PMP® FAQ Corner!
The nuances of PMP® content that will give you an upper hand during your exam.
Are you pulling your hair over that nagging PMP® exam nuance you just can’t figure out? Thanks to our community members, we’ve started this PMP® FAQ corner where I’ll be posting the PMP® nuances, clarifications, and questions that our students ask and my answers, in this column.
In a real sense these are NOT frequently asked questions, but should be. By understanding these PMP® topic nuances you will be better prepared not just for the exam, but to address situations in your project as well!
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Here are the PMP questions and link to their answers –
- Where Work Performance Data, Information and Report are generated (ie. Inputs and Outputs) and how they pass between processes?
- Where Change Requests, Approved Change Requests Validated Changes and Change Logs are generated and how they pass between processes?
- Where the Change Log and Issue Logs are generated and how they pass between processes?
- Where the Quality Metrics, Quality Checklists, Quality Control Measurements and Process Improvement Plan are generated and how they pass between processes?
- What are the differences between Manage Communications and Manage Stakeholders Engagement?
- What are the differences between Monitor Communications and Monitor Stakeholders Engagement?
- Is Estimate Activity Resources done before Determine Budget?
- If a project is shutdown midway, does the project manager execute Close Project or Phase process or Validate Scope process?
- When the Identify Stakeholders process is executed there is just one other process done – Develop Project Charter. Why does then the Project Management Plan is expected as inputs to Identify Stakeholders process?
- Could you help with the difference between OPM and PMO in terms of their primary objectives?
- Can you explain the difference between WBS and Requirements traceability matrix in detail.
- What is the difference between Schedule Baseline and Project Schedule?
- PMBOK mentions management reserves is not included in the schedule baselines but it is part of overall project duration estimates. It also mentions, depending on contract terms, use of management reserves may require a change to schedule baseline..
Can I get some help on understanding why it would need a change to the baseline if it’s not part of it?
- Looking for Budget overrun scenario clarification –
When you find that your project will have cost overrun at the end of the project, and your sponsor made it it clear that he doesn’t want to spend more money, what would be the next best option to choose between fast tracking and reduce scope? PMBOK does mention that fast track has cost impact. In some references I had, find fast tracking as the option while some say reduce scope. Which one is the right option.
- Does the BAC remain constant throughout the project or does it change as a outcome of monitoring and controlling?
- What is the difference between Risk register and Risk Report?
- Is a change request raised whenever a defect is found?
- Settling procurement claims is done as part of ‘Control procurements’ process group or ‘Close project or phase’ process group?
- Disciplinary actions for the project team are recorded in the resource management plan. If the options on the exam questions includes team management plan and resource management plan, what should be selected?
- When a project is terminated, which process is used to confirm status of the project deliverables officially?
- Is it true that only Integration Management is specific to PMs and they can delegate all other KAs to others in the team?
- When exactly (which PG/KA/process) does the PM ‘tailors’ the processes needed for the project?
- Why do we need Scope baseline as an input for Estimate Activity Resources process, because we are already having Activity list and Activity attributes that are derived from Scope baseline?
- Can a work package be deleted from WBS (technically we can in IT projects) according to PMBOK?
- Questions about WAS (Work authorization system)
- Once a Project Charter is signed can it be changed with a Change Request?
- What are the differences between a change management plan and a config management plan? How are they related? When do we refer to change management plan and when do we refer to config management plan? What are the list of activities that we perform under change management and under Config management?
- I’m still confused with Lead and Lag. Can you help with a simple example or something?
- In the context of Develop Team process, what is the difference between Employee Development Plan Records and Training Requirements? Also, what is the difference between Skill Assessments and Personnel Assessments?
- If CPI < 1, and I use TCPI = (BAC-EV)/ (EAC-AC), Which EAC formula should I use?
- If a key seller on a project goes out of business during my project is that an unknown unknown? out of the scope of the project. Management Reserves
- Performance measurement baseline is output of which knowledge area process?!
- could you please give us examples of Predictive, Iterative, Incremental, Agile/adaptive, Hybrid?
- What is configuration management and configuration repositories?
- How does Centralized/Functional and Multi-divisional /Decentralized organizational structure differ?
- I usually get confuse with OPA’s and EEF. How do I remember these?
- How is steering committee different from Project sponsor?
- Can you please elaborate on Parametric vs Analogous estimations?
- Can you please explain Hierarchical Breakdown in decomposition and its use in agile approach?
- I’m not clear about Rolling Wave Planning, can you elaborate in context of Agile
- What is 100% rule?
- What is difference between Risk Appetite and Risk Tolerance?
- I understand that the change request should be submitted than it should be analyzed. Or is it the other way around?
- What is the main difference between Schedule Baseline and Project Schedule?
- Am I correct when I say Inspection and Audit can be performed by both seller and buyer?
- PMBOK states “The buyer may be the owner of the final product, a subcontractor, the acquiring organization, a service requestor, or the purchaser.” How can buyer be subcontractor?
- Where can I read more about the configuration management plan. Not sure I still get that.
- Change request, if approved by Customer, is it still mandatory that Sponsor also should approve?
- Can you clarify ‘Atypical’ and ‘Typical’ as in EAC calculation please?
- Please explain about Work Shadowing & Reverse Shadowing in Knowledge Management
- Is performance appraisal done in Develop Team but tracking the performance measurement is in Manage team?
- In CPIF buyer is giving an incentive fee if certain criteria is met which I feel is the same in CPAF but called as award fee so where is the difference?
- How would a project manager gain situational power?
- So is really a cost of quality all cost to deliver and fix issues?
1. Where Work Performance Data, Information and Report are generated (ie. Inputs and Outputs) and how they pass between processes?
The state change logic is: data when analyzed in context becomes information, and information is represented in terms of reports (visual/tabular etc), which is used to take decisions on the project.
Looking at this logically, the data is generated in executing processes, and analyzed in monitoring and controlling processes.
With this understanding you will be able to do ‘educated guess’ at process level about inputs and outputs.
2. Where Change Requests, Approved Change Requests Validated Changes and Change Logs are generated and how they pass between processes?
Again, let us think logically. Change requests are generated when ‘either project work is done, or is monitored’. So expect most of the executing and M&C processes to generate change requests.
Now, they become input to one process. Guess which one?
And the output would be ‘approved change requests’.
These of course then become inputs to the controlling process where project work is done – Direct and Manage Project Work.
Now these approved CRs become input to another process, along with the deliverables. Guess where. Where does the completed work go? For testing, yes. Both these are inputs to Control Quality – which produces Verified Deliverables.
And where does verified deliverables go? In other words, where does the deliverables go after testers certify it for quality?
To the customer!
The process that gets customer approval is Validate Scope.
About change log…
What does it contain? Status of change requests (this is a project document). So the most logical place for it to be created is? PICC process.
Processes that need to study the change request status, such as Direct and Manage Project Work, uses these as inputs.
3. Where the Change Log and Issue Logs are generated and how they pass between processes?
I talked about change log in the previous question.
The primary difference between change log and issue log is that the former talks about change requests that go through Perform Integrated Change Control and the latter talks about issues that may or may not turn into a request to change something on the project (or go on to become an anticipated risk).
4. Where the Quality Metrics, Quality Checklists, Quality Control Measurements and Process Improvement Plan are generated and how they pass between processes?
Quality metrics and checklists can be either taken from OPA or created – during the quality planning process.
Quality control measurements are generated during…. yes, Control Quality process 🙂
And this is used while closing the project or phase (you know the process name) to make sure that the deliverables are certified for quality.
Process improvement plan – if you go strictly by PMI nomenclature I’m not sure if you find this in PMBOK. You may not.
This is created during planning process, and used during executing stage and used during process audits. Process improvements are focused on during Manage Quality process (which was earlier known as Perform Quality Assurance).
5. What are the differences between Manage Communications and Manage Stakeholder Engagement?
- take Communications management plan and Stakeholder engagement plan as inputs
- use common tools and techniques such as meetings, communication skills, cultural and political awareness, and so on
- may update both these subsidiary plans that they take as inputs
Now, project manager spends as much as 90% time and efforts in Communications related activities, as per PMI’s article, Art of communication in project management.**
Also, project manager deals with stakeholders on a daily basis.
Thus Communications and Stakeholder management are two knowledge areas that keep the project manager busy.
The bottom line – communications activities help the PM engage with stakeholders throughout the project.
Manage Communications process, according to *PMI’s definition is “the process of ensuring timely and appropriate collection, creation, distribution, storage, retrieval, management, monitoring, and the ultimate disposition of project information.”
And Manage Stakeholder Engagement process is *defined as “process for communicating and working with stakeholders to meet their needs and expectations, address issues, and foster appropriate stakeholder engagement involvement.”
Thus the difference is clear –
Manage Communications process is focused on information generation, management and distribution using communication technology (meetings, databases, intranet), communication methods (push, pull, and interactive communication), and communication skills (such as feedback, presentations).
Manage Stakeholder Engagement process is focused on the recipients of this information – engaging with them to increase their support for the project to reach the objectives set for the project.
*These definitions are taken from Project Management Institute, A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge. (PMBOK® Guide) – Sixth Edition, Project Management Institute Inc.
**Rajkumar, S. (2010). Art of communication in project management. Paper presented at PMI® Research Conference: Defining the Future of Project Management, Washington, DC. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.
6. What are the differences between Monitor Communications and Monitor Stakeholder Engagement?
The approach is pretty much similar as explained for the previous question.
The differences lie in the tools, techniques, and approaches used.
7. Is Estimate Activity Resources done before Determine Budget?
At the outset, PMBOK® guide mentions that the logical process sequence given in PMBOK is only for understanding. In real projects, the sequence of processes is dictated by
- the system in which projects work, and
- the dynamics of the project (such as internal and external environment, customer needs, clarity of requirements, resource availability)
Having said this, in a logical flow in order to determine budget, we need activity estimates. For this we need estimates of resources and duration at activity level.
8. If a project is shutdown midway, does the project manager execute Close Project or Phase process or Validate Scope process?
Validate Scope process is executed to get formal sign off from customer on our deliverables. In a happy scenario, when the project comes to the planned end the Validate Scope process precedes Close Project or Phase process.
When a project is terminated, everything cannot be dropped without taking things to logical conclusion – even if it costs money. Many a times terminated project is continued when the customer gets more budget for instance, or for other reasons.
The immediate next step then is to tie lose ends by getting sign offs from customer for the delivery that’s been completed already, and then work on closing activities on the project, such as updating lessons learned, releasing resources and people and so on.
The point to note is that the company needs to get paid for any work that was in completed state when the customer calls off the project – thus the customer must sign off on them first.
9. When the Identify Stakeholders process is executed there is just one other process done – Develop Project Charter. Why does then the Project Management Plan is expected as inputs to Identify Stakeholders process?
PMBOK® guide defines 3 types of processes.
- processes that are executed once or at predefined stages of the project – most of the planning processes
- processes that are executed as and when needed – processes such as Validate Scope, Estimate Costs, Identify Stakeholders
- processes that are executed continuously (or every day) – most of the executing and M & C processes
Thus, when Identify Stakeholders process is executed for the first time, it would not have the project management plan available – which is okay. We just go with the available documents such as project charter, business case, agreements, benefits management plan – and identify key stakeholders.
Identify Stakeholders process is executed at later stages of the project as well – such as at the beginning of each project phase, whenever major requirements change, or whenever key stakeholders leave/join the project.
During this time we’ll have other plans and project docs, and we make use of them.
Finally, the point to remember is that not every ITTO of every process is mandatory in every project. Through the ‘tailoring’ exercise the PM (and/or PM team) decides which knowledge areas, which processes, and which ITTOs are to be used.
10. Could you help with the difference between OPM and PMO in terms of their primary objectives?
Great question. OPM stands for Organizational Project Management. Every organization has strategic goals/objectives. The portfolios, programs, and projects need to be aligned to achieve these strategic goals.
The primary goal of OPM is to provide a ‘framework’ in which these are integrated to achieve strategic goals or objectives.
The OPM ensures that the organization takes up right set of projects with appropriate allocation of critical resources, and thus aligned towards strategic objectives. Plus, OPM helps to get all people in the organization to same level of understanding with respect to org’s strategic objectives and all the initiatives that help achieve these.
On the other hand,
PMO stands for Project Management Office. Its primary objective is to provide an organizational structure that standardizes the project-related governance processes and helps share resources, methodologies, tools, and techniques.
PMO can not just help run projects, in few cases it can run projects directly.
Thus, PMO and OPM perform two different set of activities in the organization.
11. Can you explain the difference between WBS and Requirements traceability matrix in detail.
WBS as the name suggests contains the project scope and deliverables that are broken down logically into manageable parts.
So that they could be analyzed further easily, broken further down in order to estimate for the resources and duration needed to complete them.
When we get to the lowest level of WBS (called work package), here itself we should be able to estimate cost and duration.
Now, the WBS structure can be based on project life cycle phases (req, design, dev, test etc), or by deliverables (structures, plumbing & electricals, interiors, landscaping etc for apartment complex project).
The idea also is to be able to complete 100% of defined scope in terms of deliverables.
There are 3 levels of WBS that is used for planning and management –
- Work package – simply the lowest level of WBS
- Control account – can contain one or more work packages, and is used to manage scope, budget, and schedule – used for performance measurement (EVM).
- Planning package – a WBS component above work package and below control account where logical work is grouped but without detailed activities. As name suggests this is done from planning perspective.
Finally, the linkage is like this: Biz docs & agreements & proj charter & stakeholders -> Requirements docs -> Scope statement -> WBS
Now the Requirements Traceability Matrix (RTM), is a tabular mapping tool between a specific requirement (top level) all the way to final deliverable that satisfies this requirement. This helps understand how each deliverable is adding business value or achieving project objectives.
One can pick up a thread and map a specific requirement, to the business need & project objective it maps to, to WBS component, to its design, to development, to test bed, test plan & test cases, to even delivery package.
RTM also gives us a way to manage changes to project scope.
It also ensures we avoid gold plating and scope creep on the project. And the project essentially satisfies all the requirements that are agreed upon and only those requirements, nothing more or less.
12. What is the difference between Schedule Baseline and Project Schedule?
Great question. Most of the students confuse these two and it is important to understand what each one of these are for.
Any baseline is an ‘approved’ version of the document, which means that any changes to this document needs to be done in a controlled manner – in this case by analyzing the changes and impact through PICC (perform integrated change control) process.
Schedule baseline is not the approved version of Gantt chart, or network diagram, or milestone chart or any such. These are the outcome of a ‘schedule model’.
To understand schedule model we need to step back and understand how PMI proposes the steps to creating project schedule.
In short, we collect project specific data such as WBS, activities, dependencies, resources, duration etc. and the identified (tailoring!) scheduling method such as critical path or critical chain, and using a scheduling tool to come up with a Schedule Model.
This schedule model can spit out different representation of project schedule such as activity bar chart, network logic diagram, etc. with start and end dates – against which work can be tracked.More information can be found here > https://www.pmexamsmartnotes.com/develop-schedule-process/
It is this ‘Schedule Model’ which is baselined, and not the schedule representations (called as ‘project schedule’).
In other words, schedule baseline is the approved version of schedule model.
Project schedule is the representation of model based on the needs of the project.
The schedule management plan process is explained here > https://www.pmexamsmartnotes.com/schedule-management/
13. Known unknown and Unknown unknowns
First we need to understand in this context is the concept of ‘known unknowns’ and ‘unknown unknowns’.
As the name suggests, we CAN to some extent plan for the schedule reserves or budget reserves for known unknowns (risks that are identified and accepted).
For instance, an identified risk materializing thereby requiring additional work, time, and cost.
Unknown unknowns are those that we cannot estimate for because we don’t even know them (that’s why ‘unknown’ unknowns). If some work is discovered to be missing from estimation AND is found to be within the accepted scope of the project, then we categorize them as unknown unknowns.
For instance, discovering a missing functionality that was part of initial scope but for which tasks were not identified and estimated.
Obviously, if the discovered missing work was not originally scoped in, then it is NEW work and needs to have separate budget and schedule.
The contingency reserves are for things that we know might go wrong, in other words, we know what can go wrong and if and when they do, we have some reserves to manage them.
Management reserves are for unknown unknowns. And these are usually (not always) calculated as a certain percentage of baselined cost. The management reserve is outside of the baseline since baseline can only have that part of the reserves that are planned for.
Now for the part, “…depending on contract terms, use of management reserves may require a change to schedule baseline”.
Note that it says ‘depending on contract terms’ – this means that if the discovered ‘missing’ work is found to be part of accepted scope, then that work might be brought into the schedule baseline.
If that happens that the baseline needs to be reworked and accepted (new version of the baseline).
14. Budget overrun related question
Fast tracking is used to manage schedule overrun, by executing multiple tasks in parallel. When this happens the dependencies and assumptions may take a hit and result in extra work. Which means this strategy has cost implications.
Reduction of the scope simply means reducing work and hoping rest of the work gets done as per schedule and budget and we will not have cost overrun at the end of the project.
Considering that the budget accounted for the scope, simply reducing scope without correspondingly reducing budget may not be acceptable to the customer – for that matter cutting scope itself may not.
What is important to understand is the reason for cost overrun. Accordingly the adjustment needs to be made.
Data analysis technique such as Earned Value Analysis, Variance Analysis, Trend Analysis etc.
- If it was due to ‘known unknowns’ – identified risks materializing there by increasing cost – then contingency budget may be used.
- If it was due to ‘unknown unknowns’ – additional work discovered that was part of original scope, then management budget is used.
- If it was due to additional work that was discovered and was not part of original scope, then additional budget from the customer is asked.
- If it was due to mismanagement of funds, including better real time budget usage reporting measures, and stricter cost control measures will help.
There could be deep-rooted causes as well, which could be unearthed using cause and effect diagram.
15. Does the BAC remain constant throughout the project or does it change as a outcome of monitoring and controlling?
BAC is the sum of planned value, estimated at the beginning of the project to come up with budget.
We know that things always don’t go as per the plan, and we may need to rework figures to ascertain the new figure, which is EAC.
And TCPI is needed to know what needs to be done to meet new target.
More info here > https://www.pmexamsmartnotes.com/earned-value-management-evm/
16. What is the difference between Risk register and Risk report?
Risk register – consider this as a master list.
This is created for the first time during identify-risks (https://www.pmexamsmartnotes.com/identify-risks-process/) process and subsequently updated with information during other risk management processes.
The level of detail of information to be collected depends on the complexity and size of the project and is defined during plan risk management process.
Risk register contains list of identified risks on the projects and their attributes, such as name, category, potential causes, impact on project objectives, risk responses, contact person, trigger(s) of the project, and so on.
It can also have transactional information such as when the risk was identified, what are the timelines to address risk etc.
Risk report – has both macro-level and summary information.
As with macro-level information, risk report may contain sources of overall project risk (not individual risks – they are in risk register), the driving factors for risk exposure (which is a measure of potential future losses resulting from the risk occurrence) etc.
As with summary information, risk report contains number of risks identified, materialized, how many threats and opportunities are available under each risk category etc.
Both these are updated throughout the project – simply because risk management is a regular exercise to be participated by all the stakeholders.
Risk Register contains individual risk level information, and Risk Report contains Overall project risk and Summary information of individual risks (on any given day).
Find risk management related study notes for revision here > https://www.pmexamsmartnotes.com/project-risk-management/
17. Is a change request raised whenever a defect is found?
More precisely, if a tester found a deviation from the requirement and logged a defect to get this aligned, does this still need a change request even if it does not need changes to the plan or baselines? In other words, do all defect repairs need a change request?
Answer is, Yes. When a defect is found a change request is filed.
18. Settling procurement claims is done as part of ‘Control procurements’ process group or ‘Close project or phase’ process group?
For Control Procurements, PMBOK states, “Control Procurements is the process of managing procurement relationships; monitoring contract performance, and making changes and corrections as appropriate; and closing out contracts.”
One of the tools and techniques of this process is Claims administration, which is about resolving ‘those requested changes where the buyer & seller cannot reach an agreement on compensation for the change or cannot agree that a change has occurred’.
So, what does ‘Close project or phase’ process do in this context?
This process takes in Agreements, does Document Analysis (in T&T) and does the following (again, ref PMBOK) –
Activities related to the completion of the contractual agreements applicable to the project or project phase such as:
- Confirming the formal acceptance of the seller’s work,
- Finalizing open claims,
- Updating records to reflect final results, and
- Archiving such information for future use.
Did you notice that? “Finalizing open claims” – so Close project or phase is the final filter to ensure that open claims if any are addressed.
Another point to note is that a contract can be closed/ended/terminated even before a phase is closed. And in that case all claims are settled before the contract is closed.
19. Disciplinary actions for the project team are recorded in the resource management plan. If the options include team management plan and resource management plan, what should be selected?
According to PMBOK-6 (ref section 126.96.36.199) Resource management plan is an umbrella term that includes both ‘Team Management Plan’ and ‘Physical Resource Management Plan’.
Considering the fact that PMI always expects the best answer out of 4 options, I’d go with Team Management Plan.
20. When a project is terminated, which process is used to confirm status of the project deliverables officially?
Not only is Scope validation performed while the project is executing – it is also performed when a project is terminated. It is used to determine the level of completion.
Validate Scope is the process of formalizing acceptance of the completed deliverables. In the question, management has come to know that the project is to be terminated, so the project is still in execution phase. Whatever needs to be done in terms of accepting deliverables, including documenting status of remaining deliverables, should be done in this process.
On the other hand Close Project or Phase has an input of Validated deliverables. This process involves activities such as administrative closure, recording lessons learned and releasing project resources.
21. Is it true that only Integration Management is specific to PMs and they can delegate all other KAs to others in the team?
PMBOK states clearly that Project Integration Management is specific to project managers, whereas other Knowledge Areas may be managed by specialists (cost analysis by costing experts, risk activities by risk experts etc). However, the accountability of Project Integration Management cannot be delegated or transferred.
It it the responsibility of the PM to combines the results in all the other Knowledge Areas (although activities are done by experts) and present the overall view of the project – in order to take necessary decisions as well as to present to required stakeholders. The project manager is ultimately responsible for the project as a whole.
22. When exactly (which PG/KA/process) does the PM ‘tailors’ the processes needed for the project?
Great question. One might imagine that this happens in the Initiation PG – but this actually happens in the Planning PG.
Which Knowledge Area?
We know that Integration Management is the home turf of the PM (she can delegate other KA specific tasks to experts) and the tailoring process is to be owned by the PM. Thus tailoring happens in Project Integration Management Knowledge Area.
Now, can you guess which process does this happen in?
The only biggie when it comes to planning is Develop Project Management Plan process. This is where tailoring of project management processes happen. In specific, this is part of Exert Judgment Tool/Technique of this process.
In short, processes are tailored for the project in Planning PG > Integration Management KA > Develop Project Management Plan process.
23. Why do we need Scope baseline as an input for Estimate Activity Resources process, because we are already having Activity list and Activity attributes that are derived from Scope baseline?
Let us see what does scope baseline contain.
Scope baseline contains –
- scope statement,
- WBS, and
- WBS dictionary.
While it is true that activity names and their attributes are taken from Scope baseline, when you need a bit more information about an activity, or their dependencies on other activities – to identify resource needs – invariably you need to refer to the scope baseline.
Scope baseline is derived from requirements and has lot more information (that is officially approved!) than what has been extracted into activity attributes. Consider this as a master document to refer to when we need more information than what’s available in activity attributes.
Lastly, since scope baseline is a ‘baselined document’ it has been vetted more rigorously than activity list or other derived info set, thus you want to refer to it regularly.
24. Can a work package be deleted from WBS (technically we can in IT projects) according to PMBOK?
PMBOK does not ‘mandate’ any practices or even processes for that matter. It’s just a set of guidelines.
Now the question is ‘when’ are you looking to delete work package from WBS?
WBS is part of scope baseline, so if you have not YET baselined it, that means WBS is ‘in the works’, and you can delete/add/refine anything anytime.
If WBS has gone into approved scope baseline, then any change (add/delete of work packages) should be done using PICC process (raising change request, analyzing impact so on and so forth).
25. Questions about WAS (Work Authorization System)
1. WAS is an Organization’s standardized stand-alone EEF document for an organization with strategic objectives and methods to obtain organization’s success ?
2. It’s part of the Operation area of a organization?
Used for all projects. Updated as projects’ lesson learns are added through the years?
3. WAS Document is NOT added to the Project Management Plan?
Work Authorization System is a set of documented procedure to indicate how work is done, in which order, and at what time. The system consists of documents, tracking system, also the approval levels that can issue authorizations.
WAS is available at the organization’s context (as pat of Enterprise Environmental Factors) and can be used all projects in the organization.
EEFs, by definition, originate from outside of the project and are not under the control of the project.
EEFs are not added to the PM plan, so WAS is not.
26. Once a Project Charter is signed can it be changed with a Change Request?
This is an awesome question, and here is what I think.
PMBOK (v6) defines change request as the following –
“A change request is a formal proposal to modify any document, deliverable, or baseline. When issues are found while project work is being performed, change requests can be submitted, which may modify project policies or procedures, project or product scope, project cost or budget, project schedule, or quality of the project or product results.”
Now if you apply this definition to project charter – it is most likely that changes in project does not trigger a change in project charter, it is usually the other way around. Moreover, project charter is NOT listed as a project document in PMBOK. And, PC is the one that sort of brings the project to life (and authorizes the PM).
Thus one can deduce that if project charter is to be modified a change request is not necessary.
There is another logic here – the project charter cannot be changed by project manager or project members, it is a document outside the scope of the project. Only project initiator or project sponsor can modify this. Hence change request should not be necessary to update PC, right?
Further PMBOK also states that, “As a general rule, each project’s configuration management plan should define which project artifacts need to be placed under configuration control. Any change in a configuration element should be formally controlled and will require a change request.”
So! What if the PM recommends and sponsor agrees to keep the project charter as a configuration item, and thus bring it under the purview of PICC? Quite possible, however, based on what we know till before the previous sentence, it is safe to assume that PC doesn’t need a CR to be updated.
27. What are the differences between a Change management plan and a Configuration management plan? How are they related? When do we refer to Change management plan and when do we refer to Config management plan?
As you might have noticed, there are no specific processes in PMBOK to create either of Change management plan and Configuration management plans. These plans and few more (such as baselines, development approach etc.) are part of the project management plan. These are created under Develop Project Management Plan process itself. Or at least initiated at the beginning, and then refined later as part of other processes during the Execution phase.
Change management and Integration management are interrelated in that, for change management we also need configuration management. Configurable items are those that need a controlled way of managing changes. As it is, of course all the baselines (scope, schedule, cost) are configurable items. Whenever a configurable item is to be changed, based on a change that is initiated by any stakeholder, it is done through change management process (Perform Integrated Change Control).
Why is change management needed?
For instance, if the Schedule Baseline was to be open-to-all document, then whenever a developer feels the estimates of her activity were incorrect and need to be extended, she could just make changes to the schedule baseline – without others really having a chance to know about this change. And with a team of many members one can imagine the chaos such an arrangement can create.
That’s why we need a specific change control process and ‘locking’ changes to such configurable items on the project, so that the changes are done in a controlled way. And when done they are communicated to relevant stakeholders through appropriate means using the Stakeholder engagement & Communications management processes.
Here’s how change management is depicted in a paper on PMI by Wanner, M. F. (2013). Integrated change management. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2013—North America, New Orleans, LA. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute –
Change management plan outlines the change control process, how change control board is set and operates, and overall how the change control process is implemented in the project. Perform Integrated Change Control (PICC) is the process that truly manages changes on the project.
Configuration management plan, on the other hand, describes how to identify, track, and manage configurable items on the project. With this it ensures that the project remains consistent, devoid of chaos we discussed above. It goes without saying that changes configuration artifacts are done by raising change request and through PICC.
Here are few reference articles from PMI that you might find useful –
- Integrated change management
- Improving outcomes through change management
- Configuration management help with controlling changes
- Practice standards for configuration management
28. I’m still confused with Lead and Lag. Can you help with a simple example or something?
If you can remember one simple thing, you will get clarity with both these concepts of lead & lag, by reasoning or logic.
What you need to remember is –
LEAD = OVERLAP
Now, imagine two activities on a network diagram. Let us say you pulled back the second activity physically till it overlaps the first activity.
Now you have ‘accelerated’ second activity, that means you have began the second activity before the first activity ended.
Example – activity A is writing a book draft & activity B is reviewing the book draft.
As soon as the first few chapters are written, the book can be taken up for review of these chapters – without having to wait till the last line of last chapter is written, agree? So you have began activity B before activity A ends.
This is LEAD.
So, when you pull back the successor activity you are adding a lead. Since you are REDUCING the time between activities you show LEAD with a – (negative) sign on the diagram.
Remember, LEAD = OVERLAP.
The opposite logic should apply to lag.
What is the opposite of this? Opposite of overlap? adding a GAP.
Again, imagine two activities as above. Now visualize second activity is pulled away from the first – creating a gap between the two activities.
This translates to WAITing after the completion of first activity to begin the second activity.
Example: Activity A is plastering the wall. Activity B is painting the wall.
After plastering is completed, you need to wait for the plaster to set and dry, before beginning the painting activity, agree?
So, when you delay the successor activity you are introducing a lag. Since you are ADDING time between activities you show lag with a + sign on the diagram.
Another thing to remember is that LEAD can be added only to activities with F-S relationship, and LAG can be added to activities of any relationship type.
Do you love mnemonics? Watch this video to understand Lead and Lag in a way that you will NEVER ever forget! 🙂
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29. In the context of Develop Team process, what is the difference between Employee Development Plan Records and Training Requirements? Also, what is the difference between Skill Assessments and Personnel Assessments?
Employee Development plan as well as Skill Assessments refers to career path progression of the employee in the organization (which goes beyond the current project) while Personnel Assessments and the resulting Training Requirements are specific to the needs of the project so the can do a better job on the project.
PMBOK treats the first 2 as part of EEFs (outside of project’s sphere or influence or boundary) and the latter 2 as OPAs.
For this reason, these are shown accordingly as Outputs of Develop Team process.
30. If CPI is less than 1, and I use TCPI = (BAC-EV)/ (EAC-AC), Which EAC formula should I use?
The question does not have other information related to the project that typically should be available, so working with the given information here is my answer. The reference for EAC has 4 possibilities as in this image (table 7-1 in PMBOK-6).
Let’s analyze according to this –
1. Since CPI is under 1, project is above cost, CPI needs to be fixed ; so option 1 is not applicable
2. The planned rate is clearly no more valid due to change in CPI, so option 2 is not applicable
Thus the option (and formula) to use should be one of option 3 or 4.
To consider option 4, we need to know SPI as well. PLUS the PM should feel that both cost and schedule performance as it has been so far will continue, and there isn’t much to change it considering the resource and other factors on the project.
(Note – if this formula is to be used for the given question on the exam, then those values would be given in the question).
And the most likely case in my view would be (in absence of SPI value) that the current plan isn’t valid anymore. Thus I’d go with the option 3, which is EAC = AC + Bottom-up ETC
31. If a key seller on a project goes out of business during my project is that an unknown unknown? Out of the scope of the project. Management Reserves?
Management reserves are allocated for the work that is within the Scope of the project but somehow not accounted for during estimation.
Seller going out of business – if it happens suddenly then there is nothing the PM can do or plan for. And this is not something that is in the scope of the project.
Thus such incidents are not considered during risk planning and by extension, budget for covering such incidents are not considered while determining the budget.
32. Performance measurement baseline is output of which knowledge area process!?
Performance Measurement Baseline is the integrated baseline of schedule, scope, and cost and is primarily used in projects that use Earned Value analysis.
PBM is the output from Determine Budget process (cost baseline – ref PMBOK 188.8.131.52). Apart from this you will see that in control processes ‘updates’ to PBM is shown as part of Outputs, but PBM itself is not shown as output.
This is used to compare with actuals and baseline values at a given point and identify variance, reasons for it, and thus determine if corrective or preventive actions are needed.
33. Could you please give us examples of Predictive, Iterative, Incremental, Agile/adaptive, Hybrid?
As an example, all of the legacy IT systems are developed using predictive approach because the IT field simply used PM practices from manufacturing industry. Until Agile came along, that is.
From the turn of this century many of IT projects began using Agile in some or the other forms.
Now a days most of product development (even in non-IT) are done using Agile (for obvious reasons). And bigger projects use Agile for some parts and predictive for others (hence the focus on Hybrid in the new PMP exam syllabus).
In my experience no projects are run strictly using iterative-only, or incremental-only approach. In many Agile projects (there are many variations such as scrum, xp, etc) development is done using iterative, incremental approaches.
34. What is configuration management and configuration repositories?
Configuration management is about managing changes to those project artifacts that need to be controlled. In every project during the planning stage, configurable items are identified, and they are placed in configurable repositories.
Configuration management plan defines these artifacts that need to be put under config control. Change management is done via config mgmt plan.
35. How does Centralized/Functional and Multi-divisional /Decentralized organizational structure differ?
Centralized/Functional org structure caters to work grouped based on type – for instance Manufacturing, Accounting, etc.
PM that is part of such org structure does not have much of authority, responsibility, and hence control. even her role could be part time. decisions are managed by functional managers.
Multi-divisional org structure is like a scaled up centralized org structure version – where in the centralized org structure will be present in each of the divisions, with no tight control/coordination across these divisions.
PM’s role/responsibility will remain same as that of centralized/functional.
36. I usually get confuse with OPAs and EEF. How do I remember these?
This is actually pretty simple to understand.
- A project is impacted by both Enterprise Environmental Factors and Organizational Process Assets – both lie outside of project’s boundaries & thus project cannot have influence on them.
- Now, EEF can be within the organization’s environment (for ex, org culture, availability of resources), or outside (for ex, market conditions, legal laws as applicable to the project).
- OPA are assets from previous projects that the organization has collected. These can be 2 types – Processes, policies, procedures, checklists etc that we can simply use in our projects (ex, things to have/do during project initiation phase), or tailor and use. And, Corporate Knowledge Base (such as, how to run procurement effectively, or how to hire best talent on the project).
One good way to remember is to take one of your current or old projects, and how each of these factors are influencing it. This becomes your baseline understanding. On the exam when you get a question related to these you can run by this example to recall the necessary information.
37. How is steering committee different from Project sponsor?
The Steering Committee is set up to provide advice to the PM, ensure delivery of the project outputs and the achievement of project outcomes.
This may include such tasks as,
- Providing input to the development of the project
- Negotiating funding for the project with mgmt
- Defining and helping to achieve the project outcomes
- Identifying potential risks
- Evaluating project completion
- Providing advice on budget, schedule etc.
Committees are not usually great in owning responsibilities, which work best when assigned to individual. Hence usually the sponsor chairs the steering committee. Thus, while the committee assists in decision making, liaisoning with industry/govt bodies, providing advice etc. the sponsor will be held accountable.
38. Can you please elaborate on Parametric vs Analogous estimations?
Analogous, as word states, is ‘similar’ or ‘comparable’.. to our own previous experience of working on similar projects. This type of estimation is completely subjective.
This is the fastest, inexpensive, and crudest estimation technique.
Parametric on the other hand is using some ‘parameters’ which were created based on earlier project experience, to estimate for the current project. Here we make use of something outside of ourselves – like a formula, a spreadsheet, even a tool.
For instance, a construction company may feed in square footage, number of floors, choice of quality for construction material, bath fittings, and light fittings into a spreadsheet or tool and give an estimate for building a house. This is not as fast as analogous, but bit more accurate.
39. Can you please explain Hierarchical Breakdown in decomposition and its use in agile approach?
In traditional (predictive) life cycle projects, the high level deliverables are defined at the beginning and once the scope is defined they are broken down hierarchically as WBS components. The scope is managed progressively during implementation.
In agile (adaptive) projects, the deliverables are developed iteratively over multiple iterations, created as User Stories and prioritized into the Product Backlog. The terminology WBS is not used in agile parlance, but the ‘breaking down’ happens during planning meetings, i.e. Product planning (aka Envisioning) -> Release planning -> Sprint planning. The scope detailing happens at the beginning of each sprint in Sprint planning (or Iteration planning) meeting.
40. I’m not clear about Rolling Wave Planning, can you elaborate in context of Agile
As you know Rolling Wave Planning is an iterative planning technique and is a form of Progressive Elaboration – where features to be developed in far future are kept at high level of detailing and those to be developed in near future with more details.
This is used in Define Activities process primarily.
This type of planning happens naturally because when features are envisioned, only high level information is available, and details are worked out as more information is known over time.
To draw parallels, in predictive this is done for WBS components, and in adaptive this is done during Release planning and Sprint planning.
41. What is 100% rule?
This is a neat way of ensuring all the requirements are converted into deliverables.
The 100% rule states that every level of decomposition in the WBS must contain all of the deliverable elements, which represent 100% of its parent deliverable.
Thus when you roll up all the levels from the bottom, to the top you end up covering 100% of requirements.
42. What is the difference between Risk Appetite and Risk Tolerance?
The thumb rules to remember is that,
– risk appetite refers to broader and high-level and risk tolerance refers to low level and specific
– risk appetite is related to project objectives and risk tolerance refers to specific outcomes related to these objectives
Another way to remember is: “I have an appetite for spicy Indian food, and I want my Sambar medium spicy.” – my appetite is for spicy Indian food (broader) and I define my tolerance around spiciness of Sambar as medium level (specific).
In the example, the investor is specific to state that she can accept loss up to 40% of her investment, knowing that on the upside she can make as much as 200% profit. She is specific about the tolerance levels around an outcome of an objective here (while profits could be one objective, there could be others such as market share, gaining experience in a new field, building connections etc).
An explanation of these terms by COSO is – “An entity should also consider its risk tolerances, which are levels of variation the entity is willing to accept around specific objectives. Frequently, the terms risk appetite and risk tolerance are used interchangeably, although they represent related, but different concepts. Risk appetite is a broad based description of the desired level of risk that an entity will take in pursuit of its mission. Risk tolerance reflects the acceptable variation in outcomes related to specific performance measures linked to objectives the entity seeks to achieve.”
If further states that “For example, an entity that has set a target of a customer satisfaction rating of 90% may tolerate a range of outcomes between 88% and 95%. This entity would not have an appetite for risks that could put its performance levels below 88%.”
43. I understand that the change request should be submitted than it should be analyzed. Or is it the other way around?
It boils down to the technicalities of doing it.
As we know ANY stakeholder can raise a change request. And from a practical stand point the person that raises a change request and the person that does the impact analysis could be different people.
So, most of the projects mandate that first the change request is ‘raised’ in the system so that it is not missed out. Then the analysis happens, then going through the CCB – so that the change control board members have the results of analysis for them to take the decision: whether to accept the CR, reject, or defer it.
44. What is the main difference between Schedule Baseline and Project Schedule?
The project management team selects a scheduling method, such as critical path or an agile approach. Then, the project-specific data, such as the activities, planned dates, durations, resources, dependencies, and constraints, are entered into a scheduling tool to create a schedule model for the project. The result is a project schedule.
The schedule can take a form of histogram, activity list, or some kind of graphical representation, or textual.
(refer: PMBOK-6 Schedule Mgmt Key Concepts & figure 6-2)
The schedule once approved is baselined. Further changes will be done only through change control process. Once, for instance, a change request is approved, the baseline is changed to incorporate the work needed for implementation of the change request, and re-baselined.
45. Am I correct when I say Inspection and Audit can be performed by both seller and buyer?
An inspection is a structured review of the work being performed by the contractor. This is done by the performing organization (buyer).
Whereas, in the context of procurement itself Audit is a structured review of procurement process. Resulting audit observations should be brought to the attention of the buyer’s project manager and the seller’s project manager for adjustments to the project, when necessary.
There is another context where Audits and Inspection come into play. Yes – Quality management. 🙂
Audits, in Manage Quality process is a structured, independent process used to determine if project activities comply with organizational and project policies, processes, and procedures.
Inspection, In Control Quality process is the examination of a work product to determine if it conforms to documented standards.
46. PMBOK states, “The buyer may be the owner of the final product, a subcontractor, the acquiring organization, a service requestor, or the purchaser.” How can buyer be subcontractor?
Consider scenario: Govt floats a tender for bridge construction and awards the contract to a bidder, A. A now subcontracts a part of the project to another company, B. Thus for the govt, A becomes a seller. And for A, B becomes a seller and thus A is a buyer in this context.
47. Where can I read more about the configuration management plan. Not sure I still get that.
In PMBOK-6 there is no in-depth coverage of configuration management plan. In section 184.108.40.206 it says –
Configuration management plan: describes how the information about the items of the project (and which items) will be recorded and updated so that the product, service, or result of the project remains consistent and/or operative.
In the context of Conduct procurements process, it says that “The configuration management plan defines those items that are configurable, those items that require formal change control, and the process for controlling changes to such items. It includes formats and processes for how sellers will provide configuration management in a way that is consistent with the buyer’s approach.”.
I found this article useful along with the configuration management activity model (attached, courtesy Wikipedia) gives a good understand of overall configuration management implementation in an organization.
Image courtesy: Wikipedia
48. Change request, if approved by Customer, is it still mandatory that Sponsor also should approve?
The change request approval authority is decided in a project upfront depending on factors such as size and type of project, domain etc. It could be just the PM, sponsor, or a change control board consisting of customer, sponsor, PM and/or other key stakeholders.
49. Can you clarify ‘Atypical’ and ‘Typical’ as in EAC calculation please?
When there is variance and BAC is not valid then EAC needs to be forecasted. Estimate At Completion (EAC) can be calculated for following 4 scenarios on a project –
- when cost performance is expected to be same for remainder of the project, EAC = BAC / CPI
- Remaining work will go at the same rate as that of planned rate, EAC = AC + BAC – EV
- When things have gone wrong and original plan no longer holds good, EAC = AC + bottom-up ETC
- Both CPI and SPI (cost and schedule performance) of the past is expected to continue, EAC = AC + [(BAC-EV)/(CPIxSPI)]
Atypical means not-typical, which means the variance is one-time (whether favorable or not) and planned performance (budgeted rate) itself is expected to continue (case #2 above).
The other two possibilities are –
A. Typical variance will continue – the scenario that lead to variance found is expected to continue. When CPI is expected to continue the same, then we use scenario #1 above. When both current cost performance and schedule performance are expected to continue, we use scenario #4.
B. When variance is bad and we cannot afford to continue the same way, things need to be reworked (re-estimate remaining project work). We use scenario #3 above.
50. Please explain about Work Shadowing & Reverse Shadowing in Knowledge Management?
Tacit knowledge needs to be learnt on the job. When employees are teamed up so one leans from the other (expert) it’s work shadowing. For Reverse shadowing (although there is no official definition from PMI) the understanding is the scenario when the expert watches the newbie doing the work to validate if they are doing it right (as you can imagine, this is the next step after Work shadowing).
There is a related term called Reverse mentoring (which is also knowledge sharing) – which is when a senior employee learns from a junior employee about some aspect of work. For instance, when a senior manager has to negotiate a contract they need to know high level understanding of the technology/architecture being proposed as part of solution. To learn this the senior manager may come to the (hands-on) engineer to get a high level understanding of this.
51. Is performance appraisal is done in Develop team but tracking the performance measurement is in Manage team?
Most of the performance measurement and feedback happens in Develop Team process.
PMBOK’s definition of these processes –
9.4 Develop Team is the process of improving competencies, team member interaction, and the overall team environment to enhance project performance.
9.5 Manage Team is the process of tracking team member performance, providing feedback, resolving issues, and managing team changes to optimize project performance.
PMBOK has a bit of misleading stand about boundary/scope of each of these processes. Apart from the fact that definition of Manage Team process contains the words ‘providing feedback’, there is one other place where it talks about ‘team performance assessments’ as one of the inputs.
The Develop team process has ‘recognition and rewards’ as a tool and technique (as per PMI’s process definition this should be in Manage team. I hope PMI will fix this in PMBOK-7). I understand this is a bit confusing, but considering the fact that most of the questions on the exam come from PMBOK, it would be best to remember this paradoxical understanding. 🙂
From student’s perspective I am leaning towards thinking that Manage team is for team performance feedback and everything else is in Develop team process.
52. In CPIF contract the buyer is giving an incentive fee if certain criteria is met which I feel is the same in CPAF, but called as award fee. So where is the difference?
In CPAF contract, seller gets majority of fee based on how well they fulfil performance criteria set forth by the buyer, but this criteria is quite subjective! And usually there is no appeal possible if seller is not happy with the ‘awarding’ of fee.
In case of CPIF, the incentive fee is based of course on achieving performnace criteria – and these are objectively defined in the contract. Also, if the final costs are more or less than the estimations, then both the buyer and seller share the differences as per predefined cost-sharing formula.
53. How would a project manager gain situational power?
Situational power usually comes from the handling of crisis situation. There are people that thrive under pressure and can come up with solutions during crisis situations and save the day.
This makes people look up to them with admiration. This is attributed as situational power.
54. So is really a cost of quality all cost to deliver and fix issues?
Yes. And more.
Cost of conformance involve Preventive cost (tasks to build quality into the product) such as training, documenting the right process, etc; and Appraisal costs (actual testing, inspections etc).
Cost of nonconformance involve primarily Failure costs – internal (rework/scrap after the team finds quality issues) & external (cost when customer finds the issues). As you can see when the customer finds issues, some of the things could never be fixed (loss of credibility and corresponding lost business etc).
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