BUS402 Study Guide

Site: Saylor Academy
Course: BUS402: Project Management
Book: BUS402 Study Guide
Printed by: Guest user
Date: Friday, April 23, 2021, 12:55 PM

Description

Unit 1: Project Management Defined

1a. Define the terms project and project management

  • Define project and project management.
  • What constitutes a formal project? Have you ever been involved with a formal project?
  • What are seven processes that will give a project the best chance of success?

It is important to understand exactly what a project is and what it is not. A project is temporary, meaning it is not part of the organization's everyday business processes. A project is an activity that has a clear ending and produces something that does not already exist. So, building a school is an example of a project, while teaching a class is not.

Once you understand the definition of a project, you can see how important it is to manage these temporary activities. Project management involves breaking a project down into manageable smaller units or tasks. It involves completing temporary activities on time and within the budget that the client or stakeholder has defined. Unfortunately, many projects are not completed on time and within budget. Following the formal processes of project management can help ensure the final outcome or product is delivered as required.

Consider following these processes for the best chance of success:

  • At the beginning of the project, make sure the client or stakeholder agrees to all of the deliverables to avoid future misunderstandings and ensure they will do their part.
  • Planning is key! Remember the six Ps: proper planning prevents poor project performance.
  • Use project management tools; do not try to keep track of everything in your head.
  • Create a team that has the skills and knowledge necessary to complete the project.
  • Understand the roles, duties, and responsibilities of team members and stakeholders to create the best-qualified team and avoid future complications.
  • Plan how you will communicate with your team members and stakeholders.
  • Plan how you will deal with problems and risks before they occur; understand challenges are inherent to every project.
  • Transfer the lessons you have learned to future projects.

To review, see What is a Project?, What is Project Management?, and Roles within a Project.

 

1b. Describe why organizations have increased their usage of project management techniques

  • Describe the history of project management.
  • When did project management methodology first become widely used? 
  • Why has the use of project management techniques increased? Could it be related to the work of Frederick Taylor and Henri Gantt?

Project management has been around since human beings began to create structures they wanted to last. For example, when humans decided to settle in one area, they needed to build shelters to protect them from the elements. The management team who built Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids had to have a plan!

Completing these large projects required organizing efforts to meet the exact specifications of the end-users and stakeholders. For example, during the 1800s, the U.S. government built the transcontinental railroad, which required managing raw materials, human resources, and construction that spanned the nation. The engineers used project management to complete the railroad: the country needed this infrastructure to transport the goods and services that would drive its development.

Why has project management become so common? Frederick Taylor, the father of scientific management, used scientific reasoning to demonstrate we can complete tasks more efficiently when we break the work processes down into smaller tasks. Henri Gantt built on Taylor's work by creating the Gantt chart, an easy-to-use management tool designed to track multiple tasks in large projects.

Similar tools include the program evaluation and review technique (PERT) and the critical path method (CPM). With scientific management theory as its backbone and various tools available to keep track of processes, project management methods have expanded across many fields.

Who uses project management today? Business owners, construction managers, educators, engineers, graphic artists, healthcare practitioners, lawyers, restaurant managers, outsourcing services, paralegals, scientists, and software developers all benefit by breaking down small and large, complex processes into manageable units to create an end-product.

To review, see the sections on history and careers using project management skills in Project Management: Past and Present, and History of Project Management.

 

1c. Define the five process groups and the nine knowledge areas of the Project Management Body of Knowledge, the fourth edition (PMBOK 2008)

  • Define the PMI. Why did it develop the PMBOK?
  • Name the five process groups of project management as defined by the PMI and PMBOK.
  • Name the nine knowledge areas defined by the fourth edition of PMBOK.

The Project Management Institute (PMI) is a global professional organization for project management created in 1969 to further the profession. The PMI regularly updates its guidebook, the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), to reflect the profession's most up-to-date best practices. Project managers refer to the PMBOK to learn how to apply the best project management process to their situation.

The PMBOK describes five process groups: project initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and controlling, and closing. Each step assigns a specific set of actions to ensure project success.

  1. The initiation process considers the project start-up, working with clients or stakeholders to determine the project scope, and defining the end product.
  2. The planning process involves creating the appropriate schedules, budgets, and communication tools they will employ throughout the project.
  3. The execution process describes the actual work they will perform to create the product or deliverable.
  4. The monitoring and controlling process may begin in the planning stages and continue through the closing. It matches the initial plan with what actually happens and provides a way to adapt the plan as needed.
  5. The closing process considers final product delivery, getting client or stakeholder approval, and reviewing the entire process to determine what went well and what can be improved. Project managers should apply these lessons learned to future projects.

Within these five processes, the 2008 PMBOK delineates nine knowledge areas project managers should incorporate in the planning, execution, monitoring, and controlling processes.

These nine knowledge areas include:

  1. Scope management,
  2. Time management,
  3. Cost management,
  4. Quality management,
  5. Human resource management,
  6. Communications management,
  7. Risk management,
  8. Procurement management,
  9. Stakeholder management,
  10. Integration management.

To review, see the section on project management defined in Introduction to Project Management, Introduction to the Project Management Knowledge Areas, and the section on project phases in Project Phases and Organization.

 

1d. Explain how to develop a project profile

  • Define project profiling.
  • What are the attributes that can be used for project profiling?
  • How does project profiling increase the success of a project?
  • What are some common project profile models that an organization can use?

Project profiling is an evaluation process used to determine whether a project has the potential to be effective. Organizations should consider their resources carefully to decide which projects are most likely to succeed and provide the results they seek. The project profile provides a picture of the resources the project will likely use and offers insight into the best project team makeup.

Organizations can look to attributes, such as budget, cost, duration, location, number of workers, size, technology needs, urgency, and availability of qualified team leaders and members.

Project profiling is all about determining the viability of any given project. Examples of project profiling models include Shenhar and DVir typologyYouker typologyComplex adaptive systems, and Darnall-Preston Complexity Index.

Project managers apply the Shenhar and Dvir typology model when the project involves high-level technology. The Youker typology model focuses on uncertainty, risk, and the sophistication of the workers employed. With more complex projects, managers use the complex adaptive systems approach. Finally, the Darnall-Preston Complexity Index offers a method for considering external and internal attributes, technological complexity, and environmental factors.

To review, see Project Profiling and Project Appraisal.

 

Unit 1 Vocabulary

  • Attributes
  • Closing
  • Complex adaptive systems
  • Controlling and monitoring
  • Critical Path Method (CPM)
  • Darnall-Preston Complexity Index
  • Deliverables
  • Execution
  • GanttChart
  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • PMBOK
  • Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT)
  • Project
  • Project leader
  • Project management
  • Project Management Institute (PMI)
  • Project manager
  • Project member
  • Project partner
  • Project profiling
  • Risk
  • Scientific reasoning
  • Scope
  • Shenhar and Dvir typology
  • Stakeholders
  • Youker typology

Unit 2: Project Life Cycle

2a. Identify each phase of the project life cycle

  • Name the four phases of the project life cycle.
  • How long does each phase of the project life cycle last?
  • Describe the role communication plays in the project life cycle.

Whether your project is large and complex with many variables, or small with only two or three tasks, completing it likely involves a series of phases. These phases include initiation, planning, execution (or implementation), and closure (or closeout).

Each phase is rarely a set amount of time. Small projects may quickly proceed through the phases because few processes require monitoring or control once the initiation phase is complete. A large project will likely take more time from beginning to end because project managers need to carefully monitor each task and compare it with the overall project objectives. The scope of larger projects frequently requires continual redefinition. This refinement process can be time-consuming since every project team member and stakeholder (the project owner or client) should contribute according to their areas of expertise and influence.

Whether your project is small or large, it is critical to articulate all of the communication avenues early in the project life cycle to ensure every team member, the client, and stakeholders are clearly aware of the project scope and when the work will be complete. Communication should be ongoing throughout every stage of the project: from the moment the client says, "I need this" (initiation) to when they say, "This is exactly what I wanted" (closure).

To review, see Project Phases and Organization and The Project Life Cycle.

 

2b. Discuss the activities found in each phase of the project

  • Explain how one phase of the project life cycle differs from the others.
  • Which phase of the project life cycle can you use to influence another project?
  • How does the controlling and monitoring process fit in?

Here are examples of activities that can occur within each phase of the project life cycle. This list is not exhaustive but should give you a good idea of how each phase differs.

Initiation

  • Identify the project team;
  • Kick off the project;
  • Develop the scope of work;
  • Define and develop the resources needed.

Planning

  • Develop detailed schedules and a budget;
  • Plan how you will execute the project.

Execution

  • Do the work!
  • Follow the plans discussed in the planning phase; adjust them as needed.

Closure/Closeout

  • Develop and complete a punch list;
  • Get clients or stakeholders to sign off and take charge of the deliverable;
  • Release team members to other projects;
  • Develop a list of lessons learned for use in future projects.

Notice how these four phases align with four of the five processes of project management we discussed in Unit 1. The "monitoring and controlling process" does not have its own phase in the project life cycle because these activities should be part of every phase – from the early planning stage through to closure. Every stage of the project management life cycle has its own issues and areas where the project manager must keep a close eye on how things are going to prevent time and budget overages.

To review, see Project Phases and Organization, The Project Life Cycle, Project Initiation, Project Planning, Staying on Track, and Project Closure.

 

2c. Apply best practices when determining project success or failure

  • How can poor communication result in the failure of a project?
  • Define scope creep.
  • Define risk management and explain its role in ensuring project success.

A project fails when it does not deliver its objectives on time and within budget. It succeeds when the project deliverable meets the client's and stakeholders' needs and comes in on-time and within budget.

Let's review some common reasons for project failure.

Planning, controlling, and monitoring: Project failure may occur due to poor planning or a failure to follow the plan created during the planning phase. Failure may result from insufficient monitoring and controlling – the fifth process discussed in learning outcome 2b. Scope creep occurs when the project manager fails to keep tight control over the project tasks: the project's scope gradually morphs into a much larger project than was originally planned.

Team effectiveness: Scope creep may occur when the team's expertise fails to align with the needs of the project. Having the right people for the project is critical. For example, the project manager may contract someone they have worked with in the past, but the project may fail if the individual's knowledge and skills fail to mesh with the needs of the project at hand.

Communication: Did the project manager clearly communicate the plan to the team members and key stakeholders? Communication among the team members, the client, and key stakeholders is critical. Review learning outcome 2a.

Risk: Projects often fall short when they fail to manage risk properly. Things are bound to go wrong in every project, large and small. Project managers need to be aware of potential risks and plan to deal with them should they materialize. If you cannot eliminate possible risks, try to mitigate the damage they may inflict on the project timeline. For example, what will you do when a key delivery arrives late, or the vendor who sells the raw materials you need goes out of business? You may be able to eliminate or mitigate the damage by having more than one source for these critical materials.

To review, see Why Projects Fail. Notice how the figures compare what the user wanted with what they received. Also, review Risk Management Planning.

 

Unit 2 Vocabulary

  • Closure
  • Communication
  • Controlling and monitoring
  • Deliverable
  • Execution
  • Initiation
  • Lessons learned
  • Planning
  • Project life cycle
  • Punch list
  • Risk management
  • Scope
  • Scope creep
  • Stakeholders
  • Team

Unit 3: Organizational Design

3a. Define organizational structure

  • Define organizational structure.
  • Name four common elements of organizational structure.
  • Name the six most common organizational structures.

When they are first created, most organizations are structured to accomplish their goals efficiently and effectively. Organizational structure is built around these four elements:

  1. Common purpose – everyone understands the organization's mission, strategy, and vision.
  2. Coordinated effort – individual efforts are coordinated to meet the organization's goals.
  3. Division of labor – individuals perform different parts of a task for greater efficiency.
  4. Hierarchy of authority – a control mechanism makes decisions quickly and ensures the appropriate people are assigned to accomplish what they need to do at the right time.

Some of the most common organizational structures are:

  • Divisional – each division has the resources and functions it needs to support a product line or geographical location. For example, the women's clothing line conducts its own communications infrastructure, finance and marketing functions, while the men's clothing line conducts its own processes.
  • Functional – each division is based on functions, such as information technologies, finance, and marketing.
  • Matrix – each division is complex and versatile. Individuals are grouped by two different operational perspectives, such as function and product, or region and product.
  • Modular – the organization is divided into small, flexible, tightly-knit, sub-business units that do not rely on other business units to accomplish their goals.
  • Network – the organization has a decentralized structure that relies on internal and external relationships.
  • Team-based – groups of workers with complementary skills work toward a common goal.

To review, read Organizational Structure.

 

3b. Define organizational design

  • How is organizational design different from organizational structure?
  • Describe some factors to consider when designing an organization.
  • How can organizational design influence project functions?

In learning outcome 3a, we discussed some common elements of organizational structure. Sometimes the organizational leadership does not choose a particular structure: the structure evolves based on their client base, available resources, geographic location, or how their managers run the organization.

For example, a business with an owner and two employees is simple: the owner tells the employees what to do and how to get things done. As the company grows, the owner may hire supervisors to help with decision-making or lead divisions based on function or product. The business leaders have not made a conscious decision about organizational structure – they just settle into a system that works.

Organizational design, on the other hand, means the owners and managers choose to structure their organization in a particular way. Let's look at how that works.

You should consider a variety of factors when designing an organization to help it accomplish its goals efficiently. Internal factors may include the organization's size, complexity, and diversity of operations. Many organizations are constrained by their dependence on specific resources, such as raw materials, and the kind of technology they require.

Every organization should consider external factors, such as competition, the economy, and legal or regulatory constraints. Industries that require flexibility, such as those in the technology field, should consider organizational structures that are highly flexible and adaptable. Industries that need to show more stability should consider a more hierarchical structure.

In this course, we are focused on project management, so think about how organizational structure can influence your project's design and structure. For example, each organizational structure we discussed in learning outcome 3a requires a process for hiring, procurement, and reporting.

Project managers who work in a highly complex and inflexible organizational structure may need to assign a project liaison to work with each organizational department to smooth the way for the resources they need for their project. On the other hand, it may be easier to work directly with people in the organization who can help facilitate project completion if you work in a more flexible and adaptable organizational structure.

To review, read Organizational Structure and Project Organization.

 

3c. Describe effective communication tactics and tools for project teams

  • What makes for an effective leader in terms of communication?
  • What are some common types of communication?
  • What communication technologies might a project manager need to be effective?

As we discussed in Unit 2, communication is a critical component of project success. Effective communication begins with the project manager who needs to communicate with various individuals, such as team members, clients, stakeholders, and vendors. Project managers with a high emotional intelligence quotient (EQ) are often good communicators because they can put themselves in the shoes of those they communicate with and understand their needs.

The project manager's leadership style influences their ability to communicate. Leaders with a democratic or participative style may obtain more buy-in from team members, clients, and stakeholders than those who are more dictatorial and authoritative. While an authoritative style may work well in some situations, such as when time is critical and decisions must be made, leaders who encourage open communication tend to bring about faster problem solving and more efficient work processes. 

The project manager should choose the most appropriate communication method given the nature of the message and the needs of those who are part of the conversation. They should use technologies that save money, time, and avoid mistakes.

For example, managers often use synchronous communication when content is critical: decisions need to be made, the information is complex and requires a lengthy explanation, and participants require immediate responses to their questions. During synchronous communication, everyone converses simultaneously, such as during face-to-face or video conversation, telephone conference calls, or instant messaging.

Project managers tend to use asynchronous communication, such as email, mail and package delivery, or a project blog, when content is not time-sensitive, participants work at different times, or they work in different time zones.

The project manager and project team should be knowledgeable about various communication technologies. Since the communication tool they use may depend on their personal expertise, organizations should support those who require further training to use more appropriate communication tools as needed.

To review, see Working with Individuals and Types of Communication.

 

3d. Describe how to identify proper resources for a project

  • Where can you find the identified resources needed for a project?
  • What are the resources that need to be considered when initiating a project?
  • Should all resources be identified before beginning a project?

All projects require resources to complete the project. These resources may include financing, hardware, people, raw materials, software, or tools. The project manager should consider whether the resources they need to complete the project are available internally within the organization or need to be sourced externally. It may be less time-consuming to contract an outside agency to obtain resources that are in short supply. The manager should conduct a cost-benefit analysis to see which option is most cost-effective.

Necessary resources are typically mentioned in the scope of work document and covered in more detail in a work breakdown structure document, which defines how the project team will complete the work, organize the tasks among participants, allocate resources, and monitor progress. While the project manager should include the necessary resources in these documents, changes may occur during the implementation or execution phases and require the project to acquire additional resources. The manager should monitor any changes in resources to avoid project scope creep.

To review, see Project Representation and Identifying the Need for Resources Outside the Organization.

 

3e. Describe how to build productive project teams

  • What is the primary function of a team?
  • Why is trust important in building a team, and how can a project leader foster trust?
  • Why is diversity important in team building?

Many people dread working on teams or group projects. Those who have a high degree of personal responsibility often dislike teamwork, although they realize it is an important part of life, business, and project management.

It is important to understand the project's goals and the expectations for how team members should work together. While team members may disagree or even dislike each other personally, the team must accomplish the task they have been hired to perform.

Project managers should assign the most appropriate people to serve on the team and create an atmosphere built on trust. This means team members should have the knowledge and skills needed to complete the job.

Managers foster trust by exemplifying trustworthiness themselves, encouraging positive energy, and sharing information when issues arise. They should address conflicts before they become negative or dysfunctional.

Creating a diverse team means ensuring the group represents a variety of perspectives, where members feel comfortable expressing their ideas, generating a variety of alternatives, and choosing the best solution to the challenges that arise.

To review, see Working with Groups and Teams and Effective Teamwork and Collaboration.

 

3f. Define conflict management

  • Define conflict management.
  • How can a responsibility matrix help alleviate conflict management?
  • What are some strategies for solving common disagreements?

Disagreements frequently arise among team members, regardless of how careful the project manager was in building a productive team (see learning outcome 3e). A conflict describes a state of discord between two or more people. Conflict management describes how teams, team leaders, and project managers respond to these conflicts. The first step is recognizing that conflict will occur between most people.

These conflicts (functional conflict) can be productive when they lead to new ideas and new understandings among team members. However, negative or dysfunctional conflict can affect the trust and effectiveness of the team. Preparing for these situations can mitigate any damage.

For example, dysfunctional conflict can arise when team members are unclear about their roles and responsibilities for the project and those of other team members. Managers can avoid these misunderstandings by creating a responsibility matrix, which clearly defines each team member's responsibilities.

Managers should plan the procedure they will follow when conflict arises and respond to disagreements as quickly as possible to avoid derailing the entire team's progress. Sometimes it may be necessary to enlist the help of an outside party to mediate a conflict the team cannot resolve internally.

Here are some strategies for solving common disagreements:

  • Accommodating: Allowing everyone to express their point of view and synthesizing an agreement.
  • Avoiding: Ignoring the conflict and hoping that it will go away (not recommended).
  • Confronting: Meeting the disagreement head-on.
  • Compromising: This is a give and take. No one wins outright, but each side wins something they can tolerate and loses something they may have preferred. They compromise for the good of the team.
  • Dominating or forcing: Establishing your opinion over others without concern for their input.

To review, see Dealing with Problems, Managing Conflict, and Conflict Resolution to Project Performance.

 

Unit 3 Vocabulary

  • Accommodating
  • Asynchronous
  • Authoritative
  • Avoiding
  • Common purpose
  • Competition
  • Compromising
  • Conflict management
  • Conflicts
  • Confronting
  • Coordinated effort
  • Democratic
  • Dictatorial
  • Diverse
  • Diversity
  • Division of labor
  • Divisional
  • Dominating or forcing
  • Emotional intelligence quotient (EQ)
  • Functional
  • Hierarchical
  • Hierarchy of authority
  • Leadership style
  • Liaison
  • Matrix
  • Modular
  • Network
  • Organizational structure
  • Participatory
  • Organizational design
  • Responsibility Matrix
  • Scope of work
  • Synchronous
  • Team-based
  • Teamwork
  • Trust
  • Work Breakdown Structure

Unit 4: Project Initiation and Planning

4a. Explain the importance of establishing the project charter and overall mission and goals

  • Who is responsible for creating the project charter?
  • Why is the project charter important for setting the overall mission and goals of the project?
  • How is the project charter used during the project execution phase?

The project manager usually creates the project charter because they are familiar with the project requirements and can clearly communicate its mission and goals. Familiarity with these goals at the project outset helps the project manager stay on target for budget and completion. Remember to monitor for scope creep, particularly during the execution phase.

To review, see the Project Charter Template and the section on project charters using the SMART protocols in Project Initiation.

 

4b. Define project plan

  • Define a project plan.
  • How is a project plan different from the project charter?
  • How is the project plan related to the project scope document?

While the project manager begins writing the project plan during the initiation phase, they should continue outlining what needs to be accomplished during the execution and implementation phases. The project plan provides more detail about the tasks that need to be completed than the project charter and often includes flow charts, diagrams, and responsibility matrices for each step of the project.

One part of the project plan is the project scope document, which identifies what the project will and will not accomplish. It may include definitions, so the client or stakeholders clearly understand the terms of their agreement.

To review, see Setting up a Baseline and Schedule Baseline.

 

4c. Define project baseline

  • Define project baseline.
  • How is a project baseline used?
  • Who is responsible for changes to the project baseline?

The project baseline predicts the project's cost, scope, and schedule and is used to monitor progress. Project managers use the project baseline they created during the initiation phase during the execution and closeout phases. Setting a project baseline offers a way to control the project needs and deadlines and avoid project creep.

While project managers do their best to incorporate everything the project needs during the planning phase, those responsible for monitoring and controlling the project may need to adjust their baseline documents when the project runs into the unexpected. This way, the project leaders have hands-on familiarity with how the project will meet its deliverable deadlines within its budget constraints.

To review, see Setting up a Baseline and Schedule Baseline.

 

4d. Define project charter

  • Devine the project charter.
  • What is the purpose of the project charter, and who uses it?

The project manager usually creates a project charter during the project's initiation phase. This document defines the project scope, objectives, and participants. It explains what the project is, why it is being conducted, and its justification. It also establishes the project manager's authority and defines who is responsible for reviewing and approving the project charter. While the project manager usually develops the project charter, other stakeholders, the project team, the client or project owner, and suppliers of resources use it. 

To review, see the section on the project charter in Project Initiation.

 

4e. Define project work breakdown structure (WBS)

  • Define work breakdown structure. What does it include?
  • How is the work breakdown structure different from other project management documents?
  • Is there only one way to develop a work breakdown structure?

Much like the project charter, project plan, and project scope, the work breakdown structure (WBS) helps keep the project on time and within budget. The WBS lists the tasks that need to be performed, explains how each task relates to one another, defines how long it should take to complete each task, and quantifies the resources needed to complete each task.

The WBS is created with a hierarchical structure:

I. Level One
    A. Level Two
        1. Level Three

The upper level (level I) is the broadest category; each level that follows provides increasingly more detail. Depending on the project complexity, and the needs of the project manager and team, the WBS can follow the project phases (level 1 would be initiation, planning, execution, closure) or project units or functions, such as finance, materials, or resources.

To review, see Elements of Time Management.

 

4f. Describe the connection between project management planning and project success

  • How do the activities performed in the initiation phase relate to what occurs during the planning phase of project management?
  • Explain why project management planning is important to project success.

Most of the initiation phase of project management deals with creating multiple documents that identify and clarify the project goals, such as the project charter, project plan, project scope, and WBS. This is no coincidence. Establishing a clear understanding of the project from all angles right at the outset makes it easier to monitor project completion and guarantee success.

A successful project manager uses the plan they created before going into the execution phase to determine whether things are progressing as they had anticipated, so they can make adjustments as needed. By constantly comparing what is actually happening with the original plan, the team can deliver the project on schedule and within budget.

To review, see Project Initiation.

 

4g. Define quality management

  • Define quality management.
  • When should quality criteria be set?
  • How does a project manager monitor and control project quality?

We have reviewed several documents that help us plan a project to ensure it is completed on time and within budget, according to the parameters the client has stipulated. However, we have not yet discussed the quality of the completed project, which is another key element to success.

Now let's discuss quality management. Whether something is high or low quality is relative because people may disagree about the quality of the work. However, most will agree that quality describes how well a product or service fulfills its requirements and provides value for its price.

The key to using quality in a project is to identify the standards or criteria the client will use to determine whether the completed project meets their expectations. Once the client defines these quality standards, the project manager can use several statistical analyses to ensure whether the project is on track for quality and will meet the owner's expectations for quality, time, and cost.

In their analysis, the project manager may need to conduct a series of inspections to ensure the deliverable falls within the quality standards they established. This process may involve creating charts and diagrams to identify quality issues and determine the steps the project team can take to fix any problems.

Quality management or quality control is an ongoing process that begins with setting quality standards and conducting periodic checks throughout the production process to compare the quality of the deliverable with the established standards.

To review, see Quality Planning and Managing Project Quality.

 

4h. Identify, describe, and apply the use of project planning tools

  • How does a project manager keep everything in order?
  • What are some commonly used project planning tools?
  • Do you have to use specific project planning software tools for your project to be successful?

Keeping these planning and scheduling documents straight may seem daunting, but several tools are available to help keep a project on task. You can often use the project management tools in popular office suites, such as Microsoft Office or Apache Open Office, to keep track of less complicated projects.

For example, you can use a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or the table feature in Word to create a simple Gantt or PERT chart to plan your project. You may need to use specific project management software, such as Microsoft Project, to plan more complex projects with multiple tasks, deadlines, and resources.

You can use these tools to track problems, actions, and resolutions, and visually show how a project is progressing. Some project managers color code their entries, such as by highlighting areas of concern in red and completed project elements in green. Project managers should use the planning tool that will provide the information they need to keep their project moving toward a successful conclusion.

To review, see Elements of Time Management (especially the section on graphic representations), Project Scheduling Software, and Computers In Project Management.

 

4i. Define the types of project schedules

  • Name three main types of project schedules.
  • Which project schedule is generated every two weeks?
  • How is the master schedule related to the conceptual schedule?

In addition to generating planning documents during the initiation and planning phases, managers often create separate schedules to ensure their project is on target for completion.

Three main types of project schedules are:

Conceptual: Before the project is officially approved, project managers often create a simple conceptual schedule that outlines the project's major tasks and approximate milestone dates. In this schedule, managers map out their thoughts about what the participants should anticipate.

Master: After the project is approved, project managers create a more-defined master schedule that fleshes out major points in the conceptual schedule. The master schedule is often part of the contract.

Detail: Project managers often break the master schedule down into further detail, such as to plan project activities that will be performed during a given time period. For example, a two-week plan may show how they will allocate specific resources, such as human, financial, material resources, during the upcoming two-week window.

To review, see Project Time Management.

 

Unit 4 Vocabulary

  • Conceptual
  • Criteria
  • Deliverable
  • Detail
  • Excel
  • Execution
  • Gantt
  • Goals
  • Hierarchical
  • Initiation
  • Master
  • Microsoft Project
  • Office suite
  • PERT
  • Project baseline
  • Project charter
  • Project Plan
  • Project scope
  • Quality Management
  • Scope creep
  • SMART protocols
  • Stakeholders
  • Standards
  • Word
  • Work breakdown structure (WBS)

Unit 5: Project Execution

5a. Identify the fundamentals of cost management

  • Why is cost management important to the project manager?
  • What is the process for soliciting bids (conducting procurements) from vendors?
  • How do project changes affect cost management?

Project managers must control all aspects of their projects, including reducing costs and spending financial resources wisely to complete the project within budget.

To manage costs, most project managers solicit procurements (bids) via a public bidding process to obtain as many competing bids as possible. The detailed list of project specifications, called a request for proposal (RFP), invites vendors to make their best offer to complete the project. In this way, vendors detail what they will charge for the work they pledge to perform.

The project manager evaluates each response or bid they receive and chooses the vendor that makes them the best offer, usually by meeting the project's material needs within the assigned budget. Since the RFP process can be time-consuming, it is best to begin soliciting bids as soon after the project has been approved as possible.

Cost management does not end here. Despite their best efforts to conduct a thorough cost assessment at the beginning of each project, experienced project managers know that unexpected changes frequently occur that threaten to negatively impact the project's bottom line (see learning outcome 5c).

To review, see Project Execution, starting at 30:00.

 

5b. Describe project management tools used for project execution and reporting, and discuss situations in which these tools are used

  • Name the most important project management tool used during the project execution phase.
  • Name the reports the project manager should compile during the project execution phase.
  • How can a project manager manage client or stakeholder expectations?

Communication is the most important tool project managers have at their disposal during the execution phase, where work on the deliverable begins. The project manager needs to provide feedback to the client, stakeholders, and team members on how things are going so everyone can plan accordingly and remove roadblocks that may prevent the project from continuing to completion.

As part of the communication process, a project manager may generate several reports:

  • Status reports: Weekly and monthly status reports provide an honest picture of the project's progress, whether any major upsets have occurred, and how the process can be improved.
  • Milestone reports: These reports are generated when the project has passed a particular milestone during its execution. They often compare where the project is with where it was expected to be during the planning process, so the managers, client, and stakeholders can update the project timeline if necessary.
  • Performance reporting: Performance reports track the project status and forecast its timeline, costs, and completion dates for the remainder of the project.

Clients and other stakeholders often get nervous during the project execution stage: work has begun, and they worry about being hit with surprises that could delay project completion or increase costs. To calm their fears, the project manager should regularly update the key stakeholders on the project status even when there is no new information to report.

To review, see Project Execution, starting at 26:00, and Project Monitoring and Control, starting at 17:00.

 

5c. Explain effective change control procedures

  • What processes in a project need to be controlled for change?
  • What elements of change should the project manager identify?
  • In what ways does a project manager identify a large versus a small change?
  • How are change control procedures different for large changes versus small changes?

Despite careful planning, it can be difficult to predict what may occur during the project execution stage until the work actually begins.

For example, while you may have planned to simply replace an old carpet in your living room, you soon learn that you also need to fix the wooden floor that lay damaged and hidden underneath the carpet for so many years. You will need to adjust your project scope, materials needed, staff (you may need to hire some experts), budget, and completion date, accordingly.

Unexpected events occur frequently in business projects: we call them changes. For every new change (something different from the original plan), the project manager must identify the impact of the change, the ramifications, and who needs to approve the change. The project manager needs to integrate these changes throughout the project and adjust the reports, plans, and budgets accordingly.

These adjustments can be a lot of work for every small change. However, most projects begin with the understanding that changes will occur. Processes should be in place to manage them.

For example, at the beginning of the project, the client or stakeholders may agree to process a separate change order for every change that will affect the timeline by a defined number of days or increase the budget by a certain amount. However, the agreement may specify that a change order is unnecessary for smaller changes: the project team may need to resolve these relatively small issues at their own expense because they do not meet the criteria the stakeholders have set for a large change.

Managers should describe all of these changes in their weekly and monthly status reports, so the client and stakeholders are aware of them.

To review, see Project Execution, starting at 25:35, and Project Monitoring and Control, starting at 4:41.

 

5d. Define quality assurance

  • Define quality assurance.
  • Can quality assurance processes be changed once a project has begun?
  • How does a project manager know that quality assurance has been met?

Project managers are usually concerned with quality assurance during the execution phase: their job is to make sure the plans they created during the initiation and planning phases are followed so the deliverable meets the quality expectations of the client.

The project manager expects the team will deliver the project in the format they had specified during the planning phase. The manager should take steps to ensure everyone follows the identified procedures with the understanding that team members who take shortcuts or fail to follow prescribed procedures could derail the whole team.

However, it is often wise for project managers to allow processes to change as needed. Managers should encourage team members to share their thoughts about improving the process laid out during the planning phase. However, keep in mind that project management is all about working together as a team to accomplish the project's goals, and quality assurance is built around doing the right thing the first time, so valuable time and money are not wasted reworking the project to fit a new process.

Individuals who create their own procedures without support from the rest of the team could negatively affect team cohesiveness and the quality and cost of the end product. 

Following the prescribed procedures usually increases the likelihood that the project deliverable meets the client or stakeholders' expectations. The project manager knows they have met the criteria of quality assurance when the expected deliverable is produced in accordance with the needs of the client.

To review, see Project Execution, starting at 11:06.

 

5e. Define risk management

  • Define project risk and risk management.
  • What are known versus unknown risks?
  • How should risk management be handled?

Project risk describes uncertain events or conditions that can affect at least one project objective. Risk management focuses on identifying and assessing risks to minimize their negative effects on the project.

During the initiation and planning phase, the project manager and team should identify potential risks to the project during the execution phase. They may create a risk register that lists as many potential risks as possible, with information on how these risks could impact the project in terms of time, money, and staff. The team should prioritize the register according to how they plan to manage the risk. 

For example, an American project manager assigned to lead a project from November to February should expect to receive several requests for time off from staff members who want to spend the holidays with their families from late November to the end of December. The project manager who anticipates these requests can plan to manage this staffing risk by hiring more workers to cover the shortfall or assigning a process that requires fewer workers during this time.

This example of a staffing shortage is a known risk which the project manager has identified and managed. Let's compare this to an unknown risk.

Let's say everyone on the production staff gets sick at the same time. Although the project manager did not anticipate the flu outbreak, they can still manage the risk. As soon as the risk is identified, they can assess its impact on the project, devise potential solutions, and act accordingly. We can retire the risk once it has passed beyond its ability to negatively affect the project.

Here are a few strategies to mitigate the effect of a risk:

  • Avoid: Put processes in place so the potential risk never occurs. For example, begin your project work during a time when staff are less likely to go on holiday to avoid costly staffing risks.
  • Share: Work with another business to spread the effect of the risk among stakeholders. For example, a company that experiences a lot of litigation might partner with other businesses with legal or regulatory expertise to alleviate the burden of these risks.
  • Reduce: Put processes in place to minimize the damage of an actualized risk. For example, a company with a dangerous work environment could impose safety measures to alleviate the risk of someone getting injured on the job.
  • Transfer: Assign the burden of the risk to another party. For example, companies often buy insurance policies so the insurer will pay for things that do not go according to plan, such as an accident, injury, or a revenue-generating event that fails. 

To review, see Project Monitoring and Controlling, starting at 20:31, and Project Risk and the Project Complexity Profile.

 

Unit 5 Vocabulary

  • Avoid
  • Change control procedures
  • Changes
  • Communication
  • Conducting procurements
  • Cost management
  • Deliverable
  • Distributing information
  • Execution
  • Feedback
  • Impact
  • Milestone reports
  • Performance reporting
  • Prioritize
  • Project risk
  • Project status
  • Purchase process
  • Quality assurance
  • Ramifications
  • Reduce
  • Removing roadblocks
  • RFP (request for proposal)
  • Risk management
  • Risk register
  • Running
  • Separate
  • Share
  • Soliciting bids
  • Status reports
  • Team
  • Transfer

Unit 6: Project Implementation and Closure

6a. Describe the close-down process

  • Define the close-down process.
  • Why do many projects not go through the close-down process?
  • What can be learned from the close-down process?

Project close down or project closure is the final phase of project management and the last process covered in the PMBOK. Project closure is much shorter than the other phases we have reviewed and can usually be accomplished in just a few days.

Here are the steps to project closure:

  1. Transition deliverable to business: project ownership is transferred from the project team to the client or project owner.
  2. Final acceptance: the client or project owner accepts the deliverable as having met the requirements. The contract is closed, final payments to vendors are made, and borrowed materials are returned.
  3. Lessons learned: the project team evaluates the project to determine what went well and what did not, so they can replicate positive processes and avoid making the same mistakes on future projects.
  4. Archive project artifacts: the project team should maintain a repository of artifacts created for the project, such as plans, budgets, and the work breakdown structure, to respond to future questions about the project execution.
  5. Celebrate: the manager should congratulate the team for a completed job and release staff to work on other projects.

Unfortunately, project closure is usually done poorly, if at all. The project manager and team are often so relieved the project is finally finished that they simply want to move on to the next undertaking. They miss out on important processes that can protect the business when questions arise after the project is completed and help them succeed in future projects.

To review, see Project Closeout and Project Closure.

 

6b. Describe implementation activities

  • Describe implementation activities.
  • When would implementation activities take place?

Implementation engenders elements of the execution and close-down phases of project management. While implementation and execution are often used interchangeably, think of implementation as the pretest of the deliverable. Implementation activities ensure the product created during the execution phase actually performs as intended.

The implementation phase includes:

  1. Acceptance testing: Testing the product or deliverable in the environment where it will be used. The team may need to make adjustments to the product.
  2. Release control: Giving the project owner control over the product or deliverable so they can make sure it does what they had intended.
  3. Positive perception: Soliciting positive feedback for future projects once the product shows it can do what it was designed to do.
  4. Maintenance and upgrades: For some products and deliverables, such as hardware or software, the project manager may need to provide scheduled maintenance or the opportunity for the product owner to make improvements. This work may, or may not, be part of the original project contract.
  5. Support: The project team is often charged with repairing products or deliverables that malfunction because they have the most intimate knowledge of the product. This work may, or may not, be part of the original project contract.

To review, see the section on implementation in A Project Management Primer on page 39 and Project Execution.

 

6c. Define post-mortem meeting

  • Define a post-mortem meeting.
  • What should the outcomes be of a post-mortem meeting?
  • Who will benefit from the results of a post-mortem report?

One of the final steps of project management is developing a list of lessons learned during the planning and execution process. The project team should discuss what went well and where they can make improvements if they are asked to conduct a similar project in the future. The participants should create a project post mortem report during this post-mortem meeting to share and discuss with other project managers in the organization.

To review, see Project Closure.

 

6d. Explain the project acceptance process

  • What should a project manager do before presenting the final deliverable to the client?
  • Whose acceptance is important to close out the project?
  • What happens if a client does not accept the final product?

Final acceptance is an important part of the project close-out phase. Before presenting the completed deliverable to the client or project owner, project managers should update the project records that detail the final results of the work on the project rather than present the original contract for work.

This final report should reflect any adjustments made during the execution phase, so the client or project owner knows exactly what they are accepting.

On receiving the deliverable and final report, the client or project owner should give the project developer (vendor or seller) a formal written notice stating whether they have accepted or rejected the deliverable. If they accept the deliverable, the contract is officially closed. However, if they reject the deliverable because it does not meet the client or project owner's criteria, the project development team needs to make changes until the client or project owner accepts the deliverable or agrees the contract is fulfilled.

To review, see Project Closeout.

 

6e. Explain global project management

  • What is global project management?
  • How does cultural competency increase the likelihood of project success?
  • What is a major challenge to global project management?

Let's consider global project management, an application of project management where the project initiator, team members, or work is conducted across different countries and cultures. In learning outcome 3e, we considered how to create effective teams, which is a critical component of global project management is creating teams that reside in different geographical regions.

For example, since team members are spread across the globe, located in different time zones, it may be difficult to meet daily, which means only part of the team may be able to meet each day.

Cultural competency is a key skill for all team members since they must communicate and work with people from different cultural backgrounds.

To review, see Culture and Project Management and Communication Planning.

 

6f. Identify the coverage of PMP certificate exam based on PMBOK (2008) the fourth edition

  • Identify the five project management processes assessed on the PMP certificate exam.
  • Are the project management processes assessed on the PMP certificate exam self-contained?

As we reviewed in learning outcome 1c, the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) defines five project management processes:

  1. Initiation
  2. Planning
  3. Execution
  4. Monitoring and controlling
  5. Closeout

You should thoroughly understand each of these processes to successfully complete the PMP (project management professional) certification exam. While we have covered each of the processes as a standalone or self-contained process throughout this course, you have probably noticed that these processes do not work in a vacuum. The results of one process play a large role in the development of the next process.

For example, you will use the plans devised during the planning phase throughout the execution and implementation processes; the deliverable you create in the execution process is vitally important in the closeout phase. You will use the standards and criteria you developed in the initiation and planning processes during the execution and monitoring and controlling processes. The phases depend on one another.

To review, see Introduction to Project Management, Introduction to the Project Management Knowledge Areas, Project Phases and Organization, and Project Management Professional (PMP) Certification Study Guide.

 

Unit 6 Vocabulary

  • Acceptance testing
  • Archive project artifacts
  • Celebrate
  • Close down
  • Cultural competency
  • Final acceptance
  • Formal notice
  • Global project management
  • Implementation
  • Lessons learned
  • Maintenance and upgrades
  • Organizational improvement
  • PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge)
  • PMP (project management professional)
  • Positive perception
  • Post-mortem meeting
  • Pretest
  • Project closure
  • Project post-mortem report
  • Release control
  • Support
  • Transition deliverable
  • Update project records