Project Management Skills - FAQ

What is it important to understand the principles of project management?
Managers now find that they are frequently involved in projects that are being managed using a formalized project management methodology.

What is a project?
Everything that an organization does can be categorized either as a project or process. A process is something that happens continually and has a low risk associated with it, whereas a project happens once and has a relatively high level of risk.

What is project management?
Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling resources to achieve specific goals.

How are projects organized?
The way in which an organization is structured is largely a result of whether its day-to-day work is process driven or project driven.

What is a matrix-management environment?
In a matrix environment, an individual may 'belong to' a particular department but they will be assigned to different projects and report to a project manager while working on that project.

What are project stakeholders?
Project stakeholders are individuals and organizations that are actively involved in the project, or whose interests may be positively or negatively affected by execution of the project or project completion.

What is a project sponsor?
The sponsor is responsible for securing the financing and overall resource budget approval and owns the opportunities and risks related to the financial outcome of the project.

What are the duties of the project manager?
The project manager has the authority to use cash and other resources up to the limit set in the project charter. If they believe at any stage that the project cannot be delivered within the assigned budget and timescale then they must notify the project sponsor so that remedial action can be taken.

What is a project life cycle?
There is very little agreement about the life cycle phases of a project and many organizations have their own internal definitions and templates. This is understandable because of the complicated nature and diversity of projects, which can vary enormously in size and complexity.

What is involved in the initiation phase?
The aim of the initiation phase is to answer the questions 'what is this project trying to achieve and why?'

What is involved in the planning phase?
The emphasis of the planning phase is to develop an understanding of how the project will be executed and a plan for acquiring the resources needed to execute it.

What is involved in the execution phase?
Executing consists of the processes used to complete the work defined in the project plan to accomplish the project's requirements.

What is involved in the closure phase?
This phase represents the formal completion of the project deliverables and their transfer to the final beneficiaries - usually internal or external customers.

What is the project charter?
This formally authorizes a project or a phase and documents initial requirements that satisfy the stakeholder's needs and expectations. It is normally written by the project sponsor or whoever initiated the project.

What is the project management plan?
The project management plan is the major output from the planning process. Developing it is the process of documenting the actions necessary to define, prepare, integrate, and coordinate all subsidiary plans.

What is the executing process group?
The overall goal of the Executing Process Group is to set the teams in place to get the work done efficiently and effectively so that the project stays on target with regard to scope and previously agreed goals.

What is the monitoring and controlling process group?
This process group involves every knowledge area except for human resources and is where the performance of the project is measured and action is taken based on an analysis of this data.

What is change control?
Change control is a formal process used to ensure that changes to a product or system are introduced in a controlled and coordinated manner. It reduces the possibility that unplanned changes will be introduced.

What is the closing process group?
A carefully structured project closure phase should ensure that the project is brought to a controlled end.

What are project management processes?
Where a project is split into stages, the processes of these groups repeat in every stage of the project. This means that each stage must be initiated, planned, executed, and closed, as well as monitoring and controlling being present throughout each stage.

What is project scope management?
The area of scope management includes the processes required to ensure that the project includes all the work, and only the work required to complete the project successfully.

What is scope creep?
As well as defining the scope of the project in the planning stage it is also necessary to actively manage it. This is because there are two groups of stakeholders that will almost invariably apply pressure to change the scope of the project throughout its life cycle.

What does planning scope management involve?
This process involves creating a Scope Management Plan that describes how the scope of the project will be defined, validated and controlled so that it can be managed throughout the life of the project.

What does collecting requirements involve?
This process is concerned with assessing, documenting, and managing stakeholder needs to meet project objectives. All requirements should be gathered at the start because it is costly to make changes as the project progresses.

What does defining the scope involve?
This process involves creating a detailed description of the project and it's deliverables using the Scope Management Plan, Project Charter and the Requirements Documentation.

What does creating the work breakdown structure involve?
The creation of the WBS should be one of the first steps in the planning process, once the requirements specification for the project has been written. It should reflect the way the work will be performed and the way in which project costs and data will be summarized and reported.

What does validating and controlling the scope involve?
This process involves taking the deliverables which have been internally checked to see whether they meet the customer's requirements, and then actually present them to the customer for formal acceptance. There will inevitably be changes to this but it is important to ensure that these changes do not build upon each other incrementally. This is something referred to as scope creep and always produces unacceptable risks because the combined effects of these incremental changes are seldom considered in total.

What is project time management?
Project Time Management includes processes required to manage the timely completion of the project. It involves determining the delivery dates and milestones whilst taking all of the known constraints into account.

What does planning schedule management involve?
The process of establishing the policies, procedures, and documentation for planning, developing, managing, executing, and controlling the project schedule.

What does sequencing the activities involve?
The activities identified in the previous step should be sequenced based on the order in which they need to be done depending on their interdependencies.

What does estimating the activity resources involve?
The estimation of the amount and the types of resources required for activities is done in this step.

What does estimating the activity durations involve?
This is a key step in the project planning process and there are a number of tools that can also be utilized to help you to estimate the required activity resources.

What does developing and controlling the schedule involve?
In order to create an accurate schedule, several parameters from the previous steps are required including: the activity sequence, duration of each activity, and the resource requirements. Controlling the schedule is part of monitoring and controlling and is sometimes referred to as 'working the plan' in contrast with the first five processes which are all to do with 'planning the work'.

What is project cost management?
This knowledge area includes the processes involved in planning, estimating, budgeting and controlling costs so that a project can be completed within the approved budget.

What does estimating costs involve?
This step involves estimating the costs of each activity in the project including both human resource and physical resource costs. Because this step often occurs in the planning phase, it is important to understand that the estimated costs are your "best guesses" at the actual costs of each activity.

What does determining the project budget involve?
Using your best-guess estimates, the next step is to create a realistic project budget. In this step, you will determine the cost baseline and the funding requirements for the project. A good project budget will help you make key decisions with respect to the project schedule and resource allocation constraints.

What does controlling costs involve?
Good project managers will carefully monitor the cost of their projects. This includes watching to see where actual cost has varied from estimated cost. Cost control also involves informing the stakeholders of cost discrepancies that vary too much from the budgeted cost.

What does buying-in goods and services involve?
Almost all projects will require some external resources, services or products to be able to meet their objective. Those that cannot be provided internally will need to be purchased from an external source. The more complex a project is the more likelihood it will need outside specialists to meet its objective.

What is project supplier management?
Procurement of services, products and resources involves the need for legal contracts and each organization will have their own policies and procedures that must be followed when making any purchases on their behalf. All contracts have a lifecycle in which the supplier is first viewed as a bidder, then as the selected provider, and finally as the contracted supplier. By actively managing this lifecycle and carefully wording the terms and conditions of the contract, some identifiable project risks can be avoided, mitigated, or transferred to the supplier.

What does contract management involve?
This process determines which products or services a project will need to procure from an external source. Once this has been decided the project manager will determine the appropriate types of contracts that will need to be used on the project.

What does understanding contract options involve?
There are several different types of contract that can be used, although the most common is the fixed-price type, which involves setting a fixed total price for a precisely defined product or service to be provided.

What does managing supplier relationships involve?
This is the process of managing relationships with sellers, monitoring contract performance, taking corrective actions if required, and controlling change.

What is project quality management?
Project Quality Management includes the processes and activities of the performing organization that determine quality policies, objectives, and responsibilities so that the project will satisfy the needs for which it was undertaken.

What are the seven basic quality tools?
Most of the tools and techniques described here are based on statistical analysis and are most appropriate where the project deliverables are products that can be measured in some way.

What does performing quality assurance involve?
Quality assurance is part of the executing process and is concerned with making sure that the quality objectives are met. It is focused on process improvement.

What is ISO quality management?
The aim of ISO quality management is to help project management conform to the International Organization for Standardization quality standards.

What is project human resources management?
The purpose of Project Human Resource Management is to ensure that the project has sufficient human resources, with the correct skill sets and experience, for the project to be successfully completed.

What does developing the human resource plan involve?
The develop HR plan details the project roles, responsibilities, required skills and reporting relationships required for project success.

What does acquiring and developing the project team involve?
The process of acquiring a project team takes place within the executing process group and is concerned with confirming human resource availability and obtaining the personnel needed to complete project assignments.

What does managing the project team involve?
This process involves tracking team member performance, providing feedback, resolving issues, and managing changes to optimize project performance.

What is project communications management?
Communications form an essential part of any project and unlike technical areas, for example estimating and risk assessment; communication is something that the project manager has to take direct personal responsibility for.

What does planning communications management involve?
Identifying the information needs of the stakeholders and determining a suitable means of meeting those needs are important factors for project success.

What does controlling project communications involve?
This is the process of monitoring and controlling communications throughout the entire project life cycle to ensure the information needs of the project stakeholders are met.

What is project risk management?
A risk is a future event that may or may not happen, but if it does occur it will have an effect on project scope, schedule, cost, or quality. It may have one or more causes and, if it occurs, it may have one or more impacts.

What does planning risk management involve?
This is the process of creating the risk management plan. This plan details how the project management team will perform risk management for this project.

What does identifying project risks involve?
This is the process of determining risks that may affect the project and assessing the impact of the risk should it occur.

What does performing risk analysis involve?
This process analyses each risk from the risk register in terms of its probability and impact on the project if it were to occur.

What does planning and controlling risk response involve?
This is the process of developing options and actions to enhance opportunities and to reduce threats to the project.

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