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 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.

Project Management Concepts – Awareness and Control

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 we are trying to achieve when managing a project. What do we actually want to get from project management?

The project management concept I want to look at today is: Project management needs both awareness and control of the project. Control is impossible without awareness.

We already know that project management is about bringing change into a business, in a limited fashion. In other words, we attempt to control change, to stop it being chaos.

But to be able to do that, to have that element of control, we also need to understand what is actually happening with the project. We need to have an awareness of what is going on.

Without that awareness, control becomes impossible. You simply cannot know what direction you need to steer the project in if you don’t know what direction it is currently going in! You can’t know if your attempts at control are working unless you can see what is happening.

So, we need to be aware of what is happening in the project, so that we can then try to control what is happening in the project. And that brings us to a project management concept: Project management needs both awareness and control of the project. Control is impossible without awareness.