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Project Management Professional (PMP) Fundamentals

What is Project Management Office (PMO)?

Typically in big organization, a Project Management Office is an organizational unit that centralizes and coordinates the management of projects under its umbrella. PMO focuses on

  • The coordinated planning, prioritization and execution of projects (including sub-projects) to meet the organization's business objectives
  • Identify and develop required project management methodology, best practices, processes and standards
  • PMO provides a unique environment/platform for centralized repository, operation & management, communication platform for project managers, coordination of quality standards etc.
  • What is a Program?

    Program is a group of related Projects managed in a coordinated way to obtain benefits and control not available from managing them individually.

    What is a Portfolio?

    Portfolio is collection of Projects, Programs and other work grouped together to facilitate effective management to meet strategic objectives.

    Who is an expeditor?

    Expeditor is a staff Assistant and communication coordinator, who has no Power to make any decisions

    Who is a coordinator?

    Coordinator is a project staff member with some authority and power to manage the project. And reports to higher-level manager.

    What is Standard?

    Standard is a document approved by a recognized body, that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines, or characteristics for products, processes or services with which compliance is not mandatory. Standards start out as guidelines and later with widespread adaptation becomes accepted as if they were regulations.

    What is Regulation?

    Regulation is a document, which lays down product, process or service characteristics, including the applicable administrative provisions, with which compliance is mandatory.

    What is project Life Cycle?

    Any big or small project can be divided into different phases to provide better management control. All these phases have appropriate links to ongoing operations of the performing organization. Collectively these phases are known as Project Life Cycle. For example -

  • New car model project can be divided into phases like evaluation/feasible phase, design phase, onsite test phase, approval phase, production phases and so on.
  • Software application development can be divided into phases like requirement analysis, design, development, testing, user acceptance phase, deployment and maintenance phase.
  • What are the characteristics of project Life Cycle?

  • Projects can be divided into logical phases and these phases connect from beginning to the end.
  • Transition from one phase to another phase generally involves technical transfer or handoff e.g. in Software application, requirement document is the base document for design team to start the design of the application.
  • Previous phase should be approved before next starts and phases are generally sequential
  • Cost and staffing levels are low at the start, peak during intermediate phase and drop rapidly as project nears completion
  • Refer to PMBOK 3rd Edition - Chapter 2 - fig 2.1 and 2.2 for the graphical representation.
  • The probability of successful completion of a project generally gets progressively higher as the project continues.
  • Stakeholder Influence on the final characteristics of the project's product and the final cost of the project is highest at the start and gets progressively lower as the project continues.
  • Uncertainty and hence risk of failing the project is very high at the beginning and get progressively lesser as project continues.
  • How to break Project Life Cycle into phases?

    Breaking of any project life cycle depends on the nature of the project, industry and other parameters. We have listed few -

  • What type of work (technical/non-technical) to do in each phase?
  • When and what types of the deliverables are to be generated?
  • How they will get reviewed, verified and validated?
  • Who will be involved in each phase and in what capacity?
  • When the project phase is marked as complete?

    Every project phase in project life cycle will be marked as complete when that phase delivers all the deliverables as expected. e.g. in Software development, requirement phase can be marked ass complete when Business System analyst delivers signed-off requirements document, message document, field documents etc.

    What is a deliverable?

    A deliverable is a tangible and verifiable work product.

    What are phase exits or Kill points?

    The conclusion of a project phase is generally marked by a review of both key deliverables and project performance to date, to a) determine if the project should continue into its next phase and b) detect and correct errors cost effectively. These phase-end reviews are often called phase exits, stage gates, or kill points.

    What are the types of organizations?

    The types of organizations in decreasing order of Project Manager’s authority are -

  • Projectized
  • Strong Matrix
  • Balanced Matrix
  • Weak Matrix
  • Functional
  • Please note that Project Manager has maximum authority in a Projectized organization and least authority in a Functional organization. Refer to PMBOK 3rd Edition - Chapter 2 - fig 2.6 for the graphical representation.

    What is functional organization?

    Functional Organization

    A Functional organization is a hierarchical organization where each employee has one clear superior; staff are grouped by areas of specialization and are managed by a person with expertise in that area. In Functional organization, the role of Project Manager is limited.

    In Functional organizations staff is organized based upon their specialty, such as engineering, design, production, marketing or sales. For example - In an automobile industry, design functional manager manages the staff members who are expert in designing an auto. Whenever CEO or Chief Executive starts any project, from design group, design functional manager will assign the team members depending on the project requirements.

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