Sunday, December 16, 2012

Earn 15 PDUs FREE for PMP

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PMI requires its PMP credential holders to continue their educational and professional development. So, you cannot stop after achieving your PMP credential. You still need to continue to upgrade yourself to keep the hard earned PMP credential.

Continuing Certification Requirements System
The PMP credential has to be renewed once every three years. During this three year period, a PMP credential holder is expected to accumulate 60 Professional Development Units (PDUs). Each PDU is equivalent to one hour of learning.

There are five different ways to earn your PDUs:
(1) Continuing education
(2) Self-directed learning
(3) Creating new project management knowledge
(4) Volunteer service
(5) Working as a professional in project management

International Institute for Learning
As I have written earlier, the International Project Management (IPM) Day is celebrated on the first Thursday of November every year. This year, IIL (International Institute for Learning) has put together an exciting program featuring a wide range of experts and thought leaders from the project management profession to share their knowledge through recorded video presentations.

International Project Management Day 2012

Earn 15 PDUs for FREE
If you are interested in earning 15 PDUs to help in maintaining your PMP credential, then you can register at the IIL web site for FREE: International Project Management Day: Power of the Profession. This year's event will be available for viewing until December 31, 2012.

To claim 5 PDUs, you are required to watch a minimum of 10 presentations of your choice.
To claim 10 PDUs, you are required to watch a minimum of 20 presentations of your choice.
To claim 15 PDUs, you are required to watch a minimum of 30 presentations of your choice.

Hope you will use this opportunity to collect some useful PDUs. What other ways do you earn your PDUs? Why don't you share it with us?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

PMBOK 5 Coming: What to do?

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A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) - Fifth Edition
PMI has started taking advance orders for the Fifth Edition of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide). I will refer this edition as PMBOK - Fifth Edition (or shortly PMBOK5) from now on in this article. PMI will be publishing the new edition in early January 2013.

Effective date of the changes
The PMP exam will be based on PMBOK - Fourth Edition until 31 July 2013. If you are appearing for the exam after 31 July 2013, you have to study based on the updated PMBOK - Fifth Edition.

What are the major changes expected?
1. A 10th Knowledge Area has been added and it will be known as Project Stakeholder Management.

2. Four new planning processes have been added:
Plan Scope Management
Plan Schedule Management
Plan Cost Management and
Plan Stakeholder Management

These four processes are included to reinforce the concept that each major Knowledge Area has a planning process focusing on how that area will be planned and executed. Including these planning processes also clears the inconsistency noted in PMBOK4 where certain management plans were not explicitly shown as outputs of any process.

I will discuss, in detail, about all the changes in PMBOK5 once PMI officially releases a copy.

How does the new version affect me?
I categorize the readers here into the following groups:

Category 1: Completed 35 hours PDU & scheduled the exam already; but, yet to take the exam
If you are in Category 1, please go ahead and complete the exam. Don't bother too much about the upcoming changes in PMBOK5. Your focus should be on PMBOK4 and clearing it on your first try. You have no time to play with. Don't mess it around; prepare well for the exam. Would like to know how I passed my PMP exam in first attempt?

Category 2: Just completed 35 hours PDU and awaiting to schedule the exam
If you are in Category 2, don't waste time. Quickly schedule your exam. The exam dates might become very difficult to get as you get closer to 31 July 2013. And, once again, you should prepare well to hit bulls eye on your first shot. Time is not with you.

Category 3: I am still in the research stage; yet to decide when to go for it
Time to take a decision. You have a choice to make. Rush for the established and well known PMBOK4 (or) wait for about 9 months to a year so that PMBOK5 becomes stable and you have enough materials for your exam preparation. If you would like to get the PMP quickly, go for the PMP training at the earliest (I suggest by this month). The more you delay, it would be difficult for you to appear for the exam based on PMBOK 4.

If you need further details on the above changes (or) if you are interested in any training for PMP examination, you can contact me at manick.pmp@gmail.com.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Deliverables to Final Product: The Transition

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Deliverable-Validation-Acceptance-Formal Sign off-Final Product
I wanted to create this picture to show you clearly the transition of deliverable to final product, service or result within the project management context.

  1. Deliverables are created as part of the "Direct and Manage Project Execution" process. As you would expect, the deliverables are outputs of the Execution process group.

  2. The deliverable, thus created during project execution, is fed as input to the "Perform Quality Control" process in Monitoring & Controlling process group. Necessary quality control checks are carried out to ensure that the deliverable meet the requirements. At the end of the process, we get the Validated deliverable as an output.

  3. The validated deliverable is sent as an input to the "Verify Scope" process. Here, the client/ customer inspects the deliverable and accepts them. As such, the output of this process is the accepted deliverable. The major difference between "Perform Quality Control" and "Verify Scope" is that generally quality control is performed internally within the performing organization while verify scope is performed with the client/ customer. They may be done sequentially or sometimes concurrently.

  4. Finally, the accepted deliverable is sent as an input to the "Close project or phase" process in the Closing process group; and the output is Final product, service or result transition. This refers to the acceptance of the final product, service, or result and the turnover of the product to the organization. This usually requires a formal sign-off to indicate that the product is accepted by the customer.
Hope the above picture helps you to remember the flow of deliverables better. What do you think? Please leave your comments.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Characteristics of an effective project manager

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Characteristics of an effective project manager
A project manager is assigned by an organization to achieve the specified objectives of a project within the competing project constraints. The role of the project manager is different from a functional manager or an operations manager. Depending on the organizational structure, the project manager may be reporting to a functional manager or a program manager or a portfolio manager.

What are the characteristics of an effective project manager?
We all know that the project manager needs to wear several hats during the course of the project, from a leader to a director to a facilitator and so on. But, can we put down certain characteristics that are necessary to be a successful project manager. PMBOK has given a list, which is explained below:

  1. Project management knowledge:  The project management knowledge includes the 5 process groups, 9 knowledge areas and the 42 project management processes. A project manager should be familiar with how the project management processes interact and the necessary inputs, tools and techniques and outputs of the processes. A project manager should be able to identify and tailor the processes to suit to his/ her project.

  2. Area-specific skills: I call this as domain knowledge; for example, if you are a project manager managing a $5 billion integrated resorts construction, you are expected to have the knowledge and skill sets required in that specific area. If you are handling IT projects, the domain knowledge of IT would help you handle the projects better.

  3. General management proficiencies: The list could be long and the project manager is expected to be familiar. Examples: Financial management and accounting, sales and marketing, strategic planning, contracts, commercial law and so on. In several organizations, there could be other managers or experts to handle these areas; but, the project manager should have sufficient knowledge to co-ordinate with them to extract the work/ information necessary for the project.

  4. Interpersonal skills: Once again, the list could be long. Several project managers fail in handling the projects not for the lack of technical skills, but for the lack of interpersonal skills. The interpersonal skills include leadership, motivation, team building, communication, influencing, negotiation, decision making, political and cultural awareness and so on. PMBOK puts lot of emphasis on the importance of communication for a project manager; it is understood that a good project manager spends about 90% of his/ her time in communication.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Project Manager vs Project Management Office

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A project manager is assigned to a project to achieve the project objectives; generally, to deliver the complete scope of the project within the time schedule, under the allocated budget and to the quality standards stipulated for the project Project Management Office (PMO) is more of a supporting/ facilitating entity within the organization that co-ordinates the management of several projects under its domain.

A comparison of the role of a project manager and project management office is given below:

Project ManagerProject Management Office
Focuses on the specified project objectivesFocuses on opportunities to better achieve business objectives
Controls only the assigned project resourcesPMO's role is to centralize and optimize the use of shared organizational resources across all projects
Manages and balances the competing constraints of the individual project, like scope, cost, time, quality, resources and riskManages the methodologies, standards, overall risk/ opportunity and interdependencies among projects at the enterprise level

Why projects are initiated?

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Reasons for Initiating Projects

Projects are initiated in an organization for various reasons. PMBOK identifies the following five major reasons for initiating projects in an organization:

  1. Market demand: A project may be initiated to meet the market demand. Take the example of Tamil Nadu. The shortage of power supply and the inability to meet the power demand in the state is an example of market demand. This could lead to projects for generation of more power, including alternate sources of power like wind energy, solar power and so on. Another example is the foreseen shortage of water supply in Singapore. This has led to a project for recycling used water and subsequently Singapore has a product called NEWater, which is a recycled water. Increase in traffic congestion has led to metro rail projects worldwide, including Chennai, New Delhi, Doha (Qatar), Singapore, Malaysia and so on.

  2. Strategic Opportunity/ Business Need: Examples of projects initiated due to business needs include ISO certification, Document Management System and so on.

  3. Customer Request: Most straightforward of all the reasons; if your customer has a request to do something for him/ her, it forms a project.

  4. Technological Advance: I do not need to say much about this. Everyone has seen how the smartphones and tablets have revolutionized the way we work and the amount of projects (like apps) that they have generated.

  5. Legal Requirements: The current State Government in Tamil Nadu has implemented compulsory helmets for all two wheeler riders when it assumed power. This naturally would have led to several projects for manufacturing of helmets to meet the demand necessitated by legal requirements. Another example is the legal requirement to digitization of all cable TV operations in major metro cities of India.

Monday, October 29, 2012

50 Project Management Articles

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Just Get PMP - 50 Blog Posts

We have completed 50 articles on project management in Just Get PMP blog, in particular topics related to PMP (Project Management Professional) certification exam preparation. I would be glad if some of those articles help you in a little way to your PMP exam preparation. I started this blog sometime in 2010 with an intention to share my experience with PMP certification exam; and also wanted to use this blog as a platform to share information to those candidates who attend my PMP training programmes.

Slowly and steadily, this blog has grown up over the last two years. You can see the traffic growth to this blog in the following graph:

50 Project Management Articles

Thanks for your support so far. I will continue to update further information on PMP exams in this blog. Stay tuned...

Portfolio, Program and Projects

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Portfolio, Program and Project

Project
Projects are temporary endeavors undertaken to create a unique product, service or result. Projects are means of organizing activities that cannot be generally addressed within the organization’s normal operations. Organizations often employ projects as means of achieving their strategic goals.

Examples of strategic goals:
  • Increasing profit margins on large projects
  • Decreasing costs on supplies
  • Improving skill levels of key workers
  • To become the market leader in luxury car segment
  • To enter the rail sector

Program
A program is a group of related projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits and control not available from managing them individually. The projects are grouped as a program with an aim to achieve economies of scale and reduce risks. For example, you may combine all your private apartment projects in Singapore under one program. Or, you may choose to manage all your highway projects in Tamil Nadu as one program. The idea is to have similar projects so that you can share resources and manage them better.


Portfolio
A portfolio is a collection of projects or programs grouped together to facilitate effective management to meet strategic business objectives. The programs and projects within a portfolio may not be related to each other.

Project Management National Conference: My View

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India's 4th annual Project Management National Conference was held in Chennai from 28th September to 30th September 2012. I was fortunate to attend the mega event; the first time I attend such a huge conference on project management. While PMI Chennai was painting rosy pictures before the commencement of the conference, I was a little bit negative; as such, I was taken by surprise to see a huge gathering of delegates from all over the world. I understand that the delegates count was more than 1000.

Hotel Leela Palace, Chennai

The venue was the Leela Palace Chennai, the new sea front hotel in Raja Annamalai Puram. Being the first mega event hosted by Leela Palace, the staff went the extra mile to ensure the delegates were happy and satisfied.

Vineet Nayar, HCL Technologies
Mr. Vineet Nayar, Vice Chairman & CEO, HCL Technologies gave a speech which was interesting and engaging. He spoke about the importance of employees to the organization. One interesting question to Vineet Nayar was "I have an incompetent superior; so, I am unable to grow. I am very stressed". Vineet Nayar was quick to respond "You are so lucky. You have the best opportunity to show that you are competent. If your boss is competent, it takes time for you to prove yourselves and establish. Now, you have a better environment, go and use it to your advantage".

His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder, Art of Living Foundation & International humanitarian leader was another interesting speaker at the conference. That was the first time I attended a programme by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. He engaged the delegates with a quick "desktop yoga/ meditation" session which lasted close to about 20 minutes. He insisted the project managers not to lose their smile in spite of the stressful work environment they have. I liked his advice "Show your anger, but don't get angry". How good if I can follow that? One of the participants requested for advice on balancing his family and work. He gave an analogy of a bicycle, where you always have a nice balance to ride. Sometimes, you bend on one side but not fully; sometimes you bend on the other side to negotiate a curve. But the lesson is to balance both, work and family, knowing when to bend and how much to bend is the secret to have the bicycle running smoothly.

Dr. E Sreedharan, Principal Advisor to DMRC
The speaker whom I had been waiting for was Dr. E Sreedharan, Principal Advisor to DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation). In my opinion, he was a pioneer to modern project management in India. He was the roaring success behind the metro rail revolution in India. He showed to the people of India that Government projects can also be completed within the given schedule, to the international quality standards and without any complaint of scam/ bribe. During his speech, he emphasized the importance of forming a good team for your project, encouraging them to take responsibility/ decision making roles and support them when their decisions go wrong. Mr. Sreedharan was of the opinion that delay in decision making was the major reason for delays in infrastructure projects. He ensured the Contractors are properly taken care of and their problems are treated as the project's problems.

Do women make better project managers?

I personally felt the panel discussions were boring, particularly the first panel discussion on "Has the time arrived for a Chief Projects Officer?". I felt so sleepy that I had to leave the conference hall for a short walk outside. The second panel discussion on "Do women make better project managers?" was better and was made interesting by the host.

Overall, it was a good experience and helped me learn the experience of project management stalwarts. It was also an opportunity to network with like-minded project management practitioners.

Friday, October 26, 2012

What is Progressive Elaboration?

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Progressive Elaboration

At the beginning stages of any project, you have very little information and detail to work with. It is the characteristic of any project and the project management team has to live with it. But, how we can proceed? What is the approach to planning? This is where the concept of Progressive Elaboration comes in handy.

Progressive elaboration allows a project management team to manage the project to a greater level of detail as it evolves. It involves continuously improving and detailing a plan as more detailed and specific information and more accurate estimates become available. It helps in achieving more accurate and complete plans that result from successive iterations of the planning process.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Competing Project Constraints

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We have seen earlier that managing a project includes balancing the competing project constraints. As a project manager, we should be clear that projects need to be performed and delivered under certain constraints.


But, what is a constraint? A constraint is anything that limits the boundary of your problem. For example, if I tell you to construct a house in 2400 sq. ft, then I am giving you a constraint. The constraint here is you have to build the house within the given land area of 2400 sq. ft. I would also tell you that I have only $100,000 for the construction of the house. Again, I am limiting your project to a boundary, beyond which you are not allowed to go. I could also tell you that I need the house to be handed over to me within one year. Again, this is a constraint. So, overall, I have given three constraints above:
  1. Land area: Not to exceed 2400 sq.ft
  2. Cost: Not to exceed $100,000
  3. Time: To complete within a year
Triple Constraints: Scope, Time and Cost

Triple Constraints: In project management, three constraints are considered very critical. They are
  1. Schedule/ time,
  2. Budget/ cost and
  3. Scope.
It is not possible to say which of these three constraints are the most important one. The specific project will influence the constraints on which the project manager needs to focus. For example, if we are working on Y2K project, what would be your most important constraint? No doubt, it is time; we need to complete the project before the clock turns to 1st January 2000. Right? How about the construction of a stadium for the Olympic Games? Once again, time might be the driving constraint. How about the construction of your own house? Your most important constraint may be the cost. You don't mind a delay of a month or two. But, you do not want to spend more money than what is originally planned for.

When I say that certain constraint is important, it does not mean that we are neglecting the other constraints. We still need to try to work within those constraints. But, as a project manager, you know where the priority lies. That is more important.


Competing Project Constraints: PMBOK extends the triple constraints and calls the following as competing project cosntraints:

Competing Project Constraints: Scope, Time, Cost, Quality, Resources and Risk
  1. Schedule/ time
  2. Budget/ cost
  3. Scope
  4. Quality
  5. Resources and
  6. Risk

Impact of change in constraints: If any one constraint changes, at least one other constraint is likely to be affected. For example, to shorten the schedule, you need additional resources which may lead to an increase in the cost. So, it is important for the project management team to evaluate the effect of change in one constraint on other constraints.


Importance of Constraints for Project Planning: While it may seem that constraints are difficult to handle, it is very much necessary to define a finite problem. If there are no constraints, you would be working with an indefinite problem in space. So, its always important for a project manager to understand and list down the constraints in a project. This would help him/ her to effectively plan the project. During planning, the project management team should be clear that they are able to work within all the given constraints. If it is found that the constraints cannot be met, then it has to be brought to the notice of the senior management (or) project sponsor (or) the customer.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Body Language for Presentations

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As we all know, good communication skill is one of the most important characteristics of a successful project manager. Project manager and the project management team is required to communicate day in day out to various stakeholders involved in the project. Good communication is a prerequisite for the success of any project. But, when we refer to communication, its not only verbal or written; it also includes your body language. When you are giving a presentation, your body language conveys much more than the words from your mouth.

With that introduction on the importance of communication for a project manager, I would like you to take a look at the following video. I found this video on "Body Language for Presentations" in Youtube. Its interesting and I thought this video would be useful for you. So, see this video and prepare yourself before you go for your next presentation on your project; may be to your customer, senior management or to other stakeholders.

   

Sunday, October 7, 2012

PMP Training in Chennai

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Singapore Training Academy is conducting PMP Exam Preparation Course in Chennai. The details are as follows:

Course Schedule: 23, 24, 27 & 28 Oct 2012
Location: Chennai

Special Offer: Rs. 7500 + taxes
Discounts available for group bookings


The price is attractive and probably the lowest available currently in Chennai. The academy is also providing further discounts for group bookings (two or more PMP aspirants). Please avail the offer if you are interested in pursuing the prestigious PMP certification exam, as this introductory special offer could be withdrawn after the initial bookings.

If you are intersted in the PMP Exam Preparation Course conducted by Singapore Training Academy in Chennai, the contact details are provided below:

PMP Exam Preparation Course in Chennai
E-mail: ContactUs@StrapAsia.com

India Office:
Real Enclave, 2nd Floor
22, Josier Street
Nungambakkam
Chennai 600034
Phone: (91) 95001-80422

Singapore Office:
320 Serangoon Road
#04-04 Serangoon Plaza
Singapore 218108
Phone: (65) 9671-2941

Friday, September 14, 2012

Project Management National Conference, India 2012

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Project Management National Conference, Chennai, India 2012

Project Managament Institute (PMI) is conducting India's 4th annual Project Management National Conference in Chennai this year. The theme for the conference is "Project Management for Sustainable Competitive Advantage". During the conference, several project management issues will be addressed by industry experts and project management practitioners.

The list of speakers include:
  • Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder, Art of Living Foundation
  • Mr. Mark Langley, President & CEO, Project Management Institute
  • Dr. E. Sreedharan, Principal Advisor to Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC)
  • Mr. Vineet Nayar, Vice Chairman & CEO, HCL Technologies
  • Mr. Lakshmi Narayanan, Vice Chairman of Cognizant
  • Dr. V. Sumantran, Executive Vice Chairman, Hinduja Automotive
  • Ms. Deena Levine, Principal of DL&A
  • Mr. Alexei Levene, Catalyst, International Institute of Social Enterpreneurs
I hope India's biggest project management conference would be interesting, exciting and useful. In addition to that,you could earn up to 22 PDUs by attending the Project Management National Conference 2012.

I am attending the conference. How about you?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How a PMP candidate is assessed?

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PMP Credential Scheme is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) against International Standards Organization (ISO) 17024. ISO 17024 specifies requirements for a body certifying persons against specific requirements, including the development and maintenance of a certification scheme for personnel. The PMP Credential Scheme is also registered against the ISO 9001:2008 standard for quality management systems.

A candidate for PMP Credential is assessed in the following three ways:
  1. By reviewing his/ her education and professional experience
  2. By testing his/ her competence in project management
  3. Ongoing development through Continuing Certification Requirement (CCR) Program
Education/ Professional Experience:
  1. Secondary degree (high school diploma, associate's degree or global equivalent) - Minimum five years/ 60 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience, during which at least 7,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project (OR)
  2. Four year degree (bachelor's degree or global equivalent) -  Minimum three years/ 36 months unique non-overlapping professional project management experience, during which at least 4,500 hours were spent leading and directing the project
Please take note that all project management experience must have been accrued within the last eight consecutive years. It is necessary that you should have experience in all five project management process groups (initiation, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, closing); but, not necessarily in a single project.

In addition to this, you should also have obtained 35 contact hours of formal education in project management.

I will share further information on the format of the PMP examination and the examination fees in the upcoming articles. I leave you now with the question: Why Should I get PMP Certification?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

International Project Management Day

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International Project Management Day

Have you heard of International Project Management Day? Only today, I came across that a day is being observed to recognize the efforts and hard work of people involved in project management work. It seems that this day is being observed for the past 8 years (since 2004) and we are in the 9th year  (2012) now.

The International Project Management day (IPM day) is intended to encourage project based organizations worldwide or organizations who utilize project management methodologies to recognize and appreciate the achievements of project managers and their teams. It is noted that IPM Day always fall on the first Thursday of November every year. As such, the IPM Day will be observed on 1 November 2012.

Have you heard of IPM day before? Does your organization celebrate or recognize project managers or project management team? Please share your views.

For further information on International Project Management Day, you can visit their web site at http://internationalpmday.org/

Friday, May 11, 2012

Project Charter

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What is a Project Charter?
  • Project Charter is a document that formally authorizes the commencement of a project or a phase.
  • Project Charter authorizes the project manager to obtain, negotiate and deploy organizational resources to project activities.
  • PMBOK recommends that the project manager be identified and assigned as early as possible in the project, prior to the start of planning, and preferably while the project charter is being developed.
  • It is also recommended that the project manager be involved in the development of the project charter. But, it should be noted that even though the project manager/ the project management team may help in preparing the Project Charter, the approval and funding should always be external to the project boundaries. Projects are generally authorized by someone external to the project such as the Project Management Office (PMO), project sponsor or someone from the senior management.
  • Project Charter documents the initial requirements that addresses the stakeholders' needs and expectations

Inputs to the development of a Project Charter
The following are the necessary inputs for the development of a project charter:
  1. Project Statement of Work (SOW)
  2. Business Case
  3. Contract
  4. Enterprise Environmental Factors
  5. Organizational Process Assets 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Getting Started in Project Management: An Introduction

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Rita Mulcahy, PMP, was the President and founder of RMC Project Management, Inc., and a world-renowned project management author, trainer and speaker. In this YouTube video titled "Getting started in project management - 1. An Introduction", she gives an introduction to project management. Please spend some time to listen to her absorbing speech, which would help you in your preparations for the PMP certification exam.

How did you find the video? Please share your views.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Answer to PMP Question #1

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You can read the question by clicking here: PMP Question #1

Answer to PMP Question #1
The correct answer to PMP Question #1 is (C).

Reasoning behind the answer
A project is defined as "a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result." (A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, PMBOK Guide, Fourth edition) From this definition, we can identify certain characteristics of the project which are listed below:
  • Projects are temporary in nature. Temporary does not necessarily mean the projects are short in duration. It means they have a definite beginning and ending date; or in other words, a project has a finite and defined lifespan.
  • Projects are unique as the products, services, or results they produce are different in some distinctive way from similar products, services, or results.
  • Projects are completed when the project goals and objectives are achieved or it's determined the project is no longer viable
Following are some examples of a project:
  • Creating a new software application or system
  • Creating a new drug
  • Building a house
  • Organizing a political campaign
  • Designing and building a new airplane

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

PMP Question #1

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PMP Question #1
You are appointed as the project manager of a $460 million construction project. All the following are characteristics of a project except:

A. Temporary endeavor
B. Creates a unique product, service or result
C. Short in duration
D. Definite beginning and end

What is your answer? Why? Please leave your comments. I will upload the correct answer tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

How to Pass PMP in First Attempt?

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How to Pass PMP in First Attempt?

PMP (Project Management Professional) is one exam which you cannot pass just by reading the books or having great experience as a project manager or as a project team member. It requires hard work, dedicated effort, good understanding of the project management concepts and thorough knowledge to apply the learnt concepts to practical project scenarios.

Take As Many Tests As You Can
The most important thing I would recommend for passing the PMP examination is to try and answer as many questions as possible. You cannot pass this exam without getting your hands dirty. Let us not get negative here. You will PASS the PMP exam if you prepare well, take as many tests as possible, find your shortfalls/ knowledge gaps, update your knowledge where you are weak, continue with more mock tests.

Number of Questions in Each Attempt
It is not necessary that you need to always take a full-length mock test. Keep yourself a simple target; everyday, I will try to answer 10 to 15 PMP questions. After completing the set target of PMP questions, go through your answers. Review why you could not answer a particular question or why you have answered wrongly or even how you got it right. This review exercise is very important to reinforce your understanding and further learning. Several candidates are merely interested in how much they scored; rather than having deep insight into their answers. Don't commit this mistake.

Time Factor for PMP Preparation
Another excuse candidates generally throw at me is "I don't have time; I am busy in my project. I have my family". Yes, I understand. Please understand that you are not the only person who is busy in this world. You wanted this PMP certification under your belt. So, no point giving excuses. When I was preparing the PMP exam few years ago, I used to be in a similar situation. I sat in a corner for a moment and told myself that I need to cross this hurdle whatever happens.

Plan Your Time
Once I committed myself, I allocated about 15 minutes of my lunch break to answer about 5 to 10 questions everyday. I normally used to relax myself during this time browsing the internet, having a chat with my colleagues or take a nap. I sacrificed this for PMP. As the exam date got nearer, I spent about half an hour at home answering another 15 questions. This way, I was in constant touch with the topics.

Monitor & Control Your Preparation
Appearing for your PMP examination is in itself a project. So, don't forget to apply the PMP concepts. It is not sufficient for you to just plan and execute. It is also necessary for you to monitor and control your progress. I monitored my progress with an Excel spreadsheet. I used to note down date wise, the number of questions attempted, time taken and the score. This helped me to understand whether I am really progressing well.

As some people put it, PMP does not only stand for Project Management Professional; it also stands for Practice Makes Perfect. So, go ahead plan your studies, execute them well, monitor and control; you will successfully pass the PMP examination in your first attempt.

Do you agree with my approach? What have you done for your PMP exams? Or what are you planning for your exam? Please feel free to share your experience.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis

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Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis

Perform Qualitative Risk Analysis is the third project management process in the Project Risk Management knowledge area. It follows the process Identify Risks. In this process, the project team will prioritize identified risks by combining the probability of occurrence and likely impact.

In any project, either small or big, we would have identified several risks. All identified risks are not equal; the risk rating of each risk varies. They vary depending on the probability/ likelihood of occurrence and the impact of those risks on the project objectives. For example, some risks may have high probability of occurring, but may have only a small impact on the project if it happens. Similarly, another risk may have a huge impact on the project objectives, but have a remote chance of occurring in this project. How about a risk that has very high probability of occurring and a very high impact on the project cost if it occurs? Which of the above three risks would you put your effort on?

We need to have a way to prioritize the risks so that we can channel our efforts towards risks with high risk rating. Project performance can be improved by focusing on high-priority risks rather than spending scarce resources on low-priority risks. Perform qualitative risk analysis provides a rapid and cost-effective means of establishing priorities for “Plan Risk Responses” process and also lays foundation for “Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis”.

Please note that this process may lead to “Perform Quantitative Risk Analysis” or directly into “Plan Risk Responses”, depending on the project team’s necessities.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Risk Register

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Risk register is created at the end of the Identify Risks process and this is the only output of the process. At this stage, the risk register is created only with initial entries. But, as other risk management processes happen we will see an increase in level and type of information and the risk register will get updated accordingly.

The Risk register at this stage contains:
  • List of identified risks: Identified risks are described in as much detail as possible
  • List of potential responses: The actual responses for identified risks will only be finalized during the “Plan Risk Responses” process. But, it is good to discuss potential responses while identifying the risks and the contributor to the risk identification would be in a good position to provide some input based on his/ her experience in other projects. This also will be useful as inputs to “Plan Risk Responses” process at a later stage.
  • The main aim of the Risk Register at the end of “Identify Risks” process is to identify and record all the risks that can be foreseen. But, as we might have gone through some of the analysis like Cause and Effect Diagram or Root Cause Analysis or Influence Diagram or SWOT Analysis and so on, it would be good if we can include other information like “Root causes” in the risk register

A sample Risk Register is shown below with three identified risks in a construction project. Please take note that in a real project there may be many more risks that have to be identified.

Risk Register at the end of Identify Risks Process

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Diagramming Techniques

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Diagramming Techniques are used to identify risks in a project. Some of the diagramming techniques that are included in PMBOK/ PMP are Cause and effect diagram, System or process flow charts and influence diagrams.

Cause and effect diagram

This diagram is also known as Ishikawa diagram or Fish-bone diagram. It is referred to as the "Ishikawa diagram" because Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa, a Japanese quality control statistician, developed this diagram. The name "fishbone diagram" is derived from the fact that the entire diagram resembles a fish skeleton. The diagram illustrates the main causes and sub causes leading to an effect. It is used to identify potential root causes to problems.

Cause and effect diagram (or) Ishikawa diagram (or) Fish bone diagram

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System or process flow charts

System flow charts are very helpful to show how various elements of a system interrelate. They can be used to analyze an entire process by following the logical steps leading to an outcome or an objective. Flow charts are acclaimed for their ability to identify bottlenecks and superfluous processes.

System or Process Flow Charts

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Influence diagram

Influence diagrams are graphical representations of situations showing causal influences, time ordering of events and other relationships among variables and outcomes. Influence diagrams show how risks influence one another.

Influence Diagram

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

SWOT Analysis

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SWOT Analysis is one of the tools and techniques recommended in PMBOK/ PMP for the identification of risks in a project. It is a strategic planning tool used to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to a project. SWOT Analysis can assist you in recognizing opportunities that you are well placed to exploit. It also helps the project manager in understanding the weaknesses of the project so that they can be managed to eliminate threats which otherwise would not have been foreseen/ identified.

SWOT Analysis to Identify Risks

As you can see, SWOT Analysis is a framework to identify strengths and weaknesses in a project. This is typically done in interactive groups, like brainstorming sessions, where people can discuss, assess, and elaborate on the identified SWOT elements and analyzing them in depth. It is also a method for maximizing the positive risks (opportunities) and minimizing the negative risks (threats). The analysis and deliberation are designed in such a way to identify avenues to take advantage of strengths and exploit opportunities, as well as minimize the impacts of weaknesses and protect the project against threats.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Assumptions Analysis

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Assumptions analysis is one of the tools and techniques of Identify Risks process. This analysis explores the validity of all the assumptions that are identified and documented during the project planning processes.

Assumptions Analysis to Identify Risks

Assumptions analysis identifies risks to the project from inaccuracy, instability, inconsistency or incompleteness of assumptions. It is preferable to have the assumptions accurate, complete and consistent; but, in practice, it is not always possible. So, it is important for the project management team to review the justification or strength or support of the assumptions made. The risks are directly proportional to the consequences or the impacts to the project objectives if the assumption turns out to be wrong.

Checklist Analysis

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Checklist analysis is one of the tools and techniques of the Identify Risks process. Checklist Analysis can provide ideas for risks on a current project. Checklists can be developed based on historical information, knowledge from previous similar projects and from other sources of information. It is also possible to use the lowest level of Risk Breakdown Structure (RBS) as a checklist.

Checklist analysis to identify risks

Checklist analysis is quick and simple; can be used by team members who have relatively less experience in similar projects. But, the project manager has to understand that it is impossible to build an exhaustive checklist. So, care should be taken to also explore risks that do not appear on the checklist, because even highly similar projects will have their own, unique and different risks.

Checklists should be reviewed during project closure to incorporate any new lessons learned and also to improve the checklists for future projects.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Documentation Reviews to Identify Project Risks

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Documentation Reviews to Identify Project Risks
Documentation reviews are carried out for getting ideas on risks that may be existing/ foreseen in the project. Documentation reviews involve reviewing the project documentation, including plans, assumptions, project files, and other information in order to identify areas of inconsistency or lack of clarity. The documentation is comprehensively reviewed for completeness, accuracy and consistency. Missing, inaccurate or incomplete information and inconsistencies can be indicators of risks in the project.

The documents that could be reviewed include, but not limited to:
  • Project charter
  • Project scope statement
  • Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
  • Project schedule
  • Cost estimates
  • Procurement plan
  • Assumptions log

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Information gathering techniques

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Information gathering includes various techniques like brainstorming, Delphi technique, interviews and root cause analysis. The ultimate aim of all these techniques is to identify and prepare a comprehensive list of risks in the project.

Information gathering techniques in risk management

Brainstorming
It is one of the most widely used techniques to identify risks in a project. Project team usually performs brainstorming, often with subject matter experts, risk management experts and other important stakeholders who can contribute to the risk identification. It allows people to come up with risks. During brainstorming sessions there should be no criticism of ideas. The main focus is to open up possibilities of risk. Judgments and analysis at this stage inhibit idea generation. Ideas should only be evaluated at the end of the brainstorming session. Brainstorming sessions always have a facilitator to lead the team and help turn their ideas into a list of risks

Delphi technique
This technique is used to build consensus of experts who participate anonymously. A facilitator uses a questionnaire to solicit ideas about important project risks. The questionnaire is often designed with forced choices that require the experts to select between various options. The responses are summarized and re-circulated to the experts for further review until consensus on the final list of risks is reached. Delphi technique helps reduce bias in the data and keeps any one person from having undue influence on the outcome.

Interviewing
Interviewing is generally a face-to-face meeting that includes question and answer sessions. The interviews are conducted with project manager, project team, stakeholders, subject-matter experts, and individuals who may have participated in similar, past projects. Interviews help us to get first-hand information about others' experience and knowledge.

Root cause analysis
Root cause identification is a technique for identifying essential causes of risk. Reorganizing the identified risks by their root causes will help to identify more risks. This technique enables you to understand the risk more clearly so that responses can be planned to prevent recurrences.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Identify Risks: ITTO

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Identify Risks is the second project management process in the Project Risk Management knowledge area. It follows the process Plan Risk Management.

In my opinion, Identify Risks is the most important process in the risk management knowledge area. All the processes that follow will be effective only if the risks are identified properly. So, a project manager or his/ her project team should devote their maximum effort to identify as many risks as possible at the initial stages of the project.

Generally, the participants in this process will include the project manager, project team members, risk management team, customers, end users, stakeholders, domain experts and risk management experts. It is a good practice to encourage all project personnel to identify risks. A good project manager will involve the entire project team in identifying the risks as it instills a sense of ownership and responsibility for the risks. This also will help in implementing associated risk response actions at a later stage.

Please take note that Identify risks is an iterative process throughout the entire life cycle of the project as new risks may appear or become known as the project progresses.

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The following are the Inputs, Tools & Techniques and Outputs (ITTO) of the process "Identify Risks",

Inputs

1. Risk Management Plan
2. Activity cost estimates
3. Activity duration estimates
4. Scope baseline
5. Stakeholder register
6. Cost management plan
7. Schedule management plan
8. Quality management plan
9. Project documents
10. Enterprise environmental factors
11. Organizational process assets

Tools & Techniques

1. Documentation reviews
2. Information gathering techniques
3. Checklist analysis
4. Assumptions analysis
5. Diagramming techniques
6. SWOT analysis
7. Expert judgement

Outputs

1. Risk Register

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Probability and Impact Matrix

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Probability and Impact Matrix is a tool for the project team to aid in prioritizing risks. As you know, there may be several risks in any project. Depending on the size and complexity of the project in hand, the risks may vary somewhere from double digits to triple digits. But, do we have the time and money to look into all these risks, let alone the response action. The answer is NO; we do not have such luxury of time. So, it is necessary to find a way to identify those critical risks which needs the most attention from the project team.

Probability and Impact Matrix uses the combination of probability and impact scores of individual risks and ranks/ prioritizes them for easy handling of the risks. In other words, the probability and impact matrix helps to determine which risks need detailed risk response plans. It is vital to understand the priority for each risk as it allows the project team to appreciate the relative importance of each risk.

For example, a risk with a high probability/ likelihood of occurring and which will have a high impact on the project objectives will likely need a response plan.

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The matrix generally used is a 3x3 matrix (with Low, Medium, High rating for Probability and Impact) or 5x5 matrix (with Very Low, Low, Medium, High and Very High ratings for probability and impact).  A sample Probability-Impact Matrix is given below for your reference.

Probability and Impact Matrix for Risk Assessment

How to use this matrix? If a particular risk has a moderate probability and the estimated impact of this risk is major, then you look into the respective row and column to identify the risk rating. For a moderate probability and major impact, the risk rating in the above matrix is "Medium". The colors are visual indications of the seriousness of the risks.

We will use this matrix in the risk assessment process to determine the risk rating for each risk.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Risk Probability and Impact

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The concept of Risk Probability and Impact is the fundamental building block on which Project Risk Management is raised. In this article, we will try to understand what is risk probability and what is risk impact.

Risk Probability

Risk Probability and Impact
Risk Probability (sometimes known as likelihood) describes the potential for the risk event occurring. The probability of a risk occurring can range anywhere between 0% and 100% or it can be expressed as a number between 0 to 1. But, it can neither be 0% nor be 100%. Can you see why not?

If the risk probability value is 100%, then it is certain to occur; and as such, it defeats the definition of risk, an uncertain event or condition that may or may not occur. It cannot also be 0% for the same reason, as it means it is certain not to occur.

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Risk Impact

Risk Impact describes the effects or consequences the project will experience if the risk event occurs. The impact may be in terms of money, time, organization's reputation, loss of business, injury to people, damage to property and so on.

Probability and impact scales can be defined in terms of relative or ordinal (High, Medium, Low), linear or cordinal (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) or non-linear (1, 2, 4, 8, 16).

Friday, February 10, 2012

Who is a risk owner?

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It is an essential part of risk management to assign an owner for each risk. Why is it so? Why do we need a risk owner? Are we passing on the risk to a particular team member? No, not really. Identifying and assigning a risk owner is to make it clear who is responsible for what risk.

Risk Owner

A risk owner is any individual, generally a project team member, who is responsible for the management, monitoring and control of an identified risk, including the implementation of the selected responses.

The risk owner should be capable of managing the risk and have the knowledge, resources, and authority to deal with the risk. Selecting the risk owner thus usually involves considering the source of risk and identifying the person who is best placed to understand and implement what needs to be done. Risk owners should be added to the risk register.

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Risk owners would be required to assess their risk and report to the project manager on a regular basis the status of the risk. Depending on the project, there can be a separate risk register meeting (at defined intervals like fortnightly or monthly) or risks could be discussed as part of the weekly progress/ status meeting. The identified risk owners will provide the updates on the respective risks during these meetings. 

Give it a try!