5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Step 5: Memorizing Tools & Techniques (Human Resources Knowledge Area)


1. Introduction

This series of posts assumes that you have already memorized the names of the 47 project management processes, and you are ready to go on to the task of memorizing the tools & techniques.    This post covers chapter 9 of the 5th Edition PMBOK® Guide, the Human Resources Knowledge Area.

2.  Human Resources Processes

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 Plan Human Resources Development Identifies and documents project roles, responsibilities, and reporting relationships; creates a staffing management plan 1.  Organization charts and position descriptions 2.  Networking 3.  Organizational Theory 4.  Expert judgment 5.  Meetings
9.2  Acquire Project Team Confirms human resource availability and obtains the team necessary to complete project activities. 1.  Pre-assignment 2.  Negotiation 3.  Acquisition 4.  Virtual Teams 5.  Multi-criteria decision analysis
9.3  Develop Project Team Improves competencies, team member interaction, and overall team environment to enhance project performance. 1.  Interpersonal skills 2.  Training 3.  Team-building activities 4.  Ground rules 5.  Colocation 6.  Recognition and awards 7.  Personnel assessment tools
9.4  Manage Project Team Tracks team member performance, provides feedback, resolves issues, and manages changes to optimize project performance. 1.  Observation and conversation 2.  Project performance appraisals 3.  Conflict management 4.  Interpersonal skills
3.   Human Resources Tools & Techniques
Here is a closer look at the tools & techniques used in the various processes in the Human Resources Management Area.   The tools & techniques are pretty distinct for most of the processes, so it should be relatively easy, if you are given a certain tool & technique, to be able to guess which process it goes with.
a.  Organization charts and positional descriptions (9.1 Plan Human Resources Management)
These are not the organizational charts and position descriptions for the organization, but for the project itself.
b.  Networking  (9.1 Plan Human Resources Management)
The PMBOK likes to use the trendy language of “human resource assets”, but I just mentally erase that jargon and replace it with the word “people”.   Networking is formal and informal interaction with others, and is one of the ways that can be used to assess who would be best to work on the project.
c.  Organizational Theory  (9.1 Plan Human Resources Management)
Organizational theory exists in order that the project manager can choose a flexible leadership style that changes as the team’s maturity level changes.
d.  Expert judgment  (9.1 Plan Human Resources Management)
In this case, the expert judgment is that of people who have experience with human resources management.
e.  Meetings  (9.1 Plan Human Resources Management)
Any time you have a management plan you need meetings to engage the entire project team in the planning.   This is not just to brainstorm in order to come up with effective solutions to problems, but also to get buy-in from the entire team at the beginning of the project since they are all involved in its planning.
f.   Pre-assignment (9.2 Acquire Project Team)
A project may be approved with the express intent that certain people are designated to be involved on the project team in order to do jobs that they are particularly suited for.
g.  Negotiation (9.2 Acquire Project Team)
For project managers in a matrix organization, where they do not have the authority to acquire project team members on their own, but must do so through functional managers of various departments, negotiation may be needed to obtain those project team members.   Project managers may have to “borrow” team members who are currently working on other projects.
h.  Acquisition (9.2 Acquire Project Team)
Temporary or contract workers may be needed to be acquired to assist the organization for the duration of the project.
i.  Virtual Teams (9.2 Acquire Project Team)
Team members may be acquired from other branches of the organization in different locations around the world to form a “virtual team”.    Special care in communication planning must be taken into account for these virtual teams.
j.  Multi-criteria decision analysis (9.2 Acquire Project Team)
This is similar to the criteria used to choose a supplier, but in this case it is the company that has a choice of potential team members rather than suppliers.    These criteria are developed in order to choose the best person for a particular job or position on the team.
k.  Interpersonal skills (9.3 Develop Project Team, 9.4 Manage Project Team)
These are the so-called “soft skills” of communication skills, and emotional intelligence, which tend to be underrated when it comes to their importance on a project.    They are used in developing the team through the four stages of development (forming, storming, norming, and performing), and once the team reaches that final stage of performing, they are used for maintaining the team at that level until the project is done.
l.  Training (9.3 Develop Project Team)
These are all activities that enhance the technical skills and competencies of the project team members.
m.  Team-Building Activities (9.3 Develop Project Team)
These are activities that help individual team members work together effectively and successfully go through the various stages of development of a team (forming, storming, norming, and performing).
n.  Ground Rules (9.3 Develop Project Team)
The discussion of ground rules decrease misunderstandings, especially when it comes to interactions at team meetings.
o.  Colocation (9.3 Develop Project Team)
Colocation is the opposite of a virtual team, it is a team which is in the same physical location.   This can be done on a temporary basis to bring team members into a situation where they have more face-to-face contact than they normally would; even a team meeting is a form of colocation.
p.  Recognition and rewards (9.3 Develop Project Team)
This is to motivate team members to give their best efforts for the project, and should be given throughout the project life cycle and not just the end.
q.  Personnel assessment tools (9.3 Develop Project Team)
These tools are for giving insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the team members so that the project manager can make a productive team where the strengths of some members in any given area compensates for the weaknesses of others.
r.  Observation and conversation (9.4 Manage Project Team)
Never underestimate the power of these seemingly ordinary tools for a project manager to stay in touch with the attitudes of the team members.
s.  Project Performance Appraisals (9.4 Manage Project Team)
It is important for project team members to get feedback from the project manager so that can know specifically what they are doing right and what they need to improve upon.    This can also be time for the project manager to get feedback from the project team members regarding any issues they have regarding the project or other team members that may need to get resolved.
t.  Conflict Management (9.4 Manage Project Team)
Ground rules are designed to minimize conflict on a project, but they cannot eliminate it.   A project manager needs to be able to look at the conflict situation from the perspective of all sides of the conflict in order to facilitate a resolution.
These tools & techniques are fairly clear given the subject matter of dealing with human resources, also known as people.    One of the problems I have with the phrase “human resources” is the reduction of people to commodities or things.   When a company does this and dehumanizes their employees, it is done with the idea of short-term efficiency in mind, but it always, ALWAYS leads to loss of long-term effectiveness as employees no longer for feel that they, or their ideas, matter.   This is why these tools are, as I mentioned above, underrated in terms of their importance.
The next chapter deals with chapter 10 of the 5th Edition of the PMBOK Guide, and that is the chapter on Communications Management.

Integral Theory and Project Management–Tenet #11


This series of posts take the Ken Wilber’s introduction to Integral Theory called A Brief History of Everything and discusses the 12 main tenets concerning the concept of a holon and how they can be applied to the field of project management.  I have been posting one tenet a week on Sundays; this post covers tenet #11.

1.  Recap–definition of a holon, and tenets #1-10

A holon is an entity which consists of components, and yet is itself a component of a larger whole.

Tenet #1. Reality as a whole is not composed of things or processes, but of holons.

Holons must be considered from the standpoint of interacting with other holons on the same level, and with holons at higher levels (of which the holon is just a part) and lower levels (which comprise the parts of the holon).

Tenet #2 Holons display four fundamental capacities: The horizontal capacities of self-preservation, self-adaptation, and the vertical capacities of self-transcendence and self-dissolution.

Holons follow the dual rules of evolution when it comes to holons at the same level:    survival of the fittest (self-preservation) and survival of the fitting (self-adaptation).    Holons have the property of being able to evolve to the next highest level (self-transcendence), and they can also “devolve” into their component parts (self-dissolution).

Tenet #3 Holons emerge

As mentioned in Tenet #2, holons have the property of self-transcendence or evolution to the next highest level.    This is not just a higher degree of organization, but also involves emergent properties or differences in kind from the level below.

Tenet #4 Holons emerge holarchically

Holons, as seen above, are units that are both wholes containing parts and parts of larger wholes.   This kind of nested or concentric linking of holons reminiscent of the Russian matroshka dolls is considered a holarchy.    In contrast, we see in an organizational chart the traditional notion where parts are linked vertically to the levels above them (the notion of hierarchy), and horizontally to the units at the same level (the notion of a heterarchy).

Tenet #5  Each emergent holon transcends but includes its predecessor(s)

When a higher level of holons emerges, it incorporates the holons from a lower level but adds emergent properties.  A cell contains molecules, but is an entity which is capable of reproduction, where a property that goes above and beyond what a mere collection of molecules could do on its own.

Tenet #6  The lower sets the possibilities of the higher; the higher sets the probabilities of the lower.

Tenet #5  tells us that the higher level of holon has emergent properties which go above and beyond the lower level.  However, tenet #6 says that the higher level cannot ignore the lower level, and it there is bound to a certain extent by the possibilities set by the holons of the lower level.  However, the higher level also affects the lower level in that, the order imposed by the higher level of holons will influence the patterns in which the lower levels interact.

Tenet #7–The number of levels which a hierarchy comprises determines whether it is “shallow” or “deep”; and the number of holons on any given level we shall call its “span.”

Tenet #8  Each successive level of evolution produces GREATER depth and LESS span

This tenet follows from tenet #7 if you think about the definition of “depth” and “span” of a concentrically organized system of a holarchy.   Ken Wilber makes this point because if you look at the concentric diagrams of any holarchy, the circle containing the highest level of organization is going to be on the outside, and the visual impact is that it has greater “span” in terms of area.    He is simply emphasizing the fact that span refers to the number of holons at the same level; the reason why the circle is so large is so that it can encompass the lower levels inside of it.    The fact that the largest circle, representing the holon at the highest level, has several circles within it actually means that it has the greatest depth because it includes the most levels or holons (represented by the nested series of circles inside of it).

Tenet #9  Destroy any type of holon, and you will destroy all of the holons above it and none of the holons below it.

The lower level of holon, while having less depth than the higher level (based on tenets #7 and #8), is nonetheless more fundamental for precisely the reason mentioned in the tenet.   If you get rid of the lower level of holon, you are in fact getting rid of the very components of the higher level.

Thus the higher level is more significant, in terms of adding coordination and direction to the lower level of holons, but the lower level of holons are more fundamental to the enterprise, because without them, there would BE no higher level of holons.   In terms of project management It is very important to remember as a project manager, that despite the significance of all that you do as a manager of the project, and despite the fact that the project charter and your authority has to be sponsored by management, without the team members you would not have a project at all.   They are truly fundamental to the project’s success; that is why you must take care of the members of your team.

This tenet is, therefore, a lesson in humility and a warning against humiliation of any the members of your team for having made mistakes.    Failure is to be seen as an opportunity to learn, not to be cast in terms of blame or moral failing.    By understanding that the team member is more fundamental to the project than you are as the project manager, the more likely you will treat that team member with the respect that he or she deserves.     Once you do so, you will be surprised at how much more engaged that team member will be in the success of the project.

Tenet #10–Holarchies coevolve

Recall that a holon is an entity which is both a whole and a part of a larger whole, and a holarchy is that concentric nesting of holons at higher levels.    What does “coevolve” mean?    An individual holon exists in an environment, and it evolves to fit into the environment.   When the environment changes, the holon must also change in order to maintain its fitness.

What does tenet #10 mean in the context of project management?    Every project manager exists in a system of best practice regarding project management which is codified by the Project Management Institute into the Project Management Body of Knowledge or PMBOK®.   In order to survive in the fast-changing world of project management, the project manager must evolve as well through training, which is the whole point of the PDU system of continuing education.

Another example of the principle espoused in tenet #10 that “holarchies co-evolve (with their environments)” is the fact that companies in a certain application area need to evolve as the industry in that application area evolves.    The rapid growth of agile methodology in products involving IT development is a great example of this.    The recognition of the growing importance in the IT industry of agile methodology has meant that PMI is developing a new, separate category of certification called PMI-ACP or PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner to meet this demand for agile methodology.

2.   Tenet #11–The micro is in relational exchange with the macro at all levels of its depth.

The first step in understanding this tenet is to figure out what “micro” and “macro” refer to when talking about a holon.    Each holon, say a person on a team, exists in a network of relationships with other holons at the same level of structural organization, in this case, other team members.    The “micro” referred to in the tenet means the “individual holon” and the “macro” refers to the “network of relationships with others holons at the same level of structural organization.”   Okay, each team member exists in a network of relationships with other team members.   So what?   Well, it should be obvious to a project manager that it is necessary for a successful project for the team members to have good relationships with each other, right?   So far, so good.

Where this tenet comes into play, is the insight that team members also exist in a network of relationships at higher levels of structural organization with the company–they are also members of certain functional departments, and they are also members of the organization as a whole as managed by upper management.     To maintain the success of a project, it is of course necessary to foster good relationships between team members, but it is not sufficient.   You must also foster good relationships between department members, and between members in relationship to upper management.

Let me give you an example of a situation involving project management when that was not the case.    A blogger friend of mine named Driftglass worked in IT on a software project.    The project was split into phases.    The first one was writing the programming code in modules, which were then integrated, tested, and then released as the final software package.    His group was involved in integrating the programming code modules.    Management gave an incentive to any group that finished their part of the project earlier than the deadline, thus in their eyes, saving the company money in terms of paying for man-hours.     The programmers got the job done early, which in their eyes made them heroes, and they looked forward to their incentive.    The integration people like Driftglass, however, noticed that their work was so error-laden, that they ended up having to fix a lot more bugs than they had counted on, so they took MORE time than had been scheduled.   Management started giving them a lot of negative attention for costing the company money.   Driftglass tried to explain that they were saddled with an error-laden set of programming modules, but management thought they were just “making excuses.”

On the next project, the incentive scheme worked to exacerbate the already existing problems.    Eager to earn even more money, the programmers decided to churn out their product even faster, which naturally was laden with even MORE errors, which the integration team now had to cope with.    Now each individual team member on the programming and integration phases of the project were working well together.    But the management needed to realize that the level of departments, their incentive scheme was breaking down the relationship between the programmers and those responsible for integration of the modules.    The company kept getting rid of members of Driftglass’ team whom management thought were the locus of the problem, but as each new person kept coming across the exact same problem, it finally dawned on them that maybe that wasn’t where the problem was.    By that time the company was facing not only morale problems but financial problems as well.    If they had worked on the coordination of teams between phases, and not just the teams working on each phase, they would have had better productivity from all workers on the project.

Here’s another example.   In an article on July 11, 2013, Mina Kines wrote an article for Business Week outlining the difficulties that Sears was having after Eddie Lampert, a hedge fund billionaire who is the chairman of the company, splintered the company into 30 or so units which all now had to compete for resources.    The idea is that capitalism = competition, and the more competition between units of the company, the healthier they will become.    Well, companies exist in a network of relationships to other companies in an atmosphere of competition, but even there there will be some frameworks of cooperation that benefit each company.    Taking this “nature red in tooth and claw” caricature of the way the world works and applying it internally to the company, however, has had the effect of putting Sears in a “death spiral.”   This is because employees of the company, rather than spending time, energy, and resources trying to make the company stronger so that it can compete with other companies (at the same level as the company), they end up spending most of that energy fighting employees of other units over meager company resources.    There’s any fight left for the competition after they’ve been exhausted fighting each other, to put it bluntly.

The relationships between units has been allowed to deteriorate, and thus the company’s overall relationship with the market is deteriorating as well.

Thus, a project manager needs to foster cooperation between team members, but also between departments which often have differing or even competing interests at stake when it comes to the solution of a problem.    And the members must foster a relationship with the upper management so that their needs (having to justify the return on investment, etc., to stockholders) are taken into account.     Only by fostering relationships at each and every level of interaction inside a company can the company truly be made successful.   And that is the point of this tenet.

The last post next Sunday is the twelve and final tenet of Integral Theory, and will conclude this series of posts on the relationship between Integral Theory and Project Management.

How to Run a Successful Toastmasters Division Speech Contest–10 Lessons Learned


A.   Introduction–why create a “lessons learned” document?

As the Assistant Area Governor, I was called upon by our division governor Lee Jones for the South Division Fall Speech Contest in District 30 (Chicagoland) of Toastmasters International.

I put on the Club Speech Contest at my home club, Homewood-Flossmoor Toastmasters Club, and assisted the Area Governor to put on our Area Speech Contest, so helping the Division Governor put on the Division Speech Contest was the next step.   I observed some things that worked well in all three levels of contest, and I wanted to write those things down that I would like to do again in the future when I help run the speech contests next Spring.    Some things, however, didn’t go smoothly and I would like to an opportunity to create a “lessons learned” document that will also help me know what to avoid in next Spring’s Contest.

That’s why I’m writing this post.   I’m writing it from the point of view of the contest chair, the one organizing the contest.

B.   Lessons Learned

1.    Start on time

District 30 is the Chicagoland area, and after having lived in Los Angeles, one of the big risk factors for any event is traffic.   An accident on the so-called “freeway” can add a half-hour to your trip or worse.    So if there is an event that you need to plan for, add a contingency factor in terms of time to your trip.    For example, according to the map application on my iPhone, it would take 1 hour to get from my home in Homewood (southern suburb of Chicago) up to the contest site in Broadview (near north suburb of Chicago).    I started half an hour early, and I’m glad I did.    Road construction caused a delay when I got off the freeway, but even so I got there 15 minutes early, and was able to help set up.   If I started one hour before the event like the map application recommended, I would have been 15 minutes late.   

2.  Back-up test speaker

The contest ended up starting slightly later than planned due to the fact that the first contest was the evaluation contest, and the test speaker for that contest was delayed in … you guessed it, traffic.    You should have a back-up test speaker in case the test speaker is severely delayed or cannot make it to a family emergency, etc.    And ALWAYS have all of your contest participants and contest staff (judges, timers, counters, Sergeant At Arms, Toastmaster, and contest chair) on your telephone contact list so you can contact them to get an estimated time of arrival if they are running late.

3.  Back-up contest staff

You normally need the following staff for the contest.

  • 1 Toastmaster
  • 1 chief judge
  • 1 Sergeant-At-Arms
  • 5 judges and a tiebreaking judge for the area contest, 7 judges and a tiebreaking judge for the division contest
  • 3 counters
  • 2 timers

What happens if all those who volunteered to work on the contest don’t show up?    The crucial role is that of the Toastmaster, followed by the Chief Judge.    Those are difficult to back up.   You can ask any visiting Area Governors to be judges, because normally they are encouraged to have training as judges, so they can help at each other’s Area Contests.  The ones that can be substituted at the last minute from the audience are Sergeant-At-Arms, counters, and timers.    I’ve been tapped for all three roles when the person who was supposed to be doing that role didn’t show up.   

4.   Certificates of Participation

There are two sets of certificates of participation, one for the contestants and one for the contest staff.    The certificates of participation can be given to the contestants in the post-contest “interview” section of the contest event.   However, rather than giving the certificates of participation to the staff as part of the event, to save time it is best to put the certificate of participation with their printed on it together with all the paperwork that role requires in an envelope prepared for the contest that has the name of the role written on the outside.    When a person, say the counter for the contest, arrives at the contest site, you just give them the packet.   There!  You’ve already given them a vote of appreciation for having shown up and done their role.    It is also convenient to have a little envelope for the contest staff to take home their certificates of participation once their paperwork has been turned in to the chief judge or contest chair.   And it doesn’t take any time away from the contest event by having to announce the giving of the certificate of participation to each and every contest staff participant at the event itself.   

5.   Award Trophies and Award Certificates

If you have dignitaries from the Toastmasters organization (one contestant acknowledged them ironically as “Toastmasters royalty”), then having them help you hand out the award trophies is a nice touch to the contest and makes the winners feel that much more appreciated.    Now the award certificates won’t have the pre-printed names on them like the certificates of appreciation for the ones doing the contest staff roles, because obviously you don’t know who is going to win before the contest.   But one elegant solution that our Division Governor Lee Jones came up with is to have a sheet of pre-printed labels with each contestant’s name on it, double-checked for spelling accuracy.   

As a counter, I just had to peel off the winner’s names, and stick them on the award certificates, and voila, we were done!

6.   Congratulate the “Non-Winners”

This is not a procedural issue, as much as a psychological one.   When I entered my first contest, I put so much effort into my speech and, although I won in the Area Contest, I didn’t even get third place in the Division Contest.   I was so disappointed, and I resolved never again to enter a speech contest.    Then one of the people at the contest came up to me and encouraged me, saying that the speech was a good one, they enjoyed it, and that I really had talent and should consider joining the contest next year.    On the way home, I was already picking out the subject of next year’s speech, and I caught myself and had to laugh at myself.    Wow, if I’m picking out the subject of the speech for next year’s contest on the way home from the last contest, that means I’m definitely hooked on these contests!    And then I realized that just half an hour before, before I had received that encouragement, I had vowed never to enter a contest again.   Now I vowed to make sure that I encouraged those who tried their hardest in the contest only to “lose” that, in my eyes they were winners for having entered the contest.  

7.  Instructions for Judges

At the various contests, judge’s ballots have been disqualified for the following reasons:

  • Ballot not signed
  • Ballot not filled out completely (third place winner left off and only the first and second place winner listed)
  • More than one name put on the ballot in a single line (judge thought first-place was a tie and listed two people)

The first mistake of not signing the ballot can be corrected by having the chief judge instruct the judges at the judges briefing to sign their ballots right then and there.    One other great idea from Lee Jones is to have them pre-fold or bend their ballot so that the bottom portion is easy to separate after they have made their decision. 

Make sure the chief judge tells the judges that there is no trophy for the third-place winner, but there is an award certificate, so they need to make sure that they list the first, second, AND third-place winners on the ballot.    In the statistically unlikely event that they have a tie between two people, they must make a decision and put one person’s name on the ballot, and then put the other person’s name as the next-highest place winner.    There is a mechanism if the total from ALL judges forms a tie (that is why there is a tie-breaking judge), but there is no mechanism for a tie from any INDIVIDUAL judge.    

8.   Toastmasters Announcement of Contestants

One of the problems about announcing Contestants is that once the Toastmaster says, “and now our next contestant is … JOHN DOE”, everybody applauds, and if the Toastmaster then goes on to say the title, repeats the title, and then repeats the person’s name while everybody is applauding, nobody can hear the speech title.    This is especially true if the contestant is coming from the back, and then once they get up to the lectern, they think there is going to be an additional introduction as they were briefed in the contestant’s briefing, and so they are not sure whether they should go ahead with their speech or not.    Contestants have enough on their mind without worrying about whether the Toastmaster has given the correct signal or not to the judges.   

So in the next contest, the contestants will be told that they will be standing to the side or the back, and the Toastmaster will say, “and now the next contestant,” and GESTURE to the person to approach the lectern.    Then he or she can applaud, leading the audience to follow suit.   Once the applause has died down and the person is AT the lectern, the Toastmaster can THEN say the person’s name, the speech title, repeat the speech title, and then the person’s name.    That will allow the audience to acknowledge the speaker with applause without it interfering with the opening “ritual” of the speech which is there for the judges, timers, and the speaker to know when the speech actually begins.

9.   Contestant’s Speech Set-Up

Some people give a speech with props or with an accompanying PowerPoint presentation.    The contestant should not do the set-up for the speech.   This should be done by the Sergeant-at-Arms.   This is because if the person gets up and starts setting up the props, this may be interpreted by the judges and/or timers to be part of the speech.    This is because a speech technically starts with the “first definite verbal or nonverbal communication with the audience.”    Having the Sergeant-At-Arms do the set-up takes away any ambiguity.   Also, the contestant can focus on doing the speech, and not getting the logistics right regarding the props.  

10.   Toastmasters are the Masters of Ceremony, not the Ceremony itself

It is has been said that there are three stages of becoming an effective Toastmaster.    The first is when you are afraid to get on stage.   That’s the initial “butterflies” that people feel about public speaking that they are there to conquer at Toastmasters.    The second stage is when you afraid to get OFF stage.    This is when you are bursting in confidence and now see any public speaking event as an opportunity rather than a threat.    The point here is:    at a contest, it’s not about you, it’s about the contestants.    I have seen Toastmasters at Contests, not here in Chicago, but back in California, that were so intent on entertaining the audience that they made jokes and comedy routines that while making the audience laugh, also made the contest drag on too long and also put more emphasis on the audience paying attention to them rather than paying attention to the contestants.

So the third stage of being a Toastmaster is when you know when to get on stage, but also know when it is time to get off stage.    I can truly say that the Toastmaster for last night’s Division Contest, had reached this stage.   She was enthusiastic at the beginning, kept things going in an effective but cheerful manner throughout, and made the contestants feel as relaxed as they could be under the circumstances.    I intend to watch the video of the contest not just to watch the speeches again, but also to watch the Toastmaster, because that’s how I want to conduct myself as Toastmaster when I get to be the MC for a Division level contest.

These are my observations on what seemed to work well and what needed work in order for the contest to be even better the next time around.    Toastmasters is an organization devoted to self-improvement, and that includes their speech contests!

 

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Step 5: Memorizing Tools & Techniques (Quality Knowledge Area)


1. Introduction

This series of posts assumes that you have already memorized the names of the 47 project management processes, and you are ready to go on to the task of memorizing the tools & techniques.    This post covers chapter 8 of the 5th Edition PMBOK® Guide, the Quality Knowledge Area.

2.  Quality Knowledge Area Processes

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.

ProcessName Process Description Tools & Techniques
8.1 Plan Quality Management Identifies quality requirements and/or standards for the project and its deliverables; documents how project will demonstrates compliance with quality standards. 1.  Cost-benefit analysis

2.  Cost of quality

3.  Seven basic quality tools

4.  Benchmarking

5.  Design of experiments

6.  Statistical sampling

7.  Additional quality planning tools

8.  Meetings

 

8.2 Perform QualityAssurance Audits quality requirements and results from quality control measurements to ensure appropriate quality standards and operational definitions are used. 1.  Quality management and montrol Tools

2.  Quality audits

3.  Process analysis

 

8.3 Perform Quality Control Monitors and records results of executing the quality activities to assess performance and recommend necessary changes. 1.  Seven basic quality tools

2.  Statistical sampling

3.  Inspection

4.  Approved change requests review

 

3.   Quality Management Tools & techniques

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

a.   Cost-benefit analysis, Cost of quality (8.1 Plan Quality Management)

The cost-benefit analysis related to planning quality is a comparison for each quality activity of the costs of quality with the benefits of quality.    The cost of improving quality come in the form of a) prevention costs, such as improvement of the design or of the production process, or b) 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 be offset by the cost benefits of quality, which come from the decrease in what are collectively referred to as the cost of nonconformance.   These include a) costs of reworking or scrapping products that do not meet the company’s quality standards, and b) the costs associated with allowing poor quality products to get into the marketplace (warranty costs, product liability costs, and reduced customer satisfaction).

b.   Seven Basic Quality Tools (8.1 Plan Quality Management, 8.3 Perform Quality Control)

These are

  1. Cause-and-effect diagrams, also known as fishbone or Ishikawa diagrams–used to link the undesirable effects of the such as special variation to an assignable cause, upon which should correction actions should be taken by the project team to get rid of the special variation
  2. Flowcharts–used in understanding and estimating the cost of quality in a process
  3. Check sheets, also known as tally sheets–used in gathering attributes data while performing inspections to identify defects
  4. Pareto diagrams–used to identify the vital few sources that are responsible for causing most of a problem’s effects
  5. Histograms–used to describe the central tendency, dispersion, and shape of a statistical distribution
  6. Control charts–used to determine whether a process it stable or has predictable performance
  7. Scatter diagrams–used to explain a change in the dependent variable Y in relationship to a change observed in the corresponding independent variable X

In 8.1 Plan Quality Management, the quality tools that are used in the 8.3 Perform Quality Control process are detailed, and 8.3 Perform Quality Control process implements the tools according to the Quality Management Plan.

c.  Benchmarking (8.1 Plan Quality Management)

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 to your new project, and provide a basis for measuring performance.

d.  Design of experiments (8.1 Plan Quality Management)

This is a statistical method for identifying which factors may influence specific variables of a product or process under development.   It is used to determine the number and type of tests and their impact on the cost of quality.

e. Statistical sampling (8.1 Plan Quality Management, 8.3 Perform Quality Control)

This is planning for the inspection of the product as part of quality control.   It involves choosing part of a population at interest for inspection, with sample frequency and size determined so that the cost of quality will include the number of tests, expected scrap generated by the inspection process, etc.

f.  Additional quality planning tools (8.1 Plan Quality Management)

These are

  1. Brainstorming–used to generate ideas
  2. Force field analysis–used to analyze the forces for and against a given change
  3. Nominal group technique–used to allow ideas to be brainstormed in small groups and then reviewed by a larger group

g.  Meetings (8.1 Plan Quality Management)

Any time you are creating a management plan, meetings are an essential tool to make sure that all team members are involved in exploring the issues involved in the plan.    This makes sure that all of the bases get covered as thoroughly as possible, but also so that team members buy into the plan because of their participation in its creation in the first place.

h.  Quality management and control tools (8.2 Perform Quality Assurance)

Some of the tools that may be used include:

  1. Affinity diagrams–used to generate ideas that can be linked to form organized patterns of thought about a problem
  2. Process decision program charts (PDPC)–used to understand a goal in relation to the steps for getting to the goal; it aids teams in anticipating intermediate steps which could detail achievement of that goal
  3. Interrelationship digraphs–developed from data generated by other tools such as the affinity diagram, the tree diagram, and the fishbone (cause-and-effect) diagram, they provide a process for creative problem solving in moderately complex scenarios that possess intertwined logical relationships
  4. Tree diagrams, also known as systematic diagrams–represent decomposition hierarchies such as WBS (work breakdown structure), and are used for establishing an expected value for a number of dependent relationships
  5. Prioritization matrices–identifies the key issues and suitable alternatives to be prioritized according to specified criteria
  6. Activity network diagrams, also known as arrow diagrams–used with project scheduling methodologies
  7. Matrix diagrams–used to perform data analysis within the structure of the matrix, showing relationships between factors, causes and objectives that are listed in the rows and columns of the matrix

i.   Quality Audit, Process Analysis (8.2 Perform Quality Assurance)

You should think of the term quality assurance as synonymous with the words quality audit, because that is the main technique of assuring that the best quality practices are being implemented.    It focuses on quality of the processes themselves, rather than the quality of the results as is the case in 8.3 Perform Quality Control.    A quality audit is a structured, independent process and can identify whether there needs to be improvements made in the existing processes.  Through process analysis, changes are suggested and if they are approved, the quality audit can, the next time around, confirm that those approved changes have been implemented.

j.  Inspection (8.3 Perform Quality Control)

The statistical sampling that was planned in the 8.1 Plan Quality Management process is now used to perform the inspections that show whether the deliverables being produced as part of the project conform to the quality standards also set forth in that 8.1 Plan Quality Management process.

k.   Approved change request review

If quality control shows that there is a problem, this is solved through the various quality tools mentioned in previous questions, and a change is then suggested to alleviate that problem.    Once the change is approved, it is then implemented, and the quality control process is used to verify that the change did indeed alleviate the problem.

These tools & techniques are easier to memorize that the ones for time or cost, because in this edition of the PMBOK® Guide, as opposed to earlier editions, the various quality tools are not listed individually but in groups (“Seven basic quality tools”).   The tools & techniques for quality assurance are different than those for quality control, and if you understand the difference between these two, then the tools & techniques appropriate to each of them should be pretty clear.

Next Monday will start a review of the tools & techniques for the remaining 5 knowledge areas in the PMBOK® Guide, covering chapters 9 through 13.

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Step 5: Memorizing Tools & Techniques (Cost Knowledge Area)


1. Introduction

This series of posts assumes that you have already memorized the names of the 47 project management processes, and you are ready to go on to the task of memorizing the tools & techniques.    This post covers chapter 7 of the 5th Edition PMBOK® Guide, the Cost Knowledge Area.

2.   Cost Management Processes

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

Process Name Process Description Tools & Techniques
7.1  Plan Cost Management Establishes policies, procedures, and documentation for all project cost-related processes. 1.  Expert judgement2.  Analytical techniques3.  Meetings
7.2  Estimate Costs Develops an approximation of the monetary resources needed to complete project activities. 1.  Expert judgment2.  Analogous estimating3.  Parametric estimating

4.  Bottom-up estimating

5.  Three-point estimating

6.  Reserve analysis

7.  Cost of quality

8.  Project management software

9.  Vendor bid analysis

10.  Group decision-making techniques

7.3  Estimate Budget Estimates costs of individual activities or work packages to establish an authorized cost baseline. 1.  Cost aggregation2.  Reserve analysis3.  Expert judgment

4.  Historical relationships

5.  Funding limit reconciliation

7.4  Control Costs Monitors the status of the project to update the project costs and manage changes to the cost baseline. 1.  Earned Value Management2.  Forecasting3.  To-Complete Performance Index (TCPI)

4.  Variance Analysis

5.  Performance Reviews

6.  Project documents updates

7.  Reserve analysis

3.   Cost Management Tools & Techniques

a.   Expert judgment (7.1 Plan Cost Management, 7.2 Estimate Costs, 7.3 Determine Budget)

This tool is used on a lot of planning processes in each knowledge area not just for this particular knowledge area.   Remember that for project management, an expert is either someone who is considered a subject matter expert or SME (a consultant) OR someone who is considered an expert on a specific part of the project (a team member).    The subject matter expert has generalized knowledge about a subject, and the team member expert has specialized knowledge about a specific aspect of the project.   You use this expert judgment technique to consult:

  • team members who worked on Cost Management, estimating techniques, and determining the budget on previous projects
  • subject matter experts with information on Cost Management and estimating techniques relevant to the industry and application area

b.  Analytical Techniques, Meetings (7.1 Plan Cost Management)

Analytical techniques are usually used when there is some sort of strategic decision to be considered, and in the planning phase, you may have to decide whether the project will be self-funded (out of revenue), or funded through equity or debt.   Also, the funding for the project may come incrementally throughout the project rather than all at the beginning of the project.

Meetings are needed because of the tremendous number of stakeholders involved in the project’s finances, even if they are not directly involved in the project itself, such as the program and/or portfolio manager, upper management and some departmental heads (especially Finance, but also Human Resources).    Meetings are needed to gather input from as many of those stakeholders as possible, and to obtain buy-in from those stakeholders at the earliest stage of planning in order to prevent as much as possible any changes to the cost baseline from occurring farther down the line.

c.  Analogous Estimating, Parametric Estimating, Three-Point Estimating, Group Decision-Making Techniques, Reserve Analysis (7.2  Estimate Costs)

The keyword that links all of these tools & techniques together is the word estimating.    These are exactly the same techniques used in the Time Management processes 6.5 Estimate Activity Durations, except they are applied to estimating costs of doing activities or completing work packages, rather than estimating time durations.

Analogous Estimating and Parametric Estimating are BOTH based on historical data from previous projects, but analogous estimating is based on the production of the whole project whereas parametric estimating is based on a unit cost of doing the project.    For example, let’s say you want to estimate the cost of building a new house in a subdivision.    There are two ways of going about it:   one is to get an estimate of how much it cost to build an entire house in that subdivision in the past.   If the model of your new house is similar to that of the previously existing one, then you can create an analogous estimate.  However, you can also, figure out how much it cost to build that previous  existing house per square foot of space.    Then you can use that unit cost to estimate how much it will cost to build your new house.

Three-Point Estimating is where the world of risk management starts entering into cost management.    Each estimate of an activity should have three components, the most likely estimate t(M), the pessimistic estimate (tP), and the optimistic estimate (tO).   The pessimistic and optimistic estimate will be based on an analysis of risk assumptions that are either opportunities (+) or threats (-) to the schedule.   How these three estimates are combined into a final estimate (tE) depends on what distribution you are using:

  • Triangular:  tE = (tO + tM + tP/3)
  • Beta:  tE = (tO + 4tM + tP)/6

Group Decision-Making Techniques are used to brainstorm with all of your team members as a group in order to improve estimate accuracy.

Reserve Analysis is another way in which risk management enters into cost management.   Based on analysis of possible risks that may affect the schedule, it use Contingency Reserves in the form of cost reserves called contingency reserves to account for those risk responses which may need to be done for risks that are the “known-unknowns” that have been listed on the risk register.   For the “unknown-unknowns” risks that are not listed on the risk register, there is another set of reserves called management reserves to fund the “ad-hoc ” risk responses called “workarounds” which may have to be developed on the fly if such risks do end up occurring.

The three “total” amounts you have to be concerned with in cost management are

  • project estimate = sum of the estimated costs for all work packages in the project
  • cost baseline = project estimate + contingency reserves
  • cost budget = cost baseline + management reserves

The performance of the project is measured against the cost baseline, NOT the cost budget.

As the name implies, management reserves, as opposed to the contingency reserves, are NOT under control by the project manager and the project manager will have to get approval for them.   If risks that are anticipated at certain points in the project do not materialize, then those contingency reserves can be absorbed into the cost budget as a result.

NOTE:   Reserve analysis can also be used during the 7.4 Control Costs process for this reason.   Let’s say the anticipated risks for which contingency reserves are set aside end up not occurring after all.   Whew!   Well, you dodged a bullet there.   But that is why that portion of the contingency reserves is no longer needed and may be returned, with management approval, to the cost budget, which is not under control of the project manager, or perhaps even returned to the finances of the entire organization, or in other words, taken out of the cost budget altogether, for use on other projects.

d.  Cost of Quality (7.2 Estimate Cost)

Another knowledge area which impinges upon Cost Management is the area of Quality Management.    There are costs of conformity, which are the costs of making sure that the quality of the actual deliverables is that which has been planned for in the Quality Management Plan.   These include costs such as prevention (training, equipment, documentation) and appraisal (inspection, destructive testing).    There are costs of nonconformity, which are the costs which your organization will incur if the quality of the actual deliverables is NOT that which has been planned for in the Quality Management Plan.  These include costs such as internal costs (reworking, scrapping defective deliverables), and external costs (warranty, product liability, lost business).   The costs of conformity should be less than the costs of nonconformity.   If they are, then the costs of conformity may need to be figured into the cost baseline.    Those for training about quality in general may not be attributable to the project itself, but costs of inspection may be.

e.  Vendor Bid Analysis (7.2 Estimate Costs)

Yet another knowledge area that impinges upon Cost Management is the area of Procurement Management.   In addition to the cost of the organization producing the deliverables in the work packages, the costs of the deliverables attained from suppliers also needs to be accounted for in the project costs.

f.  Project Management Software (7.2 Estimate Costs)

This is a tool, not a technique, and is helpful in keeping track of cost estimates, just as it was helpful in keeping track of estimates of activity resources and activity durations in the Time Management knowledge area.

g.  Cost Aggregation, Historical Relationships, Funding Limit Reconciliation (7.3 Determine Budget)

Cost Aggregation is simply taking the costs of individual activities or the work packages they produce and summing them up for the entire project.

First you take the costs for each activity and summing them to get the costs for each work package.    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.  Finally, you sum up the control account estimates, and you get the project estimate.

In reserve analysis, you add contingency reserves to the project estimate to get the cost baseline, which is what the performance of the project is measured against.    You add the management reserves to that, and you get the final cost budget.

h.  Historical Relationships (7.3 Determine Budget)

Previous projects can be used to develop analogous or parametric estimates, which are discussed above in paragraph c.

i.  Funding Limit Reconciliation (7.3 Determine Budget)

As mentioned above in paragraph b under Analytical Techniques, the funding for a project may come all at once at the beginning of the project, or it may come in increments at various times in the project.

The expenditure of funds for a project over the course of the project has to be reconciled with the periodic funding 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.

j.  Earned Value Management (7.4 Control Costs)

The three key pieces of work performance data regarding the performance of the work on the project come from Earned Value Management or EVM.    Earned value management can answer the question “where are we now in relationship to the budget?”.

  • Planned value asks “how much of the budget has been assigned to do the work that was supposed to be done by this point?”
  • Earned value asks “how much of the budget has been assigned to do the work that was ACTUALLY DONE by this point?”
  • Actual costs asks “how much did the work that was actually done by this point ACTUALLY COST?

This is work performance data, which is used to derive work performance information in the form of the following:

  • Cost Variance (CV) = Earned Value (EV) – Actual Costs (AC)
  • Cost Performance Index (CPI) = EV/AC

Similar values are used for time management, in particular:

  • Schedule Variance (SV) = Earned Value (EV) – Planned Value (PV)
  • Schedule Performance Index (SPI) = EV/AC

If the CV or SV are negative, that is a bad thing, meaning that the project is either overbudget or behind schedule.

If the CV or SV are positive, that is a good thing, meaning that the project is either under budget or ahead of schedule.

Similarly, if CPI or SPI are < 1, that is a bad thing, meaning that the project is either overbudget or behind schedule, and

if CPI or SPI are > 1, that is a good thing, meaning that the project is either under budget or ahead of schedule.

k.  Forecasting (7.4 Control Costs)

Forecasting can answer the question “given where we are now (which was determined with the EVM), 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).

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.

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.

FormulaNo. Formula FormulaName 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)/CPIOrEAC = BAC/CPI

 

Performance estimate low Reason for variance will continue at same rate
4 EAC = AC + (BAC – EV)/CPI*SPI Performanceestimate 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.

l.  To-Complete Performance index (TCPI) (7.4 Control Costs)

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.

m.  Performance reviews, Variance Analysis (7.4 Control Costs)

This measures the performance of the project compared to the cost baseline.    Let’s say the performance on the project is varying from the cost baseline, and that the project is now overbudget.    In order to suggest a change to the project which will bring it back in line with the cost baseline, you need to do variance analysis to get at the root cause for what is bringing the project overbudget.    In this case, something is costing more than it was expected to cost.

There is a second possibility that might emerge out of variance analysis, and that is that certain costs were not included in the cost baseline.   In this case, you need to change the cost baseline to account for them, so it is a case of bringing the cost baseline in line with the actual project performance, rather than the other way around like in the previous paragraph.

In either case, the result of the performance review and variance analysis will result in making a change request so that the performance of the project improves.    Earned Value Management and Variance Analysis, although not explicitly mentioned as a tool and technique for 7.4 Control Schedule, can be used to figure out what activities are costing more in terms of time than they were originally scheduled for through the quantities SV and SPI rather than CV and CPI.
This post was an exhaustive (and I’m sure exhausting) review of all the tools & techniques used in various processes in Time Management.   Some of them, especially those that deal with estimation, are techniques that are also used in Cost Management for estimation as well.
The next post will cover the tools & techniques of chapter 8 of the 5th Edition PMBOK® Guide, that of Quality Management.

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Step 5: Memorizing Tools & Techniques (Time Knowledge Area)


1. Introduction

This series of posts assumes that you have already memorized the names of the 47 project management processes, and you are ready to go on to the task of memorizing the tools & techniques.    This post covers chapter 6 of the 5th Edition PMBOK® Guide, the Time Knowledge Area.

2.   Time Management Area Processes

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

Process Name Process Description Tools & Techniques
6.1  Plan Schedule Management Establishes the policies, procedures, and documentation for all project schedule-related processes. 1.  Expert judgment

2.  Analytical techniques

3.  Meetings

6.2  Define Activities Identities and documents activities to be performed to produce the project deliverables. 1.  Decomposition

2.  Rolling wave planning

3.  Expert judgment

6.3  Sequence Activities Identifies and documents relationships among the project activities. 1.  Precedence diagramming method (PDM)

2.  Dependency determination

3.  Leads & lags

6.4  Estimate Activity Resources Estimates type and quantities of resources (material, human resources, equipment, or supplies) required to perform each activity. 1.  Expert judgment

2.  Alternative analysis

3.  Published estimating data

4.  Bottom-up estimating

5.  Project management software

6.5  Estimate Activity Durations Estimates the number of work periods needed to complete individual activities with specified resources. 1.  Expert judgment

2.  Analogous estimating

3.  Parametric estimating

4.  Three-point estimating

5.  Group decision-making techniques

6.  Reserve analysis

6.6  Develop Schedule Analyzes activity sequences, durations, resource requirements, and schedule constraints to create the project schedule model. 1.  Schedule network analysis

2.  Critical path method

3.  Critical chain method

4.  Resource optimization techniques

5.  Modeling techniques

6.  Leads & lags

7.  Schedule compression

8.  Scheduling tool

6.7  Control Schedule Monitors status of project activities to update project progress and manage changes to schedule baseline in order to achieve the plan. 1.  Performance reviews

2.  Project management software

3.  Resource optimization techniques

4.  Modeling techniques

5.  Leads & lags

6.  Schedule compression

7.  Scheduling tool

3.   Time Management Area Tools & Techniques

Since the time management area has the most processes of all the knowledge areas, 7 in total, and some of these have up 7 or 8 tools & techniques each, this is probably one the more complicated areas to memorize tools & techniques.    Rather than going through each one individually, I will pick up some individual tools & techniques, plus some tools & techniques which are best memorized in groups because they are thematically related and often used as part of the same process.

a.  Expert judgment (6.1 Plan Schedule Management, 6.2 Define Activities, 6.4 Estimate Activity Resources, 6.5 Estimate Activity Durations)

This tool is used on a lot of planning processes in each knowledge area not just for this particular knowledge area.   Remember that for project management, an expert is either someone who is considered a subject matter expert or SME (a consultant) OR someone who is considered an expert on a specific part of the project (a team member).    The subject matter expert has generalized knowledge about a subject, and the team member expert has specialized knowledge about a specific aspect of the project.   You use expert judgment to consult:

  • those who worked on previous projects to see how the schedule was managed on those projects (6.1 Plan Schedule Management), what resources were required on those projects (6.4 Estimate Activity Resources), and how long activities took on those projects (6.5 Estimate Activity Durations)
  • those with specialized knowledge of the project scope statement and the work breakdown structure (WBS), in order to take each work package and define the activities required to complete them

b.  Analytical techniques, Meetings (6.1 Plan Schedule Management)

Analytical techniques are usually used when there is some sort of strategic decision to be considered, and in the planning phase, you may have to decide which estimating technique to use, whether to use a schedule compression technique such as fast tracking or crashing, and how project risks may affect the schedule.

Because so many stakeholders are affected by the project schedule, meetings are needed to gather input from as many of those stakeholders as possible, and to obtain buy-in from those stakeholders at the earliest stage of planning in order to prevent as many changes from occurring farther down the line.

c.  Decomposition, Rolling Wave Planning (6.2 Define Activities)

It should be pretty clear that decomposition is a tool of 6.2 Define Activities, because it is going from the WBS (the work breakdown structure), which has work packages as the smallest unit of scope to be completed, and translating that into activities which are required to create those work packages.   It is the first step in translating units of scope into units of time.   Another way to think of it is that you are taking work packages which are nouns, and translating them into activities, which are verbs.

Rolling Wave Planning is a technique of progressive elaboration, where the initial activities are planned in greater detail, and the activities which come later in the future are planned in less detail.    A visual analogy is that of a train coming down the tracks, when not all of the tracks have been laid down yet for the entire route.   You need to place priority in having the tracks directly in front of the train already in place, while others who are scouting ahead are looking at the terrain and placing the tracks in the areas that the train will get to later on.

d.  Precedence Diagramming Method (PDM), Dependency Determination (6.3 Sequence Activities)

Dependency Determination is used to figure out whether activities have mandatory vs. discretionary dependency, and internal vs. external dependency.   Mandatory dependencies are a) legal or contractual, or b) inherent in the nature of the work (i.e., concrete must be allowed to harden before load is placed on it).   Discretionary dependencies are based on best practices, but can be altered if required for fast tracking or crashing, whereas mandatory dependencies have no such flexibility.

External dependencies are outside of the project team’s control and internal dependencies are within the project team’s control.   Thus fast tracking or crashing must choose those dependencies which are internal, and not external, to work on.

Precedence Diagramming Method constructs a schedule model by representing each activity by a node (graphically represented by a box) that is connected in one of four possible ways to its successor activity:  finish-to-start (most common), start-to-start, finish-to-finish, and start-to-finish (least common).    For example, with finish-to-start, the successor activity cannot start until a predecessor activity has finished.

e.  Alternative Analysis, Published Estimating Data, Bottom-Up Estimating (6.4 Estimate Activity Resources)

The keyword that links all of these tools & techniques together is the word resources.    Logically speaking, you cannot figure out how long an activity is going to take until you first know the quantity of resources available to work on that activity.    That is why 6.4 Estimate Activity Resources comes before 6.5 Estimate Activity Durations.

Alternative Analysis gives the different alternative resources that can be used to achieve the same activity.

Published Estimating Data gives data on the unit costs of various resources that can be used on the project.

Bottom-Up Estimating takes the individual estimate for the quantity of resources that is used to do each activity required to produce a work package, and these individual estimates are summed up to get the total amount of resources required to produce that work package.

f.  Analogous Estimating, Parametric Estimating, Three-Point Estimating, Group Decision-Making Techniques, Reserve Analysis (6.5 Estimate Activity Durations)

The keyword that links all of these tools & techniques together is the word durations.

Analogous Estimating and Parametric Estimating are BOTH based on historical data from previous projects, but analogous estimating is based on the production of the whole project whereas parametric estimating is based on a unit cost of doing the project.    For example, let’s say you want to estimate the cost of building a new house in a subdivision.    There are two ways of going about it:   one is to get an estimate of how much it cost to build an entire house in that subdivision in the past.   If the model of your new house is similar to that of the previously existing one, then you can create an analogous estimate.  However, you can also, figure out how much it cost to build that previous  existing house per square foot of space.    Then you can use that unit cost to estimate how much it will cost to build your new house.

Three-Point Estimating is where the world of risk management starts entering into time management.    Each estimate of an activity should have three components, the most likely estimate t(M), the pessimistic estimate (tP), and the optimistic estimate (tO).   The pessimistic and optimistic estimate will be based on an analysis of risk assumptions that are either opportunities (+) or threats (-) to the schedule.   How these three estimates are combined into a final estimate (tE) depends on what distribution you are using:

  • Triangular:  tE = (tO + tM + tP/3)
  • Beta:  tE = (tO + 4tM + tP)/6

Group Decision-Making Techniques are used to brainstorm with all of your team members as a group in order to improve estimate accuracy.

Reserve Analysis is another way in which risk management enters into time management.   Based on analysis of possible risks that may affect the schedule, it use Contingency Reserves in the form of time reserves or buffers to account for schedule uncertainty.    If risks that are anticipated at certain points in the project do not materialize, then those buffers can be absorbed and the schedule possibly shortened as a result.

g.  Schedule Network Analysis, Critical Path Method, Critical Chain Method, Resource Optimization Techniques, Modeling Techniques, Leads and Lags (6.6 Develop Schedule, 6.7 Control Schedule)

Once you know what the activities are (6.2), you have the sequence in which you are to do them (6.3), you know the resources you have to do them (6.4), and you know how long it will take to do them (6.5), you can then fit all of this together into the schedule model, which is the key phrase that links all of the above tools & techniques together.

Schedule Network Analysis is an all encompassing term for techniques used to build the schedule model, and this includes the next three techniques of the Critical Path Method, the Critical Chain Method, and Resource Optimization Techniques.

The Critical Path Method determines which activities are on the critical path of the project, which means that any delay in these activities will delay the entire project.    Those activities that are not on the critical path are said to be on a non-critical path, and have a certain amount of float.   An activity that has three days float will not cause any delay to the critical path unless it is delayed for more than three days.

The Critical Chain Method adds buffers to prevent any delays along the critical path or non-critical path which would impact the finishing date of the project.

Resource Optimization Techniques takes into account the fact that, although it may take a certain amount of work periods to complete an activity if the theoretical maximum of 100% of the resources are available, since resources must be shared among projects, there may be some activities that can only use a smaller portion of those resources, which will mean that the activity will take longer.

Finally, Leads & Lags are those activities which must start earlier (leads) or later than (lags) their predecessor activities finish.   Although these are analyzed in 6.3 Sequence Activities, they must be inserted in the schedule model (6.6) to make sure that activities flow smoothly from one to the next.

h.  Schedule Compression (6.6 Develop Schedule, 6.7 Control Schedule)

Once the schedule model is created using the techniques mentioned in paragraph g), what if it says the project will take longer than the basic time constraint you have to work with?   Here is where you need to investigate the techniques of fast-tracking (doing activities in parallel which were earlier planned to be done in sequence) and crashing (adding more resources to get the job done in less time).    Crashing is, in effect, the opposite of resource optimization techniques like resource leveling, described in the previous paragraph.   When your resources are limited, you may have to take more time than you had planned (that is what resource optimization is about).   Conversely, if your time is limited, however, you may have to spend more resources than you had planned in order to get that activity done in that limited time (that is what crashing an activity is about).   Fast-tracking reduces the time, but the offset is that increases the risk that the work done may be of lower quality and may have to be redone.   So schedule compression techniques generally require a trade-off of some kind.

j.   Project Management Software, Scheduling Tool (6.4 Estimate Activity Resources, 6.6 Develop Schedule, 6.7 Control Schedule)

These are tools that are used to take the resources and apply them to activities (6.4), and then to build the schedule model (6.6).    Microsoft Project and Primavera are examples of such tools.

k.  Performance Reviews (6.7 Control Schedule)

This does not mean performance reviews of team members, but reviews of how the project is performing in actuality as opposed to how it is supposed to be going according to plan.    If is not going according to plan, this will necessitate changes to the schedule.    This is why some of the techniques in the last paragraphs can be used not just in developing the schedule (6.6), but making changes to that schedule as well (6.7).

This is quite a long list of tools & techniques, but if you analyze what the process does, the tool & technique used to accomplish that process should make sense.

The next post covers the next chapter of the PMBOK® Guide, chapter 7 which covers the knowledge area of cost management.

5th Edition PMBOK® Guide—Step 5: Memorizing Tools & Techniques (Scope Knowledge Area)


1.  Introduction

This series of posts assumes that you have already memorized the names of the 47 project management processes, and you are ready to go on to the task of memorizing the tools & techniques.    This post covers chapter 5 of the 5th Edition PMBOK® Guide, the Scope Knowledge Area.

2.   Scope Knowledge Area Processes

Here is a chart summarizing the six processes of the Scope Management Area, the first four of which are in the Planning Process Group, and the last two of which are in the Monitoring & Controlling Process Group.

Process
Number & Name
Process Description Tools & Techniques
5.1  Plan Scope Management Creates a scope management plan that documents how project scope is defined, validated, and controlled. 1.  Expert judgment2.  Meetings
5.2  Collect Requirements Determines, documents, and manages stakeholder needs and requirements to meet project objectives. 1.  Interviews2.  Focus groups3.  Facilitated workshops

4.  Group creativity techniques

5.  Group decision-making techniques

6.  Questionnaires and surveys

7.  Observations

8.  Prototypes

9.  Benchmarking

10.  Context diagrams

11.  Document analysis

5.3  Define Scope Develops a detailed description of the project and the product. 1.  Expert judgment2.  Product analysis3.  Alternatives generation

4.  Facilitated workshops

5.4  Create WBS Subdivides project deliverables and project work into smaller, more manageable components. 1.  Decomposition2.  Expert judgment
5.5  Validate Scope Formalizes acceptance of the completed project deliverables. 1.  Inspection2.  Group decision-making techniques
5.6  Control Scope Monitors the status of the project and product scope and manages changes to the scope baseline. 1.  Variance analysis

3.   Integration Knowledge Area Tools & Techniques

Okay, let’s take 5.1, and 5.2-5.6 first, and discuss the most complicated process as far as tools & techniques are concerned, 5.2, last.

a.  Expert Judgment (5.1 Plan Scope Management and 5.4 Create WBS)

When planning scope management, or breaking down the scope to more manageable components, it is very helpful to get people who have done this before.    If your project is similar to ones done in the past, either by someone in your own organization or by someone in the industry, you can consider that person a Subject Matter Expert or SME for the purpose of planning your project’s scope or breaking it down to smaller, more manageable components.   That’s why this tool & technique is used for these two processes.

b.  Meetings (5.1 Plan Scope Management)

When you are doing planning, especially when it deals with one of the triple constraints of time, cost and scope (as in this case), having the entire project team working together on the task is important.   It is important not just to make sure that nothing essentially is left out, but also for reasons of group cohesion:   by having everybody involved, it is easier to get “buy-in” from all team members because they were all involved from the very beginning of the formal planning process.

c.  Inspection (5.5 Validate Scope)

This should be an obvious tool of “validate scope” because how else are the customers (or sponsors) going to figure out whether the deliverable meets their requirements and expectations?

d.  Variance Analysis (5.6 Control Scope)

The fact that variance analysis is used to figure out the difference between the planned scope and the actual scope should give you the clue that this is used when monitoring the scope.

e,  Decomposition (5.4 Create WBS)

The word “breakdown” in Work Breakdown Structure should be a clue as to the “Decomposition” technique.

f.  Group decision-making techniques (5.2 Collect Requirements and 5,5 Validate Scope)

The need for a group to make a decision on the requirements comes from the fact that after gathering all of the requirements (which is done with a lot of the other tools & techniques used for process 5.2 Collect Requirements), some of them will have higher priorities among certain stakeholders and some of them may even conflict.    In short, you may be able to please everybody, so a decision has to be made, and that is where the group decision-making comes into play.

The 5.5 Validate Scope process needs a group decision for this reason.   Let’s say the deliverable has been inspected, and the results of the inspection are known.   Does the deliverable meet the requirements and/or needs of the customer?    The customer needs to validate the deliverable if it does meet those needs, and then the customer needs to formally accept the deliverable and transmit this acceptance to the organization doing the project.    This acceptance is crucial for the project to succeed, so it is important that it be done carefully, ideally with representatives from the organization and the customer’s organization present.    That is why group decision-making is a technique for this process.

g.  Product Analysis (5.3 Define Scope)

h.  Facilitated Workshops (5.2 Identify Requirements, 5.3 Define Scope)

In both of these areas, you need a cross-functional and common understanding–in the first case of 5.2 Identify Requirements of the product requirements, and in the second case of 5.3 Define Scope of the project scope.   What is the product that is going to be built, and what will it require to make that product?    This is the reason to use a facilitated workshop, because they involve key players with a variety of fields of expertise.

i.   Interviews, focus groups, group creativity techniques, questionnaires and surveys, observations, prototypes, benchmarking, context diagrams, document analysis (5.2 Identify Requirements)

All of these techniques are for coming up with the various requirements, either from individuals (questionnaires and surveys, interviews), from groups (focus groups, group creativity techniques).   Observations show how the product is normally used so that the new product will be “user-friendly” rather than just “what the engineers want to put in the product”.    Past products are also referred to in the “benchmarking” technique to see what is already out there in the market.   This analysis is also helped by document analysis of things like owner’s manuals, or marketing literature connected with current products.   A “context diagram” shows how the product fits into the business in general, and shows how various parts of the business interact with it.    These techniques help identify the requirements, and help identify which stakeholders “own” which requirements.    Once you understand what the identify requirements process is, you should be able to name a couple of these techniques.

So, the most complicated process you can see is 5.2 Identify Requirements, which has the most unique tools & techniques.   Some tools & techniques such as expert judgment and group decision-making techniques are used for two different processes.   The rest of the processes are unique to a single process, and it should be obvious from the tool and/or technique which process it is associated with.

The tools & techniques for analyzing scope are more abstract than the ones for analyzing the schedule or budget, and thus take a little mental work to get straight in one’s head.   But once you do, memorizing the tools & techniques for the scope management knowledge area should not prove to be too difficult.

The next post will go onto the next of the so-called “triple constraints”, that of Time Management, covered in chapter 6 of the PMBOK® Guide.

PMI-Chicagoland Sponsors Professional Development Day Event Nov. 1st!


The Chicagoland chapter of the Professional Management Institute is sponsoring a continuing educational extravaganza in the form of a Professional Development Day Event to be held on November 1st, a little over two and a half weeks from now.

It is going to take place at the Meridian Banquets event center which is located at 1701 W. Algonquin Rd., Rolling Meadows, IL  60008 for those in the Chicagoland area who are thinking of going.    You must register for the event beforehand, and here is the link to the registration page at the PMI-Chicagoland website:

https://m360.pmi-chicagoland.org/event.aspx?eventID=84437&instance=0

This post is designed to give some basic information, but also to give my personal view of the event, since I am on the committee that is helping organize the event.   My role is to organize one of the tracks of educational programming.

1.   Educational Programming

There are four tracks of educational programming:

  • Track 1:  Program and Portfolio Management
  • Track 2:  Agile, Collaboration & Emerging Trends
  • Track 3:  Stakeholder Management/Procurement/Risk Management
  • Track 4:  Leadership Lessons from the C Suite

2.  Track 3–Stakeholder Management/Procurement Management/Risk Management

I am organizing Track 3, and the seven presentations we have scheduled so far are:

  • 8:00-9:00 AM   Multisourcing:  Moving Beyond Outsourcing, George Wang from Stericycle
  • 9:15-10:15 AM   The UL Approach to Risk & Stakeholder Management, Rafael Matuk from Underwriters Laboratories
  • 10:30-11:30 AM   Skills for Success:  The Dale Carnegie Approach to Stakeholder Management, Mark Wilson from Dale Carnegi
  • 1:15-2:15 PM  Stakeholder Management on the Illinois Tollway Project, Robert Skidmore from Illinois Tollway
  • 2:30-3:30 PM  Lean vs. Six Sigma:  Two Sides of the Same Coin?, Brent Tadsen from Adaptive Solutions
  • 3:45-4:45 PM  Logical Framework Approach (LFA) to Risk and Stakeholder Management, Terry Schmidt from Management Pro
  • 5:00-6:00 PM  High Performing Teams Building the Trump Tower, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (speaker to be determined)

3.  Volunteering

When I was in the Orange County, CA chapter of the Project Management Institute, the President of our Project Manager Toastmasters Club, Lori Shapiro, put together SoTeC, the Southland Technology Conference.    It was lot of work, but she was always so enthusiastic about the project that I frankly envied her involvement in it and wished I could get involved n such an event.   I am in the manufacturing sector, not IT like she is, so I felt that this was not likely to occur.

However, when I came to Chicago at the beginning of this summer, I looked around for opportunities with the Chicagoland chapter of the Project Management Institute.   I talked with the project manager Marcia White at a Toastmasters Training Leadership Institute event, and she put me in touch with Srinivas Saineni who was putting on the Professional Development or PD Day Event this fall.    I told him I wanted to get involved, but that I was new to Chicago and didn’t have very many contacts at all.   Fine, he said, come on board the organizing committee and you’ll make some contacts.    So I was going to gain contacts AND be a part of a great event–definitely a win-win situation!

He took the bold step of making me one of the leads for putting together the tracks of educational programming.   I am involved in this blog in documenting the changeover from the 4th to the 5th edition of the PMBOK Guide, and I wanted to do something with the track that was involved with Stakeholder Management, because that is the new knowledge area PMI has developed in the 5th Edition.

Just imagine it–I thought of the questions that I personally wanted answered that I had been wondering about, and through contacts in the Chicagoland PM community was able to secure speakers from various application areas to give 7 presentations on these very subjects.    It was a daunting task, but I figured if I am wondering about these questions, then I am sure that at least SOME project managers are wondering about the very same questions, and would therefore probably like to hear a presentation on the subject.

To that end, I put together a program and hope that it resonates with those that attend the PD Day Event.    We have over 200 registrants so far, with more registering every day, and I hope that this will bring benefit to the PMI-Chicagoland community, and will be an entry point for me to get to know the local PM community even better!

I’m so glad I volunteered to be on the committee, and will definitely do this next year as well!

Integral Theory and Project Management–Tenet #10


This series of posts take the Ken Wilber’s introduction to Integral Theory called A Brief History of Everything and discusses the 12 main tenets concerning the concept of a holon and how they can be applied to the field of project management.  I have been posting one tenet a week on Sundays; this post covers tenet #10.

1.  Recap–definition of a holon, and tenets #1-9

A holon is an entity which consists of components, and yet is itself a component of a larger whole.

Tenet #1. Reality as a whole is not composed of things or processes, but of holons.

Holons must be considered from the standpoint of interacting with other holons on the same level, and with holons at higher levels (of which the holon is just a part) and lower levels (which comprise the parts of the holon).

Tenet #2 Holons display four fundamental capacities: The horizontal capacities of self-preservation, self-adaptation, and the vertical capacities of self-transcendence and self-dissolution.

Holons follow the dual rules of evolution when it comes to holons at the same level:    survival of the fittest (self-preservation) and survival of the fitting (self-adaptation).    Holons have the property of being able to evolve to the next highest level (self-transcendence), and they can also “devolve” into their component parts (self-dissolution).

Tenet #3 Holons emerge

As mentioned in Tenet #2, holons have the property of self-transcendence or evolution to the next highest level.    This is not just a higher degree of organization, but also involves emergent properties or differences in kind from the level below.

Tenet #4 Holons emerge holarchically

Holons, as seen above, are units that are both wholes containing parts and parts of larger wholes.   This kind of nested or concentric linking of holons reminiscent of the Russian matroshka dolls is considered a holarchy.    In contrast, we see in an organizational chart the traditional notion where parts are linked vertically to the levels above them (the notion of hierarchy), and horizontally to the units at the same level (the notion of a heterarchy).

Tenet #5  Each emergent holon transcends but includes its predecessor(s)

When a higher level of holons emerges, it incorporates the holons from a lower level but adds emergent properties.  A cell contains molecules, but is an entity which is capable of reproduction, where a property that goes above and beyond what a mere collection of molecules could do on its own.

Tenet #6  The lower sets the possibilities of the higher; the higher sets the probabilities of the lower.

Tenet #5  tells us that the higher level of holon has emergent properties which go above and beyond the lower level.  However, tenet #6 says that the higher level cannot ignore the lower level, and it there is bound to a certain extent by the possibilities set by the holons of the lower level.  However, the higher level also affects the lower level in that, the order imposed by the higher level of holons will influence the patterns in which the lower levels interact.

Tenet #7–The number of levels which a hierarchy comprises determines whether it is “shallow” or “deep”; and the number of holons on any given level we shall call its “span.”

Tenet #8  Each successive level of evolution produces GREATER depth and LESS span

This tenet follows from tenet #7 if you think about the definition of “depth” and “span” of a concentrically organized system of a holarchy.   Ken Wilber makes this point because if you look at the concentric diagrams of any holarchy, the circle containing the highest level of organization is going to be on the outside, and the visual impact is that it has greater “span” in terms of area.    He is simply emphasizing the fact that span refers to the number of holons at the same level; the reason why the circle is so large is so that it can encompass the lower levels inside of it.    The fact that the largest circle, representing the holon at the highest level, has several circles within it actually means that it has the greatest depth because it includes the most levels or holons (represented by the nested series of circles inside of it).

Tenet #9  Destroy any type of holon, and you will destroy all of the holons above it and none of the holons below it.

The lower level of holon, while having less depth than the higher level (based on tenets #7 and #8), is nonetheless more fundamental for precisely the reason mentioned in the tenet.   If you get rid of the lower level of holon, you are in fact getting rid of the very components of the higher level.

Thus the higher level is more significant, in terms of adding coordination and direction to the lower level of holons, but the lower level of holons are more fundamental to the enterprise, because without them, there would BE no higher level of holons.   In terms of project management It is very important to remember as a project manager, that despite the significance of all that you do as a manager of the project, and despite the fact that the project charter and your authority has to be sponsored by management, without the team members you would not have a project at all.   They are truly fundamental to the project’s success; that is why you must take care of the members of your team.

This tenet is, therefore, a lesson in humility and a warning against humiliation of any the members of your team for having made mistakes.    Failure is to be seen as an opportunity to learn, not to be cast in terms of blame or moral failing.    By understanding that the team member is more fundamental to the project than you are as the project manager, the more likely you will treat that team member with the respect that he or she deserves.     Once you do so, you will be surprised at how much more engaged that team member will be in the success of the project.

2.  Tenet #10–Holarchies coevolve

Recall that a holon is an entity which is both a whole and a part of a larger whole, and a holarchy is that concentric nesting of holons at higher levels.    What does “coevolve” mean?    An individual holon exists in an environment, and it evolves to fit into the environment.   When the environment changes, the holon must also change in order to maintain its fitness.  

One of the statements people usually associate with the idea of evolution is “survival of the fittest.”   This phrase was not coined by Charles Darwin, but by Herbert Spencer, a British economist who acted as a sort of publicist of his day about the ideas of evolution.    However, I have always disliked this phrase for the following reason.    What does “fittest” mean?   It implies that an organism that is fittest is somehow strongest, that there is some sort of innate quality which makes it fit and therefore deserving of survival.    A phrase which comes close to the actual process of evolution is “survival of the fitting“.   An organism best survives which best fits into the environment in which it exists.

What happens if the environment changes, or “evolves”?   The organism must also evolve or change with the environment, that is, it must “co-evolve” with the environment in order for it to survive.

What does tenet #10 mean in the context of project management?    Every project manager exists in a system of best practice regarding project management which is codified by the Project Management Institute into the Project Management Body of Knowledge or PMBOK®.   What people sometimes refer to as “the PMBOK®”, the book from which people study to take the Project Management Professional exam, is actually more technically called the PMBOK® Guide”.    You are supposed to be aware of best practices in the field of project management even if they do not appear in the Guide.   How do you do this?    Well, if you quality for the PMP exam, take the exam and pass it, that doesn’t mean you are a PMP for life.   You must also fulfill a continuing education requirement by earning Professional Development Units, which you can fulfill in a number of ways, such as

  • E-learning
  • PMI Community Events–monthly dinners, webinars, educational sessions
  • Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) courses
  • Volunteer service

In this way, the project manager can learn about the evolving body of knowledge in the field of project management.    In order to survive in the fast-changing world of project management, therefore, the project manager must evolve as well through training, which is the whole point of the PDU system of continuing education.

Another example of the principle espoused in tenet #10 that “holarchies co-evolve (with their environments)” is the fact that companies in a certain application area need to evolve as the industry in that application area evolves.    The rapid growth of agile methodology in products involving IT development is a great example of this.    The recognition of the growing importance in the IT industry of agile methodology has meant that PMI is developing a new, separate category of certification called PMI-ACP or PMI-Agile Certified Practitioner to meet this demand for agile methodology.

One of the reasons why I took on this project of going through the entire 5th Edition of the PMBOK® Guide on my blog was not only to assist those who were studying for the PMP exam based on that new edition, but also to enrich my own  understanding of how the project management field had evolved, as seen through the eyes of the PMI.   I figured that the new processes, new definitions, and other features of the 5th Edition would give me clues into the new emphasis that the PMI was putting on certain concepts.

An example:   the definition of a project is one of the most fundamental things in understanding project management.   The definition used to be a “temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.”    However, in the 5th Edition, PMI now says that it can also be “an improvement in an existing product or service”.    Why was this fundamental definition changed?   To include Six Sigma projects, which have as their object the improvement of processes to reduce defects in already existing products or services.    As the importance of Six Sigma projects increased, PMI had its definition of a product evolve to reflect that increased importance.   

This shows the importance of constantly learning no matter at what stage of your project management career you find yourself.    The pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus once said of the universe that “nothing endures but change.”   To endure, you must therefore also be willing to change.

The next post the following Sunday will cover Tenet #11.

 

How to be a Great Toastmasters Club Sponsor, Mentor, or Coach


After the District Executive Committee meeting this morning in District 30 of Toastmasters, which covers the entire Chicagoland area, there was an hour presentation by Dietmar M. Wagenknecht, who is not only a Distinguished Toastmaster, but a Past International Director and the Region Advisor last year for Region 5 (Midwest United States), on the differences and similarities between being a club sponsor, a club mentor, and a club coach.    The presentation lasted an hour, but the Q&A session afterwards lasted half an hour, which shows you how much the audience of District, Division and Area officers was interested in what he had to say on the topic.  

This is a summary of his talk.   

The basic difference, according to Dietmar, between the club sponsor, mentor, and coach is as follows:

A club sponsor is the “midwife” of the club, the one who helps get a club going up to the point where the club charters.   This happens when there are 20 members who sign up for the club:   at that time, the club mentor takes over and guides the newborn club for at least the first six months of its “infancy.”    If a club falls back down below 12 members, it is a club coach
goes in like a club doctor:   he or she observes the “patient”, recommends measures for to improve the club’s health, but it is the patient who must take the medicine and regain health, the doctor cannot take the medicine for the patient.

Let’s take a look at these three roles in a little more detail.

1.   Club Sponsor

The relevant documents at the Toastmasters International website that give guidance for a club sponsor are:

  • #12
  • #1139
  • #319A
  • #218H

The sponsor is the one who takes the prospect of a new club, sets up what are called “demonstration meetings” to show prospective members what a real Toastmasters meeting looks like, and then guides the meetings until 20 members join and the club is officially chartered.

A sponsor of a corporate club is going to have to engage upper management in supporting the club.    Dietmar says that sometimes this is done by approaching a single person such as the HR manager, but sometimes a presentation is done in front of a group of managers.    Something he recommends when doing this is to start the conversation by asking the group of managers how many of them have ever been in Toastmasters.    You may be surprised how many hands go up–this will give you an automatic indication of how many managers are essentially already “pre-sold” on the idea of how much Toastmasters can benefit the company.

When there is only one person who is the gatekeeper, it sometimes happens that the person is not receptive.   In those cases, keep up the contact with that company, and many times when the management changes, the position of the company towards Toastmasters will also change.

The sponsor may become one of the 20 charter members of the club, but the sponsor must leave the club officer roles to others after the series of demonstration meetings are completed.

The measure of success for a club sponsor is if the club gets 20 members to sign up and have the club chartered.

2.  Club Mentor

The relevant document at the Toastmasters International website that gives guidance for a club mentor is:

  • #218G

Normally, a sponsor will choose a mentor to take over once the club charters, but Dietmar recommends that there are 2 or more mentors.   The reason is that it is important that a mentor attend every meeting to the greatest extent possible.   This goal is easier to achieve when there are 2 or more mentors.   He recommends that the mentor get to the club 30 minutes before the meeting starts.    That way the mentor can observe to see how the Sergeant-At-Arms (SAA) sets up the club meeting place, and how the club officers coordinate their roles before the meeting officially starts.   The club mentor should ask the club president to have 5 minutes at the end of the agenda so that the mentor can act as kind of a “General Evaluator”, giving specific advice on what went well, and what could be improved at the next meeting.

Any specific advice to individual club officers rather than to the club in general should be given privately to those club officers, and not in front of the entire club.

One other recommendation from Dietmar for the club mentor was that rather than having the sponsor hand off the club to the mentor at the time of chartering the club, the mentor should actually be involved BEFORE the club charters.    And again, it’s preferable to have a mentoring TEAM or 2 or more mentors rather than just one mentor.    Can the mentor BE a member of the club that is being mentored?    Yes, the mentor can be a member and do speeches, take on roles, etc., as an example to others, but the mentor should not be a club officer.    The club officers are the ones that will have to run the meetings, even after the mentorship is done.

The measure of success of a club mentor is following the club for six months or, even better, an entire year, with the club remaining at the same 20-member strength is started out as, or better.    If you stay with the club an entire year, you’ll start to see educational awards such as the Competent Communicator or Competent Leadership award.   That will be gratifying repayment indeed for all of your efforts.

3.   Club Coach

The relevant documents at the Toastmasters International website that give guidance for a club mentor are:

  • #1152
  • #218F
  • Club Coach troubleshooting guide (Dietmar doesn’t know the number, but it can be found on the website)

Although the rules say that a club coach is for a club that has less than 12 members, in Dietmar’s experience, this is waiting until the patient is almost moribund.   Action should be taken when the club has between 12-16 members, because it is easier to turn around a club at that stage than it is if there are less than 12 members.

As a club coach, your first function is to go in and observe.   Remember, just as a doctor cannot diagnose the patient without doing a medical examination and taking a medical history, you cannot as a club coach go in and prescribe any solutions without first making close observations of how the club is run and what the interactions are between club officers, between club officers and members, and between members and guests.

A healthy club needs to attract guests and take care of its members.    An unhealthy club needs to first prioritize bringing in guests and making them feel welcome.    One of the problems about a club that has less than 12 members is that most people feel more comfortable in a larger club.   Dietmar couldn’t say whether it’s the fact that a larger club has more “energy”, or what, but having fewer members can make attracting guests and having them return more difficult, which makes the whole thing a vicious cycle, or self-fulfilling prophecy.    You need to counter the lack of members with more enthusiasm from the members that already exist.    Have special themes to the meeting, especially around the holidays.    Have open house events, with speakers brought in by the Area Governor from outside the club.   Make table topics more fun.    There are a lot of ways to make the experience more memorable for guests, and this is the kind of thing that will have them coming back and signing up as a member.

One thing that helps attract guests is having a good website presence, with photos and even videos of club members doing speeches.    Once the guests comes to the club, he or she should receive a guest visitor pack, which should have the following items:

  • 2  copies of the Toastmaster magazine (one current, one older)
  • standard promotional literature (on the values and benefits that Toastmasters brings)
  • membership form (partially filled out with club name, number, etc., so all the guest has to do is fill in personal information, and club dues must be clearly indicated)
  • business card (to VP Membership or other club officers)

4.  Similarities between Club Sponsor, Mentor, or Coach

In all three cases, here’s the elements you bring to the club:

a)  Strategic planning

b)  Coaching (advice, suggestions for improvement)

c)  Organization

d)  Recognition of achievements by club members, officers, and club as a whole

These are valuable assets you bring to clubs, and by giving of your time, you are helping to foster the growth of new clubs (in the case of a sponsor or mentor) or the retention of existing clubs (in the case of a coach).   In either case, you are contributing in a vital way to the Toastmasters International organization!

The measure of success of a club coach is whether the club goes from having less than 12 members to having 20 or more members and becoming a Distinguished Club, which means capturing 5 out of the 10 goals in the Distinguished Club Program.    A question was asked in the Q&A session about what happens if the club never improves to that point:   does that mean that you don’t get credit towards the Advanced Leadership Silver (ALS) award?    The answer said Dietmar is “yes and no”.    No, you can’t get credit under the “club sponsor, mentor, or coach” requirement of the ALS award.   However, if you try to be a club coach and the club does not achieve these milestones, you can document your efforts as a club coach in a High Performance Leadership project, which is another requirement for the ALS award.    You will still have to be a club sponsor, mentor, or coach, but you will at least get something for your efforts.

One month ago, I had a vague idea that I wanted to be a club sponsor, mentor or coach at some point in the future.   After Dietmar’s talk, I was excited enough about the program that I am going to look for an opportunity NOW to make this a reality.    Thanks, Dietmar!