Saturday, July 22, 2017

Monthly Archives: February 2015

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What is Quality?

Quality is a degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfil requirements. Essentially, a stakeholder has requirements and the degree to which we fulfil those requirements defines the quality for the customer. Quality gurus have defined quality as:

  • Philip Crosby says quality is: “Conformance of requirements of the customer.

  • According to W. Edwards Deming, quality is: “A predictable degree of uniformity and dependability, at low cost and suited to the market.”
  • Joseph Juran is of the view that “Quality is the fitness for use.”

Note: Often the names of those who have proposed any particular statement or term related to Project Management are asked in PMP examination. The question could also be put the other way round.

Project Quality Management

The modern Project Quality Management is based on ISO (International Organization for Standardization) quality standards. Quality Management today complements Project Management. Both the disciplines recognize the importance of the following five elements:

  1. Customer Satisfaction – Understanding, evaluating, defining and managing expectations so that the customer requirements are met. This requires a combination of conformance to requirements and fitness for use.
  2. Prevention over Inspection – One of the fundamental tenets of modern quality management states that quality is planned, designed and built in – not inspected in. The cost of preventing mistakes is generally much less than the cost of correcting them when they are found by inspection.
  3. Continuous Improvement – The PDCA Cycle is the basis for quality improvement. The concept of PDCA or Plan-Do-Check-Act was pioneered by Shewhart and was later modified by Deming. It is one of the basic tenets that form a basis for Initiation, Planning, Execution, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing; thereby enabling continuous improvement.
  4. Management Responsibility – Quality requirements or quality importance comes from the top. Though, the participation of all the project team members leads to the success of a project, but when it comes to providing the required resources for success, it remains the responsibility of the management. Just delegating responsibility to the project team is not sufficient. The management needs to provide appropriate resources to perform quality-related activities.
  5. Cost of Quality – Cost of quality basically, is the total cost of conformance + cost of non-conformance. There are different cost elements that form cost of conformance and non-conformance.

Perform Quality Control

It is the process of monitoring and recording results of executing the quality activities to assess performance and recommend necessary changes. It is performed throughout the life of a project. Quality Control requires the project manager or another qualified person to monitor and measure project results to determine whether or not they are up to the quality standards. In case of non-conformance, the root cause analysis is done and appropriate action is taken. The project team should have some understanding of statistical calculations. Here are a few terms related to Quality Control that the quality team must be able to differentiate between:

Tolerances – specified ranges of acceptable results

Control Limits – thresholds, which can indicate if the process is out of control

Usually the control limits are set below the tolerance levels. Let’s say, the tolerance level of a customer is +/- 15% of the cost, the upper and lower control limit can be kept as +/- 10%.

Prevention – keeping errors out of the process

Inspection – keeping errors out of the hands of customers.

Both are important and need to be performed. Prevention, of course gives better results as with inspection those errors would not come out, and also, it saves a lot of scrap work and rework related time and cost.

Attribute Sampling – the result either conforms (binary) or does not conform

Variable Sampling – the result is rated on a continuous scale that measures the degree of conformity.

Quality Control – Tools and Techniques

Control Charts – They illustrate the performance of a project over time. They map the results of inspections against a chart. Outer limits are set by customer requirements and within them are upper and lower control limits. Setting these limits helps in managing customer expectations with respect to quality requirements. Upper Control Limit (UCL) is generally set at +3 or +6 Sigma, while Lower Control Limit (LCL) is set at -3 or -6 Sigma.

Cost of Quality

Cost of Quality, as defined above, comprises Cost of Conformance and Cost of Non-conformance. Cost of Non-conformance is usually higher than Cost of Conformance and lays more adverse effect on a project.

Cost of Conformance

It is the money spent during the project to prevent the failures. Following are some of the different activities, which add up to the Cost of Conformance:

  • Quality Planning
  • Process Control
  • Quality Control
  • Design Validation
  • Process Validation
  • Test and Evaluation
  • Quality Audits
  • Field Testing
  • Training

Cost of Non-conformance

Cost of Non-conformance is the cost that is incurred during or after the project as a result of failures. The different activities that lead to Cost of Non-conformance are:

  • Rework
  • Defect repairs
  • Additional inventory
  • Corrective actions
  • Warranty repairs or services
  • Complaint handling
  • Liability
  • Scrap
  • Product recalls

The Conformance costs can be further categorized as Prevention Costs (costs involved in building a quality product) and Appraisal Costs (cost for assessing quality), the Non-conformance costs can be further categorized as Internal Failure Costs (failures found by project team) and External Failure Costs (failures found by customers).


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Understanding the development of a project management plan

To develop a project management plan it is important to understand that the very term initiates the planning process of the project which simply means that, the project management plan is a part of the planning process. There are certain inputs, tools and output available for our understanding of the process. Under inputs, there is the project charter. Then you have the enterprise environmental factors and organizational process asset. These factors become crucial in the process. In the next category of tools and techniques, expert judgement and facilitation techniques remain the same.

A project communication plan results into an output of communication management plan, similarly develop project management plan results into an output of project management plan. The emphasis on various inputs and outputs will enable you to co-relate why the process is needed and what the process is all about. This understanding will help in excelling PMP® exams with sheer assurance.

What is a Project Management Plan?

A project management plan very clearly defines how the project will be done and how it can be executed, monitored, controlled and closed. It’s a plan on how to manage, coordinate and integrate all the different knowledge areas and processes within a project.

In order to create a project management plan there are different outputs which are a collection of subsidiary project plans. They are namely,

  • Scope Management Plan– A Scope management plan defines how the project will be planned, managed and controlled.
  • Requirement Management Plan– It defines how the project requirements will be defined, gathered and managed.
  • Schedule Management Plan– It defines how the project schedule will be created and managed.
  • Cost Management Plan– It details how the project cost will be planned for, estimated, budgeted and then monitored and controlled.
  • Quality Management Plan– This defines what quality means to the project and it how it can achieve the desired quality.
  • Process Improvement Plan– It aims to eliminate non-added value activity, eliminate waste and how there can be improvements in terms of execution and management.
  • Human Resource Plan– It defines how the project team members will be brought on the project,managed and released from the project. It also defines team training, safety issues, roles and how the project’s reward and recognition system will operate
  • Communication Management Plan-This defines who will get what information, and in what modality the communication will take place.
  • Risk Management Plan-It is an uncertain event or condition that may affect the project’s outcome. It defines how the project will manage risk.
  • Procurement Management Plan-It controls how the project will be allowed to contract goods and services.
  • Change Management Plan– It is part of the control scope process which details the procedures for entertaining change requests and how they are managed and controlled.
  • Configuration management plan-This defines how changes to the features and functions of the project deliverable, the product scope may enter the project.
  • Staffing Management Plan-This specifically addresses how human resource requirements will be met in the project. It can address staffing, procurement of resources, etc.
  • Risk response plan– It defines the risk responses that are to be used in the project for both positive and negative risks.
  • Milestone list– It details the project mile stone and their attributes.
  • Resource calendar– It defines when people, facilities and equipment are available to contribute to the project.
  • Cost baseline– It is the aggregated cost of all the work packages with a project.
  • Quality baseline– It documents the quality objectives of the project including metrics for stakeholder acceptance.
  • Scope baseline– This is a blend of 3 project documents- Project scope statement, the WBS, WBS dictionary.
  • Risk register– This is a centralized database consisting of outcome of all the other risk management process.
  • Issue log– This is a log that has issues registered by the issue owner along with a deadline to resolve. In time, the outcome is also updated.
  • Assumption log– An assumption is believed to be true but it hasn’t been proved yet.
  • Change log– It has project changes recorded in the log. Time, cost and risk details of each change is also entered in the log.

In order to carry out any kind of project, it is crucial to understand the above mentioned plans as these ultimately play a role in different areas of the project.


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What is Project Management Office?

PMO (Project Management Office) is a group of people who own the project management process of an organization as defined by PMP.

  • They have the right to change anything in the project management process.
  • They train the project managers and handhold to them the process of implementation.
  • They are the people who ensure that project managers are following the process, for which they perform audit from time to time.
  • They are supposed to report directly to the executive board members of an organization and tell them how well the projects are being executed.

Officially, a PMO head is the person, to whom both program and project managers finally report. He is not the one who creates some presentations, goes to different project managers, gets their project plans and creates a PPT out of it, or an excel presentation or report out of it. PMOs are not the ones, who are responsible for making sure that the vendors’ invoices are being paid and their organization’s invoices are being sent to the customers in time; nor are they the people who look into whether the tickets are done for the resources in the project that they are doing. Those are not the tasks of Project Management Office. Those are project admin station activities that have nothing to do with PMO as per PMI.

Definition of PMO

It is an organizational body or entity, assigned with various responsibilities related to the centralized and coordinated management of those projects that are in its domain.

The projects supported or managed may not be related, other than being managed together. Project Management Office can exist in all the three levels. There can be a Project Management Office that takes care of the Project Management part of it; there can be a Program Management Office, which will do the same thing, but at a higher level, i.e., at the program level; and there can also be Portfolio Management Office, which manages portfolios or is the owner of the Portfolio Management process at a higher level. Now, it can be a single organization playing all the three roles.

The primary function of PMO is to support the project managers in a variety of ways, which may include, but is not limited to:

  • Managing shared resources across the projects administered
  • Identifying and developing project management methodology, best practices and standards
  • Coaching, mentoring, training, and oversight
  • Monitoring compliance with PM standards, policies, procedures and templates
  • Developing and managing project policies, procedures, templates and other shared documentation
  • Coordinating communication across projects

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PMBOK Guide is a “distilled version” of Project Management body of knowledge and it coexists with the corresponding application area knowledge, general management skills and interpersonal skills.

PMBOK guide is a standard, which does not talk about a particular methodology, like Agile or PRINCE2 and so on. It gives a slightly higher level overview of Project Management, in which it proposes 47 processes, which are supposed to be the best practices in Project Management that are needed to be applied for the project to be successful.

The PMBOK Guide has been published by PMI and it takes inputs from practitioners and academics.

As mentioned above, PMBOK Guide is a distilled version, and the important thing that it has put through is, there is an overlap between the application area knowledge, general management skills and interpersonal skills. It implies that they are not exclusive to each other, or are not standing alone, instead they intersect each other.

The PMBOK Guide has been organized into 3 sections, which are:

1. The Project Management Framework

  • Introduction
  • Organizational Influence and Project Life Cycle

2. The standard for Project Management of a Project

  • Project Management Process Groups (includes 5 process groups)
  • Project Management processes for a project (47 processes)

3. The Project Management Knowledge Areas

  • 10 Distinctive Knowledge Areas

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Earned Value Analysis (EVA) is one of the key tools and techniques used in Project Management, to have an understanding of how the project is progressing. EVA implies gauging the progress based on earnings or money. Both, schedule and cost are calculated on the basis of EVA.

Features of EVA

  • Earned Value Analysis is an objective method to measure project performance in terms of scope, time and cost.
  • EVA metrics are used to measure project health and project performance.
  • Earned Value Analysis is a quantitative technique for assessing progress as the software project team moves through the work tasks, allocated to the Project Schedule.
  • EVA provides a common value scale for every project task.
  • Total hours to complete the project are estimated and every task is given an Earned Value, based on its estimated (%) of the total.
  • Earned Value is a measure of ‘Progress’ to assess ‘Percentage of Completeness’

Need for EVA

  • EVA provides different measures of progress for different types of tasks. It is the single way for measuring everything in a project.
  • Provides an ‘Early Warning’ signal for prompt corrective action. The types of signals can be the following:

a)   Bad news does not age well – Holding on to the bad news does not help. The project manager needs to take an immediate action.

b)   Still time to recover – In case, the project is not going as per schedule and may get delayed, the situation is needed to be taken care of by finding out the reasons that are causing delay and taking the required corrective action.

c)   Timely request for additional funds – While there is time to recover, the need for additional resources or funds can be escalated with an early warning.

  • It allows ‘rolling up’ the progress of many tasks into an overall project status.
  • It provides with a uniform unit of measure (dollars or work-hours) for the progress.

Key Elements of EVA

  • Planned Value (PV) – The approved cost baseline for the work package. It was earlier known as Budgeted Cost of Work Scheduled (BCWS).
  • Earned Value (EV) – The budgeted value of the completed work packages. It used to be known as Budgeted Cost of Work Performance at a specified point (BCWP).
  • Actual Cost (AC) – The actual cost incurred during the execution of work packages up to a specified point in time. It was previously called Actual Cost of Work Performed (ACWP).

Note: In PMP®  exam, the terms used can be either PV, EV and AC or BSWS, BCWP and ACWP.