Passing the #PMP Exam: Tools & Techniques—Communications Knowledge Area


 1. Introduction

In this next series of posts, we move onto step 5, which is memorizing the TOOLS & TECHNIQUES associated with each process. In order to breakdown the memorizing into more bite-size chunks, I am going to break down this topic into at least 9 posts, one for each knowledge area. (There may be some knowledge areas that require more than one post.)

This post covers chapter 10 of the PMBOK® Guide, which covers the Communications Knowledge Area. This knowledge area contains 5 processes which are located in all process groups except the Closing Process Group.

Here’s a description of the four processes that are included in the Human Resources Knowledge Area, together with a listing of the Tools & Techniques used in those processes.

Process
Number & Name
Process Description Tools & Techniques
10.1 Identify Stakeholders Identifying project stakeholders, that is, people impacted by the project, and documenting their interests, involvement, and impact on the project.

1. Stakeholder analysis

2. Expert judgment10.2 Plan CommunicationsDetermining the needs of project stakeholders for information and defining a communication approach.1. Communication requirements analysis

2. Communication technology

3. Communication models

4. Communication methods

10.3 Distribute InformationMaking relevant information available to project stakeholders.1. Communication methods

2. Information distribution tools

10.4 Manage Stakeholder ExpectationsCommunicating with project stakeholders to meet their needs and address issues as they occur.1. Communication methods

2. Interpersonal skills

3. Management skills

10.5 Report PerformanceCollecting and distributing performance information (status reports, progress measurements, forecasts) to project stakeholders.1. Variance analysis

2. Forecasting methods

3. Communication methods

4. Reporting systems

Let’s take a look at the tools & techniques for the 4 processes 9.1 through 9.4 in the Human Resources Knowledge Area.

10.1 IDENTIFY STAKEHOLDERS

10.1.1. Stakeholder analysis

The stakeholders need to be identified, not just with organizational information such as their roles and departments, but also the following

  • Knowledge and/or experience levels
  • Expectations regarding the project (interest level)
  • Levels of influence the project (power level)

These factors can be compared in a grid, an example of which is below. In this grid, the horizontal axis is the interest level, and the vertical axis is the power level. This results in four quadrants with the various combinations of levels, and a strategy for dealing with each combination.

10.1.2. Expert judgment

This is to be consulted in identifying and classifying stakeholders. Those with a special knowledge of the key stakeholders, including the stakeholders themselves, can be consulted as experts with regards to this question.

10.2 PLAN COMMUNICATIONS

10.2.1. Communication requirements analysis

Using the formula n(n-1)/2, you can calculate the number of possible communication channels among a group of n stakeholders. How the stakeholders communicate is the focus of this tool and technique, including the requirements for how often communication is required, and in what form (e-mail, telephone call, face-to-face meeting, etc.).

10.2.2. Communication technology

This is a matter of using the appropriate technology for communication, from simple written documents to virtual meetings.

10.2.3. Communication models

The basic model of information is that information that person A wants to send to person B is encoded by being put into some sort of language. This output is the message which is transmitted through some medium to the other person who then decodes it. Any noise that occurs during the transmission process can distort the message, but the message can also get distorted in the encoding and decoding phases, if person A puts the message into an ambiguous form which is then understood erroneously by person B.

10.2.4. Communication methods

These different methods are used when there is a different level of interactivity and/or engagement between the two parties.

  • Interactive communication (between two or more parties), such as face-to-face meetings or phone calls
  • Push communication (from one to multiple parties), such as e-mail or memos
  • Pull communication (for multiple parties), such as intranet sites, pre-recorded lectures or seminars

10.3 DISTRIBUTE INFORMATION

10.3.1 Communication methods

Group meetings, video conferences or audio conferences (via telephone) are ways to disseminate information about the project to a wide audience.

10.3.2 Information distribution tools

These can exist in physical form (memos, press releases), electronic form (voice mail, e-mail, video conferences) or software (project management software such as Microsoft Project or Primavera).

10.4 MANAGE STAKEHOLDER EXPECTATIONS

10.4.1. Communication methods

This is obtained from the communications management plan.

10.4.2. Interpersonal skills

These are the soft skills that today are often referred to as “emotional intelligence.”

10.4.3. Management skills

This deals not with project management per se, but people management skills, including skills at public speaking, doing effective presentations, and negotiating.

10.5 REPORT PERFORMANCE

10.5.1. Variance analysis

This is the analysis of the difference between the actual performance and the performance measurement baseline. A comparison of the current variance with the previous variances can yield a trend.

10.5.2. Forecasting methods

These are methods of showing, based on the trends found in the last tool & technique 10.5.1 Variance Analysis, what the future project performance will be.

10.5.3. Communication methods

The results of the trend analysis and forecasting done in the last two tools & techniques is then communication to those interest parties through status review meetings (a form of push communication which is a one-to-many type of communication).

10.5.4. Reporting systems

This is usual some standard reporting tool such as a spreadsheet or other graphical analysis of the data to demonstrate at the status review meetings mentioned in the tool & technique 10.5.3 Communication methods, the conclusions reached with the first two tools & techniques 10.5.1 Variance Analysis and 10.5.2 Forecasting methods.

The next post will be on the Tools & Techniques associated with chapter 11 of the PMBOK® Guide dealing with the Risk Knowledge Area.

Passing the #PMP Exam: Tools & Techniques—Human Resources Knowledge Area


1. Introduction

In this next series of posts, we move onto step 5, which is memorizing the TOOLS & TECHNIQUES associated with each process. In order to breakdown the memorizing into more bite-size chunks, I am going to break down this topic into at least 9 posts, one for each knowledge area. (There may be some knowledge areas that require more than one post.)

This post covers chapter 9 of the PMBOK® Guide, which covers the Human Resources Knowledge Area. This knowledge area contains 4 processes, the first of which is in the Planning Process Group, and the last three of which are in the Executing Process Group.

As a reminder, Human Resources Knowledge Area is the only knowledge area not to have a process in the Monitoring & Controlling Process Group.

Here’s a description of the four processes that are included in the Human Resources Knowledge Area, together with a listing of the Tools & Techniques used in those processes.

Process
Number & Name
Process Description Tools & Techniques
9.1 Develop Human Resources Plan Identifying project roles and responsibilities, create staffing management plan. 1. Organizational charts and position descriptions

2. Networking

3. Organizational Theory

 

9.2 Acquire Project Team Confirming human resource availability and obtaining team. 1. Pre-assignment

2. Negotiation

3. Acquisition

4. Virtual teams

9.3 Develop Project Team Improving team interaction and team environment. 1. Interpersonal skills

2. Training

3. Team-building skills

4. Ground rules

5. Co-location

6. Recognition and rewards

 

9.4 Manage Project Team Optimizing team performance by tracking member performance, resolving conflicts, providing feedback. 1. Observation and conversation

2. Project performance appraisals

3. Conflict management

4. Issue log

5. Interpersonal skills

Let’s take a look at the tools & techniques for the 4 processes 9.1 through 9.4 in the Human Resources Knowledge Area.

9.1 DEVELOP HUMAN RESOURCES PLAN

9.1.1. Organizational charts and position descriptions

This is a natural tool you would expect a human resources plan to include. This specifies the roles and responsibilities of the various team members. Here are three types of charts or formats these roles and responsibilities can be specified in.

Chart or format type Chart of format description
1. Hierarchical-type charts Traditional organization chart structure
2. Matrix-based charts Responsibility assignment matrix (RAM), an example of which is RACI (responsible, accountable, consult, and inform). This is a RAM in which the roles mentioned as the letters of the acronym RACI are specified for each team member.
3. Text-oriented formats This is used as a template for future projects more often than it is used on an active project.

9.1.2. Networking

This is simply formal and informal interaction within an organization. This is important for a project manager to do not only at a beginning of a project, but also during the course of the project as well.

9.1.3. Organizational Theory

This gives information on how people, teams, and organizational units behave and what motivates them the most.

9.2. ACQUIRE PROJECT TEAM

9.2.1. Pre-assignment

Team members can be either be pre-assigned if their assignments are specified within the project charter during the initiating process. Otherwise their assignments are negotiated during the planning process.

9.2.2. Negotiation

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, if functional managers (in a matrix-type organization) have control over the assignment of certain team members, a project manager may have to negotiate with that functional manager to use these team members for a certain duration on the project.

9.2.3. Acquisition

In case certain expertise on the project is not available within the organization, the project manager may have to negotiate with the human resources department to acquire team members on a temporary basis as consultants for the purpose of the project.

9.2.4. Virtual teams

If the company has several locations in a country, employees may have to meet via a video conference rather than face-to-face. However, losing the face-to-face component of interactions may require a project manager to make sure that nothing gets “lost in the translation” to a virtual environment.

9.3 DEVELOP PROJECT TEAM

9.3.1. Interpersonal skills

These are the soft skills that a project manager can use to increase cooperation. Nowadays, these interpersonal skills are styled as part of “emotional intelligence”.

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9.3.2. Training

These are the hard skills or knowledge and experience-based skills that a project manager must either ensure that his team members have or develop during the course of the project.

9.3.3. Team-building skills

Even for those that are experienced with projects, it is important to build a team from the start of a project because that particular group of people may not have worked with all members before. Here are the five stages of development of a team:

Stage name Stage description
1. Forming Team meets and learns about details of the project and what everybody’s roles and responsibilities are.
2. Storming Team discusses project work, decisions of a technical nature, and matters dealing with management of the project. This needs to be done in an open or collaborative mode.
3. Norming Team members begin to actually work together and adjust to each other’s’ work habits. The team starts to knit together into a cohesive unit.
4. Performing Now the team is ideally working as a well-organized unit.
5. Adjourning Team completes work and disbands.

9.3.4. Ground rules

Ground rules are established for interactions among project team members; this is extremely important in the conducting of team meetings, so that the meetings are productive.

9.3.5. Co-location

Active members are located in the same physical location for as much of the project as feasible. This could be as simple as providing a team meeting room, or locating all of the team members in the same section of the facility. This is opposed to the usage of virtual teams.

9.3.6. Recognition and rewards

This is an important way to motivate team members to encourage them to work hard, both individually and together, on the project.

9.4 MANAGE PROJECT TEAM

9.4.1. Observation and conversation

This is why networking is an effective tool not just in the planning phase, but during the entire execution of the project. This is the most genuine way of getting information on the progress of team members, and is more personal than just e-mailing members to distribute or obtain information.

9.4.2. Project performance appraisals

This is when a project manager sits down with team members from time to time and goes over any issues that may need to be resolved, to clarify future goals, or to recognize and reward those who have achieved previously set goals.

9.4.3. Conflict management

Team members themselves should have responsibility for resolving conflicts among themselves. However, if the conflict escalates, project managers need to be able to help team members who have a conflict with each other to reach an amicable resolution of their conflict. There are six general techniques for resolving conflict.

Technique Description
1. Withdrawing/

Avoiding

Having one or another team member avoid the other with whom the conflict occurs. Not really practicable.
2. Smoothing/

Accommodating

Having team members emphasize areas of agreement rather than the areas of difference. This attempts to change the attitude of the team members, but does not resolve the area of agreement.
3. Compromising Team members each gain part of what they wanted; this could be interpreted as a win-win or lose-lose situation depending on the team members’ attitudes.
4. Forcing The project manager imposes a solution on the team members. This is a win-lose situation which is effective in the short run, but creates attitude problems in the long run (resentment).
5. Collaborating Getting other team members’ opinions on possible solutions to the conflict.
6. Confronting/
Problem Solving
Often collaborating is the first step towards solving the problem by examining both team members’ perspectives. This can generate a win-win situation for team members IF they are open to this technique.

9.4.4. Issue log

If there is a conflict, an issue log can be used to document not only the conflicts that arise, but also their resolution. This is particularly helpful for updating lessons learned on the project.

9.4.5 Interpersonal skills

Leadership through example, and the ability to influence team members over which the project manage may not have direct responsibility (as in a matrix-type organization) are important skills for a project manager to have.

The next post will be on the Tools & Techniques associated with chapter 10 of the PMBOK® Guide dealing with the Communications Knowledge Area.

Passing the #PMP Exam: Tools & Techniques—Quality Knowledge Area


1. Introduction

In this next series of posts, we move onto step 5, which is memorizing the TOOLS & TECHNIQUES associated with each process. In order to breakdown the memorizing into more bite-size chunks, I am going to break down this topic into at least 9 posts, one for each knowledge area. (There may be some knowledge areas that require more than one post.)

This post covers chapter 8 of the PMBOK® Guide, which covers the Quality Knowledge Area. This knowledge area contains 3 processes, the first and last of which contain many tools & techniques.

2.  Tools & Techniques of Quality Knowledge Area

Here’s a description of the three processes that are included in the Quality Knowledge Area, together with a listing of the Tools & Techniques used in those processes.

Process

Name

Process Description Tools & Techniques
8.1 Plan

Quality

Identifying quality requirements and/or standards for the project and product; documenting how project will demonstrate compliance. 1.  Cost-benefit analysis

2.  Cost of quality

3.  Control charts

4.  Benchmarking

5.  Design of experiments

6.  Statistical sampling

7.  Flowcharting

8.  Proprietary quality management methodologies

9.  Additional quality planning tools

 

8.2 Perform

Quality

Assurance

Auditing quality requirements and results from quality control measurements to ensure appropriate quality standards are used. 1.  Plan Quality and Perform Quality Control tools and techniques

2.  Quality audits

3.  Process analysis

 

8.3 Perform

Quality Control

Monitors and records results of quality activities to assess performance and recommend necessary changes. 1.  Cause and effect diagrams

2.  Control charts

3.  Flowcharting

4.  Histogram

5.  Pareto chart

6.  Run chart

7.  Scatter diagram

8.  Statistical sampling

9.  Inspection

10.  Approved change requests review

 

 

Let’s take a look at the tools & techniques for the 3 processes 8.1 through 8.3 in the Quality Knowledge Area.

8.1 PLAN QUALITY (part of Planning Process Group)

8.1.1. Cost-benefit analysis

The cost-benefit analysis related to planning quality is a comparison of the costs of quality (determined in the next tool & technique 8.1.2 Cost of Quality) with the benefits of quality. For details, see the next paragraph.

8.1.2. Cost of quality (see diagram below)

There are costs of improving quality, either in prevention costs, such as improvement of the design or of the production process, or in appraisal costs, such as the assessing or measurement of quality through testing and/or inspections. These costs are collectively referred to as the cost of conformance.

However, an increase in these costs should create cost savings by the decrease in what are collectively referred to as the cost of nonconformance. These include costs of reworking or scrapping products that do not meet the company’s quality standards, and the costs associated with allowing poor quality products to get into the marketplace (warranty costs, product liability costs, and reduced customer satisfaction).

8.1.3. Control charts

Control charts are used to determine whether a process is stable and has predictable performance.

A control chart takes the planned or value of a certain process and graphs the actual value as measured by inspection of a randomly chosen sample of the product. There are certain upper and lower specification limits that are specified which, if the product goes above them or below them, means that the product is defective or out of specification.

In order to prevent the process from creating such out of specification products, you establish an upper and lower control limit which shows the maximum and minimum acceptable values the product can have without taking correct action.

Think of creating a stable process being analogous to driving your car down a lane of the highway. You want to go straight ahead. If you go off the road entirely and hit the guardrail, that is equivalent to being out of specification. So the edge of the road is the equivalent of the upper or lower specification limit.  To prevent your car from going off the road, you pay attention to the edge of the lane and try to stay in the middle. The edges of the lane act as a steering guide so that, if you remain within those edges, you are then in no danger of going off the road. These edges of the lane are equivalent in this analogy to the upper or lower control limits.

Let’s show an example of an actual control chart from a website http://www.pavementinteractive.org/article/control-charts/.

The planned value is 5.5% AC Content. The lower specification and upper specification limits are 5.0% and 6.0%, respectively. However, to prevent any of the lots measured from going over or under these limits, it might be useful to add an upper and lower control limit, let’s say at 5.2% for the lower and 5.8% for the higher. These limits are not shown above, but you can see where they would be on the graph above.

8.1.4. Benchmarking

If the new project you are working on is similar to projects your company or other companies have done in the past, you can utilize the best practices regarding quality from those projects and apply them analogously to your new project.

8.1.5. Design of experiments

This is a statistical process which identifies the various factors which influence the quality of a product. The point is that you not only show how each factor influences the quality, but you show how various combinations of these factors influences the quality.

The example that the PMBOK® Guide gives is automotive designers, who use the Design of Experiments or DOE technique to determine which combination of the factors of a) suspension and b) tires produces the most desirable ride characteristics at a reasonable cost.

8.1.6. Statistical sampling

This is planning for the inspection of the product as part of quality control. This technique helps answer the following practical question: How many samples need to be taken how frequently in order to give useful data about the quality of the product?

8.1.7. Flowcharting

This takes the various steps in the production process and diagrams them out using a flowchart. This helps plan which steps in the production process are likely to cause quality problems, so you know what to pay attention to when you do quality control.

8.1.8. Proprietary quality management methodologies

Especially for the application area of manufacturing, methodologies such as Six Sigma, Lean Six Sigma, etc., are used to improve quality on a project.

8.1.9. Additional quality planning tools

Many of these tools are used to help teams work together to help plan both the quality requirements and the management of quality activities. These tools & techniques are related as follows

No.

Name

Description

1. Brainstorming Coming up with a comprehensive set of ideas with respect to quality requirements as a group.
2. Nominal group

technique= Brainstorming + voting; after ideas are generated in the brainstorming session, the group then ranks or prioritizes the most useful ideas for further brainstorming. 3.Affinity diagrams= Brainstorming + mapping; large numbers of ideas are sorted to reveal logical groupings among them4.Force field analysisDiagrams of the forces for and against change within the organization.5.Matrix diagramsAffinity diagrams + matrix; logical groupings between large numbers of factors or causes are specified in a matrix which shows relationships between them 6.Prioritization

matricesMatrix diagram + priorization = factors and causes which are related as indicated in a matrix are prioritized as to importance

8.2 PERFORM QUALITY ASSURANCE (part of Executing Process Group)

8.2.1. Plan Quality and Perform Quality Control tools and techniques

The tools & techniques that are developed in 8.1 Plan Quality and 8.3 Perform Quality Control are gathered and reviewed to see that they conform to the quality standards set forth by the company. The emphasis here is not on the quality of the deliverables, but the quality processes themselves. These are reviewed through the next tool & technique 8.2.2 Quality audits.

8.2.2. Quality audits

A quality audit needs to identify the processes that are planned to be implemented, and see if they conform to the best practices of the organization and/or the industry and large.

The results of the audit can encompass suggestions for improvement to these processes, called a process improvement plan.

8.2.3. Process analysis

This tool & technique basically uses the analysis of processes (done through Flowcharting, tool & technique 8.1.7) to get to the root cause of any problems with the processes. This can be essential in creating a process improvement plan as part of the Quality audits mentioned in the previous paragraph.

8.3 PERFORM QUALITY CONTROL (part of Monitoring & Controlling Process Group)

8.3.1. Cause and effect diagrams

A cause and effect diagram, often called a Ishikawa diagram or fishbone diagram because of its shape, tries to graphically picture how various factors could be linked to potential problems or effects. (To remember the name Ishikawa, think of the fishbone diagram and then remember the nonsense name Fishikawa, and then take off the first letter.)

Here’s an example of a generic version of the Ishikawa diagram:

8.3.2. Control charts

The control charts mentioned as tool 8.1.3 under Plan Quality are used in actually showing whether the process is creating a product that is within specification. It is used as part of the Plan Quality process to set the a) planned value, b) upper and lower specification limit, and c) the upper and lower control limit. Here in the Perform Quality Control process, you compare the actual values obtained by inspection of random samples of the product to show whether action needs to be performed to analyze and improve quality. This would be triggered if the actual values are greater than or lower than the upper and lower control limit, respectively.

8.3.3. Flowcharting

The flowcharting mentioned as tool 8.1.7 in the Plan Quality Process analyzed the various processes by breaking them down in a sequential and logical fashion. If there are quality problems that are detected in the Monitor & Control phase of the project, then this flowchart can be used as a reference to pinpoint which particular process needs to nr improved.

8.3.4. Histogram

A histogram is the same as a bar chart which shows the various problems which occur on the horizontal axis and how frequently they occur on the vertical axis. This gives you over the lifetime of the project an historical analysis of what is the root cause of the most frequently occurring problems.

8.3.5. Pareto chart

The Pareto chart is the same as the histogram (tool & technique 8.3.4), but that histogram is now redone so that the various problems which are denoted on the horizontal axis are now depicted from the most-frequently occurring to the least-frequently occurring.

8.3.6. Run chart

This is the same as a control chart (tool & technique 8.3.2) but without the control limits listed. The purpose is to analyze trends and variations over time. Trend analysis takes the data points listed and tries to extrapolate the future outcomes based on them. Is the trend leading away from the planned value towards one of the control limits? The run chart and the trend analysis based on it will answer this important question.

8.3.7. Scatter diagram

If two factors or variables can occur during a process, one way to tell whether these factors are connected in any way is to do a scatter diagram, where the sequence of values of one factor is labeled on the horizontal axis, and the sequence of values of the other factor is labeled on the vertical axis. A mathematical technique called regression analysis can show whether these two factors or variables are linked. If the scatter diagram show that the points cluster around a diagonal line, then it is highly likely the variables are linked.

8.3.8. Statistical sampling

In the Plan Quality process, this tool & technique 8.1.6 is used to define how many samples need to be inspected and how often they need to be inspected in order to satisfy the quality standards. In this Perform Quality Control process, the samples are actually selected according to that plan. Then they are inspected, which is the next tool & technique listed below.

8.3.9. Inspection

Based on the statistical sampling indicated in the last tool & technique above, inspection is done. If there are samples which are beyond the control limits, or an analysis of previous inspections shows that there is a trend that leads away from the planned value towards one of the control limits, then this may lead to a change request to get the production process back on track towards the planned value.

8.3.10. Approved change requests review

If as a result of inspection changes are recommended, then this tool & technique is basically that of following through to verify that these changes were implemented as approved.

The next post will be on the Tools & Techniques associated with chapter 9 of the PMBOK® Guide dealing with the Human Resources Knowledge Area.

Passing the #PMP Exam: Tools & Techniques—Cost Knowledge Area


1. Introduction

In this next series of posts, we move onto step 5, which is memorizing the TOOLS & TECHNIQUES associated with each process. In order to breakdown the memorizing into more bite-size chunks, I am going to break down this topic into 9 posts, one on each knowledge area.

 This post covers chapter 7 of the PMBOK® Guide, which covers the Cost Knowledge Area. This knowledge area contains 3 processes, each of which has many techniques.

Here’s a description of the six processes that are included in the Cost Knowledge Area, together with a listing of the Tools & Techniques used in those processes.

Process

Name

Process Description Tools & Techniques
7.1 Estimate Costs Developing an approximation of the monetary resources needed to complete project activities. 1. Expert judgment

2. Analogous estimating

3. Parametric estimating

4. Bottom-up estimating

5. Three-point estimating

6. Reserve analysis

7. Cost of quality

8. Project management estimating software

9. Vendor bid analysis

 

7.2 Determine Budget Sums up the estimated costs and add reserves to establish an authorized cost baseline. 1. Cost aggregation

2. Reserve analysis

3. Expert judgment

4. Historical relationships

5. Funding limit reconciliation

 

7.3 Control Costs Monitoring the status of the project to update project budget and manage changes to the cost baseline. 1. Earned value management

2. Forecasting

3. To-complete performance index (TCPI)

4. Performance reviews

5. Variance analysis

6. Project management software

Let’s take a look at the tools & techniques for the 3 processes 7.1 through 7.3 in the Cost Knowledge Area.

7.1 ESTIMATE COSTS

7.1.1 Expert Judgment

Any time you are dealing with basics of the schedule and/or budget, it is vital to have expert judgment. Expert judgment can include being guided by historical information, either from within the company, or data that is publicly available.

7.1.2 Analogous estimating

Analogous estimating means estimating based on a previous similar project. It is a gross value approach, as opposed to parametric estimating (tool & technique 7.1.3). An example would be building a house in a subdivision where there are a limited number of models. If you are building a new house that is similar to one of the houses built before, you could do an analogous estimate by averaging the cost of constructing those houses that have been built before along a similar model plan.

Analogous estimating can be carried out by using tool & technique 6.4.1 (Expert Judgment and historical information).

NOTE: analogous estimating is less costly to carry out than other techniques, but it is also less accurate.

7.1.3 Parametric estimating

Parametric estimating means estimating based on some sort of activity parameter, such as cost, budget, and duration. An example using the construction of a house, as a contrast to the example given with the tool & technique of analogous estimating (7.1.2), would be estimating the cost of building a house by taking the average cost per square foot of constructing the previous homes in the subdivision.

This estimating technique is more accurate than analogous estimating.

7.1.4 Bottom-up estimating

This technique takes the estimates based on each work package, and then aggregates them “upward”, hence the title of bottom-up estimating. As opposed to top-down estimating methods like analogous estimating and parametric estimating (7.1.2 and 7.1.3), they are more costly to carry out but more accurate.

7.1.5 Three-point estimates

With this technique, you develop the following three estimates

Scenario

Symbol

Description

Most likely

Tm

The duration of the activity based on realistic expectations.
Optimistic

To

The activity duration based on the best-case scenario.
Pessimistic

Tp

The activity duration based on the worst-case scenario

Then there are two three-point estimates that can be used, the simple average or the weighted average, also known as PERT.

Simple average = (To + Tm + Tp)/3

PERT = (To + 4Tm + Tp)/6

The number in the denominator is based on the number of terms in the numerator. If you remember that the PERT technique used an average that gives 4 times as much weight to the most likely scenario, then you can remember that the denominator is 6 rather than 3 for the simple average, because there are in effect 6 terms in the numerator and not 3.

7.1.6 Reserve analysis

If there is uncertainty in the schedule based on the probability of certain events occurring, i.e., risks, then these can be used to build contingency reserves. If an event occurs which would cost a certain amount x to handle, and that event has a probability of 10% occurring, then you would add a contingency reserve of 0.1x.

7.1.7 Cost of Quality (COQ)

The costs of conformance to quality standards (costs of preventing poor quality in the first place, plus costs for assessing the quality such as inspections) are outlined, and contrasted with the costs of nonconformance to quality standards (costs of correcting poor quality or dealing with customers who receive products with poor quality).

7.1.8 Project management estimating software

This is naturally a tool rather than a technique. Microsoft Project or Primavera are examples of software which can be used to help estimate costs.

7.1.9 Vendor Bid Analysis

If the project contains subprojects which are bid out to contractors, then there is a need to estimate the costs of that part of the project based on the bids submitted by contractors.

7.2 DETERMINE BUDGET

7.2.1. Cost aggregation

You take the WBS or Work Breakdown Structure which has the project broken down into work packages, which are further broken down into activities.

With cost aggregation, you basically go back the other way. See the steps in the figure below.

a. First you take the costs for each activity and summing them to get the costs for each work package.

b. Control accounts are basically placeholders in the work breakdown structure where you calculate all of the work packages below that level. They are put there in the Planning Process so you can see when the project is actually running and you are in the Monitoring & Controlling Process, you can take a snapshot of where you are, and see whether you are coming in under or overbudget. The next step is to sum up the work packages estimates in each control account to get the control account estimates.

c. Finally, you sum up the control account estimates, and you get the project estimate.

NOTE: THIS IS NOT THE SAME AS THE PROJECT BUDGET. To understand why this is so, see the next tool & technique 7.2.2 Reserve analysis.

7.2.2. Reserve analysis

Okay, so we’ve got the project estimate from the last tool & technique 7.2.1 Cost Aggregation. The process of risk analysis identifies what are essentially the “known unknowns,” i.e., what risks are planned for in terms of risk responses. The costs of responding to these risks through changes to the project scope and/or cost are the “contingency reserves.” The contingency reserves are added to the project estimate to get the cost baseline.

But, wait, there’s more! There are always the “unknown unknowns,” or risks which have NOT been accounted for in the risk register. Management reserves are the costs of unplanned changes to the project scope and/or cost. These are added to the cost baseline to get the cost budget.

NOTE: Here’s a short table comparing contingency reserves and management reserves, because these frequently became confused in our study sessions.

Type of Reserves Added to … equals … and is controlled by …
Contingency Project estimate Cost baseline Project manager
Management Cost baseline Cost budget Management (sponsors)

7.2.3 Expert judgment

Any time you are dealing with basics of the schedule and/or budget, it is vital to have expert judgment. Expert judgment can include being guided by historical information, either from within the company, or data that is publicly available.

7.2.4 Historical relationships

If there is a similar project that was done in the past, this information can be used to develop a parametric or analogous estimate.

7.2.5 Funding limit reconciliation

The expenditure of funds for a project over the course of the project has to be recondiled with the funding limit for a project. It’s not a matter of just the total amount of funds; it is a cash-flow issue of how much money is available during each month of the project. The variance between the funding limit and the cost budget for the project during each time period (month, quarter, or whatever) needs to be reconciled. If the cost budget exceeds the funding limit for a particular period, work may have to be rescheduled in order to level out the rate of expenditures. This is similar to the resource leveling technique.

7.3 CONTROL COSTS

7.3.1. Earned value management

Earned value management can answer the question “where are we now in relationship to the budget?”. The values of Cost Variance (CV) = Earned Value (EV) – Actual Costs (AC) or alternatively, the Cost Performance Index (CPI) = Earned Value (EV) / Actual Costs (AC). A positive CV is good and a negative CV is bad; a CPI > 1 is good, and a CPI < 1 is bad.

7.3.2. Forecasting

Forecasting can answer the question “given where we are now (which was determined with the tool and technique of 7.3.1 Earned value management), where will we be by the end of the project in relationship to the budget?”

To do forecasting, you need to know the Budget at Completion or BAC, the Estimate at Completion (EAC), the Estimate to Complete or (ETC), and the Variance at Completion or (VAC). Here are the definitions of these terms.

Quantity Formula Definition
Budget at Completion (BAC) (Related to PV) Authorized budget amount of the total project, i.e. what the project was supposed to cost
Estimate at Completion (EAC) (several formulas) Estimated cost of the project at completion, i.e., what the project is now expected to cost
Variance at
Completion

(VAC)

BAC – EAC The difference between what the project was supposed to cost (BAC) and what is now expected to cost (EAC).
Estimate to Complete EAC – AC How much more it is estimated it will cost to complete the project, i.e., the difference between what the total project is now expected to cost (EAC) and how much it has cost until now (AC).

How are they related? Look at the following schematic.

BAC or the Budget at Completion is where the budget is planned to be at the end of the budget, i.e., the total cost budget. The EAC is the estimate of where the budget will be IF the costs keep going as they have up until now, as given by the AC or Actual Costs. The additional amount of money it is estimated to take you from now until the end of the project is the ETC or Estimate to Complete. You can see by the relationships below that by definition, ETC = EAC – AC. Another term is the difference between what the project was supposed to cost (BAC) and what is now expected to cost (EAC), and this is the VAC or Variance at Completion, and by definition, VAC = BAC – EAC.

Project START

NOW

END

Planned ß

PV

à

ß BAC

à

Actual ß

AC

à

Estimate
ß EAC

à

ß

ETC

à

ßVACà

How do you calculate EAC? Here’s the trick: there are 4 ways to calculate it depending on why your actual costs (AC) are at variance from the budget.

Formula

No.

Formula

Formula

Name

Formula Explanation

1

EAC = AC + ETC

New estimate

ETC is new bottom-up estimate

2

EAC = AC + (BAC – EV)

Original estimate

Reason for variance is one-time occurrence

3

EAC = AC + (BAC – EV)/CPI

Or

EAC = BAC/CPI

Performance estimate low

Reason for variance will continue at same rate

4

EAC = AC + (BAC – EV)/CPI*SPI

Performance

estimate high

Reason for variance will continue and effect performance

Formula 1.

EAC = AC + (ETC)

If the original budget is considered totally flawed, or you have no idea why there is such a large variance, then one way to estimate the amount it will now take to do the project is to take the amount spent on the project so far (AC) and then do a more accurate bottom-up estimate of the amount it will take to complete the project (ETC). That’s essentially saying that you have to refigure the budget from scratch starting from now until the end of the project.

Formulas 2-4. The rest of the formulas are similar in that they all start with AC, the actual cost up to now, and then they add an amount called the remaining costs or BAC – EV, modified by some other factor.

Formula 2.

EAC = AC + (BAC – EV)

If the reason for the variance is a one-time occurrence, we don’t expect that it will happen again. Then you just take the remaining costs or (BAC – EV) and add them to what the project has already cost to get the estimate at completion of EAC. Picture the budget as a straight road going from one town to another. The variance is a one-time thing that causes the budget to suddenly vary by a small amount, as if you were driving a car and a sudden gust of wind caused your car to be blown a few feet into another lane, but then your car continues along a straight line to the other side.

Formula 3.

EAC = AC + (BAC – EV) / CPI = BAC/CPI

If the reason for the cost variance is a continuing occurrence, then you take your actual costs and add it to the remaining costs or (BAC – EV) divided by the current cost performance index (CPI). The algebra allows this expression to be simplified to the planned budget amount or BAC divided by the current cost performance index or CPI.

In the analogy of driving a car, let’s say you take a wrong turn onto a road which is going at a certain angle to the road you are driving on. This formula assumes that you are continuing on that same wrong road until you get to the destination.

Formula 4. S

EAC = AC + (BAC – EV)/(CPI * SPI)

If the reason for the cost variance is a continuing occurrence which also effects the schedule variance, you take your actual costs and add it to the remaining costs or (BAC – EV) divided by BOTH the current cost performance index (CPI) and the schedule performance index (SPI).

In the analogy of driving a car, let’s say you take a wrong turn onto a road which is not going at a certain specified angle to the road you are driving on, but is actually curving away from that road. This formula assumes that you are continuing on that same wrong that is curving away from the first road (budget) until you get to the destination.

7.3.3. To-complete performance index (TCPI)

The To-complete performance index or TCPI can answer the question “given where we are now, how fast to we have to go to be within budget by the end of the project?”

Okay, here’s an analogy to tell you how this works. Let’s say you are driving from city A to city B which takes 6 hours normally. You have calculated that you can drive there if you go at the speed limit of 65 mph for the entire trip. You get halfway there and you do a quick calculation which tells you that you have actually only gone an average of 55 mph. How fast will you have to go to make it to your destination on the second half of your trip in the same time frame of 6 hours? Well, the answer is 75 mph. This will increase the risk of getting a speeding ticket, of course.

In a similar way, if your CPI is below 1, then the TCPI will end up giving you an index that is greater than 1, because if you are over budget so far, you will have to be UNDER budget for the rest of the project to make up for the overage you have had so far.

Here is the formula for TCPI:

TCPI = (BAC – EV)/(EAC – AC).

Memorizing this formula is not as crucial as memorizing the other formulas related to earned value management; however, it is important to understand the CONCEPT behind it.

7.3.4. Performance reviews

This measures the performance of the project compared to the cost baseline, i.e., the budget.

7.3.5. Variance analysis

Using the results of the performance reviews (see the previous tool 7.3.4), earned value analysis can be used to calculate cost variance (CV) or the cost performance index (CPI).

7.3.6. Project management software

Project management software such as Microsoft Project or Primavera can be used to track what your actual costs are compared to where your costs are supposed to be according to the budget.

The next post will be on the Tools & Techniques associated with chapter 8, the Quality Knowledge Area.

Passing the #PMP Exam—Tools & Techniques—Time Knowledge Area (part 2)


1. Introduction

In this next series of posts, we move onto step 5, which is memorizing the TOOLS & TECHNIQUES associated with each process. In order to breakdown the memorizing into more bite-size chunks, I am going to break down this topic into 9 posts, one on each knowledge area.

 This post covers chapter 6 of the PMBOK® Guide, which covers the Time Knowledge Area. However, since this knowledge area contains 6 processes, each of which has many techniques, I have decided to divide this material into two posts. This is the second part, which covers the last 3 of these 6 processes.

Here’s a description of the six processes that are included in the Time Knowledge Area, together with a listing of the Tools & Techniques used in those processes. As a reminder, this post will cover only 6.4 through 6.6 of the tools and techniques, but I’m including all six processes in this chart for the sake of completeness.

Process

Name

Process Description Tools & Techniques
6.1 Define Activities Identifying actions to be performed to produce product deliverables. 1. Decomposition

2. Rolling wave planning

3. Templates

4. Expert judgment

 

6.2 Sequence Activities Identifying and documenting relationships among the project activities. 1. Precedence diagramming method (PDM)

2. Dependencey determination

3. Applying leads and lags

4. Schedule network templates

 

6.3 Estimate Activity Resources Estimating type and quantities of resources (human and material) required to perform each activity. 1. Expert judgment

2. Alternatives analysis

3. Published estimating data

4. Bottom-up estimating

5. Project management software

6.4 Estimate Activity Durations Approximating the number of work periods needed to complete individual activities with estimated resources. 1. Expert judgment

2. Analogous estimating

3. Parametric estimating

4. Three-point estimates

5. Reserve analysis

 

6.5 Develop Schedule Analyzing activity sequences, durations, resources requirements, and schedule constraints to create product schedule. 1. Schedule network analysis

2. Critical path method

3. Critical chain method

4. Resource leveling

5. What-if scenario analysis

6. Applying leads and lags

7. Schedule compression

8. Scheduling tool

 

6.6 Control Schedule Monitoring the status of the project to update project progress and manage changes to schedule baseline. 1. Performance reviews

2. Variance analysis

3. Project management software

4. Resource leveling

5. What-if scenario analysis

6. Adjusting leads and lags

7. Schedule compression

8. Scheduling tool

Let’s take a look at the tools & techniques for processes 6.4 through 6.6 in the Time Knowledge Area.

6.4 ESTIMATE ACTIVITY DURATIONS

6.4.1 Expert Judgment

Any time you are dealing with basics of the schedule and/or budget, it is vital to have expert judgment. Remember that, when it comes to figuring out how long it will take to complete the work, one of the first experts you should consult is the person who is doing the work, especially if they have done that work before in the past. Expert judgment can include being guided by historical information, either from within the company, or data that is publicly available.

6.4.2 Analogous estimating

Analogous estimating means estimating based on a previous similar project. It is a gross value approach, as opposed to parametric estimating (tool & technique 6.4.3). An example would be building a house in a subdivision where there are a limited number of models. If you are building a new house that is similar to one of the houses built before, you could do an analogous estimate by averaging the cost of constructing those houses that have been built before along a similar model plan.

Analogous estimating can be carried out by using tool & technique 6.4.1 (Expert Judgment and historical information).

NOTE: analogous estimating is less costly than other techniques, but it is also less accurate.

6.4.3 Parametric estimating

Parametric estimating means estimating based on some sort of activity parameter, such as cost, budget, and duration. An example using the construction of a house, as a contrast to the example given with the tool & technique (6.4.2), would be estimating the cost of building a house by taking the average cost per square foot of constructing the previous homes in the subdivision.

This estimating technique is more accurate than analogous estimating.

6.4.4 Three-point estimates

With this technique, you develop the following three estimates

Scenario

Symbol

Description

Most likely

Tm

The duration of the activity based on realistic expectations.
Optimistic

To

The activity duration based on the best-case scenario.
Pessimistic

Tp

The activity duration based on the worst-case scenario

Then there are two three-point estimates that can be used, the simple average or the weighted average, also known as PERT.

Simple average = (To + Tm + Tp)/3

PERT = (To + 4Tm + Tp)/6

The number in the denominator is based on the number of terms in the numerator. If you remember that the PERT technique used an average that gives 4 times as much weight to the most likely scenario, then you can remember that the denominator is 6 rather than 3 for the simple average, because there are in effect 6 terms in the numerator and not 3.

6.4.5 Reserve analysis

If there is uncertainty in the schedule based on the probability of certain events occurring, i.e., risks, then these can be used to build contingency reserves. If an event occurs which would cost a certain amount x to handle, and that event has a probability of 10% occurring, then you would add a contingency reserve of 0.1x.

6.5 DEVELOP SCHEDULE

6.5.1. Schedule network analysis

Schedule network analysis is the collection of tools and techniques you use to generate the project schedule. These include technique 6.5.2 Critical Path method, 6.5.3 Critical chain method, 6.5.4 Resource leveling, and 6.5.5 What-if scenario analysis.

The schedule is then further refined using technique 6.5.6 Applying leads and lags and 6.5.7 Schedule compression. The software sometimes used to carry out these techniques is the tool 6.5.8 Scheduling tool.

6.5.2. Critical path method

To determine how long a project will take, you need to find out the critical path, that is, the sequence of activities in the network diagram that is the longest. Other paths along the network will yield sequences of activities that are shorter than the critical path, and they are shorter by an amount equal to the float. This means that activities that have float could be delayed by a certain amount without affecting the schedule. Activities along the critical path have a float of zero. This means that any delay along the critical path will affect the schedule.

Here’s an outline of the critical path methodology.

a. You create a network diagram of all the activities.

b. You label each activity with the duration derived from process 6.4 Estimate Activity Durations.

c. You do a forward pass to determine the early start and early finish date of all activities, from the start of the project to the end of the project.

d. Once at the end of the project, you do a backward pass to determine the late start and late finish date of all activities, from the end of the project to the start of the project.

e. For each activity, you use the results of c and d to calculate the float of each activity.

f. All activities that have 0 float are on the critical
path for that project.

Let’s take a look at the methodlogy in general.

Step 1. For each activity, create a matrix which will contain the duration, the early start, the early finish, the late start, late finish, and float for a particular activity.

Activity Number

Duration

Early Start (ES) Early Finish (EF)
Late Start (LS) Late Finish (LF)

Float

Here are the meanings of the numbers in the boxes:

Activity Number: you can label them A through Z, or 1 through N, just as long as each activity has a unique identifier.

Duration: this is the number that you should get as an output of the 6.4 Estimate Activity Durations process.

Early Start (ES): The Early Start is the number you begin the analysis with to do the forward pass. It is defined as 0 for the first activity in the project. The Early Start for subsequent activities is calculated in one of two different ways, which will be demonstrated below.

Early Finish (EF): This is the next number you go to in the forward pass analysis. It is taken by adding the number in the ES box plus the number in the Duration box.

Late Finish (LF): The Late Finish is the number you begin the analysis with to do the backward pass. It is defined to be equal to the number in the Early Finish box for the last activity in the project. The Late Finish for preceding activities is calculated in one of two different ways, which will be demonstrated below.

Late Start (LS): This is the next number you go to in the backward pass analysis. It is taken by subtracting the number in the Duration box from the number in the LF box.

Float: Once ES, ES, LF, and LS are determined, the float is calculated by either LS – ES or LF – EF. Just remember that a piece of wood will float to the top of the water, so the float is calculated by taking the bottom number and then going upward and subtracting the number that’s on the top of it.

Step 2.

For activity A, the first activity in the project, ES = 0.

A

0

Step 3.

Then EF for activity A is simply ES + duration. Let’s say activity A takes 5 days. Then EF = 0 + 5 = 5.

A

5

0

5

Step 4.

The forward pass for activity A is complete. Let’s go on to activity B.

Since activity B has only one predecessor, activity B, the ES for activity B is simply equal to the EF of activity A, which was 5.

B

3

5

Then the EF for activity B is taken by adding the ES of to the duration of activity B or 3, giving EF = 5 + 3 = 8.

There’s one more situation that we have to discuss and that is if an activity has more than one predecessor.

Let’s assume the durations for each activity are as follows:

Activity Duration
A 5
B 3
C 6

Assume Activity A and Activity B are both done concurrently at the start of the project, and both need to be done in order for Activity C to start. Well, before we do the formal forward pass analysis, what does logic tell us. Activity A takes 5 days; Activity B takes 3 days. Both activity A and B have to be done before Activity C can take place. In this case the start date of the project is considered to be 0. Can Activity C take place on day 3, when activity B is done? No, because Activity A isn’t completed yet, and you need BOTH A and B to be done. The earliest possible start date for Activity C will be day 5, because only on that date will both A and B be done.

So this illustrates the other way of calculating ES for an activity B. If there are multiple predecessors, then the ES is equal to the LARGEST of the ES of the predecessor activities.

Step 5.

Now, let’s assume we are at the end of the project at activity Z.

Z

5

95

100

EL = ES + duration gives us EL = 95 + 5 + 100. So the project will take 100 days according to our forward pass calculation.

Now, we have the backward pass.

We start this out by stating as a principle that the late finish or LF date for the last activity in the project is equal to the EF date.

Z

5

95

100

100

Then, of course, the late start date or LS = LF – duration = 100 – 5 = 95.

Z

5

95

100

95

100

Step 6.

Now we go in the reverse direction towards the beginning of the network diagram, this time filling out the bottom LS and LF boxes for each activity.

If the activity has one successor, then the LF for the predecessor activity equals the LS for the successor of activity. But if there are more than one predecessor activity, then here’s what you do. For the forward pass, you take the highest EF of all predecessors.

For the backward pass, you take the lowest LS of all successors. Let’s see how this works.

Let’s assume the forward pass is done on A, B, and C. We do the backward analysis and we get to the following point. What is the LF of activity A?

A

B

C

5

3

4

0

5

5

8

5

9

6

9

5

9

Well, activity B and activity C are both successors of A. In this case, activity B has an LS of 6 and activity C has an LS of 5. The earliest LS is therefore 5, and so LS of activity A is 5.

A

B

C

5

3

4

0

5

5

8

5

9

0

5

6

9

5

9

Step 7.

What is the float? Take LF – EF (or LS – ES) for each of the activities.

A

B

C

5

3

4

0

5

5

8

5

9

0

5

6

9

5

9

0

1

0

So the float of B is 1, and the float of A and C are 0. Therefore A and C are on the critical path.

6.5.3. Critical chain method

The critical chain method takes the critical path method and adds an element of resource leveling. Okay, so you’ve found the critical path according to the critical path methodology in technique 6.5.2 Critical path method. You modify the resources based on resource leveling¸ which is described in the next section below.) You need to adjust the schedule to reflect this. This may, in turn, alter the critical paths done with the technique 6.5.2 Critical path method.

The result is a modified version of the network diagram and perhaps a new critical path.

6.5.4. Resource leveling

Let’s say that the activity requires 4 days, consisting of 4 people working 8 hours a day. But let’s say that these people are working on two different projects, and each is available for only 4 hours a day. That means in reality the project will take 8 days. Using a resource histogram, or a bar chart which shows how much each person can work on the project during the day, you may have to adjust your activity durations to reflect the reality of the human resources available. The results of resource leveling are used to adjust the critical path in technique 6.5.3 Critical chain method.

6.5.5. What-if scenario analysis

This is essentially risk analysis applied to the network analysis, meaning that you look out for adverse conditions that may impact the project. Of course, you can also look for favorable conditions that may impact the project. These give you the basis for the optimistic and pessimistic projections of activity durations. Calculating the probability of multiple project durations is called a Monte Carlo Analysis. This gives a distribution of possible outcomes for the total project, rather than a simple optimistic and pessimistic outcome.

6.5.6. Applying leads and lags

If an activity is required to be delayed or accelerated, then this is used to further refine the network analysis, and could possibly alter the critical path as found out in the 6.5.2 Critical Path Method.

6.5.7. Schedule compression

There are two methods for shortening the project schedule without changing the project scope. However, they may increase other constraints, such as cost and risk.

Method

Description

Crashing

Reduction of activity duration by adding resources, i.e., paying for additional staff to do the work. This increases the cost.

Fast Tracking

Taking activities normally done in series, i.e., one after the other, and doing them in parallel, so that they overlap. This increases the risk.

6.5.8. Scheduling tool

This is essentially scheduling software such as Microsoft Project or Primavera.

6.6 CONTROL SCHEDULE

Many of the tools & techniques listed here have already been introduced as part of process 6.5 Develop Schedule. Except here rather than developing the schedule, they are being used to get the schedule back on track.

6.6.1. Performance reviews

This measures the performance of the project compared to the schedule baseline.

6.6.2. Variance analysis

Using the results of the performance reviews (see the previous tool 6.6.1), earned value analysis can be used to calculate schedule variance (SV) or the schedule performance index (SPI).

6.6.3. Project management software

Project management software such as Microsoft Project or Primavera can be used to track where you are compared to where you are supposed to be on the schedule.

6.6.4. Resource leveling

This was already described as technique 6.5.4, and it is used to optimize the distribution of work among resources to get the greatest effectiveness out of them.

6.6.5. What-if scenario analysis

This was already described as technique 6.5.5, and is used to review various possible scenarios that could occur that might affect the project in order to bring the schedule back into alignment with the plan.

6.6.6. Adjusting leads and lags

This was already described as technique 6.5.6, and is used to help bring the schedule back into alignment with the plan.

6.6.7. Schedule compression

This was already described as technique 6.5.7, and is used to help bring the schedule back into alignment with the plan.

6.6.8. Scheduling tool

Project management software such as Microsoft Project or Primavera includes a scheduling tool to generate a project schedule update.

The next post will be on the Tools & Techniques associated with chapter 7, the Cost Knowledge Area.

Passing the #PMP Exam—Tools & Techniques—Time Knowledge Area (part 1)



1. Introduction

In this next series of posts, we move onto step 5, which is memorizing the TOOLS & TECHNIQUES associated with each process. In order to breakdown the memorizing into more bite-size chunks, I am going to break down this topic into 9 posts, one on each knowledge area.

This post covers chapter 6 of the PMBOK® Guide, which covers the Time Knowledge Area. However, since this knowledge area contains 6 processes, each of which has many techniques, I have decided to divide this material into two posts. This is the first part, which covers the first 3 of these 6 processes.

Here’s a description of the six processes that are included in the Time Knowledge Area, together with a listing of the Tools & Techniques used in those processes. As a reminder, this post will cover only 6.1 through 6.3 of the tools and techniques, but I’m including all six processes in this chart for the sake of completeness.

Process

Name

Process Description Tools & Techniques
6.1 Define Activities Identifying actions to be performed to produce product deliverables. 1. Decomposition

2. Rolling wave planning

3. Templates

4. Expert judgment

 

6.2 Sequence Activities Identifying and documenting relationships among the project activities. 1. Precedence diagramming method (PDM)

2. Dependencey determination

3. Applying leads and lags

4. Schedule network templates

 

6.3 Estimate Activity Resources Estimating type and quantities of resources (human and material) required to perform each activity. 1. Expert judgment

2. Alternatives analysis

3. Published estimating data

4. Bottom-up estimating

5. Project management software

6.4 Estimate Activity Durations Approximating the number of work periods needed to complete individual activities with estimated resources. 1. Expert judgment

2. Analogous estimating

3. Parametric estimating

4. Three-point estimates

5. Reserve analysis

 

6.5 Develop Schedule Analyzing activity sequences, durations, resources requirements, and schedule constraints to create product schedule. 1. Schedule network analysis

2. Critical path method

3. Critical chain method

4. Resource leveling

5. What-if scenario analysis

6. Applying leads and lags

7. Schedule compression

8. Scheduling tool

 

6.6 Control Schedule Monitoring the status of the project to update project progress and manage changes to schedule baseline. 1. Performance reviews

2. Variance analysis

3. Project management software

4. Resource leveling

5. What-if scenario analysis

6. Adjusting leads and lags

7. Schedule compression

8. Scheduling tool

Let’s take a look at the tools & techniques for processes 6.1 through 6.3 in the Time Knowledge Area.

6.1 DEFINE ACTIVITIES

6.1.1 The technique of decomposition means subdividing the project scope and project deliverables into smaller, more manageable components to the level of work packages. This technique of decomposition was used as a tool & technique for process 5.3 Create WBS process. Here’s a view of the decomposition process from the program level down to the level of deliverables.

a. Programs are groups of related projects.

b. Projects can sometimes be broken down into distinct phases.

c. Major deliverables are first identified within each phase.

d. That work which can be outsourced to a contractor is referred to as a subproject.

e. Deliverables are broken down from the major deliverables.

.

Figure 1. Decomposition to the level of Deliverables (process 5.3 Create WBS)

Continuing along the breakdown process:

Figure 2. Decomposition to the level of Activities (process 6.1 Define Activities)

f. Once deliverables are identified, for large-scale projects planning packages are identified which are basically fill-in-the blank packages for work that has not yet been identified, but will be in the course of progressive elaboration.

g. A control account is a summary level in WBS one level above a work package. Once a group of work packages under a control account are completed, some sort of monitoring & controlling activity is done here to make sure the project is proceeding according to plan.

h. Work package is the lowest level in a work breakdown structure which both defines specific deliverables and those resources (people, equipment, etc.) assigned to complete the work.

i. The work package consists of a list of activities, which can be further broken down into …

j. Tasks, but this is sometimes a confusing term because some companies have tasks at a higher level than activities. In any case, the PMBOK® Guide relies on work packages being the lowest level of WBS which consists of a list of activities. That’s all you need to know at least for the purpose of the exam.

How does this decomposition for the 6.1 Define Activities process differ from that of 5.3 Create WBS? Actually it’s part of the same overall process, but the 5.3 Create WBS is part of the SCOPE knowledge area, and the emphasis there is on getting the project broken down into DELIVERABLES. This is represented by the top Figure 1.

The emphasis in 6.1 Define Activities is on getting down to the level of ACTIVITIES. This is represented by the bottom Figure 2.

6.1.2 Rolling Wave Planning

Rolling wave planning means that work in the near term is done down to the level of activities, but that future work is planned at a higher level of the WBS, that of planning packages (step 2 in the arrow diagram in Figure 2 of the tool & technique 6.1.1. Decomposition). As more is known, it can be decomposed into activities. This is a form of progressive elaboration.

6.1.3 Templates

If you are doing a project that has some similarities to previous projects, why reinvent the wheel? A standard activity list or a template can be used to help define typical activities and milestones.

6.1.4 Expert Judgment

Use project team members or other experts to provide expertise in defining activities. You may wonder why I include “project team members” under expert judgment, but in reality, the person who is going to actually do the work on the project is an expert regarding the question “how much time will it take you to complete your work?”

6.2 SEQUENCE ACTIVITIES

6.2.1 Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM)

Now that you have a list of activities, you have to now figure out in what order to them. The Precedence Diagramming Method takes each activity and represents it with a rectangular box often called a node. These nodes are connected with arrows that show the logical relationships that exist between them.

Here are the four types of dependencies or logical relationships between activities:

Finish-to-start means that the start of activity 2 depends on the finish of activity 1. This is the most common type of dependency, which is why it is in green. This is a typical series-type relationship between activities. Start-to-finish would be a series relationship where the finish of activity 2 depends on the start of activity 1. This is relatively rare, and that is why it is listed in red.

Start-to-finish SOUNDS like it is more likely than finish-to-start, but if you look at the following diagram, and remember that the first term deals with the predecessor activity or activity 1, then you will see that the FINISH of activity 1 is connected to the START of activity 2.

The other two dependencies are used in a situation where two activities have to be done not one after another, but in parallel with some sort of overlap between them. These are fairly common after the finish-to-start series relationship, so they are listed in orange. Just remember they are parallel relationships, and this is borne out by the fact that the terms are parallel in their description (Start-to-start, and finish-to-finish).

6.2.2. Dependency Determination

Okay, so you have a diagram that SHOWS the dependency (tool 6.2.1). How do you determine that dependency? There are three categories of dependencies.

Dependency Category Based on Explanation
1. Mandatory Hard logic Physical limitations; for example, concrete must dry before any load placed on it

 

2. Discretionary Soft logic Best practices within application area; under project control.

 

 

3. External External factors
Outside of project control, such as regulations or permit applications.

In reality, BOTH mandatory and external deal with factors outside of project team’s control, the first with physical factors and the latter with factors having to do with the society within which the project takes place (mostly having to do with the government). The discretionary dependencies are the ones that are under the discretion of the project team’s control.

6.2.3. Applying Leads and Lags

In a finish-to-start relationship, you can have a situation where one activity occurs immediately after another one.

Or you can have a relationship, where there has to be a delay in the 2nd activity. Let’s say you are going to hang objects on a wall (activity 2) after it is painted (activity 1). Presumably there will be some sort of waiting period while the paint dries, and this would be the lag between activity 1 and 2.

With a lead, you take the activity 1 and 2, which normally come one right after the other,

Now, instead of delaying the successor activity, as in a lag, but you accelerate it.


Now, the start of activity 2 begins before activity 1 is complete, and the amount of time from the start of activity 2 to the end of activity 1 is called a lead.

6.2.4. Schedule Network Templates

In the same way with the templates tool & technique 6.1.3 under the process 6.1 Define Activities, you can use a template for a typical sequence of activities for projects that are similar to those you have done before .

6.3 ESTIMATE ACTIVITY RESOURCES

Here is where the proverbial rubber meets the road. Now that you know WHAT activities need to be done as a result of 6.1 Define Activities, and IN WHAT ORDER they need to be done as a result of 6.2 Sequence Activities, you now need to figure out WHAT YOU NEED to do these activities, and that is what this process is about.

6.3.1 Expert Judgment

Any time you are dealing with basics of the schedule and/or budget, it is vital to have expert judgment. Remember that, when it comes to the contents of the work packages, one of the first experts you should consult is the person who is doing the work, especially if they have done that work before in the past. There are specialists in the areas of resource planning and estimating who can also be consulted, especially if the project is somewhat new and unfamiliar to your company.

6.3.2 Alternatives Analysis

Many activities may have more than one way of being done. This is basically doing a comparison between the different human resources (capability or skill level) and material resources (types of machines or tools) that are available to get an activity done.

6.3.3. Published Estimating Data

An alternative to asking an expert regarding resource planning and estimating (tool & technique 6.3.1 Expert Judgment) is to consult published data on costs of resources for past projects that exists either within the company or is publically available.

6.3.4 Bottom-Up Estimating

If an activity cannot be estimated as a whole, it can be broken down into more detail (sometimes referred to as tasks) in order to be estimated at this finer level of detail.

Note that the dependency of a series of tasks will have an effect on the total resource usage.

If the tasks within an activity are done in series (Finish-to-Start), you could have a single person do the entire activity. But if some tasks are to be done in parallel (Start-to-Start or Finish-to-Finish), you will need multiple people to do the activity because some tasks will run concurrently.

The next post will cover the tools & techniques for processes 6.4 through 6.6 from the Time Knowledge Area.

Passing the #PMP Exam—Memorizing the Processes (Step 5: Tools & Techniques—Scope Knowledge Area)



 1. Introduction

In the last series of posts on memorizing the processes, I went from memorizing the processes themselves to memorizing their order by use of flashcards. In this next series of posts, we move onto step 5, which is memorizing the TOOLS & TECHNIQUES associated with each process. In order to breakdown the memorizing into more bite-site chunks, I am going to break down this topic into 9 posts, one on each knowledge area.

 Theoretically, this would mean starting with chapter 4, which is the Integration Knowledge Area, but in practicality, it would be better to cover that chapter last, because it integrates all of the other processes together. So, I’ll skip to chapter 5 of the PMBOK® Guide, which covers the Scope Knowledge Area.

 

Here’s a description of the five processes that are included in the Scope Knowledge Area.

Process

Name

Process Description Tools & Techniques
5.1 Collect Requirements Defining and documenting stakeholders’ needs to meet the project objectives. 1. Interviews

2. Focus groups

3. Facilitated workshops

4. Group creativity techniques

5. Group decision making techniques

6. Questionnaires and surveys

7. Observations

8. Surveys

 

5.2 Define Scope Developing a detailed description of the project and product. 1. Expert judgment

2. Product analysis

3. Alternatives identification

4. Facilitated workshops

 

5.3 Create WBS Subdivides project deliverables and project work into smaller, more manageable components. 1. Decomposition
5.4 Verify Scope Formalizing acceptance of the project deliverables with the customer. 1. Inspection
5. 5 Control Scope Monitoring status of the project and product scope and managing changes to the scope baseline. 1. Variance analysis

Let’s take a look at the tools & techniques for each of the 5 processes in the Scope Knowledge Area.

5.1 COLLECT REQUIREMENTS (Initiating Process)

5.1.1 Interviews

One-on-one discussions with stakeholders and subject matter experts to define features and functions of the project deliverables.

5.1.2 Focus Groups

This is a sort of “group interview” technique similar to that of the “Interviews” technique just discussed, but this allows interaction between the stakeholders and subject matter experts. The purpose is to learn about expectations and attitudes about the project’s proposed product, service, or result.

5.1.3 Facilitated Workshops

These are focused sessions which bring stakeholders together from different functional areas to define cross-functional requirements and reconcile stakeholder differences.

Example 1: Joint Application Development or JAD is used in the software development industry. Users and development team are brought together to improve software development.

Example 2: Quality Function Deployment (QFD) collects customers’ needs, or the Voice of the Customer (VOC) and presents them to product development team in order for them to be prioritized and achieved.

In both cases, the purpose is to look beyond any stakeholder differences and focus on the customer or user’s needs, which are paramount for developing a successful product that people will want to buy.

5.1.4 Group Creativity Techniques

  • Brainstorming

    An “open mode” of thinking is encouraged for people to come up with ideas for project and product requirements.

  • Nominal group technique = brainstorming + voting

    After ideas are generated in the brainstorming session, the group then ranks or prioritizes the most useful ideas for further brainstorming. The trick here is to move the group from the “open mode” of brainstorming to the “critical mode” of ranking or voting without destroying the openness of the process, i.e., discouraging people from coming up with ideas that are original.

  • Delphi Technique

    This is when subject matter experts are asked separately regarding the project and/or product requirements.

  • Idea/mind mapping = brainstorming + mapping

    The ideas that are come up with in the brainstorming session are consolidated to reflect which points they have in common and how they differ.

  • Affinity diagram = idea/mind mapping with large number of ideas

    Large numbers of ideas are sorted into groups for review and analysis of each group.

As you can see from the diagram, Delphi Technique is a technique by itself because it is asking a group of experts by correspondence on a one-to-one basis. It only collects the responses as a group and discusses them.

For the other four, brainstorming is at the heart of all of them. If you add voting to brainstorming, you get the nominal group technique. If you add mapping to brainstorming, you get the idea/mind mapping technique. The affinity diagram is a large-scale version of the idea/mind mapping technique.

5.1.5 Group Decision Making Techniques

The methods of reaching a group decision are:

5.1.6 Questionnaires and Surveys

Used with a large number of respondents (hence no time for interviews as in 5.1.1).

5.1.7 Observations

Observation, also called job shadowing, observes closely how people actually use the product in order to uncover any difficulties they may be having. The new product is designed to help eliminate these difficulties.

5.1.8 Prototypes

Here you produce a working model of the expected product, so stakeholders can experiment with it. This can be done as a kind of progressive elaboration as demonstrated below:

5.2 DEFINE SCOPE (Planning Process)

5.2.1 Expert Judgment

Since you are now trying to produce a detailed description of the project or product, you need to ask experts. These can be internal to your organization or that of the customer, or they can be members of industry and technical associations or industry groups.

5.2.2 Product Analysis

If the end result of your project is a product, then you can use a generally accepted method to take the high-level product description and translate it into tangible deliverables.

5.2.3 Alternatives Identification

This is when you try to generate different approaches to execute and perform the work of the project. This will reduce the risk on a product, because if one approach fails, you’ve already developed alternatives to get to the same result.

5.2.4 Facilitated Workshops

These are focused sessions similar to the ones used in process 5.1 COLLECT REQUIREMENTS, which bring stakeholders together from different functional areas in this case to take the high-level product description and translate it into tangible deliverables. This can be used in conjunction with 5.2.2 where an engineering analysis is done there, and then the implications of the design for various functional areas are worked out in the workshops.

5.3 CREATE WBS (Planning Process)

5.3.1 Decomposition

The techniques of decomposition means subdividing the project scope and project deliverables into smaller, more manageable components to the level of work packages. Here’s how the project is broken down through the decomposition process.

a. Programs are groups of related projects.

b. Projects can sometimes be broken down into distinct phases.

c. Major deliverables are first identified within each phase.

d. That work which can be outsourced to a contractor is referred to as a subproject.

e. Deliverables are broken down from the major deliverables.

.

Continuing along the breakdown process:

f. Once deliverables are identified, for large-scale projects planning packages are identified which are basically fill-in-the blank packages for work that has not yet been identified, but will be in the course of progressive elaboration.

g. A control account is a summary level in WBS one level above a work package. Once a group of work packages under a control account are completed, some sort of monitoring & controlling activity is done here to make sure the project is proceeding according to plan.

h. Work package is the lowest level in a work breakdown structure which both defines specific deliverables and those resources (people, equipment, etc.) assigned to complete the work.

i. The work package consists of a list of activities, which can be further broken down into …

j. Tasks, but this is sometimes a confusing term because some companies have tasks at a higher level than activities. In any case, the PMBOK® Guide relies on work packages being the lowest level of WBS which consists of a list of activities. That’s all you need to know at least for the purpose of the exam.

5.4 VERIFY SCOPE (Monitoring & Controlling Process)

5.4.1 Inspection

This one is easy to remember if you remember the purpose of the process. You take your deliverable, and then inspect it with regards to the requirements and product acceptance criteria already established.

If the deliverable is acceptable, then it is shown to the customer or sponsor to be formally approved of or rejected.

5.5 CONTROL SCOPE (Monitoring & Controlling Process)

5.5.1 Variance Analysis

This means checking the project performance and measuring it to assess how much it differs or varies (hence the name of the technique) from the original scope baseline.

The results of this analysis then determine whether you can continue the project as is, or whether you need to make a change request to bring the project back towards the baseline.

3. Conclusion

The purpose of focusing on the tools & techniques is to get you into understanding in more specific detail HOW the process is done. Also, understanding the tools & techniques prepares you for knowing what the inputs and outputs are to the processes, because it will be pretty obvious for the most part when you learn the inputs and outputs how they are to be used in conjunction with the tools and techniques.

This concludes the discussion of those tools and techniques used in the 5 processes in the SCOPE knowledge area. Tomorrow’s post will cover those 6 processes in the TIME knowledge area.

Passing the #PMP Exam—Memorizing the Processes Step 4: EDUCATING (WITH) RITA



 1. Introduction—the Rita Process Chart

 Our study group used an exam prep book that was given to us by our instructors from the Orange County chapter of the Project Management Institute. We supplemented it with Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep book.

 To teach the processes of project management, she has her own set of processes that are different than the 42 processes in the PMBOK® Guide. I’ll call them the “Rita processes” for short. If you analyze them, what they are an “extended set of processes” that actually consist of the 42 processes from the PMBOK® Guide plus some other actions which encompass many of the individual tools & techniques within those 42 processes.

 So by using the Rita processes, you can enhance your understanding at a higher level of detail and get you set for Step 5, which is understanding all the tools & techniques that are involved in the 42 processes.

The problem that some people in our group had with the Rita processes were understanding that they differ in some respects from the 42 processes. I wanted to outline these differences to encourage those of you are using the Rita Mulcahy book to use these Rita processes and the Process Games she outlines in chapter 3 of her book.

2. The Rita Processes

I recommend you memorize the 42 processes from the PMBOK® guide first, because these essentially are the core of the Rita processes.

Then look at the each process groups (Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closing) and read through each process in her group. She recommends RECOGNIZING which process goes with which process group, except for those processes in the PLANNING group. These need to be memorized in order. Rita’s Process Game, as she refers to it, helps you accomplish check whether you’ve understood the order.

NOTE: Most of the Rita processes in the planning group follow the general flow of the 20 processes in the planning group from the PMBOK® guide, with two major exceptions.

a. There are two processes related to resources, human resources and material resources, that occur towards the beginning of the planning group rather than at their PMBOK ® Guide order of being towards the end. This is explained by her that these resources need to be taken care of relatively early in the project, and you’ll understand her explanation if you read her book.

b. There are some processes I refer to as “summary” processes towards the end of the planning group that are not those from the 20 processes from the PMBOK® guide. These help you “tie everything together”, however, and they are important to memorize because they approximate how you would conclude the planning process in a real-world PM situation.

What our group did to learn the processes was to layout the 42 PMBOK® Guide processes that we had on flashcards in the Matrix pattern found on p. 43 of that Guide. Then, leaving space to the side of each column, we matched the Rita processes to the 42 processes. It’s not a one-for-one match; there are some Rita Processes that cover several PMBOK Processes (the ones involving risk come to mind), and there are some Rita Processes which break down a single PMBOK Process into steps (these are the tools and techniques belonging to that process).

Once you put these two sets of processes together, the logic of the flow becomes a lot easier to understand.

We have played the Rita Process Game in our study group several times, and it has really helped us ace the questions involving the processes on practice exams. As many as 70 out of 200 or 35% of the questions have to do with processes, so this is time well spent!

I wanted to use this opportunity to thank the publishers of Rita Mulcahy’s PMP Exam Prep book because they gave us specific permission to use a copy of the Rita Process Game for the use of our study group.    We’ve already had one member of our group pass the exam, so it has definitely been effective!

That makes you ready for the next step in the process, which is learning the TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES of the processes.

Passing the #PMP Exam—Memorizing the Processes Step 4: CLOSING PROCESS GROUP



  1. Introduction—GAMES 1 and 2 (memorizing by knowledge area, process group)

 This series of posts on step 4 of mastering the processes refers to “gaming the system” in the sense of making flashcards with the various process names on one side and the details of those processes on the others. The goal is to be able to complete these two games. For details, see the post for 08/01 on the INITIATING PROCESS GROUP.

 GAME 1.

 Shuffle the flashcards and put the 42 processes in order by knowledge area. You need to be able to do this within 10 minutes or less.

GAME 2.

 Shuffle the flashcards and put the 42 processes in order by process group. You need to be able to do this within 10 minutes or less.

 The purpose of today’s post is to list the processes not in order of knowledge area, but by process group:  in this case the CLOSING process group.

2. Processes in the Closing Process Group 

Process

Group

Process

Number

Process
Name
Process Description
Closing 4.6 Close Project or Phase Finalizes project across all PM process groups; formally closes project
Closing 12.4 Close Procurements Verification that deliverables are acceptable, formal closure of contract

Here’s a little more explanation of these processes.

4.6 Close Project or Phase

If the project does proceed to the point where the deliverables are completed within the plan developed in process 4.2, then you get formal closure of the project or phase from the customer and/or sponsor of the project. This process shares the word “formal” in common with the first process 4.1.

12.4 Close Procurements

This is closely tied to the only other process that is in the Closing Process Group, namely, 4.6 Close Project or Phase under the Integration Management knowledge area. The work that the seller has done and the deliverables that the seller produces to help complete the project are verified as acceptable. This is where the company signs off on the completion of the contract, and brings it to formal closure.

This concludes the last of five posts covering memorization of the 42 project management processes by process group rather than knowledge area.

Tomorrow’s post discusses the process memorization games that are contained in the Rita Mulcahy PMP Exam Prep text, because that was the supplemental exam preparation guide we used in our study group.

Passing the #PMP Exam—Memorizing the Processes Step 4: MONITORING & CONTROLLING PROCESS GROUP



  1. Introduction—GAMES 1 and 2 (memorizing by knowledge area, process group)

This series of posts on step 4 of mastering the processes refers to “gaming the system” in the sense of making flashcards with the various process names on one side and the details of those processes on the others. The goal is to be able to complete these two games. For details, see the post for 08/01 on the INITIATING PROCESS GROUP.

GAME 1.

Shuffle the flashcards and put the 42 processes in order by knowledge area. You need to be able to do this within 10 minutes or less.

GAME 2.

Shuffle the flashcards and put the 42 processes in order by process group. You need to be able to do this within 10 minutes or less.

The purpose of today’s post is to list the processes not in order of knowledge area, but by process group:  in this case the MONITORING & CONTROLLING process group.

2. Processes in the Monitoring & Controlling Process Group

Process

Group

Process

Number

Process
Name
Process Description
Monitoring & Controlling 4.4 Monitor and Control Project Work Tracking progress to meet performance

objectives defined in project management plan

Monitoring & Controlling 4.5 Perform Integrated Change Control Reviewing change requests and managing changes to deliverables,

or project management plan itself

Monitoring & Controlling 5.4 Verify Scope Formalizing acceptance of the project deliverables with the customer.
Monitoring & Controlling 5.5 Control Scope Monitoring status of the project and product scope and managing changes to the scope baseline.
Monitoring & Controlling 6.6 Control Schedule Monitoring the status of the project to update project progress and manage changes to schedule baseline.
Monitoring & Controlling 7.3 Control Costs Monitoring the status of the project to update project budget and manage changes to the cost baseline.
Monitoring & Controlling 8.3 Perform Quality Control Monitors and records results of quality activities to assess performance and recommend necessary changes.
Monitoring & Controlling 10.5 Report Performance Collecting and distributing performance information (status reports, progress measurements, forecasts) to project stakeholders.
Monitoring & Controlling 11.6 Monitor and Control Risks Tracking identified risks, implementing risk response plans if risks occur, and evaluating risk process effectiveness.
Monitoring & Controlling 12.3 Administer Procurements Managing procurement relationships, monitoring contract performance, making changes as needed.

Here’s a little more explanation of these processes.

4.4 Monitor and Control Project Work

This is the CHECK part of the plan-do-check-act cycle. What are you checking for? To see if the project is progressing as planned in process 4.2. What happens if you’re NOT on track and you want to get back? Then you go to the NEXT process, which is

4.5 Perform Integrated Change Control

Here is where you evaluate requests for changes to get you “back on track” to complete the project according to the plan developed in 4.2. Let’s say you’re behind schedule, and you want to get back on schedule. Then this process evaluates the request for a change. You may end up changing the deliverables themselves if the scope changes, and you will have to change the plan itself to accommodate this change.

5.4 Verify Scope

Verifying the scope means taking a deliverable and asking the customer and/or sponsor to review to make sure it conforms to the customer’s expectations of the scope.

5.5 Control Scope

Control scope means to monitor the status of the project and product scope to see whether the project is proceeding according to plan. What happens if the scope is deviating from what was in the plan? Then changes are suggested to either get it back to the original plan or to adjust the plan accordingly.

So to distinguish these two processes from the Monitoring & Controlling group, Verify Scope monitors the deliverables
and verifies them with the customer. Control Scope monitors the scope and compares it to the scope baseline. If there is a deviation, this is where the project is steered back on course, or the scope baseline is adjusted to make the path the project is now on the new course.

6.6 Control Schedule

Schedule tells you whether you are proceeding according to schedule, ahead of schedule or behind schedule. If there are changes to the project which require a change in schedule, those changes are managed here.

7.3 Control Costs

Here you use the tools such as earned value to find out whether your project is proceeding according to plan or not. This gives you a precise basis for recommending what to do to get it back on track.

8.3 Perform Quality Control

The question being answered here is: are the deliverables meeting the quality standards? The monitoring focuses on the quality of the deliverables. If they don’t meet the standards, then this becomes a basis for a recommendation for change.

10.5 Report Performance

On a regular basis, when you get word of how the project is coming along, you will want to, from time to time, inform stakeholders according to the plan set forth in process 10.2 Plan Communications.

11.6 Monitor & Control Risks

This is where risks that were identified are tracked during the course of the project, and corrective action taken according to 11.5 Plan Risk Responses if they do occur. The project management plan is updated to reflect any changes that occur to the project schedule, costs, etc., as a result of risks that do occur.

12.3 Administer Procurements

Once the seller has been selected in 12.2 Conduct Procurements, the terms of the contract are fulfilled by the seller and the project manager watches over the relationship with the seller, the performance of the seller with respect to the terms of the contract, and if there are any conflicts, these are resolved.

You can tell by most of these processes that they are in the Monitoring & Controlling Process Group simply by their title which contains Control or Monitor & Control. A couple exceptions are 5.4 Verify Scope, which requires you to verify the interim deliverables with the customer to see that they are satisfactory. The reason why this is in the Monitoring & Controlling Process Group, which includes the approval of Change Requests, is because if the customer says the deliverable is NOT acceptable, a change will have to made to get it back to being acceptable.

A similar process is 8.3 Perform Quality Control, but in this case, it is not the customer who is evaluating the deliverable, but the personnel handling quality, for example, on the assembly line at a manufacturing facility. If the deliverable does not conform to the quality standards set out at the beginning of the project, then again, a change request will have to be made to bring it back in line with those standards.

10.5 Report Performance is the process which tells you whether
or not
the project is progressing according to plan. If it isn’t, you can imagine that a change would be in order to get it back on track.

And finally 12.3 Administer Procurements is the monitoring of the relationship with the seller and its performance according to the contract. This means if the seller is not performing, then a change must be made either by the seller, or if the seller does not comply, then it may require cancellation of the contract and obtaining a new seller.

The final post deals with the 2 processes involved in the last process group, the CLOSING process group.