Friday, July 22, 2011

Some Nice Questions - Part 3

31: How do you know your Quality Benchmarks before you start building?

That’s what your Organizational Process Assets are for. Since your company keeps a record of all of the projects that have been done over the years, those projects’ quality measurements can help you get a gauge on how your project will perform too. If your company knows that all of the
projects in your division had a cost of quality that was 40% of the cost of the overall cost of development, you might set 40% cost of quality as a benchmark for your project as well. Your company might have stated a goal of having a schedule variance of plus or minus 10% on all projects for this calendar year. In that case, the schedule variance is a benchmark for your project

32: I don’t really have good requirements for my projects because everyone on the team starts out with just a good idea of what we’re building. How do I handle quality?

You should never do that. Remember how you spent all that time collecting requrements in the Collect Requirements process? Well, this is why you needed them. And it’s why it’s your responsibility to make sure that the project starts out with good, well-defined, and correct requirements. If you don’t have them, you can’t measure quality—and quality is an important part of Pproject management. Without requirements, you have no idea what the product is supposed to do, and that means you can’t judge its quality. You can learn a lot about a product by testing it, but without knowing its requirements, a product could pass all of its tests and still not do what the customer expects it to do. So having good requirements really is the only way to know whether or not your product is high quality.

33: If I am trying to prevent quality problems, why can’t I just test more?

You can find a lot of problems by testing. If you find them during testing, then you have to go back and fix them. The later you find them, the more expensive they are to fix. It’s much better for everybody if you never put the bugs in the product in the first place. It’s much easier to fix a problem in a specification document than it is to fix it in a finished product. That’s why most of the Plan Quality process group is centered around setting standards and doing reviews to be sure that bugs are never put into your product and, if they are, they’re caught as early as possible.

34: Is the RACI chart really necessary?

Yes, definitely! Sometimes people split up responsibilities in ways that aren’t immediately obvious just from people’s titles or the names of their roles on the project—that’s one of the big advantages of a matrixed organization. RACI charts help everyone figure out their assignments.

35: Can the “halo effect” really affect my projects?

The halo effect is something that happens when you’ve got a team member who’s very good at a job—especially a technical job, like computer programmer or engineer. It’s easy to forget that just because someone is very good at one job, it doesn’t mean he or she has the skills to do another,equally hard job. This happens a lot with functional managers: the top programmer will often get promoted to a management position… but if she doesn’t have management or leadership skills, then the company just lost their best programmer and gained a lousy manager.

36: Per the PMBOK, it sounds like compromise is a bad thing. But I’ve been told that when people are fighting, I should always look for a middle ground!?

Yes, as little kids a lot of us were told that we should always look for a compromise. And that probably is the right thing to do on the playground. But when you’re managing a project, you’re judged by the success of your final product, not by how happy your team is. When you forge a compromise instead of really figuring out what’s causing the problem, you’re usually taking the easy way out.

37: What do I do with lessons learned after I write them?

The great thing about lessons learned is that you get to help other project managers with them. You add them to your company’s process asset library, and other project managers then use them for planning their projects.

38: Do I have to know everything that will be communicated to build a plan?

No. As you learn more about the project you can always update the plan to include new information as you learn it. Pretty much all of the planning processes allow for progressive elaboration. You plan as much as you can up front, and then put all changes through change control from then on. So, if you find something new, put in a change request and update the plan when it’s approved.

39: What’s the difference between active and effective listening?

Some of the communications ideas do have names that are a little confusing. But don’t worry, they’re really easy concepts for you to understand.

Active listening just means when you’re listening to something, you keep alert and take specific actions that help make sure you understand. It includes both effective listening and feedback.
Effective listening is a way that you do active listening—it means paying attention to both verbal and nonverbal communication. Feedback means doing things like repeating back the words that you were told in order to make sure you understood them, and giving your own nonverbal cues to show the speaker that you got the message.

40: Are nonverbal and paralingual communication the same thing?

They are very similar, but they’re not exactly the same. Nonverbal communication is any kind of communication that doesn’t use words. That includes things like changing your body language, making eye contact, and using gestures. Paralingual communication is a kind of nonverbal communication—it’s changing your tone of voice or intonation, finding ways to communicate things above and beyond just the words that you’re saying. For example, the same words mean very different things if you say them sarcastically than if you say them in a normal tone of voice.

41: What if people disagree on how to rank risks?

There are a lot of ways to think about risks. If a risk has a large impact on your part of the project or your goals, you can bet that it will seem more important to you than the stuff that affects other people in the group. The best way to keep the right perspective is to keep everybody on the team evaluating risks based on how they affect the overall project goals. If everyone focuses on the effect each risk will have on your project’s constraints, risks will get ranked in the order that is best for everybody.

42: How do I know if I’ve got all the risks?

Unfortunately, you never know the answer to that one. That’s why it’s important to keep monitoring your risk register throughout the project. It’s important that you are constantly updating it and that you never let it sit and collect dust. You should be looking for risks throughout all phases of your project, not just when you’re starting out.

43: What’s the point in even tracking low-priority risks? Why do we need the Watchlist in the first place when the risks are low priority?

Actually, watchlists are just a list of all of the risks that you want to monitor as the project goes on. You might be watching them to see if conditions change and make them more likely to happen. By keeping a watchlist, you make sure that all of the risks that seem low priority when you are doing your analysis get caught before they cause serious damage if they become more likely later in the project. The conditions that cause a risk are called triggers. So, say you have a plan set up to deal with storms, and you know that you might track a trigger for lightning damage, such as a thunderstorm. If there’s no thunderstorm, it’s really unlikely that you will see lightning damage, but once the storm has started, the chance for the risk to occur skyrockets.

44: I can figure out how much the risk costs using EMV, or I can do it with Decision Tree Analysis. Why do I need two ways to do this?

That’s a good question. If you take a really careful look at how you do Decision Tree Analysis, you might notice something... it’s actually doing exactly the same thing as EMV. It turns out that those two techniques are really similar, except that EMV does it using numbers and Decision Tree Analysis spells out the same calculation using a picture.

It turns out that there are a lot of EMV techniques, and decision tree analysis is just one of them. But it’s the one you need to know for the test, because it’s the one that helps you make decisions by figuring out the EMV for each option. You can bet that you’ll see a question or two that asks you to calculate the EMV for a project based on decision tree like the one on the facing page. As long as you remember that risks are negative numbers and that opportunities are positive ones, you should do fine.

45: Why do we do risk audits?

Risk audits are when you have someone from outside your project come in and review your risk register—your risks and your risk responses—to make sure you got it right. The reason we do it is because risks are so important that getting a new set of eyes on them is worth the time.

46: Do I always need to hold a bidder conference whenever I do procurement?

No, you don’t always need a bidder conference. Sometimes your company has a preferred supplier who you always deal with, so you don’t have to advertise for sellers. And sometimes there’s a sole source for a particular service or part—there may only be one company that provides it. In that case, advertising and bidder conferences would be pointless.

The bidder conference has two goals. The first is to make sure that you answer all of the questions from potential sellers. But the other is to make sure that all potential sellers are treated equally and have access to the same information.

47: Once a contract is signed, does that mean it’s never allowed to change?

No. This confuses some people, because when you sign a contract, it’s legally binding—which means you must abide by the terms of the contract. But that doesn’t mean those terms can’t change. If both the buyer and the seller agree to make a change to the contract, then they have every right to do so. That’s why you have a contract change control system—so you can Pmake sure these changes are made properly. But you can’t always assume that you have the ability to change a contract that you’re not happy with. Once your company has agreed to a contract, then you’re absolutely required to meet its terms and complete your side of it. If you want to make a change to it, you need to negotiate that change, and it’s possible that the seller won’t agree to it—just like you have every right to refuse an unreasonable change that the seller requests.

48: What is the difference between a performance review and an audit?

The difference is that performance reviews are about the work, while inspections and audits are about the deliverables and products. You’ll use a performance review when you want to make sure that the team at the seller is doing every activity that they should. For example, if you have a contract that requires the seller to perform certain quality control or project management tasks, you might conduct a performance review where you observe the team and verify that they do those tasks. On the other hand, if you want to make sure that the products that the team is producing meet your requirements and standards, you’ll send out an auditor to inspect the products that the seller is making to verify that they meet the requirements.

49: Do I Really need to follow all these Ethics & Professional Responsibility ideas outlined by the PMI?

Yes, absolutely. Being a PMP means you are a cut above the rest of the people who may do project management and one of the key distinctions is the expectation that a PMP Certified individual will be fair in his practices and work with honesty and integrity. Though accepting/giving a bribe or taking a short cut may not mean much harm, the point here is that, are you doing the right thing? When you ask yourself this question "Is this correct and legal?" and the answer is "NO" then you are not supposed to do it. I do agree that in real life situations there may be more than one reason to make a decision, but the most important should always be "Is this Ethical & Legal" irrespective of the situation and that is what PMI encourages.

If you have any more questions, dont hesitate to leave it as a comment and I shall try to answer them!!!

Some More Questions:

More Questions - Part 1
More Questions - Part 2

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