Practical Tips for Passing the PMP Exam

How to Maximize Your Time Before, During and After the PMP Exam


These are practical tips based on the things I know I did right or wish I had done instead to breeze through the PMP exam.

 

Before the exam

 
Visit the testing site at least a week before the exam

 

               Locate the site in Google Maps and go to the site to familiarize yourself with commuting or driving directions and how much time it takes to get to the venue. It’s better to go the same time that you’ll have your exam to simulate traffic conditions.

 

Go to the office, introduce yourself and explain that you are scheduled to take the exam on so and so date and confirm that you have all the documents and IDs they require to take the exam. This gives you peace of mind that you’ll be allowed in without a hitch.

 

Daily Brain Dump exercise

 

Practice writing your brain dump / cheat sheet / formula sheet as fast as possible every morning. 

 

Eat healthy and exercise… and take memory vitamins (it helps!)

I took B-Complex vitamins while reviewing and it helped me have better focus and longer stamina watching training videos and taking notes. I also ate healthy by loading up on fruits, vegetables, lentils and quinoa (cheap in South America!) and avoided alcohol and coffee. I practiced yoga and ran by the beach every morning to clear my head. Now these tip isn’t just applicable to before taking the exam but is a general tip to live a “wellthy” life.

 

Eat protein-packed meal right before the exam

Protein digests longer and makes you feel full longer, which you need for a four-hour exam. What I ate for breakfast:

 

Two hardboiled eggs

Grilled chicken breast 

Yellow lentils

Yogurt with chia seeds 

 

During the Exam

 

Fast during the exam

 

Fasting has been touted to have health benefits but you’re not going to do this for health reasons. You’re doing it for efficiency. Why? Because you have to go outside the testing area to eat. And you have to sign out. Then before going back in, you need to get inspected and sign back in. Every second count in this exam and you don’t want to waste your precious minutes doing this.

 

Is it your first time to fast? Don’t worry, four hours might seem too long to skip a meal but I assure you that you won’t even notice the time. The exam is 200-question long and you’ll scrambling to finish answering and reviewing it within the four hours allotted.

 

 

 

 

Avoid bathroom breaks

 

Same reasoning as tip 1. Pee before the exam and do not take any more liquids a full hour before the exam.

Do not spend too much time on one question

If you are unsure of the answer, mark the question for review and move on. Make sure you have enough time after the 200 questions to review these items you marked.

 

Allot stretching exercise after every 50 questions

 

Stand up and stretch your neck, arms, legs, even your eye sockets. Sitting in front of your computer for long periods of time is tiring. Exercising periodically during the exam will help blood circulation and make you feel re-energized and awake.

 

Allot 30 minutes for review

 

After going through all 200 questions, go through all questions you marked for review. If still unsure, do the process of elimination and mark the best answer. Do not leave any question unanswered. There are no penalties for wrong answers.

 

After the exam

 

Go out and celebrate with family and friends

 

The exam site I chose was in IBEU in Rio De Janeiro, right in front of beautiful Copacabana Beach.

So on the day of the exam, I convinced myself that I WILL be PMP certified at the end of the day and to commit to that event (I utilized the law of attraction here), I packed a swimsuit and a picnic basket and told myself I was going to head straight to Copacabana Beach to swim, eat and have a Caipirinha to celebrate my success.

 

And that’s exactly how things happened!

 

Announce on every social media that you got your PMP

 

Getting a certification in PMP is no easy feat so passing the exam gives you complete bragging rights to post it in every social media you use. I spent the rest of the day in Copacabana beach, posting photos of myself on Facebook in a neon bikini, caipirinha in one hand and my PMP exam results (Above Target in all 5 Domains!) in the other. It was a perfect day!  

 
Update your CV, Resume, and Linkedin Profile 

 

Getting PMP certified means you have achieved a great milestone in your career as a project management professional. This means you have proven your expertise in this profession. An important impact of having PMP suffixed to your name is being able to get recognized by the industry as a competent project manager and the ability to command a higher salary. Therefore, you should update your CV and Linkedin profile with your PMP certification number as soon as you have it!

 

“In 2014 I was an accidental project manager. Then I focused all my efforts to becoming PMP certified to beat the March 15 deadline.”

Get Above Target in all 5 Domains

Be PMP Certified in 60 Days

 

I started as an accidental project manager in 2014. I was working on several large-scale projects as lead business analyst and my PM was overloaded so I took initiative and managed some of her projects. After that, I realized I loved doing project management more than business analysis and so I continued taking over more projects, wearing two hats of business analyst and project manager at once.

Fast forward to 2018, I was managing remote projects while doing a quasi-sabbatical trip in South America when I found out that PMI was shifting to the PMBOK 6th edition on March 15. I had to be PMP certified before the cut-off date otherwise I had to pay one more time for the 6th ed of the book. Time was of the essence yet I didn’t want to throw my travel plans. So I planned my exam date and venue to coincide with my travel itinerary.

 

While in Bolivia in January, I booked my exam in Rio De Janeiro for February 6, the week of the Carnival. I studied during the day and partied during the night. It was the most fun I’ve had in ages, being able to study, pass the exam and get Above Target in all 5 Knowledge Areas while enjoying the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro!

 

Here’s the low-down on how I achieved this feat:

 

Become a PMI member and register for an exam date

 

Begin with the end in mind. Begin with an end date when you will begin your career as a PMP certified project manager. I registered two months ahead of my examination date, which I think just gives you ample time to prepare for the exam. It’s important to register right away because it gives you pressure to study.

 

Commit to a study plan

 

I was on a sabbatical leave doing travel and photography when I took my exam. I was in Rio de Janeiro during the festival and everybody was in party mode but I had to be in study mode. So what’s a traveler to do when she has to study during Carnival? Study during the day and party at night! I studied from 1pm to 5pm daily and then went out and had fun (but not too much fun) in the evening. I made sure to go home Cinderella fashion, though, so I could study again the next day.

 

Study during the hours of your exam

 

The reason I studied from 1pm to 5 pm is because my exam was scheduled during that period. Studying during your examination hours helps train your brain to be active for that duration.

 

Dump Your Brain Daily

 

I prepared my Brain Dump sheet which is composed of the 47 processes for all knowledge areas across the five domains plus formulas such as EVM (Earned Value Management). Now most people stop at this but I went one step further. To the left side of the processes, I wrote in the tiniest handwriting I could manage, important inputs. Then to the right side of the processes, I wrote the important outputs. Doing so made me see “patterns” or logical flows of the entire project management process.

 

Target 90% in simulation exams

 

I took a lot of short exams and about five 200-question simulation exams during the second month. After each exam, I reviewed those I answered incorrectly and took note of why I made a mistake. I took so many exams that I became an expert exam taker. During the last 10 days of review, I was consistently getting scores above 90 and it boosted my confidence for the exam day.

 

Do these and you shall soon be PMP Certified in 60 days ( or less). Can you envision the word PMP suffixed to your last name yet? ur last name! Good luck! 

 

 

 

 

Applying Project Management in Day-to-Day Situations

 

Project Management in Real Life Situations

 

Project endeavors vary greatly from one to another depending on several factors such as the industry it operates in, duration, number of phases, risks involved, methodology and resources necessary (both human and financial) to accomplish its objectives. A project’s magnitude in particular can be described as a broad array or spectrum and is influenced by the same multitude of factors enumerated. Regardless of its nature and scale, however, all projects share one common characteristic and that a project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service or result (A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide) 5th Ed, 2013). Moreover, the ten principles of project management may be generally applied to all projects regardless of a project’s industry and complexity. This article will talk about project management in real life situations.

Companies may employ different criteria for categorizing projects into small, medium and large-scale buckets. To generate a stark contrast between the two projects and engender an interesting discussion, the following characteristics shall be outlined for small-scale and large-scale projects.

A small-scale project, on one hand, shall be defined as a single-phase project that is completed in less than a year, having a low risk profile (companies will also have different methods for identifying and calculating risks), requiring less than 10 human resources, with a flat organizational structure and an investment amount of less than $100,000 USD.

A large-scale project, on the other hand, shall be described here as a multi-phase project that could be part of a portfolio or program, takes more than a year to be completed, having a high risk profile, requiring twenty or more human resources on the team, a multi-level organizational structure (i.e., involves a program and portfolio manager on the organizational chart) and an investment amount of more than $ 1M USD.

For discussion purposes, a condominium renovation project completed in 2017 (Jazz Project) by a freelance team will be used as an example of a small-scale project throughout this paper. The Jazz Project involved the renovation and interior design of a one-bedroom condominium unit in a central business district and encompassed carpentry, painting, tiling, electrical and furniture installation in the unit. It was three-month long in duration, had predictive activities and very few “known unknowns” and so was categorized as low risk, employed only 5 manpower (including the project manager) and was worth a one-time revenue of $ 20,000 USD.

On the large-scale end of the spectrum, an Information Technology project, the Cashman Decommission project shall be used as an example during the course of this discussion. This project comprised 1) the decommissioning of a legacy financial system, 2) migration to a consolidated and more state-of-art financial web-enabled platform and 3) included a total of nine subsidiary business units of a large multinational insurance company in the Asia Pacific region. The Cashman Decommission Project was executed in several overlapping phases, took more than three years to complete, was categorized as a high-profile and high-risk endeavor because of its magnitude and complexity, employed about fifty resources and answered to almost a hundred stakeholders from low-level subsidiary management in APAC to senior executives in its headquarter offices in New York. The company described is CMMI certified and the project was estimated at $ 3.0 M USD.

 

KNOWLEDGE AREA 1: Project Integration Management

 

The first knowledge area discussed in the PMBOK Guide is project integration management. Project integration management includes the processes and activities to identify, define, combine, unify, and coordinate the various processes and project management activities within the Project Management Process Groups. It includes making choices about resource allocation, making trade-offs among competing objectives and alternatives, and managing interdependencies among the project management Knowledge Areas (A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide) 5th Ed, 2013).  

Each Knowledge Area in the PMBOK contains processes that belong to one of five process groups. These process groups are Initiation, Planning, Executing, Monitoring and Controlling, and Closing.

Under the Project Integration Management knowledge area, the following processes are conducted in varying degrees of formality depending on the characteristics of the project.

Process Groups
Initiation Planning Execution Monitor & Control Closing
Develop Project Charter Develop Project Management Plan Direct And Manage Project Work Monitor and Control Project Work

Perform Integrated Change Control

Close Project or Phase

Table 1 Project Integration Management Processes

 

For a small-scale project like Jazz, the activities involved in integration management can be described as informal, high level and done in a rapid-fire manner.

First, a formal project charter under the project initiation process group was not necessary to initiate the project. The formal inputs to creating and approving a project charter such as a Statement of Work (SOW) and Business Case were not used to proceed with the project. To initiate the project, a concise agreement containing 1) the scope of work 2) CAD design was signed by both parties instead.

Secondly, an integrated project management plan was not required during its planning phase. As with majority of small-scale short-duration projects, more importance was placed on getting things done as expediently as possible over getting things formally written and documented.

Lastly, even though directing and executing together with monitoring and controlling takes the meat of the activities in Jazz Project, it lacks the formality and adherence to policies and procedures typical of large-scale projects. For example, a change in client requirement (a change in paint color) is done quickly without having the need to go through rigorous impact analysis and change control board approval since the impact of changes in small-scale projects is minimal.

On the other hand, the case of Cashman Decommissioning Project paints a totally different picture when it comes to Project Integration Knowledge area. For one, initiation phase followed a meticulous analysis and defense of the business case, an extensive documentation of Statement of Work and a lengthy review and approval process for budget allocation involving business experts. The Project Charter was a strict requirement prior to officially kicking off the project and it took several iterations of project proposal, review and approval before it was finally approved by the Committee.

Similar to the Project Charter’s process, the creation and baselining of the Project Management Plan was an arduous process. Each subsidiary plan was scrutinized to the smallest detail to ensure that no stone has been left unturned.

Directing and managing project task took on a formal structure, with every status logged in a Project Management Information System (PMIS), a tool used by the company to enable visibility of real-time status of the project to all stakeholders.

Managing changes is also a crucial task strictly observed under Monitoring and Controlling process group. All changes requested by the client had to go through the Change Control Board meetings that were held on a twice-weekly basis and were supported by a thorough impact analysis on schedule, budget, scope and impact to other projects under the same portfolio and program. Only approved changes were allowed to be executed by the project team and all changes were logged in a Change Log file, another mandated tool by the PMO to follow CMMI practice.

 

KNOWLEDGE AREA 2: Project Scope Management

 

PMBOK Guide 5th Edition defines project scope management as the processes required to ensure that the project includes all the work required, and only the work required, to complete the project successfully (A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide) 5th Ed, 2013).

Under the Project Scope Management knowledge area, the following table shows the processes conducted in varying degrees of adherence depending on the necessity of the project.

Process Groups
Initiation Planning Execution Monitor & Control Closing
  Plan scope management

Collect requirements

Define scope

Create WBS

 

  Validate scope

Control scope

 

Table 2 Project Scope Management Processes

 

Scope management planning in Jazz Project was done in a high level and cursory manner. Scope and requirements change management were included in the contract signed by the client but not as separate formal subsidiary plans.

However, focus was made on collecting requirements, defining scope and creating a work breakdown structure in the form of a CAD design, electrical layout and Bill of Materials. The process of planning for Jazz Project was quick but done in a meticulous manner through a series of meetings done with the client and with subject matter experts (i.e. electrical engineering for load requirements) and through document analysis (existing blueprint).

Under the Monitoring and Controlling process group, control of scope was done by the architect through site visits and inspection. Scope validation was done by the client through physical inspection of the condominium unit at scheduled intervals. Although done in a quick manner, monitoring and controlling of scope was done strictly to ensure it passes both client requirements and safety standards.

The Cashman Decommissioning on the other hand placed emphasis on planning and the requirements management plan underwent a formal creation and review process before being incorporated in the overall project management plan.

Secondly, the process of collecting requirements was also rigorous and lengthy, requiring the input of each stakeholder from all APAC business units involved. While the Jazz Project requirements gathering took the form of face-to-face meetings, requirements gathering in Cashman project took the form of surveys and email communication due to the large number of people and information involved. Meetings were also conducted over Skype conference calls since stakeholders were located in different countries.

Thirdly, process of monitoring and controlling scope was also strict and formal, and required variance analysis against the baselined requirements document per business unit to ensure country-specific requirements are also met.

Lastly, validation of scope was done in stages since the implementation of the new platform was done per business unit. Validation of scope took the form of User Acceptance Testing with users checking if the functionalities meet their requirements based on a series of positive and negative testing generated by the independent testing group (a separate department of the company).

 

KNOWLEDGE AREA 3: Project Time Management

 

Project time management includes the processes required to manage the timely completion of a project (A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide) 5th Ed, 2013). Under the Project Time Management knowledge area, table 3 shows the processes performed under each group in general.

Process Groups
Initiation Planning Execution Monitor & Control Closing
  Plan schedule management

Define activities

Sequence activities

Estimate activity resources

Estimate activity durations

Develop schedule

  Control schedule  

Table 3 Project Time Management Processes

 

Planning the schedule for Jazz Project was done reverse-process with the client’s target completion date in mind since the client needed to see the project completed at a certain date. A simple excel file was used as a tool to develop the schedule. Defining the activities, sequencing activities, estimating resources and activity durations was done quickly and did not require too much effort since the project was straightforward and lacked complexity.

Controlling the schedule of Jazz Project was also a simple straightforward task involving daily monitoring of the laborers’ progress through reporting and inspection of site to validate percent completion. The same excel file was used to update and monitor whether tasks are in progress, completed, not yet started, or delayed.

Planning the schedule of Cashman Project, on the other hand, was a gigantic and complicated task since it required identifying and sequencing for a huge number of activities and for several business units where human resources are scarce, technical resources such as servers were shared by different projects and therefore needed to be properly allocated. Planning the rollout of the new platform in phases was also tricky since it required proper alignment to budget release per country. It required a lot of meetings with experts and extensive analysis of organizational process assets available (i.e. test environment schedule per project, resource calendars, etc). The project schedule once finalized was reviewed and baselined by each business unit representative.

Controlling the schedule of Cashman Project necessitated daily updates to the PMIS and consistent review of performance. Scheduling techniques such as compression (crashing and fast-tracking) were employed to ensure deadlines were met since small delays had huge financial implications in the project and affected the schedule of other business units. MS Project was used to monitor and control the project schedule as opposed to simple spreadsheet in the Jazz Project.

 

KNOWLEDGE AREA 4: Project Cost Management

 

Project cost management includes the processes involved in planning, estimating, budgeting, financing, funding, managing, and controlling costs so that the project can be completed within the approved budget (A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide) 5th Ed, 2013).

 

Table 4 below illustrates the processes encompassing Project Cost Management knowledge area.

Process Groups
Initiation Planning Execution Monitor & Control Closing
  Plan cost management

Estimate cost

Determine budget

  Control Cost  

Table 4 Project Cost Management Processes

 

Cost management for Jazz Project did not involve creation of a formal Cost Management Plan but merely involved creation of a budget in a spreadsheet and loosely following it based on client requirements. Cost estimation was done using bottom-up estimating using the Bill of Materials created and rolling up cost of individual components to come up with the total budget plus 10% contingency. No management reserves were allocated for this project.

Controlling cost, however, was not stringently enforced. Ensuring client satisfaction took more importance over strictly following a budget and so management readily accepted expenses that were slightly over budget if it meant having better design and ensured client satisfaction.

Cost management for Cashman Project was, of course, extremely different from Jazz Project. As with all planning processes, the project team took utmost care in planning, estimating and determining the budget. The project team used all the tools and techniques possible such as analogous estimating (from a previous large-scale project) and three point-estimating (it came up with optimistic, pessimistic and most likely scenarios). It employed reserve analysis technique to allocate management reserves for the project’s “unknown unknowns” which had higher probability of occurring given the complexity and duration of the project.

Controlling costs took very high priority for Cashman Project as opposed to the loose approach taken on the Jazz Project. Performance reviews were routinely done and Earned Value Management was used to determine if the project was performing well in terms of budget consumption. The project manager ensured that calculated figures are logged weekly in the PMIS for project team and stakeholder visibility.

 

KNOWLEDGE AREA 5: 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 (A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide) 5th Ed, 2013). The table below shows the processes conducted under the Project Quality Management knowledge area in different degrees of compliance depending on the project’s priorities.

Process Groups
Initiation Planning Execution Monitor & Control Closing
  Plan quality management Perform quality assurance Control quality  

Table 5 Project Quality Management Processes

 

For Jazz Project, no formal Quality Management Plan was drafted and approved. Quality levels were incorporated and planned for as part of the Bill of Materials in the form of material specifications, grade and specific brand if applicable (ex. Davies Bio-Fresh+ paint BF-50521 Skyline). Cost of quality was observed by incorporating failure prevention policies (plan to purchase only fire-grade materials).

Quality assurance was done through quality audits (a certified electrical engineer conducted third-party inspection) and quality control was done by the team through daily inspection of work.

Cashman project, on the other hand had everything formalized and documented including the project quality management plan. In the quality management plan, each step and scope of the testing process was documented from Unit Testing, Integration Testing and User Acceptance Testing. Quality documents were created such as the Test Strategy Plan and Master Test Plan. Each document was reviewed and approved by the Independent Testing Group.

Quality assurance for the Cashman project was strictly adhered to. The PMO scheduled several quality audits to ensure that CMMI policies were being observed such as compliance with the creation and storage of required project documents in the project repository.

Quality control was stringently observed by following the Test Strategy and Master Test Plan created. Results of the different stages of testing were monitored using a Test Log System where all information were stored and kept track of such as kind of defect, severity, person-in-charge, and target resolution date of defect.

 

KNOWLEDGE AREA 6: Project Human Resource Management

 

Project human resource management is the sixth knowledge area and is defined in the PMBOK Guide as the processes that organize, manage, and lead the project team (A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide) 5th Ed, 2013). Table 6 shows the processes generally performed under the Project Human Resource Management knowledge area.

Process Groups
Initiation Planning Execution Monitor & Control Closing
  Plan human resource management   Acquire team

Develop team

Manage team

 

Table 6 Project Human Resource Processes

 

Under planning human resource management, Jazz Project had no need of formal organizational charts and position descriptions since the team was small and the laborers (carpenters and electricians) were outsourced. Networking was utilized to source these laborers and organizational theory was employed to determine the best compensation structure for laborers to ensure they are motivated to complete their tasks in an efficient manner.

Acquiring and developing the “project team” was pretty straightforward. Laborers were assigned based on their role and schedule and ground rules were set at the beginning of the project. Rewards and recognition were given in the form of mid-afternoon coffee and snacks to perk them up.

Managing the project team under Jazz Project required interpersonal skills, conflict management and “observation and conversation” in such cases when laborers needed to be reminded of established ground rules.  There was no formal performance appraisal conducted but one-on-one stand up discussions involved providing feedback on the resource’s performance.

On the other hand, human resource management planning for the Cashman Project was the epitome of grueling detail and formality. Organizational charts and position descriptions were extensively used and meetings were regularly held to plan human resource acquisition and assignment.

Secondly, acquiring the project team was also process-centric, requiring formal announcement of resources that were assigned to projects or creation of a staff resource vacancy requiring to be filled through a lengthy hiring process. Developing the project team involved training some of the resources in the use and testing of specific applications necessary in the project. Colocation was also employed, requiring some resources to work together in certain office sites for efficiency.

Managing the project team of Cashman project employed similar tools as in the Jazz Project such as observation and conversation with individual resources, use of interpersonal skills and conflict management to resolve team conflict. Project performance appraisals, however, were more formal, followed a schedule, and became part of year-end performance evaluation to determine promotion and/or salary increase.

 

KNOWLEDGE AREA 7: Project Communications Management

Project communications management, according to the PMBOK Guide includes the processes that are required to ensure timely and appropriate planning, collection, creation, distribution, storage, retrieval, management, control, monitoring, and the ultimate disposition of project information (A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide) 5th Ed, 2013). Within the Project Communications Management knowledge area, table 7 shows the processes generally executed across the five process groups.

Process Groups
Initiation Planning Execution Monitor & Control Closing
  Plan communications management Manage communications Control communications  

Table 7 Project Communication Processes

Communication activities that are involved in both Jazz Project and Cashman Project were generally similar. Both projects necessitated communications that are internal to the team and external to vendor(s), client(s), regulatory bodies and to the general public. Both involved formal and informal methods of communication – minutes and reports for the former and e-mail, notes, and impromptu meetings for the latter. Each project also involved communicating vertically with subordinates and to senior management and horizontally across the members of the project. Lastly, both projects illustrated the different dimensions of communication – from written form to verbal and to the nonverbal dimension of communication.

When it comes to tools and techniques, both projects heavily relied on technology as a means of communicating, using email, cloud sharing, project management systems, web conferencing, etc.to keep in touch with the stakeholders.  Both projects also utilized interactive (during web conference and face-to-face meetings), push (ex. sending information via email) and pull methods of communication (ex. getting requirements via survey as with Cashman Project).

The difference between these two projects when it comes to the Communication Management knowledge area differ in terms of the degree and focus on each activity and tool used to accomplish this activity. For instance, the Jazz Project leaned towards the more informal methods of communication such as ad-hoc discussions while the Cashman Project used the more formal methods of communicating such as emails and meeting minutes more frequently.

 

KNOWLEDGE AREA 8: Project Risk Management

 

Project risk management is the eighth knowledge area in the PMBOK Guide 5th Edition and includes the processes of conducting risk management planning, identification, analysis, response planning, and controlling risk on a project. PMBOK Guide defines risk as an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, has a positive or negative effect on one or more project objectives such as scope, schedule cost, and quality (A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide) 5th Ed, 2013).

Under the Project Risk Management knowledge area, the processes in table 8 are carried out in different degrees of formality depending on the nature of the project.

Process Groups
Initiation Planning Execution Monitor & Control Closing
  Plan risk management

Identify risks

Perform qualitative risk analysis

Perform quantitative risk analysis

Plan risk response

  Control risks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table 8 Project Risk Management Processes

The performance of risk management activities between the Jazz Project and Cashman Project are very dissimilar in characteristics. Generally speaking, risk management planning and controlling activities done within the Jazz Project were informal and insubstantial while those of the Cashman Project were strictly monitored and accurately observed.

Since the profile of Jazz Project was small-scale, predictable and low-risk, the process of identifying risks and planning for responses to each risk was done on a high-level and rapid manner. For construction and renovation projects like Jazz, risks are predictable and the probably of encountering “unknown unknowns” is slim. Nevertheless, the “known unknown” risks such as materials running out of stock and bad weather were accounted for by using a rule-of-thumb contingency amount to the budget.

The process of controlling risks was also done informally without the need for sophisticated and mathematical tools such as variance and trend analysis or creation of a risk assessment report. Risk assessment was done, of course, but in an informal manner by the project manager and was not reported to the client.

On the other hand, project risk management for Cashman project was done the opposite manner compared to the Jazz Project. Risk Management Plan was prepared, reviewed and approved as a formal subsidiary document of the Project Management Plan. Documentation reviews, SWOT analysis and interviews with experts were conducted to identify risks and create the Risk Register as an output. The next steps done were perform qualitative and quantitative risk analysis after which risk responses were laid out and risk owners were assigned to the risk register.

The process of controlling risks for the Cashman project also followed a strict procedure. Risk assessment and performance analysis was done weekly by the risk owner and the project manager with the risk data reported as part of the weekly status report to stakeholders.

 

KNOWLEDGE AREA 9: Project Procurement Management

 

PMBOK Guide 5th edition defines the ninth knowledge area, procurement management as the processes necessary to purchase or acquire products, services, or results needed from outside the project team (A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide) 5th Ed, 2013). Table 9 provides the details of processes encompassing Project Procurement Management knowledge area.

Process Groups
Initiation Planning Execution Monitor & Control Closing
  Plan procurements management Conduct procurements Control procurements Close procurements

Table 9 Project Procurement Management Processes

 

In the case of Jazz Project, this knowledge area actually took very high priority compared to the other knowledge areas. This is because majority of the project budget was allocated to the purchase of construction materials and equipment such as timber, jointing putty, drilling machine and the purchase of furniture and appliances. Hence, it was imperative to do a careful analysis of procurement approaches, do a thorough research on the market, and identifying potential suppliers for each requirement. Make-or-buy analysis was also quickly performed on some aspects of the design and furnishings of the room to determine which is more cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing to the client.

Once planning and supplier identification was completed, the process of conducting procurements were done parallel to the actual construction. The project manager ensured that the materials arrived just-in-time – not a day early due to lack of storage but never late to avoid schedule slippages.

Conducting procurements involved confirming the order, paying in cash and acknowledging receipt of items upon delivery. No formal process such as bidder conferences or advertising was necessary nor was a system used to generate a purchase order. There was no need to control procurements or to manage procurement relationships since most of the transactions were one-time purchases from vendors. The only time it had to be managed was when a vendor delivered a wrong item and so changes had to be made to the delivery. Most procurement transactions, however, were conducted and closed on the same day the items were delivered.

In contrast, however, the Cashman Project lacked the activities involved under the Procurement Knowledge Area. This is due to the fact that the scope involved was software implementation with the platform built in-house by full-time developers and were tested by an independent testing group also within the company. Therefore, no procurement activities were needed to be performed during the project. Moreover, this company was structured such that procurement activities were not the responsibility of the project team but was accounted for by a Purchasing Department.

 

KNOWLEDGE AREA 10: Project Stakeholder Management

 

PMBOK Guide 5th Edition places emphasis on the last knowledge area, Stakeholder Management by providing a lengthy definition as follows:

Project Stakeholder Management includes the processes required to identify the people, groups, or organizations that could impact or be impacted by the project, to analyze stakeholder expectations and their impact on the project, and to develop appropriate management strategies for effectively engaging stakeholders in project decisions and execution. Stakeholder management also focuses on continuous communication with stakeholders to understand their needs and expectations, addressing issues as they occur, managing conflicting interests and fostering appropriate stakeholder engagement in project decisions and activities (A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide) 5th Ed, 2013). Under the Project Stakeholder Management knowledge area, the following table shows the activities conducted in contrasting levels of observance based on the scale of the project being executed.

 

Process Groups
Initiation Planning Execution Monitor & Control Closing
Identify stakeholders Plan stakeholder management Manage stakeholder engagement Control stakeholder engagement  

Table 10 Project Stakeholder Management Processes

 

Within this knowledge area, Jazz Project performed a rudimentary approach to identifying stakeholders. Since the project was small-scale, it employed very few human resources and answered to a single client. Other stakeholders identified were the condominium administration team and tenants of the building. An in-depth stakeholder analysis was not performed but a stakeholder register was created where basic information such as names, roles in the project, and contact information were recorded.

Moreover, there was no stakeholder management plan created for Jazz Project and the team managed and controlled stakeholder engagement in a spontaneous style. The team was constantly aware of engagement levels of stakeholders and acted accordingly towards the desired engagement level. For example, the project manager noticed that the administration lacked support towards the renovation project and so the project manager took effort in establishing relationship with key personnel to influence their engagement disposition from Resistant to Supportive stakeholders. The project manager also kept the client engaged by constantly communicating the status of the project and managed the internal team effectively by building trust, actively listening to the laborers and resolving conflicts when they arose.

On the other hand, Cashman Project conducted stakeholder management in a highly strategic manner typical of companies that are CMMI certified.

First, the process of stakeholder identification and analysis was prudently done through a series of meetings and with the use of expert judgment. Stakeholders were first analyzed using a modified power/influence grid and strategies were defined for each category of stakeholders (need to be monitored, managed closely, kept informed or satisfied). A formal stakeholder register was created as part of the set of required documents being audited by the PMO team.

Secondly, a Stakeholder Management Plan was also created as subsidiary to the Project Management Plan. The stakeholder management plan defined engagement strategies for stakeholders and the required communication scope and cadence requirements for each stakeholder.

Managing stakeholder engagement in Cashman project used basically the same tools and techniques employed within the Jazz Project such as managing expectations by building trust, actively listening to stakeholders and resolving conflict when issues arise.

Contrary to the Jazz Project, however, Cashman Project relied heavily on the use of formal documentation and the PMIS to manage and control stakeholder engagement. For example, project reports were disseminated weekly to stakeholders and stored in the PMIS. These reports included Issue Logs, Change Logs and Risk Logs and other performance-related reports that were created during the course of the project.

 

In summary, although small-scale and large-scale projects share the same processes across all ten knowledge areas, they differ in terms of formality, structure and importance given to each process. They may require different inputs (i.e. a signed agreement for Jazz Project and a Business Case and SOW for the Cashman Project) and generate different forms of outputs (a simple directory for Jazz Project and a full-blown Stakeholder Register for Cashman Project). Small-scale projects tend to put more emphasis on getting tasks done efficiently due to the short period of time allotted to it while large-scale projects tend to put more emphasis on adhering to policies and procedures. Lastly, a large-scale project will require more tools and techniques, rely heavily on the use of PMIS and create more project documentation as required by the PMO whereas small-scale projects have informal procedures and require less documentation throughout the life of the project.

 

References

 

Project Management Institute. (2013). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide) 5th Edition. Georgia: Project Management Institute, Inc.