Project Management Concepts Through Interview Questions for Project Managers – 3

The aim of this series of articles is to introduce project management concepts. Interview questions one may face for project Manager positions, are used as a vehicle to introduce these concepts. This is the third part of the series and covers additional concepts. The series is going to be in ten parts, and each article in the series will discuss five questions that you may get asked and explain the related questions. Concepts introduced should help you prepare for PMP certification that is often required for a Project Manager position.

Project managers need diverse skills besides being a professional manager.

What are the additional skills a project manager might need?
A PM needs to be skilled in all the knowledge areas required for project management. Strong leadership qualities are a necessity for the person. Planning, vision, leading the team and such skills are needed that make for good generals. He has to take a bunch of disparate people to a common goal. Business environment imposes other constraints like a given budget and time limits.

Processes and process groups are important concepts in project management.

How does one define a process and a process group?
The emphasis on process arises from the fact that when a process, or a clearly defined way of doing things, is used risks of making mistakes are reduced. That in turn, means that the end product of the process comes out with minimal flaws. A process needs to define not only the required actions but also the sequence in which they should be invoked. An activity as elaborate as a project needs to have processes defined for many tasks. Each of these processes should define clear inputs, defined outputs and the tools and techniques to be used on the inputs. As a process goes through various stages of its life, different sets of processes are required to get the required tasks done. These groups have been defined as process groups in the Project Management Book of Knowledge. Planning process group is one such example.

While discussing the qualities of a PM, reference was made to knowledge areas.

What specific knowledge areas apply to the successful execution of a project?
Communication management must be the most critical thing in any endeavor involving human beings. Management of scope of projects has to be next most important knowledge area. Keeping the scope well-defined is a necessary condition for its success. Executing a project in terms of its scope is not sufficient. Given enough time and money, possibly, any project of any scope can be achieved! Time and cost/budget management are two other relevant knowledge areas. Quality management knowledge needs to be added to the required knowledge areas as a defined level of quality is a must. Project integration knowledge puts it all together and thus is a necessity. These main knowledge areas are supported by a few more. Monitoring and controlling of risks, is vital as is procurement of material and at the right time. Since all of these activities are to be conducted by human being, human resources management is another required support area.

Project Integration Management covers activities that ensure all activities undertaken work towards success of the project. All the processes need to be geared toward that goal.

What processes are needed?
Project charter development is like an anchor point. That is what defines what exactly the project is. All the relevant plans are the next most important set of activities. These would include project management plan development, direct and manage project execution and monitor and control. The final set of activities is the closing of the project or the current phase. Changes are inevitable. What needs to be done is that an integrated change management is in place so that these changes do not cause any chaos.

What are the important check items a PM should keep in mind always?
A PM needs to be constantly aware of a few key issues. Risk is one such issue. A PM should be able to take lowest risk actions. That requires that he/she is constantly aware of the risks. Assumptions, issues and dependencies applicable to decisions taken, defined scope and just about everything else should be clearly known to the PM. RAID is a mnemonic applied to these factors. For a PM, being on top of RAID is vital.

Part 4 will take up another five questions. 10 articles will cover 50 questions between them.

Project Management Concepts – Most Important Resource

I’ve been giving some thought recently as to what lies behind the work we do as project managers. Too often we get caught up in the tools and techniques, the how of what we do, without looking at the concepts and ideas behind it, the why of what we do.

Today, I want to look at what is controlled, the resources that we can use to carry out the work of the project, and particularly the most important resource. The concept I am looking at today is: The project team is a project’s most important resource. Guard them well, to allow them to get on with their tasks.

We already know that we can, within limits, control time taken, money spent, and scope fulfilled. But how are they controlled? Essentially, we are looking at how we can control these three resources. A project manager will have a certain amount of time and money to achieve a certain amount of scope.

But the key resource, the one which effects all of the project, is, of course, the team of people who are actually doing the work. In them, the three areas of control are combined.

Each of the team members has only a limited amount of time they can work on the project. Each of the team members will need to be paid for. And each of the team members will have different skills, and different abilities. Project management, then, needs to be able to guide the work of the team in the right way. We must allocate the work to the right individuals, giving guidance as to how long to spend on it, what quality is needed, and, if expenditure other than that on the team member’s salary is needed, how much can be spent.

So, we need control of the resources allocated to the project, and that includes the team. But, unlike money and time, team members can easily be distracted and pulled off to work on something else. But a project manager needs to retain control.

This leads us to a project management concept: The project team is a project’s most important resource. Guard them well, to allow them to get on with their tasks.

Project Management Concepts Through Interview Questions for Project Managers – 10

The aim of this series of articles is to introduce project management concepts. Interview questions one may face for project Manager position, are used as a vehicle to introduce these concepts. This is the tenth part of the series and covers further concepts. Each article in the series discussed five questions that you may get asked and explained the related issues. Concepts introduced should help you prepare for PMP certification that is often required for a Project Manager position.

Procurement administration is an important function considering how crucial procurement is. What does procurement administration involve? Initiating procurement, getting the contracts in place are important activities. Procurements that take some time, usually because the seller needs time to get the item ready, needs to be monitored. Monitoring and ensuring that the procurement will be completed in time is an important function of the procurement team. This is what the procurement administration all about.

The project team is an important component in the project delivery ecosystem. Project teams are usually filled by bringing people together from inside as well as outside at the start of a project. It is essential that this gathering of people, from different departments within an organization and from outside are able to function well. What does the team forming process involve? Typically, this is a four-stage process. The first part is the “forming” of the team. However, this is followed immediately by a “storming process. During this time, people filling the roles go through a stormy phase before the relationships are formed into working norms. Next phase is the norming process when the leaders, team leaders, team members start operating smoothly in the given structure. Then comes the performing time, when the structured team works effectively as a high-performance team and delivers the desired results.

What are the responsibilities of a project manager towards the team? A project manager has to ensure his team operates as a smooth performing team. Being conversant in HR knowledge area is very important out of the nine knowledge areas defined in the PMBOK. Right people should be in place; he should nurture along the team forming process, identify training areas and take care of appraisals and consequent rewards and recognition.

Are professionalism and integrity required qualities of a PM? Without a doubt, a manager must have these qualities. Practically everything a PM needs to do calls for these qualities. Whether he is reporting status of a project, trying to solve a conflict, appraising his team are kind of actions when he needs these strengths.

Why is being proactive a necessary quality for a PM? A PM must be able to see if any deviation is happening in the progress of the project. When PM is able to see these as soon as possible, he gets time to react and take corrective actions early enough and prevent any slips in time or cost.

That completes this series that considered 50 interview questions to look into some project management concepts. That is but scratching the surface. I intend to keep covering important concepts from the PMBOK.