walks up and says that if you sign this deal by 5 o’clock tonight, I am willing to sell the house for this price. If you come back after this time, then the offer price is no longer valid.
  • Surprise: The broker might mention late in the contract that the house comes with gold-plated fixings in all bathrooms in order to lure you into closing the deal.
  • Limited authority or missing man strategy: This is the most ubiquitous tactic. The broker will tell you that he has to go talk to the owners or some higher power in the universe before he can get back to you.
  • Fair and reasonable: Sometimes you will meet brokers who are honest and trustworthy and when you come together they tell you that they are offering you a fair and reasonable price and that they are trying to come up with an agreement.
  • Reason together: Both parties, in this case, the buyer and the representative for the seller or the sellers themselves would sit down and try to come up with a reasonable price that will result in both parties with a win-win strategy
  • Fait accompli: This refers to a done deal. In this instance, the broker acts surprised, indicating that he was under the impression that the deal was agreed upon is surprised that it wasn’t so.

The End of Negotiations

This refers to the moment in negotiation where we have signed the contract, both parties are in obvious agreement and there are a few things that we want to keep in mind at this stage. Our objectives in reaching the end of contract negotiations are to obtain a fair and reasonable price while still trying to get the contract performed within certain time and performance limitations. We also want to ensure that there is a good relationship between the buyer and seller after the contract is sealed and signed. This makes sense because the buyer and sellers may have a relationship over a long period of time and we want to ensure that the working relationship between both parties is good.

Administer Procurements

This is where the work actually gets done. This is where the Project Manager along with the contracting staff watches performance of the vendor to keep the project moving forward. Our focus shifts from finding and selecting a seller to making sure that the seller is performing the work in accordance with the contract specifications.

Terms of the contract

There are a variety of specifications that would define how the work gets performed in a contract. The most commonly used features in contracts are listed below and these are the things that the project manager and the project team should look out for as they are administering the project.

  • Delivery schedule
  • Handling of changes
  • Warranties
  • Inspections
  • Subcontracts

Clauses

You should be familiar with common clauses found in contracts.

  • Standard Clauses: First and foremost we look at our standard clauses to see how much of the work is covered. If there are gaps, then we should proceed to develop some new clauses ourselves. We take a look at the standard clauses first, because typically, this project will not be the first work that you have done before and therefore you have a lot of information written down to your standard clauses so far. Many organizations also prefer to standardize the standard terms and clauses of their contracts.
  • Change clauses: This is one of the clauses that you can expect to see tested in the exam. This gives us some sense of who initiated the change, where the changes come from, how the changes are  going to be funded, what some of the approval authorities are going to be from. Some of the configuration management issues are going to be addressed in the change control clauses.
  • Pricing Change: This also refers to how we are going to deal with change especially when it comes to the pricing of the contractor.  PMI prefers that we use lump sum or Firm Fixed Price changes. PMI suggests that we use lump sum prices for changes even if we have a cost plus basic contract. This might not have any real practical applications, however, we need to understand the exam from PMI’s perspective.
  • Express warranties: An express warranty is explicitly written out and we have an understanding of exactly what the functions or features a product or service should have.
  • Implied warranty: There are a couple of terms used such as merchantability and fitness of use. For example if we look at a desk that we are sitting at, we will realize that the desk came with an implied warranty. The implied warranty is that the table should be sturdy enough to serve it’s purpose as a desk and that we are going to use this desk is going to hold objects that desks usually hold. For example, if we buy this desk and we put our stationery and notepads on it and the desk collapses, we bought it under the assumption that the desk was going to be strong enough to hold notebooks, which is a reasonable assumption. We don’t need to have an explicit description of that warranty. This desk has collapsed and it obviously isn’t fit for use and we can go and get a replacement for the desk.
  • Doctrine of Waiver: This refers to the fact that if we fail to exercise our contract rights, we lose them. This is a legal doctrine that has a lot of practical applications especially when it comes to the issues of change control. If we do not enforce the change control process, we might not have the change to exercise the change control process.
  • Delays: We need to look at who caused the delays as well as the nature of the interruption and the impact of the delays.
  • Performance Bond: The performance bond secures the performance and fulfillment of the contract for the buyer. In other words, we want to make sure that if we hire a contractor, they are able to do the job and if they cannot do the job, then the bonding company is going to step in and do the necessary work to complete the job.
  • Payment bond: There is guaranteed payment to sub-contractors and laborers by the prime contractor. In many situations, the buyer may pay the prime contractor for the work and the prime contractor may be paying sub-contractors for a former job that the subcontractor had performed for the contractor prior to this contract. We want to ensure that the prime contractor will use our payments to pay the sub-contractor because we want to make sure the sub-contractors and laborers are being paid to do the work and will not walk off due to some issues with the prime contractor.
  • Basic Breach: This is an important issue when it comes to contract administration. Breach of contract says that if it is just a basic breach where we have somehow violated some part of the contract, but this doesn’t mean that the entire contract is invalid.
  • Material Breach: This type of breach is a lot more serious. It means that the breach is so bad that the contract expires at that point in time. Usually, a material breach occurs in a situation where the work to be performed is time sensitive. The buyer needs a particular product or service by a specific date. If he gets the product or service after that date, then he has no more need for that product or service.Therefore, if there is no delivery by the date specified in the contract, the contract is breached.

Summary

  1. Procurement Planning
  2. Types of Procurement
  3. Contract Types
  4. Vendor Selection process
  5. Contract Negotiation process
  6. Contract Clauses

Conclusion

In this section on Project Procurement Management, we identified various types of contracts and common clauses of contracts. We also identified the common sequence of procurement activities, to go from procurement planning to solicitation and vendor selection and finally procurement administration.

PMP Exam Prep – Part 13: Project Communications Management

Historically, most candidates find this section on Project Communications Management to be the easiest to pass. This is the time and place where you can gain a lot of ground in your exam score, particularly if you don’t have a lot of knowledge and experience in other sections on Cost and Risk management.

Project Communications concepts covered in this section

There are several Communications concepts that we will cover in this section

  • Informal vs. Formal Communications.
  • Conflict Resolution
  • How differing and different management styles represent the form of communications.
  • Communications Model
  • Communications Channels
  • Kickoff meeting
  • Barriers to Communication
  • What Role the PM should play in Communications Management

The following Project Management processes are covered in this knowledge area:

  • Identify Stakeholders: We need to be able to assemble our project team with the right mix of skill sets.
  • Plan Communications: We need a systematic and repeatable process that helps stakeholders gain access to key information, both in the right place and at the right time.
  • Distribute Information: This process covers the systems and tools for disseminating information to the appropriate stakeholders, as well as covering issues of confidentiality and security.
  • Manage Stakeholder Expectations: A project manager should always be attuned to the varying expectations among different stakeholder groups and work to ensure that these expectations are being met in order to minimize conflict.
  • Report Performance: We refer to the formal and informal processes of communicating information about project performance to stakeholders.
Exam Hint – Look out for questions in the exam pertaining to teamwork. You should look for the ‘rah-rah’ type answers, in other words the answers that seem most like cheerleading. Also, when it comes to Roles and Responsibilities as relating to Communications in this exam, the Project Manager is one of the most common examples.

Communications Model

The Communications Model is a Basic Model for Communications in which you have a communicator, who is actually conveying something and the recipient, who receives the message.

  • Communicator: The Communicator conveys the message. As I deliver this lecture to you, my message is coming to you off the particular medium of live presentation.
  • Recipient: The Recipient is the person for whom the message is intended. The recipient must accept and understand the message before communication has taken place.

Active Listening

A good presenter should be able to offer a message that his audience will accept and understand occasionally. The reason why we use the term occasionally is because of the concept of Active Listening. You can’t always be Actively Listening. Active Listening is when you are participating even by just sitting there and paying attention in the communications process.

You might have experienced this phenomenon before in your car. You are driving along and you are listening intently for the traffic report on the radio. You are focusing on trying to find out about the traffic conditions on the way to work. The report is coming, you hear the music coming on for your traffic report but all of a sudden, someone almost cuts you off and you have to swerve to avoid him on the road. You suddenly realize that you have missed the traffic report which you have been trying to catch for the past fifteen minutes. Even though you were attempting to actively listen, you got distracted.

On the exam, you have to understand that the concept of Active Listening is that the recipient has to  be an active participant in the communications process.

Tools for Active Listening – Feedback

The person who is getting the message is going to get back to the communicator. We also use para-phrasing as a good form of feedback. As you are listening, you want to go back to the speaker and say, I really want to make sure that I know what you are saying. Here’s what I think you said and I want to know if that was the message that you meant to communicate. There’s the feedback to the communicator that you’ve taken in the information, you’ve digested the information and you’re now trying to make sure that you have in fact gotten the message as intended.

Communications Channels

The topic of Communications Channels is a big deal these days. You have to be able to calculate Communications Channels in the exam based on the following formula:

Number of Channels = n (n-1)/2

Where n is the number of participants in the communications model. For example, if 2 people are talking and we substitute n for 2 in the formula, we can calculate that the number of channels is 1. If we have 4 people, then we are going to have 6 channels. If we have 6 people we are going to have 16 channels. It is very interesting to note that as each additional person is added into our communications loop, the number of channels does not rise in a linear manner; it rises in a geometric manner.

Significance of Communications Channels

With an understanding of communications channels, we start to gain an appreciation of how an organization or project needs to structure itself to maximize communications.

  • We need to think about the division of labor within our project Organization
  • We need to think about our types of communications. If we have 1 or 2 or 3 people in our team, we can resort to very informal communications. When our team gets up to 15 or 20 people, informal communications is less effective in getting the same message across to every member of the team. We need to start thinking about using formal communications as our predominant means of communicating to larger groups.

Hint: If you get brain freeze on the exam you have that moment where you forget the formula, the thing to do is to take the scrap paper that you are given and start drawing little circles, one for each person, and then connecting the circles with lines. You draw one circle for every participant in your project and start connecting all the circles with lines. You simply have to count the number of lines and this will give you the result that you are looking for.

Another notion is regarding the way PMI is presenting some of the communications questions is not to ask how many communications channels there are, but to ask how many more channels will be created if we add another 3 people into the group. You have a team of 4 members, and the team is about to be increased to 10 members, how many more channels will you have to deal with? You will have to perform calculations twice to find out the answer.

Different Types of Communications

Communication does not always have to occur verbally, it can occur in different ways. Numerous studies have shown that most of a message is relayed to the recipient though vocal intonations and facial expressions than the actual content of the message, so the verbal component is actually a very small piece of the message. Communication can be formal, or informal. Communication can also be written or verbal and you need to be able to break all of these down as well.

Communications can occur in a variety of formats, some of which are listed below:

  • Formal written: project charter or management plan
  • Informal written: engineers notes and memos
  • Formal verbal: presentations with PowerPoint
  • Informal verbal:  conversations, run-ins in the hallways

Remember that if it is formal, it is part of the project record. Oral presentation would still be part of the formal project presentation, if people think about it, they are still going to reflect back and acknowledge that it is part of the formal presentation itself, whereas a hallway conversation is generally forgotten over time

Why do we need to know this? You will be asked to give examples of these in the exam and you will most likely encounter examples of the four types of communications.

Communication Requirements

The project plan is really a series of plans, there is the risk plan, the schedule plans the quality plan and there is the communications plan. In order to develop the communications plan we need to understand what the requirements for communications are.

This task is the Project Managers responsibility. Communications requirements are the identified needs of the project stakeholders. We need to define the requirements of all of our stakeholders for a particular project and then put a process into place in order to provide these stakeholders with relevant information. This is typically done with a project management information system (PMIS).

The things we need to look at in assembling our project communications requirements are our project Organization and the stakeholder responsibility relationships, our disciplines, our departments and any specialties involved in the project, by discipline, we are referring to a mechanical engineer, a software programmer, we have a marketing expert. Those will be the kind of disciplines that we refer to.

We need to look at the logistics of the number of individuals who will be involved with the project at each location because we are going to collect information and we are going to distribute information to each stakeholder. We also need to identify any external information needs. For example we may have to be involved with the media in very large projects especially where the Government is involved and when the media is very interested. So it is important for a Project Manager to see outside of the Organization and and identify external stakeholders and manage their requirements accordingly.

Timing of Communications

We want to create the communications plan early on in a project. We want this to occur in the planning phase and not wait until it comes to the implementation. Communications planning is really part of stakeholder management.

The Kickoff Meeting

There are multiple objectives for the kickoff meeting, some of which are listed below:

  • The kick off meeting is going to save us time and not cost us time.
  • The kickoff meeting really builds the team’s identity.
  • The kickoff meeting also allows team members to get to know each other.

Furthermore, the project team needs to have an understanding of the various working relationships and lines of communication. We can also reach a common agreement on the goals of our project. We can identify some problem areas and we are hoping to define the objectives of our project to our stakeholders. As we can see, there are multiple things going on in the kickoff meeting.  Essentially underlying all of these activities is the notion that we are going to build the team for the project as we move forward.

One of the things that the kickoff meeting is not intended to do is discuss any hard technical issues you may encounter into the project. It is not a status meeting of the project, you are not trying to explore alternatives to performing tasks in the project its really a get to know one another and establish a common framework of moving forward with the project

For example, I was involved in a pretty large project for the construction of a hangar and we had about 55 people in the room. I had just finished delivering the project objectives and administrative processes to the group and I asked if there were any questions.  Our construction contractor raised his hand and he started to give me a verbal proposal of the change order on the very first day of the project. I had to tell the contractor that the kickoff meeting was not a place to discuss such things and that we would address his issues offline. During the kickoff meeting, we don’t talk about the content of the work, but how together we’re going to get the work done.

When it comes to the exam, you want to look at the answer which says ‘rah rah’ when it comes to the kickoff meeting. PMI will sometimes try to lure you from this question on the exam by saying that the project is a great deal of time pressure from the customer, the project is time constrained, everybody is feeling the weight and the everybody is so stressed out and has no time available. PMI may ask you to consider foregoing the kickoff meeting since you are in a very simple project with a small team. In all these cases, we cannot do without the Kickoff Meeting.

Barriers to Communications

There are a number of barriers to communications and these things stand in the way of active communications.

  • Ineffective Communications Plan: A poorly written or ineffective communications plan with poorly defined communications requirements can result in a lot of wasted time getting information to people who were not initially informed.
  • Time: Time can be an impediment to open communications. We need to have open communications channels in order to be effective in serving our projects. This occurs especially in environments where team members are in different geographical locations.
  • Technical Jargon: It is common for projects to involve team members from different disciplines. Each discipline has its own jargon or terminology. The people who are not familiar with your profession or industry will not have effective communications.  A lack of a consistent set of commonly used terms in a particular industry can also have a negative impact on communications. For example, the term WBS as used in project management is not consistently used in all Organizations. In fact, there are Organizations that choose to use other terms such as Project Breakdown Structure (PBS). We can really get carried away with our own jargon and start confusing those around us. There is a barrier that the Project Manager always has to look at when dealing with the client
  • Noise: Most people think of noise as background noise, or an audio sound such as the clicking of a pen or the hum of the air-conditioning in the background, when in fact noise is a lot more than that. Noise refers to any external environmental factor that is interfering in your ability to communicate. You may have been in a meeting where you were sitting right under the air vent and it was so cold that you wished that you had brought a sweater into the meeting. For example, there was a huge construction project across the street during a meeting and the construction workers were constantly swinging these huge barrels back and forth and the students stood with their eyes focused outside of the window, watching the construction crews swinging the barrels back and forth. For the exam, you need to know what noise is and be sure to be able to distinguish noise from a detrimental attitude or a barrier to communication.

Communications Barriers and Conflict

Communications barriers increase the level of conflict. If you can’t understand the language or terms that other people are using in a room, you will not be able to communicate with them effectively and that will raise your level of stress. Any person who has worked overseas or been in an overseas environment for any length of time will understand the stress of not being able to speak the language. This occurs regardless of whether we are referring to a technical language or a physical language.

Unresolved conflict is a real detriment, and well structured communications will help to eliminate conflict. Conflict may not be entirely eliminated by good communications, since the nature of projects themselves contribute to conflict.

Stakeholder communications

The Project Manager’s role is the key to all project communications. The Project manager must be skilled with communications with the following parties involved in the project

  • Management (Project and Functional): The Project Manager acts as liaison between management and project team. An effective project manager should act as the go-between for management and the project team and prevent management from bothering the project team and getting in their way. The Project Manager has to be able to communicate effectively to management so that they feel that everything is going well and won’t have to bother the team. PMI has found that when people are uncertain about the status of a particular project, that is when they will bypass the project manager and go straight to the team. If you want your top management to stay out of your hair and not bother your team, then you have to think of the best way of communicating with top management and top management as well. So we have to be able to communicate with management and the customer as well
  • Client: It is very important that the Project Manager act as a representative to the customer. It is not always desirable for  project team members to discuss all aspects of the project with the client due to confidentiality concerns. PMI is looking for a single point of contact between the project team and client. It makes it easier for the customer to give feedback because they know who to go to in order to complement or give complaints. It allows the team to designate and train one person who is skilled in client relations; this becomes very important as the project team grows in size. It also eliminates the confusion when many team members talk about to the customer at the same time. PMI’s perspective is that the Project Manager is responsible for establishing good communications between the client and the team. In the exam, you might see questions where the Project Manager is asked to communicate horizontally, vertically and diagonally.

Time invested in Communications

PMI would like the Project Manager to invest a total of 90% of his time invested in acquiring and communicating information to stakeholders. For the exams, if presented with a range of percentages for how much time the project manager should devote to communications, we should look for the answer with the highest percentage, with the exception of 100%, because this value is not realistic. The project manager needs time to breathe, so to speak.

Skills for effective Communications

A project manager should possess the following skills in order to be an efficient facilitator for communications in the project environment.

  • Set up Networks: The Project Manager needs to be ready to share information with his team and be willing to build the networks that go there. PMI Actually makes references to informal networks as well. Informal networks are commonly known as the grapevine. This is a term that occasionally shows up in the exam as a possible form of informal communications. A grapevine is an idiomatic term, which we use to convey the idea of an informal network.
  • Communications Expeditors: This is someone who makes things happen and is very active in bringing people together for effective communications. This involves initiating relationships between stakeholders in a project and establishing communications links and also making people understand what the formal communications channels are and encouraging good informal communications as well.

Communications Blockers

Blockers impede our communications and refer to anything that kills or inhibits innovative ideas. For example, someone brings up an idea in a meeting and someone else tries to assert that the idea will never work. Common statements uttered throughout meetings take on the tone of “That will never work.”; or “We’ve tried that already.

There are some examples of great communications blockers that have occurred throughout history:

  • ‘I think there is a world market for maybe 5 computers.’ – Tom Watson, Chairman IBM 1943
  • Who the hell wants to hear actors talk’Harry Warner, founder Warner Bros Studios (1927) when asked if silent movie audiences would like to hear actors talk.

As the communications expeditor, the project manager takes on the responsibility of trying to eliminate the occurrence of such communications blockers and encourage more open communications.

Tight Matrix

The tight matrix refers to putting all members of the project team into the same office space if at all possible. Studies have shown that when people are physically working together on a project team, better results will occur.

The tight matrix occurs as one way of ensuring more open communications within the team. A tight matrix is not related to the weak or strong matrices that occur in the Project Human Resources section.  A lot of companies have attempted to place all of the members of a team into the same office, or at least the same office space. This practice is popular in the automotive industry where the designers and fabricators are located right next to one another.

In circumstances where it is not possible to place team members in the same location, such as having project team members collaborating from different countries across the globe, then a virtual environment has to be created where team members still have the ability to interact with one another. Weak or Strong matrices might appear as distracter answers in the exam. Loose Matrix is another term that might come up as a distracter answer. The loose matrix does not exist.

Project War Room

One of the best methods of getting project team members working in close proximity with one another is the use of the Project War Room. This term originates from a war-like setting where we have a central location for the military to collect and analyze information on the tactical situation of battle. You can imagine a room filled with maps and charts where senior military officers huddle around a table to come up with winning strategies. The most important thing about the project war room is that it provides the project team with a sense of team identity. A lot of Organizations are starting to realize that the cubicle office spaces that most office workers work in are not conducive to establishing a strong project team identity.

The war room is a place that the project team members can hang up all of their gantt charts and responsibility matrices and could be a conference room or even a temporary office space designated for the members of the project team to interact in. The virtual project war room can be a web page on a company portal that serves as a common repository of information and provides a venue for people to interact specifically regarding the project.

Effective Meetings

The Project Manager is is responsible for organizing and coordinating a variety of meetings. There are staff meetings; status review meetings; schedule meetings and budget meetings. The project manager has to be able to conduct these meetings in an effective fashion such that people will want to attend the meetings.

The Project Manager can establish a meeting policy. For example, only certain people may be allowed to call a meeting; or meeting notes need to be circulated the day before the meeting; or that an agenda must be prepared and followed. Participation should be encouraged throughout the meeting. Finally, all meetings, regardless of purpose, should always be thought of as having some element of team building, as meetings are an excellent opportunity to build the team.

Minutes should also be prepared and circulated. There should be a formal record of the meeting prepared as a means to follow up for what was initially discussed during the meeting. This is an effective tool to ensure and track that the meeting actually resulted in some forward progress for the project.

Time wasted in Meetings

PMI performed a study to investigate the amount of time that is actually productive during a meeting. The results of their survey indicated that up to 25% of the time spent during a meeting was devoted to non-productive or irrelevant issues.

This can be attributed to the following reasons

  • Poor planning
  • Bad leadership during the meeting
  • Unruly or undisciplined participants

Management Styles

These management styles are situational and are neither better nor worse than one another. PMI wants the project manager to realize that there would be certain situations where is would actually be desirable for the project manager to adopt a particular style.

  • Authoritarian management: You have project team members, stakeholders and functional managers associated with a project and they typically want to know why they are here and what you want them to do. There is nothing wrong with being direct with these people to let them know what their level of participation is on the project and what you would like them to do.
  • Combative management: This can be very useful under certain circumstances where you want to generate conflict. Not all conflict is bad and you can be with a group of people and you think that everything is going okay but what you really need is someone to step in and give some feedback.
  • Conciliatory:  You are basically ready to give in based on what is being said across the table. Anything that can be done to keep the brevity going in a certain situation.
  • Disruptive: This style tends to disrupt unity and cause disorder. Sometimes this is going to be very important in a project situation where we need a very different line of thinking on how to conduct our project. Disruptions all and all can be very important which communicates a style or form which a project manager can use.
  • Ethical: Applying fair even-handed judgment as you work through a project
  • Facilitating: The Project Manager can play an important role in supporting the team with resources and helping to take away barriers or obstacles.
  • Intimidating: The tough guy image where you say that it is your way or the highway. In particular situations, intimidating style can be very useful.
  • Judicial: Generally applying sound judgment
  • Promotional: Someone who is out there trying to cheer on the team, trying to motivate the team with the proper types of actions
  • Secretive: Not open or outgoing in speech; activity or purpose. There are times where things are going on in an Organization where the Project Manager knows that he or she may not want to share with the project team because they cause disharmony or loose morale in some way. So the project manager may not at that particular moment in time care to reveal some of that information and that may be good.
  • Management skills:  Recall the five components of general management that are required by a good Project Manager [PLINC] and covered in the section under Project Integration Management.
    • Problem Solving
    • Leading
    • Influencing
    • Negotiating
    • Communicating

The project manager wants to be acutely aware of these concepts when it comes to using his management skills.

Organization Structure

We looked at this previously in the Project Human Resources section. There are some specifics that we have to look in to when addressing the communications aspects of project management in an Organization. Each Organization structure is going to have some impact or ramification on communications.

  • Projectized Organizations:  Very strong group communications boundaries because everyone is working for the project manager in one established team.
  • Strong matrix: Good, strong team identity. Perhaps the team is collocated, making the team’s communication generally straightforward.
  • Weak matrix and functional organizations: complicated group communications because as team members are spread around the Organization, they generally do not have the team identity that we find in the strong matrix.

There is also less face-to-face interactions causing a higher opportunities for misunderstandings. Remember that in both functional and weak matrix Organizations, the orientation is to the functional Organization and not to the project Organizations.

Summary: Project Communications Management

  1. Communications model
  2. Formal and informal as well as written and verbal communications
  3. Barriers to communications
  4. Kickoff meeting
  5. Documentation

 Conclusion

In this section, we covered topics such as the communications model, the role of a project manager, effective communications; barriers to communications as well as the importance of the Kickoff Meeting.

In the next section, we will cover Project Risk Management.

Ook!

 

 

PMP Exam Prep – Part 12: Project Human Resource Management

This section of the PMBOK explores issues of teaming and working together and getting people moving towards common goals. A lot of the content is weighted heavily towards team development and dealing with conflict and behavioral issues that tend to arise in project situations.

Human Resource Management concepts covered in this section

There are several Human Resource concepts that we will cover in this section

  • Forms of Organizations
  • Project Manager’s roles and responsibilities
  • Power that a project manager can exercise
  • Project conflict – definition; how do we manage it?
  • Team building – motivation theories
  • Personnel issues

I’ve also included a quick overview of the Project Management processes relating to this knowledge area:

  • Develop Human Resource Plan: This process involves identifying; documenting and assigning project roles and responsibilities and reporting relationships, as well as creating a staffing management plan. In other words, we are trying to put a Project Organization in place in order to support our projects.
  • Acquire Project Team: This is the process of getting the right people to do the job. It involves us actually going out and tracking down people and bringing them onboard the project team. Take note that it is not necessarily the project manager’s responsibility and that this task is commonly done by Human Resources teams with the Project Manager providing guidance on the appropriate skill sets required for the project.
  • Develop Project Team: We need to develop our individual and group skills in order to enhance our overall team performance. We want to foster and improve the skills of each individual, but ultimately the goal here is to enhance team performance, thereby contributing to our overall project performance.
  • Manage Project Team: This process covers all of the necessary managerial activities necessary to ensuring project success, including tracking individual and team performance; providing feedback; as well as resolving issues and conflicts that may arise during the course of a project.

Functions and Roles of the Project Manager

Project managers are often asked to define what it is exactly that they do at their jobs and PMI has chosen to include clear definitions on the functions and roles of the project manager.

Functions performed by the Project Manager

The activities listed in Section 1.3 of the PMBOK, entitled ‘What is Project Management?’ are commonly performed by the project manager and listed below:

  • Identifying Requirements
  • Addressing the various needs, concerns, and expectations of the stakeholders as the project is planned and carried out.
  • Balancing the competing project constraints including, but not limited to Scope; Quality; Schedule; Budget; Resources and Risk.

Interface Management

This is defined as the process of identifying, documenting, scheduling, communicating and monitoring the personnel and the Organizational and system interfaces relating to the project.

System interfaces refers to the interfaces of the Organization. For example,  you might have to deal with the legal department within the Organization. You might also have to deal with the manufacturing group or the personnel group. Anytime the Project Manager goes outside of the project team and interacts with the support functions within an Organization then she is said to be interfacing with these various functions and she needs to be able to manage these relationships effectively in order to get the job done.

Our efforts are directed towards the integration of the project sub-systems of a project. PMI expects us to plan, lead, organize and control the project. The project sub-systems are all of the various and peripheral processes encountered within a project and can be thought of as what we need to plan, lead, organize and control throughout the project.

Roles of the Project Manager

A project manager wears many hats and performs multiple roles on a project. Some of the key roles performed by the project manager are listed below:

  • Integrator: The Project Manager is responsible for integrating the various aspects of the project into a consolidated end-result as defined by the key deliverables and requirements of the project. Integration involves coordinating all of the knowledge areas defined in the PMBOK into a concerted effort aimed at completing the project objectives.
  • Communicator: The Project Manager is also responsible for the process of facilitating the flow of information between the various elements of the project. Examples would include any communications between project team members and the functional components of the Organization or even the client Organization.
  • Team-leader: Leadership is the act of providing direction and guidance and this is one of the primary roles of the Project Manager.
  • Decision Maker: The Project Manager may typically be assigned the responsibility for making decisions relating to the multitude of issues that fall under the umbrella of the project management knowledge areas.
  • Climate-Creator / Climate-Builder: The Project Manager is responsible for setting the environment or the tone of the project on a regular basis. If the Project Manager walks into a meeting excited and motivated about the project, she will in turn set the tone of the meeting.

Qualifications of the Project Manager

PMI recommends specific skill sets and attributes that are desirable for the Project Manager.

  • Works well with others: This is one of the most important qualifications from PMI’s perspective. This concept of ‘works well with others’ is very similar to a comment that you would find in a child’s report card at a very young age.
  • Supervisory Experience: Supervisory Experience is beneficial to a Project Manager and bears particular relevance to the activity of leading and managing a team.
  • Technical Expertise: Depending on the specific technical area of the project, some technical expertise may be beneficial to the Project Manager.
  • Contract Administration Experience: Some experience in contract administration would be beneficial to the Project Manager. This ties in to the later section on Project Procurement Management.
  • Profit/Results Oriented: The Project Manager should be focused on achieving the goals and objectives of the project.
  • Skilled Negotiator: This refers not only to the context of contract negotiation but also to how skillfully a Project Manager can build the team and manage negotiations between various stakeholders throughout the project in order to enhance overall team performance.
  • Education and Experience Requirements: PMI has indicated that a college education would be desirable, but not required during the PMP application process. PMI also requires that the candidate have some project management experience. This can be project experience as a functional manager or even as the Project Manager’s assistant. PMI however prefers to see some management experience on an applicant’s profile. This is because PMI wants candidates to have prior experience managing people before they apply for the PMP certification.

Power of the Project Manager

PMI recognizes various forms of power that can be harnessed to resolve issues and drive a project towards the attainment of key objectives. You should be familiar with these various forms of power and how they can be appropriately used.

  • Legitimate Power: Legitimate Power refers to power that is derived from a person’s formal position within an organization and is best illustrated by their official job title or position. For example, the Vice President of Procurement within a company would hold a certain amount of power simply by virtue of her position.The title of Project Manager also holds a degree of legitimate power within an Organization, particularly if the position is formally acknowledged by the Project Sponsor in the Project Charter.
  • Coercive Power: Coercive Power is predicated on fear. There are moments within a project where this type of power must be exercised. For example, if you are dealing with an errant supplier who has to be brought back in line, threatening that supplier with contract claims and other penalties is a form of coercive power. As a general rule, PMI feels that a Project Manager should not go about threatening stakeholders and generally frowns on the practice of coercive power. However in certain circumstances, Coercive Power can be extremely effective. For the exam, remember that coercive power should only be used as a last resort.
  • Reward Power: Reward Power does not only refer to financial rewards. There are other instances where rewards can be given, such as rewarding a person for a job well done through a formal letter of commendation, or simply via a pat on the back. Reward Power is the practice of reinforcing good behavior. In most instances, this takes places as a form of encouragement of a job well done or acknowledging achievement. PMI cautions that Reward Power can be used to excessive limits. For the most part, reward power is based on our willingness to share rewards with our team members.
  • Expert Power: Expert Power refers to an individual’s treatment by other team members due to the exceptional quality of her work. Experts tend to possess the qualities of a person of sound mind and moral character and a very high degree of technical expertise. Expert Power exists when people value what an individual can bring to the table. The expert does not need to have a very impressive formal title, or be in charge of many people.Expert Power comes directly from the work performed in the past by this person plus the reputation that they have established over time.
  • Referent Power: Referent Power is based on the action of referring to the authority of a more powerful person as the basis for their own authority. From time to time, we have all run into individuals who use the authority of a superior to assign work to others. This type of power is short lived.
  • Purse-string Power: Purse-string power simply states that the person who controls the finances in a project will have authority over the project. This form of power lasts as long as there is money. Once the finances run out, then the power will no longer hold sway.
  • Bureaucratic Power: This pertains to a situation where the individual knows every aspect of the system and is able to utilize the system to enforce his or her authority. In many cases, an Executive Secretary to the President can be thought of as the gatekeeper and is in possession of bureaucratic power.
  • Charismatic Power: In this case, Charismatic Power refers to an individual who has the ability to draw and attract other people by virtue of an innate characteristic that they possess. Charisma does not always pertain to good looks. An individual who has the ability to listen and empathize with others can also possess great charisma.
  • Penalty Power: Penalty Power exists when an individual withholds things simply to get something done.
Exam Hint – PMI wants us to use Reward and Expert Power as much as possible. Also, most questions on Legitimate Power in the exam refer to an Organizational Chart. The project manager’s role is not commonly formally depicted in a position of formal authority.Most of the examples relating to formal authority would be titles like General Manger, Vice President, Director, CEO, CIO and CEO. All of the people within a company can be said to have formal authority simply by virtue of their title.

Project Conflict

Conflict is unavoidable from a Human Resource point of view and we must learn to deal with it. We need to understand why conflict is unavoidable. Projects are generally performed in high-stress environments, with deadlines and budgetary constraints  as well as an amalgamation of people who may have never worked with one another prior to the commencement of the project.

Another factor contributing to conflict is the ambiguity of roles that exist on a project. Team members generally have to figure out the roles and responsibilities of the various team members at the inception of the project. Good project management practice dictates that we always define the roles and responsibilities of the Project Manager at the beginning of the project.

In matrix-type organizations, project team members tend to report to multiple bosses and this can be very stressful. We should also be aware that the introduction of new technology within a project also raises conflict. According to PMI, technology causes risk and scope creep and so there are numerous of technology-related conflicts when it comes to managing a project.

Sources of Conflict

Project conflict can arise from a variety of sources:

  • Priorities: Conflicts can arise from different priorities between team members in the group.
  • Administrative Procedures: Conflicts can arise between differences between project methodologies and organizational procedures in the same company.
  • Technical Procedures and Performance tradeoffs: A project team is often confronted with the question of whether performing a task one way is worth the amount of time or energy is required to do so.
  • Personnel: The Project Manager experiences conflict in deciding which members are going to join the team.
  • Costs: Conflicts can arise from the costs incurred during the project.
  • Schedules: Scheduling conflicts can arise when project team members are associated with more than one project and the project manager also has to juggle the amount of time he has been allocated for each project team member.
  • Personalities: PMI recognizes personality conflicts to be one of the most difficult sources of conflict arising in a project.

Managing Conflict

Since conflict is practically unavoidable, a project manager must be proficient in how to resolve situations of conflict. PMI acknowledges several strategies for conflict resolution:

  • Problem Solving and Confrontation: These two terms are used interchangeably from PMI’s perspective. Confronting means to approach a problem head on.
  • Compromising: This is the most favored approach to dealing with team conflict. The approach involves bargaining and coming up with a solution that benefits both parties. In essence, both parties will not win completely, but each side gets some satisfaction. The key here is that if a win-win situation cannot be found then getting both parties to gain something through mutual give-and-take is the next best thing. PMI believes that this is the second best form of Conflict Management after Problem Solving and Confrontation.
  • Smoothing: Smoothing de-emphasizes the opponent’s differences and tries to establish some sort of commonality over the issue in question. We do not focus on our differences but on what we have in common. Smoothing keeps the atmosphere friendly, but does not really address the root causes of the conflict. Smoothing will help to move both conflicting parties closer to the next level of resolution, which is problem solving and confrontation. The key here is that Smoothing can be thought of as a way to transition into problem solving and confrontation.
  • Withdrawal: This occurs where one or both parties back down from conflict and do not want to deal with the conflict. We can liken this action to the ostrich sticking its head underneath the ground, believing that since it cannot see its problems, the problems have vanished. PMI believes that this conflict management methodology does not solve anything and delays any possible outcome. However, Withdrawing can be used very effectively when conflict first occurs and there is a great deal of emotion in the room. Withdrawing allows parties to ‘cool down’ and also to indulge in rational thought before re-engaging.
  • Forcing: Forcing occurs when we try to exert out own viewpoint on our counterparts  This is where we are going into a win-lose situation, also known as a ‘Zero-sum game’ or distributive outcome. For one party to gain something, the other party must inevitably lose. In fact, mutual benefit is not a likely outcome when using forcing as a tactic to resolve issues. Using a forcing strategy to end conflict typically ends up with soured relations between parties.

Exam Hint – Questions involving Forcing strategies have been seen in past exams: If two parties use ‘forcing strategies’ to resolve conflict, what is the end result? The answer is that a stalemate occurs. In other words, the conflict will never be resolved. Using Forcing as a tactic will end up with one party getting hurt.

 

Sample Question– 

If the project manager is confronted with a customer that is extremely upset with him, what method should the Project Manager use to resolve the issue?

a. Confrontation
b. Compromising
c. Smoothing
d. Withdrawal
Answer: The Project Manager resolves this issue by using confrontation. The term confrontation here refers to problem solving and facing the problem. The goal here is to find a win-win solution.

 

Team Building

We want to utilize team building as a positive force in countering the negative aspects of conflict. PMI’s philosophy on team building relates largely to a concerted effort within the Organization. PMI wants the project manager to look for opportunities to build a team throughout the project.

There are many positive outcomes to team building:

  • Interdependence of Team Members: PMI believes that the team members should be able to depend and rely on one another. Team members should work together to understand each other’s roles and responsibilities and know how each role fits in to the overall scope of the project.
  • Common Consensus: The team should have consensus regarding the defined project goals and objectives.
  • Group Work Commitment: Team members should be committed to working together in order to achieve a common end goal or objective. The team members should not feel that they have been coerced into working together.
  • Accountable as a Functional Unit: Team members should understand that they are accountable as a functional unit within a larger Organization and they should understand the project’s role in achieving the Organization’s goals.
  • Acknowledgement of Conflict: Team members should be aware that conflict may arise during the project and that it should be managed in a fair and equitable manner.

Symptoms of Poor Performance

The project manager should be ever vigilant of conflicts that can arise during a project. There are some symptoms that a manager can look out for when it comes to detecting poor performance in a project.

  • Frustration
  • Unhealthy Competition
  • Unproductive meetings
  • Lack of Trust or Confidence in Project Management

Ground Rules for Team Building

PMI states that the fundamental ground rule for team building is to start early.  You cannot afford to skip team building early on in the project. There are many crucial elements especially in the early stages of the project such as tight deadlines and demanding customers that need to be managed; however team building has to be accounted for from the very beginning of the project as a crucial ingredient for project success.

One of the priorities when it comes to assembling the team is getting the best people for the team. PMI does not refer to the most technically skilled people for the job in this case. We are looking at the best complement of skill sets to give us the best possible outcome for the project as a whole. We want to make sure that all stakeholders working on the project recognize that they are a part of a team. A lot of project managers frequently leave out the part timers and vendors, much to the detriment of the project.

One way of identifying stakeholders is to draw a network diagram that we discussed in the section on Project Time Management. We can identify all of the stakeholders responsible for performing each task in the network diagram. These are the people that need to be included in the team and they need to feel that they are contributing to the success of the project and that they are part of the team.  For example if you have a project and five months into a project, you’re going to need the help of the legal people, then the legal department should be made aware of this need at the very beginning of the project and they should be kept informed of the project status. They should also agree that when the time comes for them to participate, they will buy-in to the project and perform the work that is required of them.

Team Building Mantras:

  • Role Model: It is very important for the project manager to act as a role model. PMI states that if a project manager wants team members to act in a certain way, then the project manager has to lead by example.
  • Delegation builds teams:  The best way to ensure commitment from team members is to delegate responsibility, and to entrust and empower the individual team member. It is important for the Project Manager to have confidence in the abilities of the team that she has chosen. You shouldn’t force or manipulate team members to achieve a desired outcome.
  • Evaluations: The project manager must always evaluate team performance regularly.

Team building process

The project manager must use every possible opportunity for team building. A team building process can occur at a meeting, part of a social gathering, or part of a project audit. We need to use a process to consistently build a team. We go through the following steps for every project that we are involved in.

  • We plan ahead for team building: We make sure that everybody is aware of their assigned roles and responsibilities.
  • We negotiate with our team members: We go out and try to get the best possible talent for the team.
  • We organize the team: We organize the team members, we let them know what their roles and responsibilities are.
  • We have our kickoff meeting: We hold a kickoff meeting to make sure that everyone knows who is who; and who is talking to whom and when.

Team Building Exercises

Project teams need team building exercises to get motivated. Any opportunity that the Project Manager sees to build the team must be taken. Getting the project team to buy into the project and commit to a desired outcome is important to the success of any project. One of the things that can be done in order to accomplish this is to use team-building exercises.

Motivational Theory

Motivational theories attempt to explain what it is that motivates people to perform well at their jobs, in other words, what makes them tick. For the exam, you are required to understand several motivational theories that are currently observed and adopted in the management world.

Mazlow’s Pyramid

Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs has been around since 1943. Essentially there are 5 levels of needs as defined in his Pyramid:

Mazlow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The highest level of need is self-actualization. Knowledge of the pyramid can be asked in the exams, for example, what is the highest level for which the project manager can use to motivate his team members? Self-actualization.

Macgregor

Macgregor established a model on how to categorize individuals in the workplace and how the varying types would interact with each other.

  • Theory X:  The classic Theory X employee is unmotivated and uninspired. Somebody who you have to kick to get moving.
    X

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Theory Y: The classic Theory Y employee is somebody who is Gung-ho, excited and willing to get work done.
    Y

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Theory Z: This is an improvement over theory Y. If you put a supportive environment around a group of theory Y workers, then you can create even greater enhancements in performance. You can get theory y workers very excited by giving them a good solid environment to work in.

So what happens when you put a theory X manager together with a theory Y employee? You will have a lot of conflict. The theory Y worker will not accept poor treatment from the manager. In the case where a theory Y manager supervises a theory X worker, there will be relationship issues initially between the worker and the manager. Over time, the theory X worker will learn to welcome the new type of management style and possibly turn into a theory Y worker.

Theory X and Y are 2 extremes. The question to ask is where along the range of extremes does the Project Manager fall and where do the workers fall and how do they interact with one another; and how the Project Manager, depending on which theory type the team members belong to, can motivate the team to do a job.

Hertzberg

Hertzberg identified two sets of activities that satisfy a person’s needs. The first set of activities relates to job dissatisfaction and the second relate to job satisfaction .

  • Hygiene Factors: The activities that relate to job dissatisfaction are called hygiene factors. Examples would include pay and working conditions. Hertzberg’s theory states that a person requires sufficient pay and treatment as well as fairly decent working conditions to stay motivated. But paying this individual more and giving them better working conditions or a better supervisor does not necessarily motivate the individual any further.
  • Motivators: Most workers require a minimal level of hygiene factors in order to be able to work productively but in order to get energized, we need motivators, which are factors relating to job satisfaction. Motivators could be greater freedom on the job, or greater responsibility or even more recognition on the job.

Hygiene factors relate to job dissatisfaction and motivators relate to job satisfaction. The application of this knowledge is to find ways to retain and motivate team members. Your team members need to have their hygiene factors, but to really get your team members juiced up, you need to think of motivators.

Expectancy theory

Expectancy theory states that people will tend to be highly productive and motivated if the following two conditions are satisfied.

  • People believe that their efforts will likely lead to successful results.
  • People believe that they will be rewarded for their success.

In other words, if a person believes that a project will succeed then they are going to have an optimistic outlook and this will lead to better results.

Personnel benefits

Benefits a non-pay component of an employee’s salary and can be used to encourage productive behavior

  • Fringe benefits: These are the benefits that all employees in the same company receive. Things such as training, profit sharing and medical benefits that are over and above pay.
  • Perquisites: Also known as perks, common examples can be a company allowing you to work at home for a few days a week, or giving you that office in the corner that you always desired. Anything that the company feels is going to keep you motivated. Perks tend to be a lot more individualized than fringe benefits. Fringe benefits are generally given across the Organization to employees.

HR Roles and Responsibilities

Beyond the role of managing hiring for an Organization, HR performs a number of crucial functions. For example, training;  career planning and team building count as HR functions and have a direct impact on project team member performance. We look towards HR to fulfill these needs for our teams.

Summary:  Project Human Resource Management.

  • Develop Human Resource Plan
  • Acquire Project Team
  • Develop Project Team
  • Manage Project Team

Conclusion

In this section, we looked into the importance of team building, the need to motivate and encourage team members, roles and responsibilities of the Project Manager and ways to effectively deal with conflict.

In the next section, we will cover Project Communications Management

Thanks for sticking with me so far, and thanks for the comments and likes. They’ve been very encouraging!

Ook. Chimp out.

PMP Exam Prep – Part 9: Project Time Management

In this section, there will be a large focus on Scheduling. By the end of the section, you should develop an understanding of how networks are used to solve resource allocation; scheduling issues and leveling issues. You should expect to see PERT, CPM and Network diagrams in great detail during the exam. You should know how they are constructed and how schedules are computed.

Time Processes throughout the Project Lifecycle

There are five processes that relate to time when it comes to the Project Lifecycle:

  • Define Activities
  • Sequence Activities
  • Estimate Activity Resources
  • Estimate Activity Durations
  • Develop Schedule
  • Control Schedule

PMI wants us to be comfortable with each of the activities and the role that they play throughout the Project Lifecycle.

Exam Hint – Document original calculations in earlier questions as there is a good possibility that you might see the same example later in the question set. You should also be able to look at a PDM Method Diagram and calculate the Critical Path. For example, the question might ask you to calculate a new critical path based on new information provided by the question.

Define Activities

This process adheres to the concept of decomposition that was discussed in the previous section on Project Scope Management. By this stage of project planning, we have created the scope baseline a.k.a the WBS and we now want to decompose the WBS into a greater level of detail, such that we can define the activities that need to be completed in order for the total project to be considered complete.

For the exam, you will have to familiarize yourself with some of the various practices and techniques for defining activities. Some of these techniques are well established and have been around for a long time.

PERT

The PERT or Program Evaluation and Review Technique was developed in the late 1950s by the consulting firm Booz, Allen and Hamilton for the US Navy during the Polaris Submarine Program. The PERT technique was developed together with the Work Breakdown Structure or WBS.  The PERT works best in situations when an organization performs lot of projects that are similar in nature or repeats similar activities using a standardized process. For example, the US military used a well-defined and repeatable processes to build each submarine in the Polaris program. They could compare the durations that it took to perform a specific activity, such as installing a hatch or cover, across a number of different projects. PERT  is also best suited to situations where there  is flexibility when it comes to costs or budgets.

There are 3 Time Estimates found in PERT:

  • Pessimistic Time Estimate
  • Most Likely Time Estimate
  • Optimistic Time Estimate

PERT is a Probabilistic Time Estimate. The purpose of these calculations is to determine the likelihood of completing a particular path activity or even the entire project based on that activity. While PERT used to be a dominant activity estimation tool, it is not used that frequently today. We tend to see PERT used a lot in Precedence Diagrams, which will be discussed later in this section. Two calculations used by PERT that you will need to know for the exams are listed below:

(A) Most Likely Time Estimate (PERT Mean):

{Pessimistic Estimate + (4 x Most Likely) + Optimistic Estimate} /6

(B) PERT Standard Deviation:

(Pessimistic Estimate – Optimistic Estimate) /6

You are not required to calculate PERT in the exam, just need to know how to find the PERT standard deviation, which is by subtracting the optimistic estimate from the pessimistic estimate and dividing the result by six. A lot of people tend to get confused with the different formulas. For example, in the exam you might be presented with some duration estimates and asked to choose the PERT Standard Deviation from a number of formulas. One of the answers they give you will be the answer for the PERT mean and not the Standard Deviation.

Critical Path Method (CPM)

The DuPont corporation and Remington Rand developed CPM or the Critical Path Method in the 1950s. The application of CPM in those days was for planning and scheduling Plant maintenance and construction programs. The emphasis in this case was with controlling costs while leaving the schedule flexible.

We don’t need the Pessimistic and the Optimistic time estimates for calculating CPM. We just need one data point for CPM and that is the most likely time estimate. In other words, your best guess is good enough as far as coming up with the duration required for a particular activity or time. We use CPM when building Activity-On-Arrow diagrams.

CPM is not that popular today, and while we tend to use one time estimates per activity in most instances, we typically use the PERT formula to obtain the most likely time estimate.

Precedence Diagramming Method

The PDM or Precedence Diagramming Method is considered to be more commonly used today for formulating activity duration estimates when compared to either CPM or PERT techniques.  PDM was developed by a professor in Stanford University in the early 1960s and this method is also called Activity on Node.

To visualize an Activity on Node diagram, think of a picture of a network and you see boxes connected by lines and within the boxes are the activities. The lines between the boxes simply define the sequence of activities from one activity to the next.

Note that Activity on Node diagrams differ from Activity on Arrow or Activity on Line methods. Activities in the latter cases are depicted by lines in between the nodes. The activity is actually on the line and the nodes connecting the lines are simply identifiers of the activity itself.

Sequence Activities

For the exam, you will need to know the fundamental ways which networks are represented and how to construct and use network diagrams to calculate various characteristics of a project. Activity Sequencing follows up on the previous process, Activity Definition, by focusing on the appropriate sequence of performing activities now that they have been listed out.

At this point in the project, the planning team will be asking questions such as how particular tasks should be performed and in which sequence they should be carried out and if the tasks can be performed sequentially, in parallel or a combination of the two. The sequence could be linear, one after the other; or in parallel with certain tasks overlapping each other in certain cases. This largely depends on the nature of the work to be performed and how the various activities interact with one another..

Dependencies

When we do the sequencing, there are both hard and soft logics or Mandatory and Discretionary Dependencies that we need to pay attention to.

  • Mandatory Dependency or hard logic typically involves a physical or technological limitation of the work. For example, a prototype must be built before it can be tested. There is no overlap of activities here, there is a clearly defined sequence. You have to build a prototype before you can test it.
  • Discretionary Dependency or soft/ preferential logic is defined by a preference of how you would like to do something; how you might have done something in the past; or how your organization might dictate how a task is performed.

Examples of Discretionary Dependencies: We can find examples whenever there is a desire to sequence in a way that is desirable and customary. For instance, if you were doing plumbing and electrical work in sequence rather than in parallel, some people would prefer to perform one task and then move on to the other. However, it is not necessary to do so because of some mandatory dependency between the two. It is simply a matter of preference.

Another example is that some project management practitioners believe that the correct sequence in a project is that you must complete the concept phase before you can move to the design phase of the project lifecycle. This is not hard logic and is in fact preferential or soft logic.

Exam Tip – External dependencies are defined as anything that is needed from outside sources other than the project team. For example, prototype and test results that you rely on an external organization to perform. A example PMI likes to use is in regulatory environments, where you are waiting for the vendor, the client, the regulator or anybody external to the project to move it forward.

Activity on Arrow Method

The activity on arrow diagramming method involves the creation of a network of nodes and joining these nodes are arrows. All activities flow in one direction, typically from the left to the right and the actual activities and their durations are listed in the arrows. The nodes represent milestones, where there isn’t any work performed. All relationships are finish to start in an activity on arrow diagram.

Finish to start: Events occur in serial. You cannot start one activity until another activity finishes. Example, you cannot make the coffee until the water has boiled. There are many activities that can be done in parallel or overlap one another and as such, we see a case where Activity-On-Line diagrams don’t represent the real world that well.

Dummy Activities

How do you show complex dependencies when you cannot draw them on paper in activity on line diagrams? It may be impossible to draw an arrow from activity AC to activity AD due to tremendous complexity. The solution is to use dummy activities. These are activities that consume no time or resources and are displayed to show dependencies between different activities that would otherwise not be drawn. A dashed or dotted line represents a dummy activity

Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM/AON)

The precedence diagram method was developed to overcome some of the limitations of Activity-On-Line Diagrams. There are no dummy activities in this case. PDM is one of the most commonly used network diagramming techniques and you need to be familiar with how to construct and analyze these diagrams for the exam.

Exam Tip –Definitions and terms: In studying for the exam, it is important to look at lists of terms and memorize those terms. Many questions require you to know the definitions of a term such as Float in order to correctly answer the questions. For example, there is a distinction between Lag and Slack that should be noted for the exam. 

The following list defines some of the most frequently used terms in network diagramming. You should develop a thorough understanding of these terms.

  • Lag: Imposed Waiting Time. For example, when you paint a room, you will have to wait for the paint to dry once you paint the room. No resources are consumed in this case, while the paint is drying. Lag adds to the Duration of an activity.
  • Negative Lag (Lead): The opposite of lag, this is the ability to jump ahead before you start the next activity in a Finish to Start Relationship.
  • Critical Path: The critical path is the path through the network that takes the most amount of time. It represents the least amount of time with which the project can be completed. (see section below for full explanation)
  • Slack (Float): Slack is the amount of time whereby a particular activity can be delayed without delaying the entire project.  Slack is a function of the network and is calculated by looking at the network.
  • Zero Slack: Activities on the Critical Path generally have zero slack, this doesn’t always have to be the case. Sometimes, the critical path is the path with the least float or slack. For example, if you have an imposed end date, it is possible to have a float of perhaps one or two days.
  • Total Float: The Total Float is calculated by analyzing the network of a project. The Total Float does not affect the end date of the project. Typically, the Total Float can be defined by the Late Start minus the Early Start or the Late Finish minus the Early Finish. 
  • Free Float: This is an activity’s Float that does not have an impact on the next task in the network. Free float looks at how much this task can be delayed without impacting the very next task, also known as the nearest successor in the network.

Critical Path

The Critical Path is probably the most important concept when it comes to Project Time Management. The total duration of all the activities in a single path from start to finish is summed up to a number and expressed in days or hours. That number traces the longest path through the network and is also the shortest time in which the project can be completed. There can also be more than one Critical Path for a network in many projects. So don’t be fooled by a question that leads you to believe that there is only one Critical Path.

  • Q: How do you determine if a task is critical?
  • A: There is no slack or float for a particular activity.

PDM Relationships

There are different types of relationships connecting the activities depicted in Precedence Diagrams. The knowledge of these relationships is very important when we look at PDM.

  • Finish-to-Start – Activity A must be 100% complete before Activity B starts. If you were to impose lag, then it would occur between these 2 activities. E.g. Activity “A” would finish and then n days later, “B” would start.
  • Finish-to-Finish – We can use a Christmas family dinner as an example. Good cooks tend to time the preparation the various side dishes such that they finish at the same time as the main dish. This way all of the dishes can appear on the table at the same time, in a finish-to-finish relationship.
  • Start-to-Start – Both events can start at the same time and can therefore run in parallel. There is no time lapse between the two activities. A time lapse might occur if there is lag time or an imposed waiting time.
  • Start-to-Finish – For example, in some organizations, the selection process for Project Manager role has to be underway for at least 2 weeks before the proposal phase may finish. This is a way to ensure that all the candidates for the PM role have a chance to look at a proposal before it goes out the door. In this case, the Project Manager Selection Phase Starts with a  lag time of 2 weeks, then the Proposal phase may finish for a project.

You will not be required to distinguish between different scenarios for the 4 types of relationships in the exam. Rather, you will have to determine how they are expressed. The terminology used in the question is what you have to pay attention to. For example, you need to know the precise terms, i.e. Finish-to-Finish and Start-to-Start and not “Beginning to End” or “End to Finish”

Crashing

Crashing represents a need to accelerate the schedule or reduce the duration of a project or phase within the project. Crashing almost always increases your cost, illustrating the interplay of the Triple Constraint we had discussed in the section on Project Integration management.  The increase in costs can be due to a need to add more Human Resources or Equipment to the project or even allocating more salaried personnel in order to perform the work. Note that there is a cost for salaried project personnel. For example, as more of a project manager’s time is allocated to a project, there will be a cost relating to a loss in productivity due to fatigue.

When it comes to selecting the activities to crash, we only want to crash activities on the Critical Path. It is these activities that are directly impacting the duration of the Project. All other activities that do not lie on the Critical Path should have inherent float or slack and so expending resources to crash these non-critical path activities will result in comparatively less dramatic results to the duration of the total project. If you want to accelerate the project schedule, then you will have to find a way to reduce the duration of the critical path.

We want to look into crashing the activities where we are going to gain the most amount of time for the least amount of cost. You may also want to look at the rest of your network and try to determine the activities that are close to the critical path. If you crash your critical path too much, a new critical path may appear or you might end up adding these tasks onto your critical path as well.

Fast-tracking

For fast-tracking, we are attempting to do the project with the same defined amount of resources that we estimated, but we are trying to achieve the same work in less time. The way to do this is by running tasks in parallel. Such that once a particular task starts, we might start another task immediately. We are trying to work on more tasks at the same time. There is a disadvantage to Fast-tracking, which is the increase in level of risk and complexity: As you increase the complexity of a project, you inherently increase the risk and this increases the probability that the project might fail.

Concurrent Engineering: There is a technique that is similar to Fast-tracking and has appeared in the exams. Some people call this Fast-tracking. But it really is a planning technique or an approach to a project, where when be begin the project we have all the parties that will be somewhat involved in the project to be part of the initial project planning team.

The objective in this case is to become aware of all of the tasks in the project and plan for the tasks that have to be performed. This way, we are concurrently analyzing the work that we need to do and we are preparing for the work that has to be done. This can significantly help a project complete sooner as more people have been made aware of what they have to do earlier in the project. The key difference in this case is that while Fast-tracking looks at overlapping tasks, Concurrent Engineering looks at overlapping entire Phases.

Gantt chart

What is the best tool for planning and analyzing your project schedule? If you said Gantt Chart, that you answered incorrectly! Gantt charts are great presentation tools, however the PDM and Network Diagrams are the best tools to use for analysis because they show us relationships between different activities.

01 Gantt

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 5-1. Gantt chart

The Gantt chart does not show all of the interrelationships between the activities. While Project Management software applications such as Microsoft Project and Basecamp.com commonly provide us with a Gantt Chart view of our project, not all of the relationships are displayed in the Gantt chart. We use the network diagram to see how every activity relates to every other activity for the project. This is the best tool to use for comprehensively planning out a project schedule.

The entire notion of a Gantt chart does not include dependency lines such as the arrows we see in Activity on Node diagrams. Technically, once we add Arrows to a Gantt chart, it is no longer a Gantt Chart, but instead a time-scale dependency diagram.

Milestone

A milestone is an activity with a duration of zero. It exists at a particular juncture in time that you have identified as being significant to the project and that you want to communicate to stakeholders. I.e. it could be the end of a phase or task or the delivery of a work result or even the expenditure of a certain sum of money. Milestones are very effective in communicating with upper management or the customer. The reason is that these parties may not be interested in looking at the technical details of the project. They may not even be able to understand some of the details at the lower levels of the WBS.

Exam Tip –You may be asked in the exam if a kickoff meeting is a milestone. The answer is No. The kickoff meeting in its raw state takes a lot of time and resources. The kickoff meeting can be converted to a milestone as follows “Kickoff meeting complete.” Or “Kickoff meeting underway,”

 

Develop Schedule

In this process, we develop the schedule by analyzing activity durations and sequences, related resource requirements and related dependencies. We will go through several techniques that can be used to develop an efficient schedule.

Types of Schedules

There are several classifications of schedules that can be created. Several are listed below:

  • Heuristic Scheduling: This is also known as rule of thumb estimating; learning by discovery; or learning by trial and error. PERT is a good example of a form of heuristic scheduling.
  • Resource-constrained Schedule: In a situation where there is competing demand between projects for a scarce resource, you end up updating and scheduling your project around the availability of this resource. An example could be the leasing of shared equipment or facilities; or the use of a subject-matter expert. The impact of varying resource availability is that the project has the potential to extend or shrink in duration.
  • Time-constrained Schedule: This occurs in a scenario where the network schedule is fixed. In other words, there exists a fixed, hard coded date which we must adhere to by all means. For example during the Y2K readiness programmes for many businesses, December 31st 1999 was a hard set date of completion that could not vary.

Leveling

We want to ensure that we do not exhaust the resources that are working on our project. For example, if we try to crash a project or particular task, a particular resource might end up working 18 hours straight, which is not a sustainable level of effort. The objective of leveling is to establish a schedule where a resource is used in a pretty much consistent manner over time. A situation where there might be a bad allocation of resources is when a resource is utilized heavily in one period of time and not utilized at all in another period. Ideally, we want to find a way where the resource is used in a pretty much consistent manner over the duration of the project.

We recognize that our resources might be overworked and by performing leveling, we reduce the overcommitment of resources. Leveling inherently lengthens the project schedule, especially if the resource is required to perform a task on the critical path. However, if we have adequate float, or the resource is involved in an activity that is not on the critical path, then we may not lengthen the schedule.

Schedule Conflicts

Conflicts can arise between the project team and the client due to scheduling issues such as tasks or objectives being unable to be reached by a predetermined time. You need to be aware of certain tools which can aid the Project Manager in the process of resolving these conflicts.

  • Resource Histogram: This is a bar chart that displays which resources are being used and across what time they are utilized.
  • Resource Gantt: This is a Gantt chart that displays the tasks and responsibilities of individual resources. It shows the utilization of resources across a Gantt view. In the exam, you will be tested more on your knowledge the definition of this tool rather than on your ability to create or work with one.
  • Responsibility Matrix: This is a list of the tasks and activities together with assigned resources for performing each particular task in the project.

Monte Carlo Simulation

There is very little emphasis on the exam for the technical details of Monte Carlo. Monet Carlo is an iterative process and is performed many times, usually on a computer.  Monte Carlo takes the individual activities in a project and looks at what the range of variability is for each activity. Each time we run a simulation, we vary an individual activity slightly to see how it impacts the overall project. By running thousands of simulations, patterns start to emerge and we can start prioritizing activities that have the greatest impact on the project that we want to look out for.

For example, Activity A may take between 3 to 5 days to complete and activity B may take between 4 and 6 days. We input these possible combinations of activities into a model and run a simulation to see how changes to these activity durations may impact the overall project finish date. The first time we run the simulation, we might come up with a duration of 3 days for Activity A and 6 days for activity B. The next iteration might result in 4 days for Activity A and 5 days for Activity B. The process may be repeated many thousands of times in order to build a statistical regression of possible outcomes.

All that we need to know is that Monte Carlo Simulations are run iteratively based on parameters of a particular activity to see where the schedule will generally fall out. Monte Carlo also tends to be a lot more pessimistic in nature than CPM and PERT. This is because Monte Carlo accounts for all of the near-critical paths. PERT is more pessimistic than CPM because CPM works on a single data point duration whereas PERT includes the most pessimistic duration estimates.

Summary:  Project Time Management.

  1. Activity Estimation
  2. Activity Sequencing
  3. PERT and CPM
  4. AON and AOA Diagrams
  5. Crashing and Fast Tracking
  6. Leveling

Conclusion

In this section, we looked at another component of the Triple Constraint, Project Time Management. We learnt that Project Time Management typically takes place after we build a WBS and utilizes the concepts of decomposition to build an activity list, sequence these activities and build up duration estimates for these activities. We build project schedules using tools such as our Activity on Arrow and Precedence Diagramming Methods a.k.a. Activity on Node diagrams. We use concepts such as the Critical Path to focus our efforts in managing potentially complex networks that could have thousands of paths. Finally we use concepts such as Crashing, Fast-tracking and Leveling to manage our networks.

In the next section, we will review the third Triple Constraint, Project Cost Management.

The Chimp says, “Have a drink, you deserve it!”

Ook!

PMP Exam Prep – Part 8: Project Scope Management

In this section we will learn how to define, measure and control the amount work to be performed in order to achieve the goals or objectives of a project.

Project Scope Management involves some of the earliest activities that a PM will manage on a project. Logically, you need to first figure out the total amount of work you need to accomplish in order to complete a project before you can calculate how long the project will take and also how expensive the project will be. You might also recall from earlier sections that Scope is a component of the Triple Constraint and therefore Scope is the first of the triple constraints that we focus on.

Scope Activities throughout the Project Lifecycle

There are five processes that relate to scope when it comes to the Project Lifecycle:

  • Collecting Requirements
  • Defining Scope (Planning)
  • Creating the WBS
  • Verify Scope
  • Control Scope

PMI wants us to be comfortable with each of these processes and the role that they play throughout the Project Lifecycle.

Collecting Requirements

PMI’s approach towards Project Scope Management is to start off by collecting requirements. Here, we first perform a needs analysis as well as some initial data gathering. The focus here is on starting some of the very preliminary processes of the project. Some of the activities performed include:

  1. Performing the initial Risk assessment.
  2. Conducting Focus Groups and Workshops
  3. Working through Questionnaires and Surveys
  4. Evaluating Prototypes

At this point in the project, we’re still trying to identify what the requirements are and how we can measure the success of a project. It’s important to note that we should have a copy of the Project Charter to refer to at this point, as the Charter is listed as an input to the project.

Define Scope

We go through a process known as decomposition. We start with some of the preliminary bit of information that we have assembled in the project to date, such as a Project Charter, Statement of Work and Business Plans and we’re trying to break down the requirements into a greater level of detail. In other words, we are trying to build a detailed description of the project and its final deliverables.

Tools and techniques

  1. Product Analysis
  2. Alternatives Identification
  3. Facilitated Workshops

The output of this process is the Project Scope Statement. The scope statement is a written document and it contains a project justification; the product or end result of the project; as well as the overall objectives of the project being undertaken. The Scope Statement is often an attachment to the Project Charter and not part of the Project Charter itself.

The Project Scope Statement commonly contains the following components:

  • Project Scope Description
  • Acceptance Criteria or what must be completed in order for the project to be considered a success
  • Deliverables which can be thought of as the end result of the project
  • Exclusions which typically identify the areas that are out of scope for the project
  • Constraints which are externally imposed restrictions on the project, such as deadlines, budgets and limited resources
  • Assumptions relating to the scope of the project and the potential impact of these assumptions if they are not valid.

Create WBS

The WBS is a Product oriented (no longer task oriented) family tree of activity according to PMI.  The US Military was responsible for many advances in Project Management, including the development of the WBS as well as the PERT technique (A concept we will cover in the section under Project Time Management) that was developed during the Polaris Submarine Missile Program.

Decomposition and the 100% rule

Decomposition is the process of breaking down project deliverables into smaller, more manageable components, as the WBS is constructed in a hierarchical fashion and gets into progressively greater detail as we move from the upper levels of the WBS into the lowest levels of the WBS, also known as the work package level.

The 100% rule states that the WBS should capture all of the deliverables, both internal and external to the project. This follows the concepts of MBO, which were highlighted in the section on Project Integration Management. MBO or Management By Objective  defines an approach where all of the efforts in a project are directed solely towards the achievement of project objectives and that absolutely no effort should be focused on tasks that are superfluous to the project.

WBS Coding Scheme

You should be familiar with the WBS coding scheme for the exam. A coding scheme refers to the numbering format that is attached to the various levels of the WBS. An example of the WBS scheme is listed below:

152.1.1   Hardware Build-out

152.1.1.1  Requirements Definition

152.1.1.2  Scheduling and Procurement

152.1.1.3  Assembly

152.1.1.4  Closeout

152.1.2   Product Training

152.1.2.1  Training Requirements

152.1.2.2  Scheduling and Logistics

Cost Account – Work Package Relationship

The cost account is a term used when analyzing or constructing the WBS and is deemed to be just one level up from the lowest level, also known as the work package level in the WBS. The cost account is considered to be a summary activity with the work package as its child.

Exam Hint – Distractor answers in the exam. You will be presented with several options that are similar to “Cost Account”. For example, Code of Accounts: Defined in the WBS as any numbering system that is used to uniquely identify each WBS element. Chart of Accounts: Defined as any numbering system used to identify project costs by category and does not appear on the WBS. You might be asked to distinguish between these terms on the exam.

 

80 Hour Rule

This is a generally accepted rule when it comes to assembling the WBS. No discrete activity or series of activities should consume more than 80 hours of effort to accomplish a deliverable. This is equivalent to two 40-hour work weeks. This was a common practice especially in environments where reporting periods are conducted once every two weeks. This rule defines a level of work effort as compared to duration of a particular activity. For example, you can get 80 hours of work completed in one day if you hire enough people.

WBS Benefits

The WBS can provide many benefits to a project, we have listed several below:

  • Team Building
  • Creating a Framework
  • Clarifies Responsibility
  • Clarifies Objectives

In addition, the WBS can be used to help with all of the configuration management processes, including planning; budgeting; funding; estimating and scheduling.

Other Breakdown Structures

For the exam, you will be required to distinguish between the WBS and other breakdown structures. Several common breakdown structures have been listed below:

  • CWBS or contractual work breakdown structure: This is the customer’s perspective of the work breakdown structure.
  • OBS or organizational breakdown structure: The work tied into the hierarchy. We look at the individual elements of the WBS and tie that into the organization. We look at the tasks and refer to the departments in the organization that should be performing the work.
  • RBS or resource breakdown structure: We break down the tasks at the resource level.
  • PBS or project breakdown structure: This is simply another name for the WBS.

Scope Baseline

The WBS lays down the scope baseline for the project and that is because if a task is not in the project, it will not appear in the WBS.  We can have multiple baselines in a project, including a quality baseline; a cost baseline (budget) and a time baseline (schedule). The WBS is still considered to be the primary baseline.

Verify Scope

The scope verification process involves formalizing the acceptance of the Project Scope by Stakeholders.Before we commence on a project, it makes good sense to make sure that everyone agrees on the objectives defined by the project scope before we start investing all of our resources such as time and money.

Similarly, as we complete our work, we also need to obtain acceptance of our work results. As part of our process within the entire project or for each individual phase in the project life-cycle, we need to continuously gain and get acceptance before we move onwards.

In simple terms, we perform verification to ensure that what we have done so far is close to what we had initially planned. We are trying to minimize our level of risk by performing verification. In other words, as the complexity of a project increases, so then does the degree of risk involved in the project.

A good example would be to try to take a shortcut that you’re not familiar with as you’re driving toward a destination. As you turn off the highway, you realize that there is the possibility that you might encounter construction, get lost or even run into bad traffic. The complexity increases as you select this additional route, and hence the risk or the possibility of affecting the outcome of the journey increases.

Conclusion

In this section, we reviewed several concepts relating to Project Scope Management. We reviewed the need to collect requirements and define our scope through a Project Scope Statement and we also looked into the concept of Decomposition, where we break down information into it’s component parts and seek to explain or describe a task in greater detail. We looked at the WBS and examined some of its structural components.

In the next section, we will look at Project Time Management, another element of the triple constraint.

Hope you found this article interesting. As always, show some love by leaving your comments or likes.

Road Chimp signing out.

PMP Exam Prep – Part 7: Project Integration Management

This section is relatively easy to study for. If you’ve worked on a number of sizable projects, you probably would have participated in some of these processes, even if your Organization called them something else. Most candidates will not find Integration Management too difficult, as there aren’t any complex mathematical formulas to apply, nor any sophisticated tools to use in the exam. There is a lot of material to cover, however.

Things to be tested on

  1. Develop Project Charter
  2. Develop Project Management Plan
  3. Direct and Manage Project Execution
  4. Monitor and Control Project Work
  5. Perform Integrated Change Control
  6. Close Project or Phase

This section of the PMBOK is more concentrated on project plan development. Most people don’t spend a huge amount of time digging into this part of the class. If you actively practice project management this will be okay.

HINT: Don’t focus solely on the PMBOK as your only study guide. It provides an excellent frame of reference, but it doesn’t cover all of the concepts in detail that you need learn to pass the exam.

Develop Project Charter

According to PMI, the Project Charter is a crucial document that should be created at the inception of every project. The Charter is a formal document that serves to fulfill the following needs:

  • Project Statement of Work (SOW): In many cases, this document would have been created in a pre-sales phase of the engagement. It can be thought of as a document that reflects a mutual understanding between the customer (entity paying for the work) and contractor (entity doing the work).
  • Business Case: What was the business rationale for this project? In other words, why are we doing this?
  • High Level Goals and Objectives: What do we hope to accomplish by performing this project?
  • Identify of the Project Manager: The Project Manager can use this document as recognition of his formal authority pertaining to a specific project and this comes useful when the Project Manager needs to marshal resources in the latter stages of the project.
  • Formal sign-off by a project stakeholder: Probably the most important function of the Charter, this indicates that someone in Senior Management has formally sanctioned this project and also that the Project Manager should be empowered to perform actions necessary to get the project moving forward.

It’s important to note that because the Charter is a document that is created in the very early stages of a project, many key elements that come on to define the project may not have been discovered yet. For example, at the creation of a Charter, we may not yet know how exactly we will be going about doing the actual work to accomplish our high level goals and objectives.  We probably wouldn’t have even assembled a project team yet. Many of the constraints and assumptions may not be defined either. It therefore makes sense that the Project Charter is deliberately kept at a very high-level, meaning to say that the Charter shouldn’t go into too much detail.

Develop Project Plan

According to PMI, the development of the Project Plan involves using the outputs of the other project planning processes to create a coherent, consistent document that is used as a guide for project execution and control. Note that the plan is used for guiding execution and control and does not actually do execution or control processes. It also helps to clarify the notion of constraints and assumptions

Assumptions

Assumptions are factors that for planning purposes might be considered to be true, real or certain. This can be considered to be a risk. Assumptions should always be evaluated for accuracy later on!

Constraints

Constraints are factors that might restrict a team’s options. For example, constraints can come in the order of Contract fixed costs, or schedules.

The Triple Constraint –This is an important concept that you will be required to understand for the exam. The triple constraint basically indicates that there are three forces that are imposed on a project, namely Time (Schedule), Cost (Resources) and Scope (Requirements). These three forces work in tandem to influence how a project can progress.  Typically when one of the triple constraint changes, it will impact the other two constraints and a project manager should be aware of this.

Stakeholders and Stakeholder Management

One of the primary responsibilities of a Project Manager is in managing the interests of all the related stakeholders in a project. Stakeholders can be defined as any person or entity that has an interest in the project. This also includes people who have a negative interest in the project

  • Customers
  •  Management
  • Team
  • Project Sponsor
  • Performing Organization (especially in Matrix organization)
Exam Hint: Stakeholder ResponsibilitiesIn the exam, you will be frequently asked to define the responsibilities for the various stakeholders. For example, the project team is responsible for assembling the project plan. Exam: Who is responsible for the project plan? A: Project Team is.

Project Management Information System

Any method that is used to identify information, review information, make information easier to understand for stakeholders.  This could also be even a form on a sheet of paper.

Direct and Manage Project Execution

This is can be seen as putting the plan into practice. Remember execution is one of the 5 project process groups, which also relates to control.  It is important to note that execution and control go together.In the execution phase of a project, the majority of a budget is spent as well the majority of time in the project. Whenever you hear most of the time or all of the time in the exam, you can start looking for the execution phase.

General Management skills

A good project manager should possess good Management qualities overall. PMI indicates the following five general management skills that can be memorized by the mnemonic – PLINC, like the sound the keys make on a piano

  • Problem solving: Defining a problem, making a decision and influencing a company to make things get done. Power- potential ability to influence behavior and get people to do things they otherwise might not do. Politics- getting collective action from different people who might have different interests.
  • Leading: A leader provides direction and guides the team towards achieving project results.  This involves establishing direction and aligning, motivating and inspiring people.Note that managing isthe act ofconsistently producing results that stakeholders expect. Note: The project manager is designated officially as the manager, but at any time, any member of the team can display leadership skills.
  • Influencing:  This refers to theability to get the results that you want, to influence actions or behavior in an organization.
  • Negotiating:  Dealing with team members, functional managers and customers.
  • Communicating: Making sure that accurate information is provided to appropriate parties at the right time.

Management by Objective (MBO)

Peter Drucker, one of the fathers of modern management, developed MBO. Basically, as we look at a project, we need to define what kind of work we need to achieve and how does the work align with the objectives or strategy of the organization. Here, PMI is looking for a link back to the organization. PMI wants us to be aware of how senior management sets objectives and how they are executed lower down in the hierarchy and how our projects contribute to these corporate objectives.

According to MBO, the objectives must be measurable and unambiguous, realistic and mutually accepted by the performing organization as well as the functional organization or sponsor organization. For example, if we use the analogy of painting a room, we might initially use the statement of  ‘I would like to paint my room a pleasing color’. This statement is not specific enough. With the application of MBO to this task would be as follows: ‘Management wants this room painted Aspen 101 Grey, Aspen 102 Gray, Sherwin Williams semi-gloss latex and they want it no later than by Friday with a color to match the chip precisely’ – this is a precise objective that is easier to carry out and less susceptible for misinterpretation.

There is a process involved in achieving Management By Objective organizationally. The steps can be listed below:

  1. Establish unambiguous and realistic objectives. (This means that multiple people can read an objective and have the same idea of what this objective means.) We know what there is to be done for an objective and we know we have the skills and tools necessary to perform the objective as well.
  2. Periodically evaluate if project objectives are being achieved. Looking at the project lifecycle, plenty of opportunity to look back at the beginning and end of each phase to see if we are meeting the objective that we had set forth.
  3. After the evaluation, we should act on the results of the evaluation.
    1. If we’re doing great, then we should maybe adjust our schedule
    2. If we are not doing so well, then perhaps we should bring in some people.

The key takeaways of MBO are that good metrics will determine if you have a good way to measure how well the objectives are being reached. Getting Management to buy into your metrics is also important to the success of your project.

Work Authorization System

The Work Authorization System becomes a formal process in which a person says ‘Okay, this work is supposed to be done and I release this.’ Some important points for an organization to look out for are as follows:

  1. Who is approving the work and how it is being authorized.
  2. Someone who has to sanction the work. The scope cannot be changed so easily.
  3. In a lot of Organizations, this step is skipped.

 

Monitor and Control Project Work

This is the process of measuring and identifying project progress. In other words, how are we doing so far? This can take place at different times throughout the project. For the exam, you will need to be aware of 2 types of evaluations.

  1. Mid-project Evaluation. This can occur more than once throughout the project. At some throughout the project, such as at the end of a project life-cycle phase or when a critical milestone has been done, it is time to see if the project is meeting its objectives. AKA – Project Audit.  Analogy – auditor is someone who shows up after a battle and shoots the wounded.
  2. Final (Post)-project evaluation. When the project is complete, you find lessons learned for the purposes of sharing the information with other project teams.

Exam Hint: Purpose of evaluations
Exams would ask if these evaluations are used to ascribe blame or to punish. The answer is NO. Simply for the purposes of understanding where the project has been, where the project is going and what went right or wrong. To analyze the systems and see how they were applied successfully or badly.

PMI wants us to conduct the evaluations with all teams and treat each team fairly and consistently every time.

Customer satisfaction

The concept of customer satisfaction ties back into setting the right expectations. By definition, customer satisfaction is satisfying the requirements as opposed to exceeding expectations.  Several points that should be noted as follows:

  • It doesn’t take extras to satisfy the customer
  • Objective is to tie-in back to expectations.
  • Relates to an accurate needs analysis of how customer expectations are satisfied.

Progress Reports

Evaluations and Progress Reports are not the same. Progress reports are defined as the gathering of information and the establishing of what decisions need to be made in the future. Looking at the past, but looking at it in the present to realize what decisions will be made to affect our future. You need to know the difference between the kinds of reports.

  • Status Report – tells us where are we today at this point in time
  • General progress report – tells us where we have been
  • Trend Analysis Report – how these things are going to project us into the future
  • Variance Analysis
  • Exception Reports
  • Cost reporting (Cost Management)
  • General Types of reports such as – Gant Charts, Network Diagrams, Milestone Charts. (Time Management)

Work Results

This is defined as an output of the project plan execution or as the results of the project plan. We want to see if work was performed according to what was planned in the WBS.  When results are different from what was planned, then we need to create a change request

Perform Integrated Change Control

PMI recommends that a formal be adopted by an organization to manage changes. For instance, a change request should be made whenever modification of scope/schedule/resources occurs in some way or another during the project. This is because any change has the potential to impact the triple constraint and may have far reaching implications on the success of the project.. Therefore Integrated Change Control puts down some ground rules to manage these changes.

  1. The project team cannot willingly make changes to a project without formal authorization (See next point).
  2. Changes will only occur with the sanction of a Change Control Board (CCB) or Systems Configuration Control Board (SCCB).
  3. The CCB can comprise of members from your organization as well as the customer’s organization. This works to the Project Manager’s advantage in being able to turn down requests from a customer if the CCB has turned down the request.
  4. There may be more than one CCB in a large project or and for very small projects,  a single person might be the CCB.

Don’t concern yourself with the size or scale of the change, but instead focus on the function. Questions can be asked to aid in this process. For example, ‘How is this change going to affect our scope, resources and requirements?’ Ultimately, the key point to take note of here is that a customer requires a change and there is a formal process whereby that change is evaluated.

Implementing Change

Practically speaking, when it comes to change, each project can either stand on its own or have multiple dependencies on other projects. The change process can be protracted or it can be very short. Some projects have a threshold of change, meaning to say that the Project Manager has within his remit certain thresholds for change that he is authorized to approve. Anything beyond that threshold would require submitting the changes to a CCB for approval.

Configuration Management

This occurs in large organizations, which follow rigid change management processes. When you try to change anything, you are asked to ‘use a form’. While typically thought of as time consuming, a properly managed configuration management system is not necessarily a bad thing. Good configuration management systems typically follow a small set of rules:

  • The deliverable has to be defined with great clarity
  • We have to rigorously control change to that deliverable
  • We have to make sure that the deliverable is consistent with the existing system

The concept of internal consistency or traceability applies, as we migrate from the detailed design, to the general design and to the specifications, over to the WBS and then back and forth across all of the processes, we should still come up with the same answer. This is also a principle benefit of the paradigm of Management by Objective or MBO, that there isn’t any wasted effort or work performing activities or functions that will not drive the completion of the project’s objectives.

The WBS is born from the requirements, the requirements are developed from customer needs, and these should be evident in the general design and the detailed specifications.

Audits

Audits are crucial in a configuration management environment. This is because we need to ensure that our strict standards are being adhered to. We need to be very thorough and the way to achieve this is through audits.

Lessons Learned

Project lessons learned is a process where we explicitly try to identify that we have learned something from a project. We want to focus on the end result of a project plus the process that we used to get to that end result.  Lessons learned are documented and kept in a centralized repository where it can be accessed by other users and readily accessible

The rationale here is that an organization is doomed to repeat the same mistakes unless it can find a way to document these lessons and transmit them to others who can benefit in the future.

Summary:  Project Integration Management.

“Project management is supposed to be at one with the organization.”

  1. Project definitions.
  2. 5 Basic Process Groups.
  3. Constraints and Assumptions
  4. PMIS
  5. Project Plan and Project Plan execution fundamentals
  6. General management skills
  7. MBO – Establishing Unambiguous Objectives
  8. Reports  – Types of reports and audits and the evaluations that go along with them
  9. Change Control – All the forms that go along with this.

Conclusion

In this section, we covered Project Integration Management, a crucial aspect of project management, where the diverse elements of the project are coordinated together in order to achieve the objectives of the project.

In the next section, we will start to cover the first of the Triple Constraints: the Project Scope Management knowledge area.

Hope this has been useful and thanks for all the great comments!

Ook! Road Chimp, signing out.

PMP Exam Prep – Part 5: The Project Management Processes

In this section, we will explore the basic structure of the PMBOK and how PMI has chosen to organize the 42 different Project Management Processes into five basic categories. Knowledge of how the PMBOK is structured will be key in your efforts to prepare for the certification exam as well as to apply the PMBOK in a practical setting.

Process Groups Definition

Candidates need to know what these process groups are and what they produce.  Also interesting to note that within a project, the different phases within the lifecycle of the project will also go through these process groups. For example, during the concept phase of a product, the project team will perform several processes just for that single phase. First you initiate the phase, then you plan it, execute it and finally you close it before moving on to the next phase.

Please refer to Table 3-1 in the PMBOK. You must learn to understand the nature of process interactions. Time spent on this chart is well spent. Memorize this chart. I’ve included a copy of the chart at the bottom of this post, just scroll to the bottom to see it.

It lists all of the 42 Project Management processes listed in the PMBOK that are categorized into 5 Project Management Process Groups. In the exam, you will have to know which of these come from which different process areas. For example, Develop Project Charter is an initiating process.

Knowledge beyond the PMBOK

PMI recognizes that there is more to an effective Project Manager than knowledge of the PMBOK. Figure 3 below highlights some of the different realms of knowledge that PMI believes we should be aware of.

01

Fig. 5-1 Project Management Realms of Knowledge

For example, under General Management Knowledge and Skills a manager would be responsible for performing activities that would encompass a greater scope than an individual project, such as performing periodic performance evaluations of her staff.

Process Group Interactions

02

 

 

 

Fig. 5-2 Process Group Interactions

Process groups typically are an iterative process and run serially from Initiating to Planning.  You initiate a project and then you begin to plan it and then you execute it. But during your execution, you control it, which may then cause you to re-plan. So there is overlap there until you eventually finish this process group and continue on to the closing processes.

It is important to note that process groups frequently run in parallelto one another, as process groups are not always discrete or separate and there can be some overlap between the various process groups during the course of a project.

In later parts of this course, you will learn that activities relating to Risk Management and Cost management typically run continually throughout the project and do not have a distinct ending point from one process to another.

03

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 3-1 Project Management Process Groups and Knowledge Areas Mapping

You will have to become intimately familiar with this table in order to do well in the exam. Think of the table as encompassing  the entire ‘universe’ of activities that are necessary to managing a project successfully. All of these processes are interwoven together, as the outputs of one process may become the inputs of others.

It is quite likely that you will see more than one question in the PMP exam testing you on your understanding of a particular process. For example, you may be asked to identify the correct outputs of the Quality Assurance process, or since this is a Multiple Choice Examination, you might be given four options, and three are the correct ones and the other option is incorrect.

In my opinion, these are the preferred examination options, as you will see that it only takes hard work and a bit of memorization to get these types of questions 100% correct. No guess work required. My monkey brain likes that!

Conclusion

In this section, we learnt about Project Management Process Groups and how PMI has chosen to divvy up all 42 Project Management Processes into five general Categories: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling and Closing. We were also introduced to Table 3-1 of the PMBOK, which is an important learning tool for the exam.

In the next section, we will piece together the first 5 sections of the PMP Exam Prep posts and go over an introduction to the Project Management Knowledge Areas, the real meat of the PMBOK.

I hope you guys liked reading this! Feel free to post your comments and feedback. It’s greatly appreciated!

Ook! Road Chimp, signing out.

PMP Exam Prep – Part 4: The Project Management Framework

In this section, we will explore some basic definitions relating to projects and project management; we will also investigate the environment surrounding a project, such as the organization the project is being performed in as well as the various stakeholders’ roles in a project.

Basic Definitions

It’s appropriate at the very beginning of our course to start with some common definitions of Project Management terms.

Project Management Definition

It is very important for the Project Organization, the Project Manager and Team, as well as Customers to come to a mutual agreement on the definition of a project. According to PMI, a project can be defined as having the following characteristics:

  1. Temporary in nature – it has a beginning and an end
  2. Resulting in a unique Product, Service or Result
  3. Coordinated undertaking of interrelated activities

Advice for the Exam: In the Exam, you will be tested on the definition of a Project. Questions will typically provide you with a scenario and challenge you on whether this scenario is a project. For example:

Qn: You work in a manufacturing environment and you produce widgets. You have just received an order to produce 10,000 widgets for a customer in such a manner as not to exceed a cost of $5000 by the following Friday, while conforming to your company’s standard widget process. Is this a project?

Ans: No. Even though there is a due date, deliverables, but it is not unique, it is a standard process.

PMI defines Project Management as the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements. PMI has identified the various project management activities that should occur during the course of a typical project. These activities are defined in the PMBOK Guide as 42 project management activities or processes that have been logically grouped into 5 process groups as listed below:

  1. Initiating
  2. Planning
  3. Controlling
  4. Executing
  5. Closing

Progressive Elaboration

Progressive elaboration is an important concept that helps to describe the continuous nature of improving and refining the project plan and its components. A great example of Progressive Elaboration is in how we address assumptions in a project. In the early stages of a project, there may be uncertainties or unknowns in the project and in order to progress, we have to make assumptions. Due to the constraints of a project, we may not have the available time or resources to validate all of our assumptions. According to the concept of progressive elaboration, we document all of our assumptions in these early stages of the project and as we progress through the project, we repeatedly go back to our assumptions and validate them. In fact, Progressive Elaboration is a concept that aligns well with a management philosophy known as Continuous Improvement or Kaizen, which we will be covering in a later chapter on Quality Management.

Program Management Definition

A Program can be defined as a collection of individual projects that in their totality achieve an overall objective, sometimes referred to as a Program or Mission Statement. For example, an annual maintenance program for a public school district which has a mission statement of “to provide a clean and safe environment for students to learn in.’ Over the course of a year, there will be a variety of projects undertaken to support this mission statement. For example there may be projects to upgrade and refurbish existing schools, projects to build new schools and even projects for demolishing old schools that are no longer in use. All of these projects contribute in some way to the program achieving its goals. Furthermore, a Program is ongoing and may not have an end date, unlike a project.

Discussion Points: Other examples of programs include the Nuclear weapon systems programs as part of the cold war between the United States and the Soviet Union as well as NASA’s space exploration program. Discuss how these two examples can be defined as programs.

Relationship between Project, Program and Portfolio Management

The three categorizations of projects can be looked at from a hierarchical manner, where a Project Portfolio supports the Strategic Goals of a business and the Portfolio is composed of several programs, which can be further subdivided into constituent projects. For many Organizations, the movement from Project Management to Program Management and eventually Project Portfolio Management can be seen as a gradual maturation of the Organization’s project management processes, where project management processes are gradually standardized and optimized and the company eventually sees projects as collections of programs. The latter stage involves coordinating different programs which could belong to the various functional departments within an Organization, into a portfolio of projects, which support the strategic goals of the Organization.

Project and Operations Work

You should be able to use the basic definitions of a project to distinguish for a given amount of effort, whether it is a project or not. There are many activities which support an organization that are not project based. The table below lists several common aspects of Projects and Operational related activities.

Projects                                     Operations

– Temporary                                – Continuous (Repeatable)

– Unique End Result                      – Similar or Identical End Result

– Coordinated undertaking            – Efficient and Controlled

The production line in a factory is a great example of operational activity, where there’s a repeatable process that allows the business to manufacture or assemble a product. The company’s goal is to make its production line as stable, efficient and repeatable as possible, so that it is as cost effective as possible to make the product.

That does not mean that a project has no place on the factory floor.  On the contrary, projects are extremely important in most operational environments. Over time, the operations processes must evolve and adapt to meet the changing demands of the factory. Well-managed projects enable an organization to introduce changes to their operational processes in a controlled manner. For example, equipment might need to be upgraded to support newer products. Projects allow the organization to manage the potential risks associated with performing the upgrades.

Enterprise Environmental Factors

PMI wants all project managers to be aware that a project lives within an Organization. Firstly, there are the people who contribute to the project, as well as the equipment and materials that are consumed to create the deliverables. Next, there is the supporting infrastructure within the organization, such as Finance and HR to accommodate the payroll and purchasing needs as well as the benefits and personnel development of the people involved in the project. Project personnel frequently have other roles in the organization and may report to other managers or departments.  Finally, the project is subject to the laws and regulations of the country and prevailing industry that the project’s deliverables apply to.

As project managers, we need to be sensitive to the needs, requirements and constraints of the project; the organization it exists within and finally the environment that the project operates in.

The Project Life Cycle

In an earlier section, you learnt that a Project is temporary in nature, meaning that it can be defined as having a specific beginning and an end. The Project Life Cycle encompasses all of the activities that occur from the beginning of the project to its end. Project Life Cycles can vary in duration and complexity based on factors such as the side of the project and nature of the deliverables as well as the culture and structure of the organization. PMI would like you to be aware of several trends that occur throughout a Project Lifecycle as listed in figures 1 and 2 below (taken from the PMBOK):

01

Fig. 1 Cost and Staffing Levels Across the Project Life Cycle

As the project progresses from beginning to end (left to right in the diagram), activities are focused around four major objectives, namely:

–        Starting the Project

–        Organizing and Preparing

–        Carrying out the work

–        Closing the Project

Trend 1: Resource Utilization throughout the Project LifecycleNotice that the utilization of resources (cost and staffing of project personnel) gradually increases to a plateau as the project transitions through its initial startup, organizing and planning and execution of work and reduces dramatically as project deliverables get completed and the project eventually draws to a close.

In addition to Figure 1 above, the PMBOK refers to another diagram to illustrate another important trend that occurs throughout a generic project lifecycle as listed below:

02

Fig. 2 Impact of Stakeholder influence, risk and uncertainty

As in figure 1 above, the figure illustrates two trends that occur as the project progresses from beginning to end (left to right in the diagram).

Trend 2: Cost of Changes throughout the Project Lifecycle

As the project progresses through its lifecycle, changes become more costly to the project. This is because earlier in the project, the likelihood of a change impacting other project activities is much smaller. Later in the project, there may be multiple project activities running in parallel and any changes to the project may result in re-work, or modifications to project constraints (scope and time) all of which may potentially consume resources and contribute to increased costs.

Trend 3: Level of Risk throughout the Project Lifecycle

In the early stages of a project, there is a lot of uncertainty. Project roles and assumptions may not be defined in addition to key project tasks such as creating well-defined project objectives and defining how to these objectives can be achieved. All of these factors contribute to the initially high level of risk inherent to the project. Similarly, Project Stakeholders have a lot of influence over the project and may even be able to alter the final deliverables of the project in these early stages.

Similarly, Project Stakeholders have a lot of influence over the project and may even be able to alter the final deliverables of the project in these early stages. As the project progresses, more activities are completed and assumptions and uncertainties can be validated. This has a tendency to decrease Project risk and uncertainty. Stakeholders are also less able to influence the project as it is better defined.

These trends ultimately contribute to an understanding that as a project progresses, the impact and costs of any changes increases. This helps us to understand PMI’s rationale for focusing a lot of effort on planning activities early into the project, in order to reduce the impact of changes later on in the project.

Project Phases

As a project increases in duration, complexity or scope, it is a common practice to divide the activities in a project into distinct groupings, known as Phases. There is no set standard on the number of phases that should occur through a project, however some industries and organizations have been known to standardize on an approach towards the number and scope surrounding the phases of a project.

Phases are typically structured sequentially, meaning to say that a project would progress through Phases 1, 2 and 3, and so on. However some phases may run concurrently or have overlapping activities. (As one phase of a project is being closed out, initial planning activities for another phase are being performed.) Phases can be distinguished from one another by a set of unique deliverables or objectives. It is common for the deliverables for one phase be dependent on some or all of the deliverables from previous phases.

Phase Exits, Milestones or Kill Points

For phases that occur in a sequential manner, the close of a phase typically coincides with some sort of evaluation or signoff of the deliverables or milestones for that particular phase. This is an appropriate time for the project team to evaluate the project progress thus far and identify if the project is performing according to set expectations. In the event that the project is to be terminated, this boundary between phases is referred to as a Kill Point.

Project Phases and Process Groups

You need to understand the relationship between the 5 Process Groups (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Controlling and Closing) and project Phases.  In some cases, the entire project is structured around a single phase, which iterates through all of the process groups until the closing processes coincide with the phase and project closeout. For other projects, a single phase in the project might be extensive enough to be addressed through the 5 Process Groups.

The Key here is to understand that the Process Groups are repetitive and can in fact cycle through multiple iterations of a project as you progress through the various phases. You can think of a project and its phases as a series of waves crashing on the shore. As each wave (phase) starts to roll onto the shore, you will encounter a complete iteration of the 5 process groups.

Types of Organizations

You will need to be familiar with the various types of organizational structures in which a project can exist. The important concept to understand for the examination is that you have to understand the degree of influence or authority that a Project Manager possesses in these various types of organizations and how he or she can adjust his approach to suit the various organizations.

Functional Organization

This is also known as the classic stovepipe kind of Organization. Managers and territories as well as people with defined areas of responsibility characterize a Functional Organization.

The authority of the Project Manager in this type of Organization is extremely limited. From the project manager’s point of view, it is very difficult to get people thinking about the project itself.

Rather people thinking about their own tasks and functions so there is a positive side of being in a Functional Organization. You have clear chains of communication. Everybody knows who to talk to, you know whom you’re held accountable to, you know whom your boss is and this is very easy to understand in a functional Organization.

The act of violating the chain of command, for instance cutting over your boss’s head to go talk to someone above him is severely frowned upon. Individuals have to work through the process and the chain of command in the functional Organization. If you are working in one function, then you should not be bothering with people in the other functions. The sales people don’t talk to the engineering people and the engineering people don’t talk to the sales people.

Project Expediter Organization

We still have a Functional Organization but we recognize that we have a project and we need someone to monitor and track our progress on the project. We use the role of the Project Expeditor for this process. This term Expeditor tells us a lot about the authority of the individual performing this task.  The project expeditor is not a manager of the project and is trying to move it along through the individual stovepipes of our functional Organization. The Project Expeditor is really only tracking the project for management.

A little bit better than the Functional but nevertheless, we are still in a functional Organization but we are trying to do a project. We are trying to get people in our functional Organization to recognize that this project exists.

Project Coordinator Organization

The difference between a Project Coordinator and the Project Expeditor Organization types has to do primarily with whom the Project Manager reports to.

The Project Expeditor would report to somebody within the Functional Organization and has functional responsibilities.

A Project Coordinator is reporting to someone further up the food chain. This is a Senior-level of management. You are still trying to keep things on track, trying to keep things organized but using a higher level of referent authority.

When we look at where project managers report in the Organization, this is going to convey a clear message to the Organization on how much authority the project manager actually has.

* The coordinator is going to report to someone higher up in the Organization and because they are reporting to someone higher in the Organization, this gives them more power than if they were a project expeditor.

Weak Matrix

The term ‘weak’ refers to the power that the project manager has over the functional managers. The key decision-making, the budgeting, the promotions and rewards are all the responsibility and authority lie with the functional managers.

We have functional managers and project managers in a weak matrix. In a weak matrix environment, all money, all profit and loss, all evaluations are still performed by the functions within the Organization.

Project managers still have ad-hoc responsibilities, but they derive their authority from the functions and all profit and loss is still reported against the functional components of the Organization.

The project manager does not have the authority when it comes to making decisions and coordinating expenditure.

* Sometimes, where you are sitting in the office can give you a clue to whom you are reporting to more. For example, if you are sitting closer to the Project Manager or the Functional Manager, then you are most likely reporting more to that respective manager.

Strong Matrix

The project manager in this case has budget authority, the ability to make decisions about rewards even regarding hiring and firing personnel and all of the important management actions that a manager would have to make when it comes to managing all aspects of the project.

The Organization is really managing itself on a project-based level. The functional managers still have a level of control.

* The key concept when it comes to looking at matrix Organizations is that the team members have to report to more than one person. There are disadvantages to this in terms of the communications challenges felt by the team.

A simple example of this is that the team members are often drawn between attending the functional manager’s meeting and attending the project manager’s meeting should they occur at the same time.  Both managers want the team member to attend their meeting.

The deciding factor in this case would depend on whether we are looking at a strong or weak matrix environment. In a weak matrix, the team member would often go to the functional manager’s meeting and in a strong matrix Organization; the team member would often go to the project manager’s meeting.

Projectized Organization

This is an Organization where the Project Manager is actually the supervisor of the people who work in the project. The project manager is in control of all of the activities of the project. This can be looked at as the project form of a functional Organization.

The Projectized Organization tends to take on some of the negative characteristics of the functional Organization because some of the project managers tend to become territorial and will try to prevent team members from talking to other parts of the Organization and will try to make them stay within the scope of their project.

*When you see questions in the exam referring to the type of Organization, we generally see the questions relating to the amount of authority that a project manager has in that type of Organization.

 Conclusion

So that’s it for some of the basic definitions that you will see around Projects. After reading this article, you should be able to distinguish between a Project and a Program; and also be able to differentiate between the different types of Organizational structures, from Functional to Projectized.

In the next section, we will go over a fundamental concept that is used throughout the PMBOK, the Project Management Processes.

Ook, Road Chimp out!

PMP Exam Prep – Part 3: The Exam

About the Examination

The PMP has become the dominant project management credential for numerous industries and companies. By attaining the PMP credential, your name will be included in the largest and most prestigious group of certified professionals in the project management community.

The Certification Examination

The Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification Examination measures the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques that are utilized in the practice of project management. The examination specifications were established in 1997 after the Project Management Institute completed a job analysis study. The PMP Certification Examination is comprised of 200 four-option multiple-choice questions that are developed and validated by PMPs. Out of these 200 questions, 25 are considered “pretest questions”. These pretest questions do not affect your score. The PMI uses them as an effective and legitimate way for testing the questions. Examinees must obtain a percentage higher than 61% or 106 out of 175 questions in order to pass the examination. The examination is reviewed and revised annually to satisfy the examination test specifications and to ensure that each question has a referenced source.

Test Preparation

Examination questions are developed to test the candidate’s knowledge of how project management skills are used in practice. Therefore no single source for the examination exists. The foundation document for project management training and/or education is the PMI publication entitled; “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)”. This publication is available to all PMI members for download on PMI’s website. PMI also offers an array of textbooks and other project management reference materials. It is recommended that candidates also reference their professional experience, as many of the questions on the examination are situational. Examination preparation courses are not required by PMI, but candidates may contact their local PMI Chapters to see what courses are available if desired.

Exam questions can be categorized into the five groupings of project processes representing the primary activities that occur during a project. A breakdown of an approximate percentage of questions you would expect to find in the exam, as well as the specific knowledge areas for each category are listed below in Fig. 1 Exam Categories:

Exam Category Percentage of Questions Knowledge Tested
Project Initiation 13% 1. Determine Project Goals
2. Determine Deliverables
3. Determine Process Outputs
4. Document Constraints
5. Document Assumptions
6. Define Strategy
7. Identify Performance Criteria
8. Determine Resource Requirements
9. Define Budget
10. Produce Formal Documentation
Project Planning 24% 1. Refine Project
2. Create WBS
3. Develop Resource Management Plan
4. Refine Time and Cost Estimates
5. Establish Project Controls
6. Develop Project Plan
7. Obtain Plan Approval
Project Execution 30% 1. Commit Resources
2. Implement Resources
3. Manage Progress
4. Communicate Progress
5. Implement Quality Assurance Procedures
Project Control 25% 1. Measure Performance
2. Refine Control Limits
3. Take Corrective Action
4. Evaluate Effectiveness of Corrective Action
5. Ensure Plan Compliance
6. Reassess Control Plans
7. Respond to Risk Event Triggers
8. Monitor Project Activity
Project Closing 8% 1. Obtain Acceptance of Deliverables
2. Document Lessons Learned
3. Facilitate Closure
4. Preserve Product Records and Tools
5. Release Resources

Fig. 1 Exam Categories

Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®)

Officially titled as “A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)”, and more commonly referred to as the PMBOK, this publication should be your primary reference for the examination.  The PMBOK was created by the Project Management Institute as a framework and approach towards project management, representing current Industry Best Practices. The PMBOK is currently in its fourth edition and has been certified as an American National Standard (ANSI/PMI 99-001-2008).

Before the PMBOK, there wasn’t a clear or accepted definition of Project Management as a profession. The PMBOK was crafted after extensive study and research into a recommended or Best Practices approach towards managing projects in a variety of environments.

The PMBOK can be used as a guide for just about anybody who is about to embark upon a project, regardless of magnitude of the project or respective industry. More importantly, the PMBOK defines a recommended approach towards project management and not necessarily the best or only approach for every project. In fact, it’s not uncommon for a candidate to read through the PMBOK and find some section or recommendation that does not seem to be the adopted practice in his or her industry.

The PMP certification is a test of your understanding of the PMBOK, and how you apply its content to various situations that may arise during a project. But as you will read later on in this manual, PMI recognizes that the knowledge and skills required to succeed at managing projects, is far greater than the information contained in a single book or guide. You can think of a career in project management as a life-long commitment to learning and enrichment.

Reference Material for the Exam

There are many varied resources available both in print and electronic format to assist you with your PMP certification journey. I would recommend that you obtain the following reference materials as a starting point (note the shameless self-plug):

  • PMI’s PMBOK® Guide
  • Road Chimp’s online PMP Exam Prep Guide
  • Preparation Examination Questions

In the next part, we will look at the Project Management Framework.

Road Chimp, signing out!