PM Fundamentals

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  1. What are six processes that are necessary to ensure the timely completion of a project?
    Activity Definition: Processes that are used to identify project activities that must be performed to produce deliverables described in the WBS. The key output of this is a list of project activities.

    Activity Sequencing: Identifying and documenting activity interdependencies. In order to support the development of a realistic schedule, activities must be sequenced accurately. The key output is a project network diagram.

    Activity Resource Estimating: Determining an estimate for the type and quantity of resources necessary to complete the project tasks.

    Activity Duration Estimating: This process area involves estimating the number of work periods needed to complete each activity. The key output is a list of activity duration estimates

    Schedule Development: The project activities are analyzed for sequence, duration and resource requirements. Time and effort for each activity is determined. The key output is the project schedule.

    Schedule Control: The project manager monitors and controls changes to the project schedule. The key document is the Project Change Request. As changes are approved the corresponding schedule is updated.
  2. Name two common “Precedence “Diagramming” techniques.
    Two common precedence diagramming techniques are the Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM) and the Arrow Diagramming Method (ADM).
  3. List four sources of information that can be used to estimate task durations.
    • 1. Expert Judgment – Subject Matter Experts
    • 2. Historical Information – Estimating databases
    • 3. Analogous Estimating
    • 4. Parametric Estimating
  4. What would you do if some schedule activities could not be accurately estimated?
    For schedule activities that cannot be estimated within a reasonable degree of confidence, the work can be further decomposed and these smaller pieces can be estimated. The resource estimates for the smaller pieces can be added together to obtain a resource estimate for the activity as a whole.
  5. What is a Critical Path?
    A Critical Path is the path through the project and work that has the longest duration and that has the least amount of scheduling flexibility or float.
  6. What schedule information does a project status report contain?
    Project status reporting includes information about the actual start and finish dates and the remaining duration of unfinished schedule activities. One special performance measurement technique that is used is called Earned Value which shows the percentage complete of all in-progress scheduled tasks. Other performance measurement techniques used are the Schedule Variance (SV) and Schedule Performance Index (SPI) values. These values are used to assess the magnitude of project schedule variations that occur
  7. Can a schedule change be added into a project?
    Yes. Approved project change requests are used to update the project schedule baseline
  8. Name and describe eight ways to find information to help make cost estimates.
    Expert judgment: As with scope and schedule estimating, the project team may use the expertise of engineers, trades people, consultants and other experts to determine the costs of project activities.

    Analogous estimating: Actual costs from similar projects may be used to help determine the costs for this project. Another name for analogous estimating is top down estimating.

    Parametric estimating: Parametric estimating uses parameters in a mathematical model to estimate activity costs. For example, to install carpet you may use dollars per square yard in order to estimate the installation costs.

    Bottom up estimating: The duration for each work package is estimated individually and then rolled up in order to obtain a total for the project. This gives the most accurate view of the costs and the most resource consuming view of the costs.

    Computerized tools: There are many computerized tools available to assist with cost estimation. These include spreadsheet tools such as Excel and project management tools such as MS Project.

    Estimating databases: Databases of costs based on historical data are available for some types of tasks. These are particularly useful in application areas that are governed by standards or regular rules. For example, car repairs are estimated based upon the type of “standard” job or type of work. An engine change may be estimated as 5 hours labour.

    Extrapolation: This is similar to analogous estimating but instead of using actual costs, unknown costs are estimated by extrapolation from known costs.

    Prototyping: This approach is common in IT and engineering projects. A small scale model is produced that approximates the final product that will be manufactured. The prototype costs are refined to determine an estimated manufactured production product cost
  9. Name and describe three types of “Cost Estimate”.
    1. The least accurate estimate is an “order of magnitude” estimate (-25% to +75%). An order of magnitude cost estimate is done during strategic planning. It is often made without detailed analysis of the project tasks. Sometimes it is described as a guesstimate, preliminary estimate or a SWAG.

    2. Further refinement might give you a “budgetary” estimate (-10% to+25%). More detailed planning information is used as input. This is also known as an “approximation or a control estimate” and is used for obtain project approvals.

    3. The most accurate estimate is a “definitive” cost estimate (-5% to +10%). This type of estimate is prepared form detailed, well-defined project planning information. The definitive estimate is used to develop a tender, and as the basis of a contract with a customer.
  10. What is “Earned Value”?
    Viewing cost and schedule variance in isolation can provide a distorted view of project cost performance. Earned Value is an accounting concept that is used to try and correct this distortion. Earned value allows you to view schedule and cost performance concurrently. It compares the amount of work that was planned with what was actually accomplished to determine if the cost and schedule performance is as planned. It is also know as the budgeted cost of work performed (BCWP). It represents the cost of the work actually accomplished.
  11. Name four key integration processes.
    • 1. Project Plan Development
    • 2. Project Plan Execution
    • 3. Monitoring and Controlling the Project
    • 4. Project Change Management
  12. Describe what happens during Project Execution.
    Work happens, Money is spent, and Results are achieved.
  13. What are four key parts of a Project Change Request?
    • 1. Description of the change requested
    • 2. Impact assessment - scope, cost, time, resources, risks and all other factors
    • 3. Project Manager recommendation on how to proceed
    • 4. Formal approval or rejection – signature from an authorized person
  14. If a change is approved what happens to the project plan?
    The project cost, schedule, scope and quality deliverables are the sum of those specified in the baseline plan plus all approved project changes.
  15. Rejected project changes should be logged. True or False? Explain.
    True. If the change is rejected, the information is kept for reference purposes, but no alteration of the baseline plan is made. Sometimes a change may be rejected today but may be revisited later in a project when it makes more sense. Keeping a record can help with communicating why things are either in or out of a project and product at the end.
  16. Identify and describe the six processes areas that the PMBOK Guide uses to describe “Project Risk Management”.
    Risk Management Planning: Deciding how to approach, plan and execute risk management activities for a project.

    Risk Identification: Determining which risks might affect the project and documenting their characteristics.

    Qualitative Risk Analysis: Prioritizing risks for further analysis or actions by assessing and combining their probability of occurrence and impact.

    Quantitative Risk Analysis: Numerically analyzing the effect on the overall project objectives of identified risks.

    Risk Response Planning: Developing options and actions to enhance opportunities, and to reduce threats to project objectives.

    Risk Monitoring and Control: Tracking identified risks, monitoring residual risks, identifying new risks, executing risk response plans, and evaluating their effectiveness throughout the project life cycle.
  17. What is “Project Risk”?
    Project Risk is any uncertain event or condition that can positively or negatively effect project objectives. A risk will typically affect one or more of the project scope, time, cost, or quality.
  18. What is “Qualitative Risk Analysis”?
    Qualitative Risk Analysis includes the methods and techniques used by the project team to prioritize the risk events in a project. Project performance can be improved by focussing attention on the highest priority risks. Priority is determined by evaluating the probability the risk will occur, where the project is in the project lifecycle, cost, schedule, scope and quality and well as the organization’s tolerance to handling risk.
  19. Identify and describe four Risk Response Strategies.
    1. Risk Avoidance involves modifying the project plans so that the threat is eliminated. This can be done by changing the plan, modifying the project objective, or by relaxing the project objectives. Effectively, the risk is avoided because the cause of that risk event is removed.

    2.Risk Transference shifts the negative impact of the risk to another party. This may mean that the risk is shared or fully passed on to that party. As responsibility for the risk is transferred, the liabilities for that risk also transfers. Transferring a risk almost always has a cost. Therefore, a careful analysis of the cost and benefits needs to be done.

    3. Risk Mitigation is a proactive strategy used to reduce the risk to an acceptable level of probability and impact through proper planning. This could involve adopting less complex processes, conducting more tests, choosing different suppliers, developing prototypes and so on. The probability of the risk event occurring and the cost of the risk (should it occur), are reduced to acceptable levels through proper analysis and planning.

    4. Risk Acceptance. The gain or loss to the project time, cost, scope or quality is simply accepted and factored into the project plan.
  20. What are five common factors a project manager will need to determine when considering the best communications techniques for the project? What else does the project manager need to consider besides the best communication techniques for the project?
    • When considering the best communication techniques for the project the project manager will need to determine the following factors:
    • - Who needs the information?
    • - What type of information do they need?
    • - When do they need the information?
    • - How will the information be delivered to them?
    • - Who will deliver the information?

    Once the above factors have been determined the project manager will then need to consider the following:

    - Urgency: If the need for information is urgent then the communication must be frequent, accurate and timely.

    - Technology: If the mode of communication relies upon technology then the project team must ensure that the technology systems are in place, that they are appropriate and well understood to be used effectively.

    - Project Staffing: The communications strategy used must be compatible with the experience and expertise of the project participants. If not then time must be allocated in the project plan for the necessary training. If a project requires significant or sensitive communications it may be necessary to have a trained communications professional on the team.

    - Project Environment: Virtual teams will communicate differently as opposed to teams that meet and operate in a face-to-face environment. Teams that are made up of people from various cultures who speak different languages, or who are located in separate countries will obviously communicate in different ways.
  21. Describe the contents of a Project Communications Plan.
    The Communications Management Plan is normally contained in the overall project management plan. It will:

    • - Describe the stakeholder communications requirements.
    • - Describe the formatting, content and level of detail information to be communicated.
    • - Identify the people responsible for communication and the people who will receive the information.
    • - Identify the methods, tools or technologies that will be used to convey the information.
    • - Specify the frequency of each communication type.
    • - Describe escalation planning and guidelines when issues need to elevated for resolution.
    • - Outline the communication plan change management approach.
    • - Define a glossary of common project terminology.
  22. What is a Project Status Report and what does it contain?
    A Project Status Report is a regular report that contains information describing how the project is tracking in relation to its plan. The project status report describes the following:

    - Issues, problems, opportunities, and pending decisions related to the project.

    - Accomplishments in the previous reporting period.

    -Expected accomplishments in the upcoming the reporting period.

    - Variance analysis comparing what was planned to what has actually been achieved. Note that the project scope, schedule and budget are the three most common elements reported in the variance analysis.

    - Information about project resources.

    By reviewing the project status report the project stakeholders are able to see how the project is performing quickly, and with a minimum amount of effort.
  23. Identify four key techniques to remember when making a stakeholder presentation.
    Four key techniques to remember when delivering a presentation are:

    • - Make eye contact.
    • - Use appropriate gestures to amplify information in your presentation.
    • - Vary the pitch, tone and modulation of your voice.
    • - Make use of visual tools wherever possible.
  24. Identify three key quality management processes.
    1. Quality Planning identifies which quality standards are relevant to the project and determines how to satisfy them. The key outputs are the quality management plan which is part of the overall project management plan, and quality metrics.

    2. Quality Assurance applies planned, systematic quality activities to ensure that the project uses all processes needed to meet requirements. The key output of this is quality improvement. Quality improvement can take many forms including formal project audits, lessons learned, and project reviews.

    3. Quality Control monitors specific project results to determine whether or not they comply with relevant quality standards and identifies ways to eliminate causes of unsatisfactory performance. The key outputs are process adjustments, quality improvement measures and updates to the project management plan.
  25. What is the difference between “Quality” and “Grade”?
    Quality and Grade are not the same. Grade is a category or rank given to items having the same functional use but different technical characteristics. Quality is the degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements. For example, a software product can be of high quality meaning it has no obvious defects but be of low grade in that it provides a limited number of features.
  26. Is it more costly to prevent mistakes or correct them once they are found?
    Prevention over Inspection. The cost of preventing mistakes is generally much less than the cost of correcting mistakes. Another way of stating this is to say that quality is planned, designed, and built in. It is not inspected in. It is a good idea to plan to do things right the first time. Quality is planned,
  27. What is a ”Project Audit” and when should you perform a project audit or review?
    A project quality audit or review is a structured, independent review of project activities performed to determine whether project activities havemet organizational and project policies, processes, and procedures. Inefficient and ineffective policies, processes and procedures are then documented. In future phases of this project, or future projects, these deficiencies should be planned around in order to improve the product or project deliverable. For smaller projects, a post project review should be scheduled at the completion of the project. For larger projects, a post phase review should be planned at the completion of each major project phase in addition to a post project review at the end.
  28. Describe the key role of the Project Manager in acquiring goods and services from outside the project team.
    The project manager:

    - Identifies and manages risks and leads the project team in developing the mitigation plans.

    - Works with the contracting team to tailor the contract to meet the unique needs of the project.

    - Participates in contract negotiations in order to protect the integrity of the project.

    - Integrates the work done by the subcontractor into the project schedule.

    - Protects the integrity of the project and ensures that any work done by people outside of the project team is consistent with project objectives and contributes to project success.
  29. What is a contract?
    A contract is a mutually binding agreement that obligates the seller to provide the specified products, services, or results, and obligates the buyer to provide monetary or other valuable consideration.
  30. Describe three different tyhpes of contract.
    1. A time and materials contract is based on a unit price for a material. The value of the contract is calculated by taking the unit price of materials multiplied by the time.

    2. A cost reimbursable contract is a contract that involves paying a seller for their actual costs plus a fee representing the seller’s profit. This type of contract often includes incentive clauses for the seller if they meet or exceeds predetermined objectives.

    3. A fixed price contract is one in which a fixed total price is paid for a well-defined product. The seller agrees to perform all the work specified in the contract for a fixed, predetermined price. The seller needs to be very careful in estimating their costs and completion schedule because once agreed upon, the price and schedule normally cannot be adjusted.
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PM Fundamentals
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