Project Management Concepts Through Interview Questions for Project Managers – 7

The aim of this series of articles is to introduce project management concepts. Interview questions one may face for a project Manager position, are used as a vehicle to introduce these concepts. This is the seventh part of the series and further 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.

There are two aspects of quality-related activities. One is quality assurance. These are measures taken in the project execution processes that ensure quality outcomes. The complementary part of activities is defined as quality control.

What does it take to control quality?

Quality control processes, monitor and find out if the quality goals are being met. Periodic inspection of defined metrics is the way quality control is implemented.

Processes are essential in all project-related activities. Processes cannot be perfect in the initial stages. Every process thus must have a provision for implementing improvements.

What is the need for these improvements?

As processes are improved, probability of defects decrease and consequently, quality of the project outcome improves.

What tool/techniques could be used to determine process improvement?

GQM or the goals, questions and metric is considered the main technique in this area. Goals for the process improvement is to be set down initially. Questions then should be asked to determine what improvements can be made. Metrics are the measurements to be taken so that process health could be determined.

Quality outcomes depend largely on the quality of the project team. HR policies and the plans to manage HR issues are of paramount importance.

What are the important HR aspects?

HR areas that are crucial include how the team is acquired, how it is formed, and how the roles and responsibilities are assigned. Carefully thought out policies need to be in place to cover appraisal policies, rewards & recognition, etc. Not only policies be clear-cut but should be communicated to the team members well too.

Why is performance management such an important process for HR?

Acknowledging good performance is a sure way of meeting the expectations of the project team members. Recognizing talent and rewarding high performance is the way to maintain a high-performing team. Thus, periodic appraisals are a necessity and objective assessments an important process. It is required that assessments are seen to be fair, besides actually being fair.

Part 8 will take up another five questions. 10 articles will cover 50 questions between them.

Change Management Concepts – The Leader As Teacher

This is the first in a series of Change Management Concepts articles.

Change Management is about introducing some combination of new people, new processes and new technology to a business or organization. The organization has a lot to learn, and someone needs to be the teacher.

Often executives will hire consultants to drive their change management initiatives, and the teaching job falls to the consultants almost by default. Save some money. Hire consultants if you need them, but focus their teaching efforts on your leadership team. Then let the leaders (yourself included) teach everyone else.

Leaders Are The Best Teachers
When a management consulting firm conducted a study a few years ago, they formed two groups of people to be trained in new systems and processes. One group was trained by professional trainers. For the second group, the professionals trained the boss and the boss trained the people. Immediately after training, both groups were tested to determine how well they had learned. 

Which group tested higher? Well, um, uh, well, it was the professionally trained group.

Wait a minute, there’s more. The same testing was conducted six months later. Guess what? The retention of the material was much higher for the group trained by their own boss.

If you think about it, neither result should surprise you. Unless a boss is a very gifted teacher, he or she won’t be as effective as a professional trainer. The professional trainer, however, won’t be hanging around when the formal training ends. The boss can reinforce the training materials, and can ensure they are applied on the job.

Teaching, and specifically leader led teaching, is an important and often overlooked change management concept.

You Can Do It
First of all, if you are in a leadership position, you are already a teacher. Every day you’re guiding people in the expectation that they will think for themselves and apply your guidance in their jobs. (If you’re telling them what to do, you’re not a leader — more like a supervisor).
Granted, there’s a difference between day to day guidance and formal teaching. Even if you’re not a great speaker or don’t enjoy the formal classroom setting, just think about some of your qualifications:

You know the subject matter
You know the students
You have a vested interest in their success
You have a passion for what you’re going to teach (hopefully!)
These are advantages that are going to outweigh any limitations you have as a result of not being a trained instructor. 

Some Tips to Help You Succeed as a Teacher
Commit the Time – When you’re teaching your staff, you have the luxury of spreading the training out, perhaps 2 hours per day for a week instead of a dedicated day and a half. Go for it, but whatever time on whatever days you schedule for training, stick to it. Don’t cancel, and don’t allow interruptions to the training schedule.

Teach, Don’t Preach – Your goal is to share information and enable people to apply it. Help people understand what’s in it for them as you address what’s changing.

Ask Questions – It’s a great way to test understanding, for you and your students.

Invite Dialogue – That’s what asking questions will do. Your job gets easier when the students are discussing what’s being taught. You just have to step in when they get stuck.

Repetition – Change management concepts need to be repeated in order to be absorbed. In other words, change management concepts need to be repeated in order to be absorbed. Enough said.

Practice Ego Sacrifice – You are not a professional instructor, and you may find you’re struggling with teaching certain things like technical concepts. Remember that it’s the long term results that make you the right choice for this particular job, and be willing to let your students know that you need their help at times.

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.