Project Management Concepts Through Interview Questions for Project Managers – 9

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 ninth part of the series and covers 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 issues. Concepts introduced should help you prepare for PMP certification that is often required for a Project Manager position.

Pareto root cause analysis or the 80/20 principle has an important place when analyzing problems. The Pareto principle defines that 80% of the problems in any situation arise from 20% of causes (hence the name 80/20 principle). What’s the significance of this principle? This principle lets one prioritize issues to be tackled. If the top 20% issues could be identified, it would potentially solve 80% of the problems. What’s needed is, then, some means of identifying these root causes.

An obvious question to follow is, how does one determine these causes? Ishikawa diagram or the “fish bone” diagram is a graphical technique of determining the root cause of a problem. In this method, one draws a diagram that graphically looks like a fish bone. Various inclined “bones” are drawn to a horizontal line. The main line represents the problem. The inclined bones are the various causes that lead to the problem.

Procurement is an important part of project activities.Making material available at the right time is a critical activity. Procurements are governed by contracts between the buyer and the seller. There exist several types of these contracts. Rest of the three questions of this set are related to them. What is a time & material contract? T&M contracts are quite prevalent. Particularly, when some kind of a development is involved or delivery of services is involved, this is a type that is often used. The buyer pays for the time used on his project and any input material. Some expenses also may be payable when agreed on prior to commencement of the contract.

What are fixed price contracts? These contracts have an agreed upon total price to everything that the contractor does and delivers the product/ services to the buyer. Depending on the time duration of the contract, it may have an escalation cause included.

Procurement management plans are crucial, and like most other major plans have to be developed at the initial planning stage. What does the procurement plan achieve? This plan includes details as to what exactly is to be procured. The material planned must be procured at the best possible price. The required items need to be delivered to the right locations and in proper time. If there are training issues involved, they must be taken care of. Simple way to ensure that would be to consider the delivery complete only when the required training has been delivered.

Part 10 will take up the last set of five questions. 10 articles will cover 50 questions between them.

Project Management Concepts – Only Assigned Work

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 one of the fundamental ways we maintain control on a project. As we already know, control is impossible without awareness. So we’ll also look at one of the ways that we can gain that awareness. The concept I am looking at today is: Only work a project team member is doing on something assigned by the project manager is project work.

We know we need both awareness and control of the project. One of the clearest and simplest ways for us to gain awareness is to make sure that only we assign work that project team members do on the project. Indeed, this is one of the purposes of the our role – to allocate the work sensibly, without having to do it all him- or herself.

But by assigning the work, we are also taking control. By doing this, we are demonstrating to the project team that only work assigned like this is work that should be being done on the project. Thus, assigning work gives us more than just awareness, it is also giving us control.

That means that making sure you, as the manager of the project, are the only one handing out the work, and the one making sure that that work is being done, is vital. Only the work that you have assigned should be being done by your team members.

And that gives us our project management concept: Only work a project team member is doing on something assigned by the project manager is project work

Three Important Strategic Management Concepts

Strategic management and planning can be vitally important to a corporation. It is important for a company to know where they are currently, as well as where they are planning to go in the future. It is also important to have specific goals that are to be met according to a set timeline, in order to develop a business properly. Here are three strategic management concepts that should be at the forefront of any business.

Effective Utilization of Resources

In order to succeed, a company has to make good use of its available resources. This includes human resources as well as financial resources. It is important for a company to fully understand what it has to work with, so that it can develop a plan to leverage these resources in the most effective manner. Once this understanding is achieved, a company is better prepared to develop a plan of action that will allow it to reach its goals.

Continual Evaluation of the Process

Simply developing a plan of action is not enough. There must be a continual evaluation process in place. By evaluating the process on an ongoing basis, a company will be able to adjust the plan if conditions change. This evaluation process is also important to make sure that the plan is having the desired effect. If the overall business plan is not proving to be effective, the evaluation process will show early indications of the problem so that adjustments can be made quickly.

Identification of Risks and Opportunities

Within every company process, there are risks as well as opportunities. The strategic management process can help a company identify these factors and evaluate them so that the best course of action can be chosen. In some cases, the possibility for opportunity may outweigh the risks involved, but the opposite may be also true. Without a good strategic management process, a company is at a definite disadvantage.