COMM 431 – PROJECT MANAGEMENT
EXAM REVIEW NOTES
LECTURE 1 – INTRODUCTION
- Project – temporary endeavor to accomplish a specific objective through a unique
set of interrelated tasks and the effective utilization of resources.
- Example: Planning a wedding, hosting a holiday party, designing and implementing
- Projects Vs. Ongoing Operations:
o Projects – temporary, completed when the goals and objectives are
o Operations – On going, involve work that is continuous without and end date.
o Both are performed by people, constrained by resources, planned, executed
- Attributes of a Project:
o Well defined objective/need/deliverables
SMART – Specific, Measurable, Assignable, Realistic, Time Related
o Involves people – customer/client, contractor/developer and user
o Has a series of interdependent tasks
o Uses various resources
o Has a specific time frame
o May be unique or one-time endeavor
o Involves a degree of uncertainty
- Constraints for Project Success:
o Scope, Cost, Schedule, and Customer Satisfaction
o Project is completed within budget, on time according to customer
o Triple Constraint – Time, Cost, and Scope.
o Quality – emphasizes results; objective; measurable.
o Customer Satisfaction – emphasizes experience; subjective; non-measurable.
- People in a Project:
o Client/Customer – one who needs a service
o Developer/Contractor – one who is paid to provide the service
o User – one who will directly or indirectly use the service
- Project Cycle:
o Identify a need Develop a proposed solution Perform the project
Terminate the project.
o Project is born when a need is identified.
o The life cycles vary in length.
o Not all projects formally go through all four phases of the project life cycle.
o Each of the stages could be a project in itself.
o Phase 1 – identify a need, problem or opportunity. The needs and
requirements are usually written by the customer into a document called a
request for proposal (RFP).
o Phase 2 – development of a proposed solution to the need or problem.
Submission of a proposal. Contract agreement. o Phase 3 – performing the project. Detailed plan, resources and results in the
accomplishment of the project objective.
o Phase 4 – terminating the project. Come to term about the success/failure of
the project. Closeout activities.
- What is Project Management?
o A set of techniques to manage a project to achieve an objective.
o 9 Knowledge Area in Project Management:
Human Resource Management
Schedule Management/Time Management
Rick Management and Change Management
o Plan the work and work the plan. Mainly done in the third phase.
o Planning the work:
Define the project objective.
Divide and subdivide the project into WBS.
Define specific activities that need to be done.
Graphically portray them.
Make time estimate.
Make cost estimate.
Calculate project schedule and budget.
Make plan B just in case.
o Work the plan:
Establish a baseline plan and monitor progress.
Measure actual progress and compare it to planned progress.
Take corrective action if the project is behind schedule, over budget,
or not meeting technical specifications.
LECTURE 2 – NEED ANALYSIS
- Initial phase of the project lifecycle. Mainly done by the customer.
- Start with recognizing a task, problem or opportunity. End with issuance of a
request for proposal.
- Methods Used to Identify a Need:
o Business Analysis/Strategic Planning:
Value Chain Benchmarking – compare it with someone eles’s
Porter’s Model – market analysis
o System Analysis:
Outcome Analysis – do a survey; what does the customer want?
Root Cause Analysis – what caused it – this is the fundamental cause
Duration Analysis – operational deficiency problem
Activity Elimination – what can be removed? Technology Analysis – new technologies out there
- Project Selection:
o Evaluating various tasks, problems or opportunities, and then deciding which
one to choose.
o Steering committee, decide a selection model, evaluation criteria, weight to
each criteria, list assumptions, gather data and information for each need,
evaluate each need against the model.
o Selection Models:
Weighted factor scoring
Payback Period/Break-even point
ROI (Return on Investment)
Discounted Cash Flow (NPV)
Sacred Cow – president’s pet project
Operating/Competitive Necessity – must do it to stay in
Comparative benefits – examine +/- of each potential project
Q-Sort Project Ordering
Factor Scoring Non-Numeric Profitability
Factor Several (well 1 on several (implied) 1 (money)
Subjective/Objective In the middle Subjective Objective
Project Nature Homogeneous Homo/Heterogeneous Homogeneous
Amount of Input Medium Low High
Quantitative/Qualitative Both Qualitative Quantitative
Margin of Error Medium High Low
- Feasibility Analysis:
o Technical Feasibility – practicality of a technical solution and the availability
of technical resources and expertise.
Familiarity with application and technology. Ex. business domain,
software, platform, applications etc.
Project size, structure, schedule
o Economic Feasibility – process of identifying the financial benefits and costs
associated with a development project. Cost-benefit analysis. Refers back to
the profitability models.
o Organizational Feasibility – how well the system ultimately will be accepted
by its users and incorporated into the ongoing operations of the organization.
How does it affect the power structure of organization? Stakeholder analysis.
o Social Feasibility – how does the project impact the society as a whole?
Cultural, political, environmental, ethnical, legal issues. - Request for Proposal:
o State what is required from the customer’s point of view.
o Guidelines for drafting a RFP:
Statement of work – multiple proposals
Customer requirements – outcomes, certain features Quality
Deliverables – product, services, reports
Approvals required by the customer
Type of contract
Required schedule of completion
Instructions for the format
o Soliciting Proposals – can identify a group of contractors in advance; don’t
provide info that is not provided to all contractors; bidders’ meetings; not
use RFP at all.
LECTURE 3 – PROJECT PROPOSALS
o Don’t wait until formal RFP solicitations are announced.
o Help clients identify their needs.
- Bid/No-Bid Decision:
o Be realistic about probability of winning the contract.
o Consider: competition, risk, mission, extension of capabilities, reputation,
funds, and resources.
o It is a selling document – not a technical report. Convince the customer that
you are the best one to solve the problem.
o Technical Section: technical feasibility. Understand the problem and
propose a solution. Not too complicated.
o Management Section: operationally capable. Description of work tasks,
deliverables, project schedule, organization, related experience and
o Cost Section: financially sound. Labor, materials, subcontractors, equipment,
travel, documentation, overheads, escalation, contingency and profit/fee.
Don’t overprice or underprice.
o Submit proposals on time. Hand delivers if needed. Follow up in a
o Prices – select 3 lowest-priced proposals.
o Screen out over-budget proposals or if technical section doesn’t meet needs.
o Best and Final Offer (BAFO) - Types of Contracts:
o Contract – vehicle for establishing customer-contractor communications and
arriving at a mutual understanding and clear expectations.
o Must clearly spell out the deliverables.
o Fixed Price:
Price remains fixed unless he customer and contractor agree to
Low risk for customer, high for contractor
Well-defined projects and little risk.
o Cost Reimbursement:
Customer requires that the contractor regularly compare actual
expenditures with proposed budget and reforecast cost-at-completion
High risk for customer, low for contractor
LECTURE 4 – THE PROJECT
- Plan the work and work the plan.
- Project Control – taking corrective actions to keep the project on target toward
meeting its performance goals (time, cost, deliverables).
- Controlling the project:
o Monitor and measure actual progress – what has been done and how much
money has been spent so far.
o Analyze and compare it to planned progress
o If there is a deviation, take corrective action to get back on track.
- Project Tracking Tools:
o Useful for project control
o Tracks routinely cost and schedule status
o For each activity, estimate actual cost so far and percent complete
o Earned Value Analysis is a common tracking tool that provides performance
- Earned Value Analysis:
o Compares the current project status with the original (baseline) plan
o Computes several performance metrics for individual activities and for the
o Focused on cost and schedule performance
- Project Control Tools:
Keep everyone updates about the current project status
Data on actual performance
Info on any changes in scope, schedule, and budget
Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly etc. shorter the reporting
period, better the chances of identifying problems early and
taking effective corrective actions. Data should be collected in a timely manner and as close to the
end of the reporting period as possible.
Progress since last report
Current status of project
Problems and Issues since last report
Corrective action planned
o Project Audit:
Formal inquiry into any or all aspects of a project.
Revalidate business feasibility
Reassure top management
Project status, in all dimensions
Status of crucial tasks
Info on relevant projects
Limitations of the audit
o Resource Allocation:
Allocation more, less, or different physical resources can affect the
progress of activities, and can affect their cost and/or the quality of
outputs/deliverables as well. Same applies to employees and funds.
Set priority rules for which activity gets the constrained resource first.
o Project Crashing:
Accelerating a project – shortening its duration, or speeding it up.
It almost always costs more
Sometimes it is done because earlier activities were delayed or
because customer is willing to trade a higher cost for a short project
o Resource Loading:
For each resource during each time period, determine the total
amount of resource time required by all activities combined.
Compare this total time with the capacity of the resource during each
Identify resources that are over-utilized during any time period.
o Resource leveling and scheduling:
Rescheduling some activities to eliminate resource overloading in
certain time periods.
Delay activities that have extra slack time first – this will not delay the
project. - Terminate the Project:
o Termination rarely has an impact on technical success or failure. But it
affects residual attitudes toward the project and success of subsequent
o The purpose of termination is to learn from the experience in order to
improve performance on future projects.
o Reasons for earlier project termination:
Low probability of technical/commercial success
Unresolvable technical problems
Low profitability/ROI/market potential
Damaging cost growth
Change in competitive factors/market needs
Higher priority of competing projects
o Project Extinction – all activity ceases. Either stopped naturally because the
project is finished or unsuccessful. Or stopped by murder – projecticide.
o Project Addition – project becomes part of the organization. Must transfer
assests and add responsibilities.
o Project Integration – project outcome(s) become(s) part of acquiring
organization or a larger project.
o Project Starvation – active w/o activity.
o Termination Activities:
Should be identified in the baseline plan
- Post-Project Evaluation:
o Individual meeting
o Group meeting
o Customer feedback
- The Final Report:
o Recap, Project biography, Project plan, Audits, Change orders
o Focus on performance, organizational structure, project teams, techniques
o Lessons learned.
o Goal: Future improvement
LECTURE 5 – PLANNING
- Planning elements – project scope and baseline plan
- Project scope provides the guidelines that are used to develop your project plan. It
includes objective, deliverables, milestones, technical requirements, limits and
reviews - Baseline Plan:
o Work Breakdown Structure (WBS):
Deliverable-oriented hierarchal outline (map) that identifies the
products and work elements involved in a project.
Major tasks smaller tasks
Work Packages: lowest level of the WBS. Higher levels are work
items. Defines what work needs to be done, within a timeline, which
resources are required and who is in-charge of the task.
The level of detail is the level at which a single individual or
organization can be assigned responsibility and accountability for
accomplishing the work package and the level at which you can
control the budget and monitor and collect cost data during the
o Responsibility Matrix:
Linear responsibility chart or responsibility chart
Displays in tabular format the individuals responsible for the work
items and work packages.
X – indicate who is responsible
P – indicate who has primary responsibility
S – indicate who has secondary responsibility
How to assign responsibility – expertise, availability, and distribution
of work hours
o Defining Activities:
Define specific detailed activities for each work package.
Activity is a piece of work that consumed time.
Milestone activities – significant events/activities on a project that
normally have 0 duration. Used to measure progress, payment,
approvals. Ex. start, complete.
o Network Plan:
Graphically portraying the defined activities in a diagram. Displays
logical relationships among, or sequencing of, project activities.
PERT – program evaluation and review technique.
CPM – critical path method
o Gantt Charts:
Provide standard format for displaying project schedule information
by listing project activities and their corresponding start and finish
dates in a calendar format.
Planning + scheduling
Activities on the left; time scale on the bottom; estimated duration
displayed by a line; columns indicate person responsibly for each task.
Issues – can’t display interrelationships of activities.
Symbols – black diamond – milestones; thick black bars – summary
tasks; lighter bars – tasks; arrows – dependencies between tasks o Network Formats:
Activity in the Box
A box represents each activity.
Activity description is written in the box.
Each box has a unique activity number.
Activities might have a precedential relationship.
Activity on the arrow
An arrow represents each activity.
Activity description is written above the arrow.
Tail is the start; arrow is the completion.
Circles called events link activities.
All activities going into an event (circle) must be finished
before any activities leaving that event can start.
Each event must have a unique event number
Each activity must have a unique combination of predecessor
and successor event numbers
Dummy Activities – consumes 0 time. Represented by dashed
arrow. Helping in unique identification of activities. Showing
certain precedential relationships.
Loops are not allowed because it portrays a path of activities that
perpetually repeats itself.
Slide 15 in Lecture 5B shows a comparison bet AIB and AOA
Used for projects that have a set of activities that are repeated
Allow project to be completed in the shortest possible time
while making the best use of available resources
Similar to assembly line
Finish to Start (FS) – activity 1 finishes then 2 can start.
Start to Start (SS) – activities can begin at the same time.
Finish to Finish (FF) – activities must finish at the same time.
Start to Finish (SF) – once activity 2 finishes, activity 1 can start
Lead and Lag times:
o Lead (-) and lag (+) times are expressed as part of the
immediate predecessor notation.
o So 1FS+3 listed for the immediate predecessor of
activity 2 means that activity 1 is the predecessor with a
finish to start link and a 3 day lag time after activity 1
finishes before activity 2 can start.
o 1FS-3 means that activity 2 can start 3 days before
activity 1 finishes. LECTURE 6 - COMMUNICATION
- Greatest threats to many projects is a failure to communicate
- Communications planning: determining the information and communications
needs of stakeholders.
o What do they need to know?
- Performance reporting: collecting and disseminating performance information.
Keeps stakeholders informed about how resources are being used to achieve project
o Status reports – where does the project stand?
o Progress reports – what has the team accomplished?
o Project forecasting – future project status and progress
- Information distribution: making needed information available in a timely
o Getting the right info to the right people at the right time.
- Administrative closure: generating, gathering, and disseminating information to
formalize phase or project completion.
- Conflict Handling Modes:
o Confrontation/Problem-Solving: directly face the conflict
o Compromising: use a give-take approach
o Smoothing: de-emphasize areas of differences and emphasize areas of
o Forcing: the win-lose approach
o Withdrawal: retreat or withdraw from an actual or potential disagreement
o Conflict can be good sometimes if it produces important results such as ideas,
better alternatives etc. Task related conflict often improves team
performance but emotional conflict often depressed team performance
- Running Effective Meetings:
o Is a meeting really needed? Can it be avoided?
o What is the purpose and intended outcome of the meeting?
o Who should attend the meeting?
o Agenda for participants before they attend the meeting.
Objective, attendance locations
Problems (info), background (info), cause (discussion), solutions
(discussions), vote (on the best solution – action item).
o Is it the appropriate medium for what you want to communicate?
o Send it to the right people, use meaningful subjects, limit the content, number
and size of attachment, and be clear and concise.
- Use templates for project communications:
o Project description – objective, scope, assumptions, cost, schedule
o Monthly progress report – accomplishments, next plans, issues, changes
o Letter of agreement – description, goals/expectations (organization and
student), meeting info, contact info, communications plan, signatures
o Final project report cover page, table of contents, need for project,
description, letter of agreement, outcome, management tools,
recommendations, Gantt chart, attachments with deliverables. o Final project documentations – description, proposal, contract info with
acceptance documents, project plans and schedules, design documents,
project report, deliverables, audits, lessons learned, appendices.
- Communication Infrastructure:
o Set of tools, techniques, and principles that provide a foundation for the
effective transfer of information.
o Tools – e-mail, PM software, documentations etc.
o Techniques – guidelines, templates, procedures, processes, problem solving,
conflict resolution and negotiation techniques.
o Principles – open dialog and an agreed upon work ethic
LECTURE 7 – RISK MANAGEMENT
- Expect the unexpected. Unforeseen circumstances may jeopardize achievement of
the project objective.
- Project manager is to prevent, anticipate, and/or overcome such circumstances
- Risk Management:
o Reducing probability of an occurrence
What can be done to reduce the likelihood of something bad
o Reducing the severity of the consequences
If something bad does happen, how do we limit our liability?
- Managing Risk:
o Risk – possibility that an unwanted circumstance will occur that can result in
o 4 components:
Risk Response Development – contingency plan
Risk Control and Monitoring
- Risk Identification:
o Which risks may adversely affect the project objective and what the
consequences of each risk might be if they occur.
o Delphi Technique
o SWOT analysis
o Historical Information form past projects
- Risk breakdown structure – project technical, external, organizational and
- Risk Assessment:
o Assessing each risk involves determining likelihood that the risk event will
occur and the degree of impact the event will have on the project objective.
o Risk assessment matrix:
List the risks – what are the risks associated?
Identify the consequences – what happens with these risks?
Chance – the chance of them occurring. Impact – how high of an impact will it have?
Action trigger – what can be done prior to?
Responsibility – whose responsibility is it?
Response plan – how can this problem be tackled?
o Risk profiling – identifies acceptable and unacceptable risks based on the
probability of them occurring and how low-high of an impact it will have.
o Impact scale – a scale of 1-5 how much of an impact will it have on project
objectives such as cost, time, scope and quality.
o Simulation – uses representation or model of a system to analyze the
expected behavior or performance of the system. Ex. Monte Carlo simulation
– computerized mathematical technique that allows people to account for
risk in quantitative analysis and decision-making. Need 3 estimates for that
(most likely, pessimistic and optimistic) and an estimate of the likelihood of
the estimate being between optimistic and most likely values.
Crystal Ball and Project Analysis – allows you to specify any type of
probability distribution for each task. Specify all precedence
relationships. It then shoots random numbers into your probability
distributions to simulate thousands of completions of the project.
Result is probability distribution of the total duration of the project,
from which you can answer the what-if questions about how long the
project might actually take.
- Risk Response Planning:
o Developing contingency plan to reduce the impact of likelihood of each risk.
o Establish a trigger point for when to implement the plans to address each
o Assign responsibility
o 4 strategies:
Risk Avoidance – eliminate a specific threat or risk, eliminate cause
Risk Acceptance – accept the consequences should a risk occur
Risk Transference – shifting the consequences of a risk and
responsibility for its management to a third party
Risk Mitigation – reducing the impact of a risk event or reducing the
probability of its occurrence
- Risk Monitoring:
o Regular review of the risk management matrix t