Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Project Management Concepts Through Interview Questions for Project Managers - 4

The aim of this series of articles is to introduce project management concepts. Interview questions one may face for project Manager position, are used as a vehicle to introduce these concepts. This is the fourth part of the series and further concepts. The series is going to be in ten parts, and each article in the series will discuss five questions that you may get asked and explain the related questions. Concepts introduced should help you prepare for PMP certification that is often required for a Project Manager position.
Quite often, customers request projects. There is one document that details what the customer requires the project to achieve. What is the requirements' document, typically, known as? A statement of works or SOW is the name of the document. It contains details of the expected outcomes of the project. What product, services or result are explicitly stated in the document. Quality levels to be achieved are also included in the document. It is as detailed as possible as the SOW forms a part of the contract between the customer and the executing organization.
One of the biggest problems associated with scope management is to manage the scope creep. Change being a constant, minimizing the effect of changes in the scope is a major concern. The scope can obviously affect the scope. How does one manage scope for the least effect on the time and cost budget? Scope management starts with requirements gathering, followed by defining the scope. To ensure that the initial definition of what's to be done is accurate, the project scope needs to be broken down to as many details as possible. That ensures two things. One, the work required is defined completely and the corresponding execution time estimate is accurate. The detailed list of work is known as the work breakdown structure or the WBS. A dictionary (WBS dictionary) that may define further details is also associated with the WBS. A scope baseline is defined by the WBS and the associated WBS dictionary. Scope management also must include mechanisms to control scope creep. All the planning of a project is based on this scope baseline, and thus the plans can get messed up if the original scope does not remain well controlled.
How does the WBS affect time estimates of activities in a Project? Activities required for a project, and sub-activities required for each are defined in the WBS. The breakdown needs to go down to details such that, the activity is completely defined. No further simplification is called for. WBS dictionary contains additional details of each task. These details help arrive at effort estimate and their time estimates quite accurately. Dependencies between activities are also all spelt out in these documents.
Sometimes changes are inevitable. What one needs to watch out for, is that the changes do not cause uncontrolled consequences. How can change control be managed? Everything being interlinked, all the effects and changes necessary in project documents and plans should be updated systematically. An integrated change control process can ensure this systematic change on all the documents/plans. Document changes are made only when the change requests are approved by a review board with sufficient authority.
How does one define a milestone? Milestone is a marker on the project time schedule. This marks the point at which some clearly defined objective; a part of the expected results or services are achieved. Achievement of these milestones gives the project team a good feel of how much of the project, goals have been achieved.

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