You are allowed to consult the course textbooks.
Each answer should be around one page. Answer the five questions in essay. They will be evaluated and graded on the basis of how well they address the question asked, the relevance, logic and persuasiveness of the arguments expressed AND how well they apply the concepts and best practices provided in course materials. Students are advised to BE DIRECT in answering the questions.
In each question, you are expected to pretend you are a credentialed Project Management Professional to get you to apply the project management instruction you’ve gotten in this class up until now. It is acceptable for you to venture opinions which are not endorsed by PMBOK, the text or the instructor’s lessons, but it is strongly suggested you mention orthodox views before recommending unorthodox ones.
You do NOT have to provide citations for any sources which you use, or to provide a bibliography. It is, however, acceptable to say things like “PMBOK recommends…” if you like.
Question 1 (20 points) Your Score:
You are a PMP just hired to serve as the head of a project management office for a large, international corporation. The company is organized as a matrix organization and is in the planning phase of a large program consisting of multiple interrelated projects. The teams which are assigned to these projects are dispersed in offices in a dozen different offices in Asia, Europe, North and South America.
The program manager invites you to a breakfast meeting along with two of the senior business managers who are major stakeholders in the project.
“We would like to pick your brain,” says the program manager as you settle in at a vacant seat at the conference room table with a mug of coffee and a bagel. “The last time I led a program like this, I was extremely frustrated by the lack of effective communication within and across the project teams.”
“For that project, the company provided us with access to a full-featured intranet, access to Microsoft Project Enterprise Edition with licenses for everyone on the project, teleconference lines and WebEx accounts. The project managers worked up and implemented a complete communication plan using all of this technology and a detailed status reporting schedule. We held frequent meetings throughout the entire initiative”
The program manager ruefully shook his head. “Despite all of that, I found myself continually being surprised by bad news almost as soon as the project began.” He nods at the business managers sitting around the table. “We’ve decided we don’t want to go through that kind of experience again. We’ve brought in different project managers this time, and they have put together another, similar, project communications plan. We would also like to hear your own thoughts about how best to promote effective communication for a program like this. What should we be looking out for, and what other things should we be thinking about?
How would you respond?
Question 2 (20 points) Your Score:
You have just been hired as a project manager for a medium-sized company.
On your first day at the company, Rodrigo, a senior vice president, brings you into his office after introducing you to some of his other direct reports. After some friendly chatting about how your onboarding process is going, he asks you for advice about what he considers to be his biggest headache.
“Our company has grown dramatically over the past five years. We’re proud of our success, and it’s due in large part to the commitment of our people to delivering good work,” he begins, then pauses for a moment. “The problem is that as we’ve grown, we have to take on more and more projects to support that growth.”
He continues, “It was simple when we were a dozen people working together on everything, even though we all had to work extremely hard. In the beginning, we had to focus intensely on getting major initiatives completed in order to survive as a firm. We aren’t facing life-or-death situations anymore, but it seems every time I turn around, someone wants to get started on another project. Right now, anyone who has an idea for a project pitches it to me verbally, and I tell them whether they should get started on it or not.”
“Some of my decisions have paid off, but too many haven’t. Our company president told me we need to do a better job of deciding what we should and shouldn’t do. What would you suggest we do before approving a project, and how would it help us?
What would you recommend to Rodrigo?
Question 3 (20 points) Your Score:
You are working in a project management office for a Fortune 500 company. Your job is to provide advice to project teams which undertake a variety of large and small projects. One day, you are contacted by Neil, a novice project manager who is part of a team working on an extremely large and complex software project. The project is of such a great scale that the team expects to contract a lot of the work out to third party vendors.
“I could use some advice,” Neil sighs. “The lead project manager for the project has assigned me to handle procurement management planning for the project. As she suggested, I put together a team of people to work on developing our procurement approaches.”
“The team has been debating the kinds of contracts we should be putting together for the project. We are going to need to hire at least one vendor to handle some complex software development for some key subsystems. Joe, the representative from the finance department, is adamant that all of the procurement contracts we create will be what he called ‘firm fixed price’ contracts. He said the company has been burned too many times by cost overruns on vendor contracts, and the CFO has had enough.”
“Neither the lead project manager nor I have had much experience with procurement. We thought it would be best to talk with you before we discuss this with Joe again. How do you think we should respond?”
What advice would you give Neil?
Question 4 (20 points) Your Score:
You are a project manager in an information technology delivery unit of an organization which adopted highly detailed predictive project management processes several years ago. They are required for all projects, and while they are expected to be tailored for each project, their use is closely audited by members of the organization’s project management office (PMO). A strategic technology investment committee oversees all technology projects and approves the project management approaches used on them.
One afternoon, you are called into a conference room for a meeting with Ali, the head of the PMO and Gabriela, the new director of software development. You notice that many of the other project managers employed in the unit are also in attendance.
Ali calls the meeting to order and begins to talk. “Thanks to all of you for coming. As you may know, Gabriela joined our group recently and she is getting ready to kick off a new project which is intended to develop a next generation knowledge management portal for us. I’ve explained how we prefer to use our waterfall SDLC on all of our software projects. She’s told me she would like to use Scrum for this project. I’ll let her tell you more about it.”
Gabriela smiles and says, “That’s right, Ali! I earned my Certified Scrum Master credential three years ago, and led a number of Scrum teams at my old company. The knowledge management portal project is expected to involve a lot of innovation, so I think an agile approach would be best.”
Ali looks around the room at all of the project managers. “I’ve told Gabriela I’m willing to consider the use of Scrum,” he says, “but this is a large, highly visible project. I’ve expressed my concerns to her, but thought I should discuss this with all of you. Should we try Scrum on this project? What considerations should we take into account in making a recommendation to the strategic technology committee?”
What answer would you give to Ali and Gabriela?
Question 5 (20 points) Your Score:
You are a project manager who works on the Technology Project Oversight Committee (TPOC) for OmniCorp, a Fortune 500 company. TPOC includes a team of senior managers empowered to oversee the organization’s project portfolio management (PPM) processes for the company’s information technology projects. These processes have been in place for over a decade. Due to a retirement within the past two months, a new manager named Lillian has come aboard the committee. She had been given access to a knowledge portal containing historical project portfolio management historical data. Lillian has significant expertise in one of the company’s major service areas, but little prior experience with technology projects.
Lillian approaches you a couple of days before the first monthly TPOC meeting she will attend. “I have to confess I’m a bit surprised by the project success data I’ve seen in the reports for the past view years. It looks like the failure rate for our technology projects is running around 30%,” she remarks.
“Look at the report on this project to create a new product last year. The project was cancelled only two months after it started, with over 80% of its budget left unspent. I would have thought we would demand a 100% success rate. For anything less than that, I’d expect us to either make drastic changes to the way we run projects or even start replacing personnel. How are we getting away with this?”
What would you say to Lillian?