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.