Project Management Questions

Project Management 1. Define a) Project b) Project Management c) Process d) Resources e) Project Cost . Project Clear and accurate definition of a project is one of the most important actions you can take to ensure the project’s success. The clearer the target the more likely you are to hit it. Defining a project is a process of selection and reduction of the ideas and perspectives of those involved into a set of clearly defined objectives, key success criteria and evaluated risks. This definition process should culminate in the production of a Project Definition document, sometimes called a Project Charter.

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The Project Definition document should be approved and issued by a manager with the authority to apply organisational resources to the project activities. Therefore, the seniority of the manager or the management team will be commensurate with the size, cost and business value of the project. As a minimum, the Project Definition should include a statement of the business need that the project seeks to address and the description of the product, service or deliverable business objectives that will be its output.

When a project is performed under a contract between seller and buyer, the signed contract may well serve as the project charter for the seller. However this may not necessarily be the case for the buyer whose project may include more than the product or service purchase under the contract. The way to define a project is to ask a standard set of questions of yourself (as project leader) the project team, colleagues with particular expertise and senior managers. The questions fall into the categories given below. Project management

Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives. A project is a finite endeavor (having specific start and completion dates) undertaken to create a unique product or service which brings about beneficial change or added value. This finite characteristic of projects stands in contrast to processes, or operations, which are permanent or semi-permanent functional work to repetitively produce the same product or service.

In practice, the management of these two systems is often found to be quite different, and as such requires the development of distinct technical skills and the adoption of separate management. Project Management Processes Each project process describes the procedures you would take as a Project Manager, to manage an element of the project. For instance, the Risk Management Process will tell you how to identify, review, mitigate and monitor project risks more effectively. It also describes the roles and responsibilities of each team member, when taking part in project risk management.

Project Cost To develop an approximation of a project cost depends on several variables including: resources, work packages such as labor rates and mitigating or controlling influencing factors that create cost variances tools used in cost are, risk management, cost contingency),cost escalation, and indirect costs . But beyond this basic accounting approach to fixed and variable costs, the economic cost that must be considered includes worker skill and productivity which is calculated using various project cost estimate tools.

This is important when companies hire temporary or contract employees or outsource work. 2. Write a detailed note on project planning, scoping, planning tools and estimation. Project Planning In this phase the team decides how the project will be done: by whom, for how much money, how long. An output from this phase is the project plan, which is approved by the sponsor, customer, and other key stakeholders (people or groups affected by the project). There are three sections to each plan: • Scope – what will be produced and we break that down into subparts. Assurance – how to assure that the project will be successful by looking at risk and reviews and approvals. • Resources – who and how much – how much time, effort and money. Here are the steps to planning: 1. Break-down project phases into tasks which can be assigned to individuals 2. Specify the calendar for resources and assign resources to tasks 3. Estimate task durations — the length of time to complete the task. (Zero duration tasks automatically become Milestones) 4. Specify inflexible start or finish date constraints, if any. 5. Map predecessor dependencies & start date constraints o specify extent of mutual overlap or inactive lag time dalay among tasks 6. Balance overload and underload conflicts Scoping: Requirements specified to achieve the end result. The overall definition of what the project is supposed to accomplish, and a specific description of what the end result should be or accomplish. A major component of scope is the quality of the final product. The amount of time put into individual tasks determines the overall quality of the project. Some tasks may require a given amount of time to complete adequately, but given more time could be completed exceptionally.

Over the course of a large project, quality can have a significant impact on time and cost (or vice versa). Together, these three constraints have given rise to the phrase “On Time, On Spec, On Budget. ” In this case, the term “scope” is substituted with “spec(ification). ” 3. Explain the various phases in project management life cycle? Answer: This is the initial phase of any project. In this phase information is collected from the customer pertaining to the project and the requirements are analyzed. The entire project has to be planned and it should be done in a strategic manner.

The project manager conducts the analysis of the problem and submits a detailed report to the top project justification, details on what the problem is a method of solving the problem, list of the objectives to be achieved, project budget and the success rate of completing the project. The report must also contain information and the project feasibility, and the risks involved in the project. Project management life cycle is the integrated part of management. It is attach with project responsibility or failure of a project. For the MBA assignments it is the most valuable chapter in production management.

The important tasks of this phase are as follows: Specification Requirements Analysis (SRA): It has to be conducted to determine the essential requirements of a project in order to achieve the target. Feasibility study: To analyze whether the project is technically, economically and practically feasible to be undertaken. Trade off analysis: To understand and examine the various alternatives which could be considered. Estimation: To estimate the project cost, effort requires for the project and functionality of various process in the project.

System design: Choose a general design that can fusil the requirements. Project evolution: Evaluate the project in terms of expected profit, cost and risks involved marketing phase. A project proposal is prepared by a group of people including the project manager. This proposal has to contain the strategies adopted to market the product to the customers. Design phase: This phase involves the study of inputs and outputs of the various project stages. Execution phase: In this phase the project manager and the teams members work on the project objectives as per the plan.

At every stage during the execution reports are prepared. Control – Inspecting, Testing and Delivery phase during this phase. The project team works under the guidance of the project manager. The project manager has to ensure that the team working under his, implements the project designs accurately, the project manager has to ensure ways of managing the customer, perform quality control work. Closure and post completion analysis phase upon satisfactory completion and delivery of the intended product or service the staff performance has to be evaluated.

Document the lessons from the project. Prepare the reports on project feedback analysis followed by the project execution report. The phase which involve in the above are: The preparation stage involves the preparation and approval of project outline, project plan and project budget. The next stage involves selecting and briefing the project team about the proposals followed by discussions on the roles and responsibility of the project member and the organization. The project management life cycle: A Life cycle of a project consists of the following:

Understanding the scope of the project Establishing objectives of the project Formulating and planning various activities Project execution and Monitor and control the project resources 4. Explain the various concept of managing conflicts and maintaining quality. The role of conflict in work teams is determined by the manner in which it is managed. Conflict is a driving force of change that can result in improved decision-making processes and progressive team development. However, teams must learn to be confrontational without destroying the team process.

Teams are able to handle conflict and perform at a high level by following a framework of communication needed for managing conflict constructively. Teams capable of mediating their own conflicts, improve both productivity and member relationships. Managing Conflict in Work Teams Teams are typically made up of a diverse group of individuals; each member possessing different capabilities and skills. This element is what makes the use of teams so advantageous; however, diversity can also create conflict. Therefore, it is important for teams to understand the dynamics of conflict and to regulate its natural flow.

The following discussion presents several conflict resolution methods and skills for managing team conflict, while generating team growth, development, and an increased quality of decision-making (Rayeski & Bryant, 1994). Contrary to the common belief that conflict is limited to a disruptive effect, a number of researchers acknowledge the substantial benefits of conflict to team processes (for example, McDaniel, Littlejohn, & Domenici, 1998; Sessa, 1996). Conflict is a driving force of change (McDaniel et al. , 1998).

When managed correctly, conflict produces the following results: new ideas for changing organizational processes, solving of continuous problems, a chance for workers to expand their capabilities, and the introduction of creativity into thoughts about organizational problems (Bowditch & Buono, 1997). Unfortunately, these positive outcomes are frequently unattainable due to uneducated, reactionary efforts to eliminate the source of conflict (Sessa, 1996). The consequences of poorly handled team conflict such as this are a lowering of team energy, disruption of healthy relationships, and the prevention of job accomplishment.

Additionally, there is an avoidance of the disputed subject and the creation of an environment of fear (Rayeski & Bryant, 1994). Too often, conflict is smoothed over by a team leader and is not resolved; the end result is a building up of resentment between teammembers that deteriorates the team’s performance level (Wisinski, 1995). Conflict as a Measure of Team Development The ability of a team to resolve conflict is a valid measure of team development. Conflict and chaos are central elements to the development of teams; therefore, conflict is an appropriate indicator of team growth.

Many teams function in unstable environments, plagued with unanticipated problems. Therefore, there is a strong need for teams to progressively confront conflict in order to extend team growth beyond the early developmental phases (Drinka, 1994). Drinka (1994) identifies the following commonly used styles of conflict resolution: * Coercing is a process in which groups use confrontational tactics, such as argument, use of authority, or threat, to achieve the goals of each group regardless of the expense paid by the other. Withdrawal is the process by which both parties involved in a disagreement postpone or ignore the issue causing the conflict. * Negotiation is the process by which both groups selectively ignore certain interests in order to reach an agreement, thus achieving partial satisfaction for each side. * Accommodation is the process by which one group neglects its own interests by satisfying the needs of the other group involved. * Collaboration is the process by which each party attempts to reach mutual satisfaction by collectively confronting the conflict, recognizing the concerns of each group, and problem-solving.

Intertwined with the use of these conflict resolution styles, Drinka’s model of team development displays the dynamic changes of conflict through the following developmental phases: forming, norming, confronting, and performing. The forming phase consists of the superficial sharing of names and background information among team members. In this stage, members are unsure of team purposes and are guarded. Conflict is neither discussed, nor addressed. Typically, this is a stage where accommodation is overused, as members size one another up and hesitate to assume strong positioning in the team (Drinka, 1994).

During the norming stage, members address initial conflicts that grow out of a lack of understanding of team goals. Procedures and policies are made in writing. Negotiation is used in the norming stage to help aid in establishing the team’s written guidelines. Having a written set of rules and policies keeps situations from erupting into disagreements. Team members refer to these policies as a way of avoiding open conflict. Frustration builds during the advanced stages of the norming phase. At this point, members begin to coerce others in an attempt to retain their power within the team.

By contrast, some individuals revert to withdrawal tactics as a way of holding onto their power (Drinka, 1994). Maintaining quality An ideal quality control program might test all materials and work on a particular facility. For example, non-destructive techniques such as x-ray inspection of welds can be used throughout a facility. An on-site inspector can witness the appropriateness and adequacy of construction methods at all times. Even better, individual craftsmen can perform continuing inspection of materials and their own work.

Exhaustive or 100% testing of all materials and work by inspectors can be exceedingly expensive, however. In many instances, testing requires the destruction of a material sample, so exhaustive testing is not even possible. As a result, small samples are used to establish the basis of accepting or rejecting a particular work item or shipment of materials. Statistical methods are used to interpret the results of test on a small sample to reach a conclusion concerning the acceptability of an entire lot or batch of materials or work products.

The use of statistics is essential in interpreting the results of testing on a small sample. Without adequate interpretation, small sample testing results can be quite misleading. As an example, suppose that there are ten defective pieces of material in a lot of one hundred. In taking a sample of five pieces, the inspector might not find any defective pieces or might have all sample pieces defective. Drawing a direct inference that none or all pieces in the population are defective on the basis of these samples would be incorrect.

Due to this random nature of the sample selection process, testing results can vary substantially. It is only with statistical methods that issues such as the chance of different levels of defective items in the full lot can be fully analyzed from a small sample test. There are two types of statistical sampling which are commonly used for the purpose of quality control in batches of work or materials: 1. The acceptance or rejection of a lot is based on the number of defective (bad) or nondefective (good) items in the sample. This is referred to as sampling by attributes. 2.

Instead of using defective and nondefective classifications for an item, a quantitative quality measure or the value of a measured variable is used as a quality indicator. This testing procedure is referred to as sampling by variables. 5. Write down the nine steps pertaining to the new horizons of project management . Project management is scientific and measurable. It may be true but does not make it opposite to art in all its naked form. Project management is an art and science of converting vision into reality and abstract into concrete. It is the over emphasis of scientific side of project management responsible for creating such havoc.

The following nine steps are suggestive measures to provide new dimensions to the management of projects. nine steps pertaining to the new horizons of project management . Step 1: Believing in discontinuity and not continuity with incremental improvements Continuity or the status quo is a function of quantum of changes. Incremental improvements are valid only when the rate of change is not excessive. Both the continuity and incremental improvements are linked with the rate of change and quantum. Beyond a threshold of rate of change, one cannot go with the continuity and incremental improvements.

The modern day Internet and technological based world has witnessed the unprecedented rate of change and explosion in the quantum of changes. It is this process which has resulted in making continuity theory as baseless. Continuity in principle is to preserve the past where as discontinuity breaks the linkage with the past to the extent it can have fewer constraints to move into the future. There is no choice except to believe in discontinuity as only then mind and body is prepared to accept the unknowns and be ready to face it and control thereafter. Step2:

Owning the problems and sharing the solutions More one owns problem, more he becomes experienced. It is not the number of years of service one has performed for a company but how much number of problems was faced and owned is now becoming the benchmark to define an experienced person from inexperienced. The true spirit of entrepreneurial outlook is to own the problems and solve the same and in this process make Money. The fixed mould mentality is to empower the problems to be faced outside than oneself and get the credit for solutions. Step 3: Breaking the status quo mentality

No change means perpetuation of the Present into the Future. This is in contradiction to the nature as Future is not the extension of Present. Breaking the status quo mentality implies in taming the future as it is the future which becomes Present at some point of time. Focusing into Future and affecting the Present is antiestablishment and require concerted efforts to move out from the comfortable zones. Project managers can hardly afford to have status quo mentality as day in and day out they are involved in acting in present to affect Future.

At times, when we do not get away from the status quo mentality, contradictions fall apart everywhere in the project between the two types of group- the champions of future and those who believe in extending Present. Step 4: Stepping out of comfortable zone As apart of the step 3 and in a way extension of it, the comfortable zone is to dear to break and cross. Fear of uncertainties makes the comfortable zone more comfortable than if the fear did not exist. The project managers of tomorrow are those who have so called comfortable zone carve out from that area which conventionally is uncomfortable and that is the zone of uncertainties.

If we seek comforts in conquering the uncertainties with planning and indomitable spirit of winning, then we are able to provide project leadership and inspire the team members to plunge into risk taking. Step 5: Human Capital by passing Financial Capital While the agriculture society witnessed the Nature as the foremost, the 20th century saw the men-machine interaction as the key factor for the capital formation. 21st century in this Internet age is beginning to see the human capital surpassing the financial capital. Venture capitalists were all over the place to fund any idea, which they thought would create a brave new world.

Its consequent failure in the last couple of years could not be attributed to the over faith in Human capital but absence of effective filtering mechanism from good to bad idea. While Return On Investment (ROI) could be seen as financial driven phenomena, Return On Time Invested (ROTI) is basically based human efforts and its deployment. ROTI will be more meaningful to ROI in the context of new processes on their way to unfold in the beginning of 21st century. Step 6: Transform work culture from 5 to 7 dimensions Conventionally we all live in the conventional 5 dimensions of space i. e. X, Y and Z, Time and Mind.

We need to supplement on these 5 dimensions the additional 2 dimensions of Passion and Joy If we do what we want do then the gap between Wish and Reality is so little that one is in position to provide its very best. It is his/her added 2 dimensions, which make the total difference. The new miracles in project management will take place when we bring the work of joy like in the art domain of music and paintings in our project work. Step 7: Real number of encounters replacing number of years of experience The experience profile should be redefined by the number of encounters and problems faced instead of number of years.

The wisdom evolved based on encounters is far richer than accumulated simply by repeating the same encounters n number of times in one’s employee ship. The secret is to increase the encounters meaningful to ones own dream or passion profile. Step 8: Seeking meaning out of change Change is first degree. It is a must. Change can be threat or an opportunity. It depends how one looks at it. If change is resisted, it becomes all the more difficult to see the real outcome of the change as it is partly distorted. Project implies change and that too a temporary one. It is essential to make people to have a real communication about the change.

One of the major strategies to bring about a change is to communicate, communicate and communicate. Step 9: Detachment from the fruits of the results To act is within one’s control. To get the reward as a reaction to the action is not within one’s purview. Too much emphasis on that part, which is not with in our control, is a wasteful exercise instead concentrates on actions to the best of one’s ability. The results so arrived at must be analyzed from the cause and effect relationship and constant learning must be made out of all such actions or group of actions.

Attachment with the results of the actions often dilute one’s own energy and may shift one’s focus from the main road to its detour. Detachment from the results does not imply one should not demand or expect materialistic benefits, no, it only means that in case you do not get what you deserve, leave it and move forward rather than brooding over that part which is not within one’s control. The journey comes to a standstill if we get attached to the surroundings and to the results of the present beyond a small time frame. Project managers and team members are never stationary.

They must move on. In summary, the new discovery or dimensions in project management heavily depends on the human factor of breaking ceilings, getting motivated all the time, working with passion, detachment with the results rather than with the actions, human capital surpassing that of financial capital, breaking the status quo mentality, owning the problems and solutions and creating discontinuity. The journey has just begun and it must continue as in the human race, there is no finishing line. 6. Read the following case and answer the question given below:

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board approved last week additional funding for 10 foreign-assisted projects with P8. 2 billion in cost overruns. However, release of the funds is still subject to the results of a reevaluation of the projects, NEDA director for project monitoring Rolando Tungpalan said. The reevaluation will determine if the foreign-assisted projects remain viable and identify the cause of the cost overruns. The NEDA official said funding is needed since the projects are official development assistance (ODA) commitments.

Additional ODA funding for new projects could be hampered if the cost overruns are not addressed, he added. Cost overruns are additional expenses incurred by a project in the course of its implementation. Mr. Tungpalan said the 10 foreign- assisted projects had cost overruns ranging from 29% to 131% of their original cost. In last week’s NEDA Board meeting, representatives from various executive departments agreed to adopt a new framework for approving projects. Mr. Tungpalan said with the tight financial position of the National Government, the Board agreed to limit spending to priority projects.

He said the projects should fall under the poverty alleviation agenda together with that of agricultural modernization. Except for two projects, the rest of the ODA-funded projects are seen as viable, Mr. Tungpalan said. These are the Metro Manila (MM) Urban Transport Project, South Luzon Expressway Extension, EDSA-Shaw Interchange, Disaster Prevention and Road Rehabilitation Project, Rural Roads Network Development Project, President’s Bridge Program, MM Flood Control Project, and the Lower Agusan Development Project. The odd men out are the Small Water Impounding Management Project and the Pampanga Delta Development Project.

Mr. Tungpalan said release of the funds will depend on the approval of the Cabinet Investment Coordinating Committee (ICC). A NEDA Board report said that with most of the cost overrun projects under the jurisdiction of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), the agency has been asked to conduct a comprehensive review of its projects. Mr. Tungpalan said the ICC has instructed the DPWH to submit right-of-way acquisition and financing plans for its projects, noting that right-of-way acquisition costs were the largest factor contributing to the cost overruns.

Aside from this, it noted implementing agencies approve contracts that are higher than the appraised value. The NEDA Board noted that private contractors do not include additional works or that designs in their project site are sometimes neglected during the project estimates. These conditions add to costs once the project is under way. Because of this, the ICC has directed the DPWH to periodically review and update the cost parameters of its projects. [Source : Proquest :Project with cost overruns get additional gov’t funding BusinessWorld. Manila: Oct 14, 1998. g. 1 Copyright Asia Intelligence Wire from FT Information Oct 14, 1998] Question : Bring out the essential characteristics of project management from the above case. Ans. essential characteristics of project management from the above case here are the some essential characteristics for the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Board approved last week additional funding for 10 foreign-assisted projects with P8. 2 billion in cost overruns– Some projects were reported to have encountered budget cover problems like Agrarian Reform

Communities, SZOPAD Social Fund (OPEC-assisted), Community-Based Resource Management, Local Government Finance and Development, Agno and Allied Rivers Rehabilitation, Early Childhood and Development, among others. In particular, these projects either have unprogrammed budgets in the GAA or have physical accomplishments that exceeded the available budget for the year. In the case of DOTC, the actual budget requirement of all its ongoing projects over the medium term appears to far exceed the budget allocation over the same period. For CY 2002, its allocation was only P5. billion as compared to its requirement of P12. 7 billion for its ongoing projects Direct payments became a serious issue in 2002 because of the fiscal deficit. Direct payments can take place directly between the creditors and the contractors, once supply or civil works contracts have been entered into, upon the request of implementing agencies. Direct payments are a possible source of unprogrammed expenditures NG grants and relending to LGUs, supported by ODA loans, through the MDFO require budget cover in the current budgeting system.

Because of the fiscal deficit, even relending to LGUs can be constrained by the NG budget Procurement. Procurement remains a major bottleneck in project implementation. A quick review of timelines of procurement milestones was conducted for projects with ongoing procurement for the year. Of the 36 civil works, 15 consulting services and 26 goods contract packages reviewed (with major milestones in 2002 – start of advertisement to issuance of notice to proceed), it may be noted that procurement could take as long as about 34 months for consulting services, Right-of-way acquisition and resettlement.

Right-of-way acquisition can be delayed because of budget non-availability, the lengthy processes of acquisition and relocation – including negotiations, legal procedures and documentation requirements despite RA 9874, and in certain cases, public opposition. Additional difficulties were noted in the case of ADB-funded projects where some differences in procedure on land valuation have been noted. Changes in Scope and Increases in Costs. Agencies should be reminded to seek ICC clearance for changes in scope, especially those changes that impact on the fiscal position of the government.

In the case of civil works contracts, delays were observed in various stages. From start of tender to submission of bids, major factors are: differences between GOP and the funding institutions on the pre-qualification criteria and the results of pre-qualification. From submission of bids to completion of evaluation, major factor is complexity of project. From completion of evaluation of bids to the award of contract and issuance of NTPs, major factors are: filing of complaints or court cases by the losing bidders, non-concurrence of funding institutions, and changes in management in the implementing agencies.

In general, the procurement process becomes protracted for the following reasons: failure of bidding when bids are non-responsive, complaints of losing bidders, impasse in negotiations, conflict in procurement guidelines of GOP and the financing source, court-related issues, and non-concurrence of funding institution at different stages of the bidding, and changes in leadership in a number of implementing agencies (e. g. , in DPWH, DepEd, DENR, DOTC and TESDA) which affected procurement when new management exercised due diligence and required reviews of previous decisions.

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