Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Some Nice Questions - Part 1

1: What are the differences between a project coordinator and a project expediter?

They’re actually pretty similar. A project expediter is somebody who keeps track of status but has no decision-making authority on a project at all. A project coordinator is someone who does pretty much the same thing, but does get to make some of the minor decisions on the project without having to run them by the functional manager. Coordinators usually report to somebody who is pretty high up in the organization, while expediters are more like assistants to the functional manager. Both of them usually exist in weak-matrix or functional organizations.

2: Does the PMP exam favor any kind of organization?

When you’re taking the PMP exam, if you see a question that mentions a PM, then you should assume that the question is asking about a matrix organization if it doesn’t say up front which kind of organization is being described. Functional organizations are usually painted in a negative light because they tend to give less authority to project managers.

3: what’s the difference between process groups and knowledge areas?

The process groups divide up the processes by function. The knowledge areas divide the same processes up by subject matter. Think of the process groups as being about the actions you take on your project, and the knowledge areas as the things you P need to understand. In other words, the knowledge areas are more about helping you understand the PMBOK® Guide material than about running your project. But that doesn’t mean that every knowledge area has a process in every process group! For example, the Initiating process group only has two processes, and they both show up in the Integration Management knowledge area. The Risk Management knowledge area only has Planning and Monitoring & Controlling processes. So the process groups and the knowledge areas are two different ways to think about all of the processes, but they don’t really overlap.

4: Can a process be part of more than one process group?

No, each of the processes belongs to only one process group. The best way to figure out which group a process belongs to is to remember what that process does. If the process is about defining high-level goals of the project, it’s in Initiating. If it’s about planning the work, it’s in Planning. If you are actually doing the work, it’s in Executing. If you’re tracking the work and finding problems, it’s in Monitoring & Controlling. And if you’re finishing stuff off after you’ve delivered the product, that’s Closing.

5: Do you do all of the processes in every project?

Not always. Some of the processes only apply to projectized organizations or subcontracted work, so if your company doesn’t do that kind of thing, then you won’t need those processes. But if you want to make your projects come out well, then it really does make sense to use the processes. Even a small project can benefit from taking the time to plan out the way you’ll handle all of the knowledge areas. If you do your homework and pay attention to all of the processes, you can avoid most of the big problems that cause projects to run into trouble!

6: At a high level, the initiating & planning process groups look very similar. Are they really different?

Initiating is everything you do when you first start a project. You start by writing down (at a very high level) what the project is going to produce, who’s in charge of it, and what tools they need to do the work. In a lot of companies, the
project manager isn’t even involved in a lot of this. Planning just means going into more detail about all of that as you learn

more about it, and writing down specifically how you’re going to do the work. The Planning processes are where the project
manager is really in control and does most of the work.

7: What are Enterprise Environmental Factors?

Enterprise Environmental Factors tell you about how your company does business. There’s a lot of information about your company that will be really useful to you when you’re planning your project. You need to know how each of the different departments operates, the market conditions you’re working in, the company’s overall strategy, any policies you need to work with, your company’s culture, and all about the people who work at the company.

8: What are Organizational Process Assets?

Organizational Process Assets tell you about how your company normally runs its projects. Every company has standards for how to run their projects. There are guidelines and instructions for managing projects, procedures you need to follow, categories for various things you need to keep track of, and templates for all of the various documents that you need to create. These things are usually stored in some sort of library. One of the most important organizational process assets is called lessons learned, which is how you keep track of valuable historical information about your project. At the end of every project, you sit down with the project team and write down everything you learned about the project. This includes both positive and negative things. That way, when you or another project manager in your company plans the next project, you can take advantage of the lessons you learned on this one.

9: How is the Business Case different from the Project Charter?

The business case is a description of what your company is trying to get out of the project—like how much money you’re planning on making from the project, how it will benefit parts of your organization, and future business you might gain from the project.P PT he project charter is a high-level description of your project. It tells you—and anyone else who needs to know about your project—what you’ll be delivering, including a really high-level description of what it is that you’ll build. A really important difference between them is that the project charter is what authorizes the project manager to do the work, while the business case helps give justification for the project. You can think of the business case as the background research that had to be done in order to make sure the project was worth doing, and the project charter as the thing that formally announces the decision to do it.

10: Do Project Sponsors really type & create the Project charter? Usually Sponsors are people in high positions in a company and do they do such tasks as well?

This is actually a very nice question. Sponsors are important people in an organization and that’s exactly why the project sponsor will often delegate the actual creation of the charter to the project manager. For the exam, though, keep in mind that the sponsor is ultimately responsible for creation of the charter irrespective of whether he types the whole thing or delegates it to someone else.

11: Isn’t a project plan just something I get out of Microsoft Project?

No. The project management plan is not the same thing as a project schedule. You’ll use a tool like Microsoft Project when you’re doing Time Management to build the project schedule. (It’s also useful for other knowledge areas as well.) But you’ll use your project management plan as a guide to help you develop that schedule. It will tell you what tools to use when you develop it, and how changes will be handled.

12: What is a performance baseline and what do I do with it?

A performance baseline is a snapshot of your project’s scope, schedule, and cost. When you plan out the work you’ll do on a project, you write it down all of the activities you’ll need to do and save that understanding as your scope baseline. You’ll do the same with your understanding of the project’s schedule and its cost. That way, you can always compare your actual
performance to your plan. Every time a change is approved, that means the plan has changed. So you have to update your baseline to include the new work (or cost, or schedule).

13: Can you explain Project Integration Management in one line?

Integration Management means making sure that all of the processes work together seamlessly to make your project successful.

14: Does the project manager care only about the project scope? Doesn’t he care about the product scope?

No, you still need to think about your project’s final product. You can never ignore product scope, because most projects have changes to the product scope along the way. You’ll have to change your product scope to include the work that’s caused by
product scope changes. Changes like that will probably have an impact on time and cost, too.

For Ex: Lets saty, you are the project manager who manages a project that is part of the scope of Product X. If somebody asks for a new feature in Product X, the first thing the team needs to do is understand how much work is involved to accommodate it, and what that scope change will do to the cost and schedule. As a project manager, your main concern is understanding that impact, and making sure everyone is OK with it before the change gets made. It’s not your job to decide which is the best feature for the product, just to help everybody involved keep their priorities in mind and do what’s best for the project.

15: How do I know when I am done collecting requirements?

That’s a good question. Your requirements need to be measurable to be complete. So it’s not enough to write down that you want good performance in your product. You need to be able to tell people what measurement counts as good performance for you. You have to be able to confirm that all of your requirements are met when you close out your project, so you can’t leave requirements up to interpretation. You know your requirements are complete when you’ve got a way to verify each of them once they’re built.

Some More Questions:

More Questions - Part 2
More Questions - Part 3


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