Showing posts with label Project Management Framework. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Project Management Framework. Show all posts

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Project or Operations? What is it?

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I have done a video presentation on the topic "Projects vs Operations | PMP Exam Perspective". This is my first serious attempt to use YouTube for my presentations/ blog. Please watch the YouTube video embedded below in this article.

Please leave your valuable comments/ feedback/ suggestions on the video. If you have any particular topic that you want me to cover in the next video, your suggestions are most welcome. If you liked this video, please give a thumbs-up and also don't forget to subscribe to the YouTube Channel.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Enterprise Environmental Factors: Internal or External?

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Enterprise Environmental Factors and Organizational Process Assets are the terms that you would come across quite commonly in the PMBOK Guide. They are inputs to most of the project management processes. Enterprise Environmental Factors are those factors that could potentially affect or impact a project’s success.

These factors determine how a project manager manages a project. So, it is important for a project manager to have a good understanding of the enterprise environmental factors that could potentially affect his/ her project.

For example, stakeholders risk tolerance is an enterprise environmental factor. If the stakeholders are aggressive, then a project manager would be allowed to take risks that could potentially have a high impact on the project. On the other hand, if the stakeholders are not tolerant to high level of risks, then the project manager has to handle the project in a different way.

Enterprise Environmental Factors: Internal or External?
The enterprise environmental factors could be internal factors to the organization like organizational culture, existing human resources, work authorization systems, project management information systems (PMIS), organization’s established communication channels and so on.

They could also be factors external to the organization like Government standards, industry requirements, market place conditions, political environment and so on.

So, if you are a project manager, it is important to ask yourself or to throw the question to your project team. What are the enterprise environmental factors that could impact/ affect the success of our project? The earlier you find the answer, the better the chances of a successful project.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Characteristics of an effective project manager

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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

Why projects are initiated?

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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

Portfolio, Program and Projects

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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

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.

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.

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: 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:

  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, April 23, 2012

Answer to PMP Question #1

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You can read the question by clicking here: 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.