Exchange 2013 Sample Architecture Part 3: Design Feature Overview and Virtualization Considerations

Overview

In this part of the Sample Architecture Series, we will hone in on several elements of the Exchange Solution design, namely a description of the overall Exchange 2013 solution design, followed by some basic system configuration parameters as well as virtualization considerations.

Design Features

Exchange 2013 Design

The Exchange 2013 Environment for Chimp Corp features the following design elements:

  • Internal Client Access: Internal clients can automatically locate and connect to available CAS Servers through the Availability and Autodiscover services. CAS Servers are configured in arrays for high-availability and the locations of the CAS servers are published through Service Connection Points (SCPs) in Active Directory.
  • External Client Access:  External clients can connect to Exchange via Outlook Web Access (OWA), Outlook Anywhere and Exchange ActiveSync. Exchange 2013 now supports L4 load balancing for stateless failover of connections between CAS servers in the same Array. Client traffic arrives at the Network Load Balancer, which uses Service Connection Points to locate the internal Mailbox servers and distribute load accordingly.
  • Single Domain Name URL: Exchange 2013 relies on a feature in the TCP/IP protocol stack of client computers that supports the caching of multiple IP addresses that correspond to the same name resolved from DNS. In the event of an individual site failure, the IP address corresponding to the CAS array in that site will become unresponsive. Clients automatically connect to the next cached IP address for the CAS Array in order to reestablish client connections. This IP address corresponds to the CAS Servers in the alternative site and failover occurs without any intervention.
  • Mailbox High availability: This feature is  provided by implementing Database Availability Groups (DAG). A single DAG will be configured to protect the messaging service.  It is preferred to deploy a high number of smaller mailbox databases in order to reduce mailbox restoration or reseed times in the event of a failure of a database copy.
  • Message Routing: All External SMTP traffic will be routed securely via Microsoft’s Exchange Online Protection (EOP) cloud-based services and the Internet. Inter-site messages between the premise and online users will also be routed via EOP. Internal messages between on-premise users in either datacenter site will be routed automatically via the transport service on the on-premise Mailbox servers.
  • Hybrid Deployment: The Exchange 2013 environment will be deployed in tandem with an Exchange Online Organization. The purpose of the Exchange Online Organization will be to host mailbox accounts that have been flagged as non-compliance sensitive and reduce the costs of the on-premises deployment. The hybrid implementation will feature a seamless experience between users in the on-premise and online environments, including Single Sign-on for users through the configuration of trusts between the Microsoft Online ID and the on-premises Active Directory Forest; unified GAL access and the ability for online and on-premise users to share free/busy information through the configuration of a Federation Trust with the Microsoft Federation Gateway; as well as secure encrypted message transport between on-premise and online environments, encrypted, authenticated and transported via Transport Layer Security (TLS)
  • Message Archiving: All Messages will be transferred to the Exchange 2013 via the Exchange Online Archiving Service. The existing on-premises archiving solution will be decommissioned after existing message archives are ingested into the Exchange Online Archive.

Exchange 2013 Virtualization

All Exchange 2013 server roles are fully supported for virtualization by Microsoft. Virtualization can assist an organization in consolidating its computing workload and enjoying benefits from cost reduction and efficient hardware resource utilization. According to Microsoft recommended Best Practices, load calculations when provisioning Exchange deployments in a virtual environment must accommodate for additional overheads from the virtualization hypervisor. Therefore, this solution design has factored in an additional resource overhead of 12% to accommodate virtualization.

The following server roles will be virtualized:

  •     Exchange 2013 Mailbox Servers
  •     Exchange 2013 CAS Servers

Microsoft provides further guidance on implementing Exchange Server 2013 in a virtualized environment. Relevant factors have been listed below:

  1. Exchange Servers may be combined with virtual host-based failover clustering migration technology, provided that the virtual machines are configured to not save and restore disk state when moved or taken offline. Host-based failover must result in a cold boot when the virtual machine is activated on a target node.
  2. The root machine should be free of all applications save the virtual hypervisor and management software.
  3. Microsoft does not support taking a snapshot of an Exchange virtual machine.
  4. Exchange supports a Virtual Processor to Physical Processor ratio of no greater than 2:1 and Microsoft recommends an ideal processor ratio of 1:1. Furthermore, virtual CPUs required to run the host OS should be included in the processor ratio count
  5. The disk size allocated to each Exchange Virtual machine must use a disk that is of size equal to 15GB plus the size of virtual memory allocated to the virtual server.
  6. The storage allocated for Exchange data can either be virtual storage of a fixed site, such as fixed Virtual Hard Disks (VHDs), SCSI pass-through storage or iSCSI storage.
  7. Exchange 2013 does not support NAS storage. However, fixed VHDs that are provisioned on block level storage and accessed via SMB 3.0 on Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V are supported.
  8. Exchange 2013 is designed to make optimal usage of memory allocations and as such, dynamic memory features for Exchange are not supported.

Conclusion

Subsequent sections of this series will focus on the Exchange Mailbox Design and CAS Design, as well as the Hybrid Implementation and additional features.

Please click here for the next part: Exchange 2013 Mailbox Server Role Design.

Exchange 2013 Sample Architecture Part 2: High-level Architectural Design Document

Overview:

This section provides an introduction into the key elements of the Exchange 2013 Architectural solution. It provides high-level solution overview and is suitable for all technical project stakeholders. The excerpts of the final design document are listed under this post and the full High Level Design document can be downloaded here: RoadChimp Sample Architectural Doc (ADOC) v1.1

1. Messaging Infrastructure function

The Messaging Infrastructure serves the primary function of providing electronic mail (E-mail) functionality to Chimp Corporation. The messaging infrastructure supports E-mail access from network connected computers and workstations as well as mobile devices. E-mail is a mission critical application for Chimp Corp and it serves as an invaluable communications tool that increases efficiencies and productivity, both internally to an organization, and externally to a variety of audiences. As a result, it is of paramount importance for the Chimp Corp to maintain a robust infrastructure that will meet present and future messaging needs.

Key requirements of the messaging infrastructure are as follows:

  • Accommodate service availability requirements
  • Satisfy archiving requirements
  • Satisfy growth requirements
  • Provide required business continuity and disaster recovery capabilities

1.A. About IT Services (ITS)

The IT Services Organization is responsible for managing the IT environment for the Chimp Corp as well as ensuring adherence to published standards and operational compliance targets throughout the enterprise.

1.B. Service Level Agreement (SLA)

The Email infrastructure is considered mission critical and, therefore, has an SLA requirement of 99.99% availability.
The full SLA for the messaging environment can be found in the document <Link to SharePoint: Messaging SLA> 

1.C.  Locations

The messaging infrastructure is hosted from two separate datacenters being at:

  • Datacenter A (DCA)
    Chimp Center Prime
    1 Cyber Road,
    Big City
  • Datacenter B (DCB)
    Chimp Center Omega
    10 Jungle Way,
    Banana Town

The messaging infrastructure is supported by the IT Services Support Organization located at:

  • Chimp Corp Headquarters
    Chimp Center Prime
    Bldg 22, 1 Cyber Road,
    Big City

1.D.     E-mail User Classifications

The primary users of the messaging system are Chimp Corp employees. The user base is divided in two groups as follows:

  •     Exec: users performing Senior or Critical corporate functions
  •     Normal: the rest of the user population

2. Existing Platform

This section of the Asset document provides an overview of the present state of the asset, as well as a chronological view of changes based on organizational or technological factors.

2.A.     Existing Exchange 2003 design

A third-party consulting company performed the initial implementation of the messaging environment in 2000. The messaging platform was Microsoft Exchange 2003 and Windows 2003 Active Directory. The diagram below provides a representation of the existing design blueprint.

Exchange 2003 Environment

Fig. 1 Existing Messaging Environment

A single unified Active Directory Domain namespace chimpcorp.com was implemented in a Single Domain, single Forest design.

2.B. Change History

Over the years the Chimp Corp messaging environment has undergone various changes to maintain service level and improve functionality. The timeline below shows the changes over time.

Chimpcorp Timeline
Fig. 2 Chimp Corp Messaging Infrastructure Timeline

2.B.1   Initial Implementation

The Exchange 2003 messaging infrastructure was implemented by IT Services in 2005 and the entire user base was successfully migrated over to Exchange 2003 by September 2005.

2.B.2   Linux Virtual Appliances deployed for Message Hygiene

A decision was made by IT to deploy a Message Hygiene environment for the company in Windows 2013.

 This change was scheduled as maintenance and was executed early 2009.

2.B.3   Additional Datacenter Site (Omega)

In order to improve infrastructure availability and to support additional growth of the corporate environment, a second datacenter site, codenamed Omega was commissioned and fully completed by March of 2009.

2.B.4   Two Exchange Mailbox Clusters (A/P) deployed in the Omega Datacenter Site

To improve the availability of e-mail for users and also to meet plans for storage and user growth, two additional Exchange Mailbox Servers were deployed in Datacenter Omega (DCB).

2.B.5   Third-party archiving solution

A third party archiving solution was deployed by IT Services in 2010 as part of efforts to mitigate growth of the Exchange Information Stores, based on recommendations from their primary technology vendor. The archiving solution incorporates a process known as e-mail stubbing to replace messages in the Exchange Information Stores with XML headers.

2.B.6   Acquisition by Chimp Corp

After being acquired by Chimp Corp in September 2011, immediate plans were laid out to perform a technology refresh across the entire IT infrastructure.

2.B.7   Active Directory 2008 R2 Upgrade

The Windows Active Directory Domain was updated to version 2008 R2 in native mode in anticipation of impending upgrades to the Messaging infrastructure. The replacement Domain Controllers were implemented as Virtual Machines hosted in the Enterprise Virtual Server environment running VMWare vSphere 5. This change was completed in March 2012.

2.C. Existing Hardware Configuration

The current hardware used in the messaging platform consists of the following elements:

2.C.1   Servers

Existing server systems comprising the messaging environment include:

    • 12 x HP DL 380 G4 servers at DCA with between 2 – 4 GB of RAM
    • 10 x HP DL 380 G4 servers at DCB with between 2 – 4 GB of RAM

2.C.2   Storage characteristics

Exchange storage used for databases, backups, transaction logs and public folders have been provisioned on:

    • 2 TB of FC/SAN attached storage provisioned for 5 Exchange Storage Groups and 21 Databases and Transaction Logs
    • 2 TB ISCSI/SAN attached storage Archiving

2.D. Network Infrastructure

The Chimp Corp email infrastructure network has two main physical locations at the DCA and DCB datacenter sites. These are currently connected via the Chimp Corp LAN/WAN. The core switches interconnecting all hardware are Cisco 6500 Series Enterprise class switches.

2.E.  Present Software Configuration

Software and licenses presently in use include:

  • Microsoft Windows 2003 Standard
  • Microsoft Windows 2003 Enterprise
  • Microsoft Exchange 2003 Standard
  • Microsoft Exchange 2003 Enterprise
  • Third Party SMTP Appliances
  • A Stub-based third-party Email Archiving Tool

3. Messaging Infrastructure Requirements

The design requirements for the Exchange 2013 messaging environment have been obtained from the project goals and objectives, as listed in the Project Charter for the E13MAIL Project.

The primary objective for the E13MAIL Project is to ensure continued reliability and efficient delivery of messaging services to users and applications connecting to Chimp Corp from a variety of locations. Stated design goals are to increase performance, stability and align the operational capabilities of the messaging environment with Industry Best Practices.

The requirements/objectives for the messaging infrastructure are:

  • Redundant messaging solution deployed across 2 datacenter locations; DCA and DCB.
  • Capable of Audit and Compliance requirements
  • High Availability (99.99%)
  • Monitoring of services and components
  • Accurate configuration management for ongoing support
  • Adherence to Industry Best Practices for optimal support by vendors and service delivery organizations
  • Reliable Disaster-Recoverable backups, with object level recovery options
  • Message Archiving functionality with a maximum retention period of 7 years

4. Design Components

The primary messaging solution is to deploy new Exchange 2013 environment that spans Chimp Corp’s physical data center locations and extends into Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud to take advantage of the latest user productivity and collaboration features of Microsoft Office 2013.

The main goals for this solution are:

  • Minimize end-user impact: Minimizing the end-user impact is a key goal for Chimp Corp. Significant effort must be made to ensure that the transition of all e-mail related services are seamless to the end-user.
  • Reliable delivery of services: The messaging environment is a mission critical component of Chimp Corps IT infrastructure and adheres to strict Change Management practices. The solution must be able to integrate with existing Operational and Change processes.
  • Longevity of solution: The new messaging solution must endure beyond the initial implementation as it evolves into a production state. This requires the necessary attention to ensuring that operational knowledge is transferred to IT Services technical teams such that they can maintain uptime requirements.

The individual design components were subjected to a stringent evaluation process that included the following design criteria:

  •     Costs of Ownership
  •     Technological engineering quality
  •     Scalability
  •     Fault Tolerance / Reliability
  •     Industry best practices
  •     Supportability
  •     Ease of administration
  •     Compatibility with existing systems
  •     Reliability
  •     Vendor specifications

4.A. Hardware technology

IT Services researched the server solutions from a number of hardware vendors and made a final decision in favor of HP, Brocade and Cisco vendor equipment.

4.A.1   Server hardware

The server platform used is the eighth generation (G8) HP Blade 400-series server. This is an Intel based server system. The CPUS’s in these systems are standardized to Intel Xeon E5-2640 processors; these are hex-core processors with a 2.5 GHz speed. The servers are equipped with 128 GB of memory to accommodate their specific functions. The blade servers are provisioned in HP Blade C 7000 class enclosures.

4.A.2   Storage hardware

To accommodate the storage requirements two storage arrays are implemented. The primary array is an HP EVA 6400 class Storage Area Network. This array is equipped with 25TB of RAW storage and is used for on-line, active data. The secondary array is an HP P2000 G3 MSA class storage area network. This array is equipped with 15TB of RAW storage and is used for secondary storage like archives, backups etc.

4.A.3   Interconnect technology

HP’s Virtual Connect technology is used to accommodate network connectivity to both the storage network and the data networks. The virtual connect technology acts as a virtual patch panel between uplink ports to the core switching infrastructure and the blade modules. The virtual connect backplane will connect the network connections into a Cisco based core network. The storage area network is interconnected via a Brocade switch fabric.

4.A.4   Server Operating Systems technology

The majority of the messaging infrastructure components will be deployed onto the Microsoft Windows Server 2012 Operating System platform, licensed to the Enterprise version of the operating system. For systems that do not support Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008/R2 will utilized.

4.A.5   Messaging platform technology

A pristine Microsoft Exchange Server 2013 will be implemented in a hybrid configuration, featuring two major components:

  • On-premise Exchange 2013: The on-premise environment to support core business functions that cannot be moved to the cloud due to compliance reasons.
  • Office 365: All non-compliance restricted users will be migrated onto the Office 365 cloud.

The hybrid deployment will feature full interoperability between on-premise and cloud-based users, featuring single sign-on, sharing of calendar Free/busy information and a single unified OWA login address.

4.A.6   Back-end Database technology

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 was selected as the database platform to support all non-Exchange application requirements. The selection criterion for this product was partly dictated by the usage of technologies that depend on the SQL server back-end. As part of simplification and unification, it is preferred to keep all back-end databases in the messaging infrastructure on the same database platform.

4.A.7   Systems Management Solution

Due to the diversity of software applications and hardware in this infrastructure, a mix of management tools and products are used to manage all aspects of the messaging infrastructure. Major components are listed below:

(a)    Server hardware management: Vendor provided HP System Insight Manager hardware tools are used in combination with Microsoft System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) to provide hardware-level monitoring and alerting.

(b)    Server event management: Microsoft Systems Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2012 is used for server event consolidation, management and alerting.

(c)     Server Applications management: Server software management comprises of systems patch management and server provisioning.

    • Systems patch management: Windows Systems Update Server (WSUS) integrated into Systems Center Configurations Manager (SCCM) provides patch management of all Windows Server Operating Systems in the messaging environment.
    • Server Provisioning: Server Provisioning for both bare metal and virtual server deployments are managed via the HP rapid deployment pack (HP/RDP)

4.A.8   Message Security and Protection technology

The following Security and Protection products have been selected:

  • Server Virus protection: McAfee Antivirus has been selected to protect the server operating system.
  • Message hygiene: Microsoft Exchange Online Protection (EOP) will be used for message hygiene and protection.
  • Security events auditing: Microsoft SCOM has been selected to capture information such as security auditing and alerting events that are generated from the server platforms.

4.B. Functional Blueprint

The blueprint below illustrates the desired messaging infrastructure:

Exchange 2013 Design

Figure 3 Chimp Corp Functional Messaging Design 

Conclusion

In the next section we will cover more detailed aspects of the Exchange 2013 design, as well as Server Virtualization Considerations for deploying Exchange 2013.

For the next part of this post, please click here.

Exchange 2013 Sample Architecture Part 1: Implementation Scenario

Scenario Overview:

Chimp Corp has recently completed the acquisition of a competitor, Bananas Inc. As part of the core infrastructure architecture team, you have been brought in to design and implement Exchange 2013 as part of a large Enterprise systems refresh. The Project Charter has been signed off by senior stakeholders with the objective of upgrading the existing messaging environment from Exchange 2003 SP2 to Exchange 2013. Senior Management has expressed a desire to migrate the messaging environment to the cloud in order to take advantage of cost benefits, however the compliance department has mandated that specific components of the messaging environment must stay on-premises in order to meet regulatory requirements.

Management has decided to deploy a Hybrid Exchange 2013 environment in a new Active Directory Forest that is Federated to an Exchange Online organization. The on-premise environment will host approximately 60% of the Organization’s mailboxes and the remaining 40% of the Organization’s mailboxes are considered to be non-sensitive and the compliance department has approved their migration onto the cloud. This scenario represents the path of least resistance, as Microsoft Exchange 2013 does not support direct upgrade path from Exchange 2003 to Exchange 2013 and due to the considerable size of the corporate messaging environment (15,000 Mailboxes), a swing migration to Exchange 2007/2010 and then to Exchange 2013 was considered to be impractical.

Existing Environment:

Exchange 2003 Environment

The messaging environment features Exchange 2003 SP2 with Active Directory 2008, featuring four Clustered Exchange Mailbox Servers implemented across two datacenters with dedicated Network Load Balanced Exchange Front End Servers in each location. Third-party SMTP Message Hygiene appliances were configured in each site to provide Spam Filtering and Anti Virus Scanning and in addition, a number of applications were configured to relay SMTP messages via one of the SMTP appliances. A third-party Archiving tool was deployed across both sites and client access was provisioned primarily via Outlook RPC, OWA; Blackberry Enterprise Servers and Microsoft ActiveSync.

Requirements:

The following solution requirements were distilled from theRequest for Proposal (RFP) document. The solution must:

  • Conform to Microsoft Best Practices
  • Accommodate 99.99% high availability standards
  • Adhere to Disaster Recovery, High Availability and Business Continuity standards
  • Provide a fully redundant and load balanced design
  • Accommodate 9,000 Mailboxes across 2 datacenters
  • Accommodate 6,000 Mailboxes on an Exchange Online organization
  • Average Mailbox Size 1 GB
  • Anticipated Storage Growth per year of 20%
  • Store Archived Emails for 7 years
  • Adhere to Retention,  Legal Hold and eDiscovery requirements
  • Perform Email Archiving whenever a mailbox reaches 1GB or whenever messages are 1 year old.
  • Network Access Bandwidth: 1 Gbps
  • Storage Access: Minimum bonded Gigabit Connections or Fibre Channel
  • Client Access: Outlook 2007 and later, Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox using OWA, PDA access from RIM Blackberries, IP Phones and Microsoft Windows Mobile 6 and later.

Proposed Solution:

Based on stipulated requirements in the RFP, the Proposed Solution must include a number of components including the following:

  1. Methodology used to implement Exchange 2013 and related architectural components
  2. Related hardware and software builds
  3. Related costs of implementing the solution
  4. Annual cost of ownership
  5. A high level project plan detailing the responsibilities of various stakeholders

The final solution proposed an implementation of Exchange 2013 configured as a Hybrid environment. The Exchange 2013 environment would feature the following benefits:

  • Scalability and flexibility of moving users to the cloud
  • Virtualization of on-premises Exchange environment
  • Migration of Archives to Exchange Online Archiving
  • Deployment of High Availability using native Microsoft technologies
  • Unified Management via Microsoft Exchange Administration Center
  • Systems Management via Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2012

Solution Components:

The solution featured a high-level design that was broken into the following components:

  • Exchange Server
  • Infrastructure Services
  • Email Archiving
  • Storage Design
  • Backup and Recovery
  • Systems Management
  • Client Access

Conclusion:

Successive sections in this series will provide you with the various design components of the final solution, as well as related Project Implementation plans.

For Part 2: High-level Architectural Design Document, click here.

Exchange 2013 Architecture Samples

I’m posting a set of Sample Architectural Design documents that were adapted from a real-world Multi-site Hybrid Exchange deployment. The documents are built entirely on Best Practices and I’ve taken the liberties of updating elements of the design to reflect changes in the Exchange 2013 Architecture (and of course to remove and sensitive confidential information).

This was a fairly large implementation and took the combined efforts of a large team of engineers to complete all of the deliverables, who inspired me and continue to do so. You may not need all of these document components, but it’s good to see how a large Messaging Environment can be broken down into its constituent components and architected in detail.

Read First: These design documents were derived from detailed research and consulting with expert engineers. Feel free to use as a reference, but always verify the requirements of your project against the data in these guides. Roadchimp takes no responsibility for any implementation issues that you encounter. Make sure that you implement licensed copies of Microsoft Software with valid Microsoft Support in place prior to making any changes to a production environment. Further more, make sure that you consult with Microsoft’s  resources to ensure that your hardware is fully supported by Microsoft for deploying Exchange 2013, Windows Active Directory and other architectural components.

I will start posting links to these templates here:

Exchange 2013 Brief – Hybrid Deployments

Executive Overview

The cloud offers consumers more options for deploying their applications and is attractive from the perspective of predictable costs, reliability and scalability. However, not every component of an Organization’s environment may be fully suited for the cloud due to a variety of reasons including confidentiality and compliance. With the increasing trend of organizations to move parts of IT onto the cloud and retain core aspects of their business within their datacenters, it becomes important for us to understand how Exchange 2013 interoperates between on-premises and cloud. Exchange 2013 is designed from the ground up to support coexistence with the cloud. From both the administrator and end-user’s perspective, Exchange 2013 and Office 365 provide a seamless and feature rich experience. We will explore some of these features in this post.

Notable Features

  • Secure mail routing
  • Mail routing with the same domain space
  • Unified GAL and Free/Busy sharing
  • Centralized Egress of Messages
  • Unified OWA login
  • Centralized Management
  • Mailbox Migrations
  • Cloud-based Message Archiving

Architecture/Components

  • Architecture Components: A hybrid Exchange 2013 environment comprises of the following components.
    • Exchange servers: You may have a combination of Exchange 2013, Exchange 2010 or earlier Exchange Servers and roles deployed on-premises. You will need a minimum of one Exchange 2013 Client Access and one Exchange 2013 Mailbox Server if you deploy Exchange 2013 on-premises in your organization.
    • Microsoft Office 365: This is Microsoft’s feature-rich cloud based service that includes cloud-based email, instant messaging and online conferencing, Office Web Apps including Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote and Email Archiving. You will need the Midsize Business and Enterprise Plan (E3) in order to configure Active Directory Synchronization with your on-premises environment. You will also need to configure an Exchange Online organization to enable hybrid deployments.
    • Exchange Online Protection (EOP): EOP is included in all Office 365 Enterprise tenant subscriptions. EOP enables secure message delivery between cloud and on-premises Exchange Organizations and can also be configured to manage message routing between the Internet and your on-premises Exchange Organization.
    • Hybrid Configuration wizard: The Hybrid Configuration wizard is used to manage the hybrid configuration through the Exchange Administrative Center (EAC). The Hybrid Configuration Wizard first performs prerequisite and topology checks, tests account credentials between on-premise and Exchange Online organizations and then subsequently performs the necessary configuration changes to create and enable the hybrid deployment, this includes adding the HybridConfiguration object in the on-premise Active Directory environment.
    • Microsoft Federation Gateway: On-premises Exchange Organizations must configure a federation trust with the Microsoft Federation Gateway before they can enable a hybrid configuration with an Exchange Online organization. The Microsoft Federation Gateway acts as a trust broker between the on-premises Exchange and the Online Exchange organizations and federation trusts can be configured manually or via the Hybrid Configuration Wizard. A Federation Trust is necessary for your on-line and on-premise users to be able to share free/busy information.
    • Active Directory Synchronization: AD synchronization enables a unified GAL across Online and on-premises users in your Exchange deployment. AD Sync feature requires you to download and install the tool on a separate server (Physical or Virtual) in your on-premises environment. Note that the default limit of 20,000 objects that can be replicated between on-premises Active Directory and the online organization can be increased by contacting the Microsoft Online Services team.
    • Active Directory Federation Services (Optional): the AD FS server implementation will enable users in your organization to use their existing network credentials for logging on to the on-premises and Exchange Online organizations using “Single Sign-on”. This is facilitated by configuring trusts between the on-premises Active Directory Forest and the Microsoft Online ID.
    • Certificates: To support secure communications between the on-premises and Online environments, Microsoft recommends that you purchase a Subject Alternative Name (SAN) SSL certificate that can be used to secure access to the following services:
      • Primary shared SMTP domain: This is your primary email domain and needs to be installed on local Client Access and Mailbox Servers. ie. chimpcorp.com
      • Autodiscover: The autodiscover services supports the configuration of remote clients (Outlook and Exchange Active-sync), is installed on your CAS servers and should be provisioned according to the external Autodiscover FQDN of your Exchange 2013 CAS server. ie. autodiscover. chimpcorp.com
      • Transport: This is installed on your Exchange 2010 SP3 Edge Transport Servers and matches the external FQDN of your edge transport servers. ie. edge.chimpcorp.com
      • AD FS (optional): A certificate is required to establish trust between web clients and federation server proxies and to sign and decrypt security tokens.
      • Exchange Federation: A self-signed certificate is required to establish a secure connection between the on-premises Exchange 2013 servers and the Microsoft Federation Gateway.
      • Client Access: An SSL certificate is required for use by clients such as OWA and Exchange ActiveSync and Outlook Anywhere. ie. webmail.chimpcorp.com
  • Message Transport: Messages between the on-premises and online organizations are encrypted, authenticated and transferred via Transport Layer Security (TLS). Depending on how you choose to configure your hybrid environment, messages can flow either one of the following ways:
    • Centralized Mail Transport: All Internet-bound email is delivered via the on-premises Exchange Organization. The Exchange on-premises organization is responsible for message transport and relays all Internet messages from the Exchange Online organization. This configuration is preferable if your organization has compliance or regulatory requirements and must monitor a single point of egress for all messages outside of your organization. Ensure that you provision sufficient bandwidth between the on-premises and online environments to process all outbound messages.
    • Online-centric Transport: All Internet-bound email in the Organization is delivered via the Exchange Online organization. In this case, all external outbound messages from the on-premises Exchange Organization are relayed to servers in the Exchange Online organization. This is preferable if you wish to use Microsoft’s Exchange Archiving and Exchange Online Protection (EOP) solutions, as it supports the most efficient flow of messaging traffic.
    • Independent message routing: All Internet-bound email from recipients in the Exchange Online organization are delivered directly to the Internet, taking an independent path from your on-premises Exchange 2013 Organization.
    • Edge Routing: On-premises endpoint for Exchange and Exchange Online organizations must be an Exchange 2013 CAS Server, or Exchange 2010 SP3 Edge Transport Server. Communications between Exchange Online and older versions of Exchange, SMTP hosts or appliances  are not supported.
  • Client Access: In Exchange 2013 client access is supported from Outlook via RPC/HTTP and Outlook Web App. Clients connecting to the on-premises Client Access server are redirected to either the on-premises Exchange 2013 Mailbox Server or provided with a link to logon to the Exchange Online organization.

Common Administrative Tasks

  1. Set up an Office 365 account: Via the Office 365 online portal here.
  2. Enabling a Hybrid Deployment: Use the Hybrid Deployment Wizard in the EAC.
  3. Configure  or modify the Hybrid Deployment Options: Via the Hybrid Deployment Wizard in the EAC or Powershell
    Set-HybridConfiguration -Features OnlineArchive,MailTips,OWARedirection,FreeBusy,MessageTracking
  4. Verify the configuration was successful: Via PowerShell
    Get-HybridConfiguration
  5. Sharing Free/Busy information: Steps on how to configure Federation Trusts
  6. Configuring Active Directory Synchronization: Steps to download the AD Synchronization tool from the Office 365 portal.

Top PowerShell Commands/Tools:

– Set|Update|Get-HybridConfiguration

Click here to read more briefs on Exchange 2013.

References/Links

PowerShell Command Reference for Hybrid Configuration
Technet: Article on the Hybrid Configuration Wizard
Technet: Article on Hybrid Certificate Requirements
Technet: Article on configuring message routing
Labs on AD Synchronization

Exchange 2013 Configuration Guides

A warm Ook and hello from your banana loving primate friend! I’ve decided to put up a list of configuration guides for Exchange 2013 in an easy to access part of this blog. The configuration guides will help you to perform (hopefully) some tasks that you may find useful. I will post links to various guides on this page.

1. Exchange 2013 in Windows Azure

2. Configuring a Hybrid Exchange 2013 Deployment

 

I hope to get more posts out there. Thanks for all your comments and likes!

Road Chimp saying Ook!

 

 

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 11: Project Quality Management

Philip Crosby, one of the forefathers of modern-day quality management, titled his seminal work on quality management, “Quality is free.”  When we say that quality is free, we mean to say that quality shouldn’t be thought of as an additional expense. If we are willing to make that initial commitment to quality from day one, we will see the returns immediately.

There is a significant investment to be made from day one, but this is not necessarily measured in monetary terms. However, once that investment is made, then there are processes in place for quality and people generally have a mindset to do extremely good work and satisfy the requirements set forth by the client, whether that be an internal or external client.

Quality Concepts covered in this section

There are several Quality management concepts that we will cover in this section

  • Quality Management
  • Quality Planning
  • Quality Assurance
  • Quality Control
  • Quality Control Tools
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Just in time
  • Impact of Poor Quality
  • Cost of Quality

Quality Management

PMI’s Project Quality Management knowledge area is firmly grounded in several well-known and commonly adapted philosophies relating to quality. We will cover these concepts in this section.

Zero Defects

The concept of zero defects is that there is no deviation that is acceptable when it comes to quality. In other words, we cannot deviate from our requirements or specifications. According to Crosby, “Quality is Conformance to the Requirements and Specifications.”

The key term to look for in the exam is ‘Zero Deviations’. It is not a slogan, but rather a standard to aspire to. The questions might want to distract you by offering options such as “goal” or “objective”. Zero Defects is neither a goal nor an objective, but rather a standard by which we live. We will not accept anything less when it comes to quality from Crosby’s point of view.

Gold Plating

We must also understand that we should not give the customer more than they expect. If you give someone more than they asked for, you are essentially ‘Gold-plating’ and that is wasteful in terms of time and money and more importantly, the customer is not expecting it. If you define your requirements correctly and accurately, then the customer should be 100% satisfied when you give them exactly what they ask for and nothing more.

Fitness for Use

One additional factor to consider when evaluating quality is fitness for use. We must consider whether the product or service is fit for the use for which it was originally intended.

Quality Planning

Prior to W.E. Deming, it used to be thought that all processes had defects and the only way to eliminate the defects in a finished product was to hire quality inspectors to stand by a production line and look for these defects. Known as quality by inspection, this antiquated approach towards quality management was in use for many years and ultimately found to be extremely expensive, since there was no way to realistically inspect every item that came off the production line.

Conventional thinking has fundamentally changed how we approach quality.  We now believe that defects can be avoided and we can reach zero defects for any process. The major focus here is that we plan for quality at the inception of a project in rather than try to work quality in to the project later on. Quality should be planned into the project rather than being inspected in.

Quality Assurance

The concept of Quality Assurance can be thought of as a holistic, company-wide approach towards quality. We tend to see large-scale quality assurance programs in organizations that permeate through all of the levels of hierarchy within a business, including the project and its supporting elements within the organization. Quality assurance when done properly typically starts off as a managerial initiative. It is important for management to build up a culture that chooses to focus on quality in all things that the company does. We call this a top-down approach towards quality.

Audits and Evaluations

You need to be able to distinguish between audits and evaluations in the exam. What kind of quality audits are you going to use?  It includes all of our resources or processes that we bring together that we use to ensure that we produce a quality product.

  • Formative Quality Evaluation: This happens during the Project Lifecycle. The evaluation is going on as the project is progressing or forming.
  • Summative Quality Evaluation: This happens at the end of a project. This can also be known as lessons learned for all intents and purposes. Our goals are to look at how we functioned during the project; and also to evaluate what processes we used and whether they were effective.  We also look at the product or service that we created and we examine how close we were able to get to our quality requirements.

Even though the summative quality evaluation is carried out after the project ends, there should be little or no wait time before the summative evaluation is carried out. This is because relevant information would lose its significance to team members over time. We want to document all experiences while they are fresh in the minds of our team members.

It is also better to meet after each phase or key milestone in a project in order to take a look at what has been completed to date  and whether the objectives for that particular part of the project have been achieved.

Responsibility for Quality

When it comes to taking responsibility for quality, we should be aware that responsibility varies depending on the scale or level of activity being performed.

  • Q: At the task level, who has the responsibility for quality?
  • A: The team member doing the task has the responsibility for quality.
  • Q: When it comes to the project, who has the responsibility to quality at the project level?
  • A: The project manager now has the responsibility for ensuring quality across the entire project.

The candidate has to be very careful when it comes to tackling such questions in the exam. A subtle change in the question can result in two very different answers.

Cost of Quality

There is a way to measure the cost of attaining and maintaining a certain level of quality for any organization. We can look at this Cost of Quality from a number of dimensions:

  • Cost of Conformance: The Cost of Conformance is a proactive means to ensure that a quality product or service is produced by conforming to quality standards. It involves such activities as planning; training and process control. Other costs such as process validation and even the choice of how testing is to be performed are important factors to consider.
  • Cost of Non-Conformance: The Cost of Non-Conformance is cost of failure. For example we have rework and repair for a product that did not meet a customer’s level of acceptance. Additional factors such as complaint handling or the damage to reputation can also be considered under the cost of non-conformance.  Product recalls are yet another example.
  • Internal Costs: The internal cost is the cost of repairing work that you have found yourself.
  • External Costs: The external cost is the cost of repair after your client finds the defects. A product recall is a good example of an external cost.

Real or True Cost of Quality

The true Cost of Quality is the cost of Non-Conformance. When asked to pick between the cost of conformance or the cost of non-conformance as the real cost of quality, the answer should be the cost of non-conformance.

Responsibility for the Costs

The Project Manager or the Organization that is performing the work is responsible for paying for the costs of quality.  The costs of quality ultimately fall as a responsibility of management. Deming wrote that 85% of the cost of quality was a direct responsibility of management; he later increased that percentage to 90% prior to his death. PMI likes to use figures or statistics in the exam, because that is a great opportunity for them to insert distractor answers. 85% or 90% of the cost of quality is the direct responsibility of our management.

Quality Control

PMI describes quality control as a technical function and not a managerial function. It involves first establishing a technical baseline for the project and then collecting specific data to measure conformance to that baseline.

The quality baseline entails all of the specifications and requirements of what it is that we are going to do.

For example, we might have a list of specifications or requirements or tolerances. This encompasses everything that describes to the greatest detail what the product or service should look like.

Nature of Variables, Attributes and Probability

The following terms are frequently used in relation to experiments and statistical analysis, all relating to Quality Control activities.

  • Variable: An example of a variable is a person’s weight can fluctuate over time. Every morning when I step on my bathroom scale, I notice that my weight can go up or down on a daily basis. We can plot those variables and watch my weight go up and down and up and down over time.
  • Attribute: Is there a way to turn a variable into an attribute? Yes. The number of times that a person has weighed more than 180 pounds. The variable known as weight now turns into an attribute. Where it was seen previously as a variable, it now is either less than or greater than a specific figure. Your attribute now can take on one of two states, either on or off.
  • Probability: For example what are the odds of getting heads or tails when I flip a coin? When I flip a coin three times and I get heads each time, on the forth flip of the coin, what are the odds of getting heads again? My odds are unchanged at fifty-fifty. Because each flip of the coin is an independent event. The outcome of one event does not affect the outcome of a subsequent event. The rule here is not to string together a number of probabilities because they happen to be laid together in the exam.

Relationship between Probability and Distribution

Probabilities are commonly related to some sort of distribution. We refer to a commonly used example where a number of students would bring in candy bars to class, in particular Hershey almond bars. Sometimes when you eat a Hershey Almond bar, it is full of almonds; at other times you find that the entire bar might only have a handful of almonds. This is what we call a distribution. When Hershey bars are made, if you were to randomly sample some of the bars and count the number of almonds in them, you would find that the number of almonds in each bar would almost certainly vary.  If you were to count a very large number of candy bars and plot the results, you would get a bell-shaped curve. This is called a normal distribution.

An experiment was conducted where students coming to class would count the almonds in their candy bars and plot the number of almonds found in a bar over several months. The students noticed that during the spring months and summer months, the Almond bars had a very clean, even distribution. There were generally anywhere between thirteen and fifteen almonds per Hershey bar. When it got close to Halloween, they started to see a much larger variation in the number of almonds found in each Hershey bar.

The reason was that the Hershey’s chocolate factory had increased its production levels to anticipate increased demand during Halloween. Due the increased quantity of bars produced, the Hershey’s production lines were not as fastidious with their quality. Sometimes students would find as few as six or seven Almonds per bar and sometimes they would find as many as eighteen or nineteen Almonds per bar.

So the distribution became much broader and flatter as the manufacturer was going through much higher rate of production.

Statistical terms

You are required to become familiar with several statistical terms and concepts.

  • Mode: The one number that comes up the most often
  • Mean: The number that is the average for that distribution. (14 Almonds)
  • Median: The middle value in a distribution, of which above and below lie an equal number of values.

Bell Curve Shapes

A tall thin bell curve represents a process that is under control, because all of our samples or population are very close to our mean. This is a good thing. A long flat bell curve represents a process that is under less control, because we have much greater deviation from our mean.

Standard Deviation

Standard Deviation (S.D.) describes how much of your population you have captured within the diagram and how far they fall from the mean. When it comes to standard deviation, you need to memorize the percentages for the various standard deviations from the mean, depicted by the term sigma (σ). Candidates also should be aware of normal and skewed standard deviations.

1 S.D. : 68%
2 S.D. : 95%
3 S.D. : 99.7%
4 S.D. : 99.99%
5 S.D. : 99.9999%
6 S.D. : 99.999999%

As we look at one standard deviation from the mean, we capture 68% of all of the candy bars. As we move three standard deviations from the mean, we capture a vast majority of the candy bars at 99.73%. This represents most of the Candy Bars manufactured. When we say that a process follows 6σ, we’re indicating that over 99.999999% of our population (i.e. production output) falls within our quality specifications.

Process Control

The Control Chart gives us our “current capability”. We are measuring our process and we are taking those measurements periodically throughout the project. The measurements serve to tell us how well our process is performing in accordance with our specifications. This is an indicator of how reliable and predictable the process that we established is working.

You might see the following term in the exams. ‘The Voice’ of the process is defined as what your process is telling you it can do. The voice of the customer represents the specifications. The voice of the process determines what we are doing to meet those specifications.

Sampling

When you have a process that produces a huge number of outputs, it’s sometimes impractical to be able to inspect the population, in other words every single item that is produced. A sample is a smaller subset of your entire population, but is large enough that you feel confident that the results of testing the sample will be the same as testing the entire population.

If you are told you have a valid sample. That is just as good as doing a 100% inspection. A lot of people are uncomfortable with that. They would rather do a 100% inspection. However, if it is a valid sample, it is just as good as a 100% sample.

  • Attribute Sampling: The questions you might ask when performing attribute sampling are: Is it on or off, is it heads or tails, and is it one way or the other? Is it above or below 200?
  • Variable Sampling:  The questions you might ask when performing variable sampling are: Does it fall above or below the range? Where does it fall within the range or general curve and how does that compare to our general population.
  • Tolerance:  The result in variable sampling that will be acceptable if it falls within a particular range specified. This is called tolerance and tolerance relates to variable sampling.


Quality Control Tools

There are seven tools that are frequently used for Quality Control. You must be familiar with how these tools are used and deployed.

Flowcharts and Diagrams

Questions on flowcharts are fairly easy to answer in the exam. The approach taken by PMI is to ask what advantages there are for each tool and you would use one over the other, etc. You are not required to construct these flowcharts.

We use flowcharts to better understand relationships in a process. A flowchart is a schematic or picture that serves to create a common language or common understanding about a specific sequence. A flowchart looks at a number of events in a sequence and there a number of different types of flowcharts listed in the PMBOK

  • Top-Down Flowchart:  This represents the management perspective on reality. Life is always moving forward, there is no turning back. There aren’t any looping processes. Fundamentally, a top-down flowchart moves in one direction and it does not allow for looping.
  • Classic Detail Flowchart: This is a very valuable and widely used tool in the re-engineering business nowadays. A detail flowchart provides very specific information on a process. In a detail flowchart we have every decision point and every feedback route and every process step. For the exams, know that for the detail flowchart, the box represents the step and a diamond represents a decision point and coming out of the diamond there should be a yes or a no arrow leading down to other elements such as another step or decision.

Work-flow diagram

This is a graphical representation of how work flows through a physical space or facility. Imagine an automobile assembly plant and picture that assembly plant in the form of a graphic with individual workstations and arrows indicating the direction to where the products are flowing. It is just the movement of stuff through physical space. So you can do a workflow diagram on a highway or on just about anything. You can think of how the work moves from point A to point B and what is involved in the process.

From a quality perspective, the work-flow diagram is good for analyzing the flow processes and for planning process flow improvements. This tends to be the angle that PMI takes regarding workflow diagrams in the exam.  You may have a scenario which is presented to you and then you are asked which type of flowchart or diagram you should use to analyze this particular scenario. Knowing the value and objective of each of these will lead you to the correct objective.  The Ergonomics issue stems from the work-flow diagrams. It deals with ergonomics or human motion in physical space. There are specialized work-flow diagrams associated with particular processes.

Just-In-Time (JIT)

Just In Time allows for the movement and storage for small amounts of inventory in a physical space. The entire purpose of the Just-in-time concept is that you do not want to have too much inventory on hand since excess inventory freezes up cash and costs money to store. So you want to build up only as much enough inventory as you consume.

KAN-BAN area

The kan-ban area or system prevents over-production by allowing work to move forward only when the next work area is ready to receive. An actual physical area on the assembly-line or production floor where people have an understanding that this work is coming down but it is not going to come down if I am not ready to receive it. KAN-BAN relates to just-in-time inventory.

Pareto Diagrams (80/20 rule)

Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist who said that 80% of the wealth rests with 20% of the population. His concept of 80 versus 20 has been applied generally to almost anything, including quality management. Dr. Joseph Duran took Pareto’s idea and formulated the Pareto principal for quality and he called it the law of the vital few. This is the 80-20 rule and it states that we are going  to have 80% of our problems coming from 20% of our items or processes. For anyone who has worked with an inventory application the movement of the inventory you will find that 80% of the activity in an inventory system will be in 20% of the portion of that inventory.

The central concept to the 80/20 rule is that if you can change that one big problem, you are going to have the biggest influence overall on how your process looks and feels in the long term. There are almost limitless numbers of examples when it comes to a Pareto chart. The key to the Pareto chart is which bar you want to fix when it comes to the Pareto chart. Imagine if you will a chart in front of you with a number of vertical bars, one is taller than all of the rest. Which one do you want to fix? It is always the tall one. Do not let any way the question is worded dissuade you from the idea that it always the tall bar which represents the lion’s share of your concerns. That is the one that you really have to go in there and solve in a Pareto chart.

Ishikawa Diagram/ Fishbone Diagram/ Cause & Effect diagram

This tool comes in a variety of names and widely used. It is named very aptly the fishbone diagram because it looks just like the skeleton of a fish. Fishbone diagrams are useful for brainstorming, for examining processes and for sequencing activities.

The cause and effect diagram basically drills down for causes, causes and more causes all driving toward one single, focused effect. We’re always looking for causes and breaking things down into further causes. What is the cause for the heat in the room, it may be some machinery. What is the cause for the machinery, it may be something and what is the cause of that something and we keep going down until you find the entire minutia that can be possibly associated with the effect at the very root of your fishbone diagram.

It is great for brainstorming and looking at problems that you have with quality but it can also be used in a prospective mode, here is an effect that you want to have happen and so what causes do we have to put in place in order to reach that effect. So in quality it can be “let’s see what has occurred and why” or it can be “we want something to occur and what do we need to do in order to make it happen.

Graphs/Histograms

The PMP exam will test you on some basic graph styles such as pie charts; line graphs or bar charts. If you see a pie chart and ¾ of it is one thing and you are asked which one of the elements in the chart should you be dealing with first, the answer is simply the large one. Graphs are very powerful forms of communication. PMI says that they should be used liberally in the workplace. Graphs are very helpful for planning improvement processes. Instead of trying to read tables of data, it is much easier to interpret data in graphical form and therefore graphs can become a very popular tool in quality.

Control Chart

This tool may be difficult for some candidates because they’ve had little experience dealing with control charts. There are a few fundamental terms that you need to be aware of:

  • UCL – Upper Control Limit
  • LCL – Lower Control Limit

To construct a control chart, we take readings of a number of items in our sample and plot them on the chart. If the items fall within the Upper and Lower control limits, they have met our quality standards. In some cases, several patterns emerge that might give us cause to investigate our process. For example, if we take a number of readings and after plotting the data points, we see that these points lie outside of our control limits. These data points are out of control. But is the entire process out of control? Well, we might have cause for investigation.

Rule of Seven:

Let’s say that you have a control chart and you plot seven data points in a row. All seven data points are recorded above the mean. Does that mean a: our process is in perfect control; b: our process is out of control c: there is cause for investigation; d: the process is functioning normally? The answer is that we have cause for investigation. This is because the probability of seven consecutive data points all falling on one side of the mean are extremely low. Imagine flipping a coin and getting heads seven times in a row. Something just doesn’t feel right. For a normal distribution, you would expect to get readings both above and below the mean, since the mean is statisically at the middle of your readings. Seven points on one side is not normal and this should cause us to stop for a minute and take a look at what’s going on.

We also want to know about upper and lower control limits is where the customer’s tolerance limits fits in the whole process. We need to know that the customer’s tolerance fits outside the upper and lower control limits. For example, next time you go into a fast-food place, you might see that they have posted a notice of the mean temperature of what they expect the temperature of their burgers to be.  Let’s say that the temperature 185 degrees. Now their system or process will enable burgers to be stored between 180 and 190 degrees consistently. They will always produce burgers within that range. Now you as the customer, if your tolerance limits at that you want a burger between 184 and 186 degrees, then the process may sometimes not serve you. But if you always want your burgers between 175 and 195 degrees, then it is the range you deem acceptable every single time then their process is going to deliver a process that you will eat.

These are the basics of control limits and tolerance limits. The point to remember is that tolerance limits are outside the control limits.

Natural Variation

There is a practical question that we want to ask ourselves when designing a process. Can we expect our outputs to be identical in nature no matter how long we keep doing the process? Our outputs will all vary slightly because there is something called natural variation that says it is impossible to make any product with absolute consistency. This is why we have our upper control limits and our lower control limits and understand where our tolerances are. As long as we are within this range, we can have variation and still conform to requirements.

Relationship between sample size and control limits.

If we are doing the assessment of our process on say a hundred units produced, that is going to give us a sample size one set of numbers. What if we do ten thousand numbers? Is it going to change the control limits at all? It is quite possible that the control limits will change, but the good thing is that the larger the sample size, the greater the degree of control we have on that particular process. The larger the process is or the larger the sample size, then the tighter the controls get. This is because the more we are looking at our total population there are fewer outliers in that far end of the process.

Check sheets

You might have gotten one of these the last time you went to rent a car. The pilot and copilot in a commercial air-liner also make frequent use of a checklist before they taxi off onto the runway.

A check sheet differs from a checklist in that it looks at physical flaws. It is looking at specific things that could have gone awry and that a checklist is looking at the specifics of what are the tasks that have to be performed or done. You have to be able to distinguish between the two for the exam. The check sheet also has the name of a measles sheet or measles diagram.

Kaizen – Continuous Improvement

Kaizen is the Japanese word for continuous improvement. Improving quality is not a discrete, one-time event. It happens every time we perform a service or we create a product. We want to do everything incrementally better. It is the small incremental steps, the little things that we can do along the way that can contribute to significant progress.

Benchmarking

Sometimes to improve our Organization, we look at other Organizations. We look at the big companies, or the people that have been doing it well. This involves comparing your practices to the practices of other projects or other companies for the purposes of improvements

  • Internal benchmark: this is an activity internal to a company, where one branch or department compares its processes to another
  • Competitive benchmark: you are comparing your processes to your toughest competitor.
  • Functional benchmark: comparing a similar process to your non-competitors.

The human aspect of quality

People need to get really involved about quality. When a person gets highly motivated, then they do a better job in terms of quality. For a time, Ford motorcar company’s primary motto was ‘quality is job one’

When it comes to project management, we have to look at quality against the cost and schedule. We need to ask ourselves, which is more important, quality, cost or schedule? This is very difficult for many people to answer in the exam because many candidates might have taken quality training prior to the exam where they would be introduced to quality with a certain philosophy. Now, that philosophy would be different than what they are used to. According to PMI, modern thinking should emphasize that quality should share equal priority with cost and schedule as it applies to project management. The 3 sides of the triple constraint are time, cost and if you want to look at your requirements (scope) as quality, all bear equal weight.

The impact of poor quality

We need to be prepared for poor quality. What are some of the effects of poor quality? People get less productive, less excited about their work, we increase our costs, there is non-conformance. We wind up spending a lot more money, time and energy on monitoring and evaluation. This is a big problem.

R&M (Reliability / Maintainability)

This is a special category of quality and they are expressed and you will see this in the exam with 2 acronyms, which are MTBF (Mean time between failures) and MTTR (Mean Time To Repair). We’re attempting to measure the reliability by using MTBF which literally asks how long we are going to go before this thing breaks down and when it eventually does break down, MTTR will ask how long it will take before we can bring it back up and running.

Summary:  Project Quality Management.

  1. Quality Management
  2. Quality Planning
  3. Quality Assurance
  4. Quality Control
  5. Quality Control Tools
  6. Continuous Improvement
  7. Just in time
  8. Impact of Poor Quality
  9. Cost of Quality

Conclusion

In this section we looked at the concepts of Quality, which is defined as conformance to your requirements. We analyzed the various approaches towards modern-day quality thinking, including Zero Defects and Kaizen. We also looked at how quality assurance should be a managerial initiative and how quality control is more of a technical function, involving the use of tools such as the Quality Control Chart.

In the next section, we will go into Project Human Resource Management

Ook! Time for a banana!