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Part 3 of the midterm examination consists of three (3) essay questions. You are expected to answer all three of them. You should read each question carefully and be sure to understand any details, constraints or qualifications which might be included in them.
You are allowed to consult the course textbooks, lessons and any notes you have taken. You are NOT allowed to consult other individuals, whether or not they are students in the class. You are expected to do your own work (You may NOT lift entire sentences or paragraphs from texts or lesson materials!!!), and are to be bound by an honor code to abide by that commitment. Failure to do so will result in penalties to be determined by the instructor.
The deadline for submitting your completed version of this exam will be 11:55 PM on Friday, October 27th. These essay questions are intended to be completed in ninety minutes to two hours. While it is not possible for the instructor to enforce that time rigidly, please keep it in mind as you craft your answers.
Answer each question as best as you can. Enter your answers directly below each of the questions. There are no minimum or maximum length requirements, or restrictions on formatting. Answers will be evaluated and graded on the basis of how well and completely they address the question asked, the logic and persuasiveness of the arguments expressed AND how well they apply the concepts and best practices provided in course materials. Students are advised NOT to try to answer the questions by inserting every scrap of knowledge available about a relevant project management knowledge area into their responses. That will lead to a lower, not a higher grade! While your content is expected to be legible and understandable, your answers will NOT be judged on the basis of spelling, grammar or English usage.
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.
A final note: In each question, you are expected to pretend you are a credentialed Project Management Professional. I realize no student in the class is. The reason that constraint is imposed is because you are expected to answer as though you have received the project management training you’ve gotten in this class up until now. It is acceptable for you to venture opinions which are not endorsed by PMBOK, but you need to at least mention PMBOK’s view of the world and differentiate your views from that.
Question 1 (15 points)
You are an experienced project manager and a Project Management Professional on a job interview for a project management position at a large company. You’ve completed the screening interview, and have just been led to the office of the hiring manager for the position. After several minutes of casual conversation, she tells you she has a delicate question to ask.
“I feel it’s important for you to understand the environment you’ll be working in,” she begins. “We are undertaking a multi-million dollar software development project involving several business units in our organization. We’re not a company which has taken project management seriously in the past, and we’ve paid for it with big cost overruns and schedule delays on similar systems we’ve built in the past.”
“I had to persuade some senior managers that our customary way of doing things wasn’t working, and it was time to embrace project management as a discipline. They authorized me to create this job opening, but I can tell you there’s a lot of skepticism about project management here. Whoever takes this job is going to have to be able to articulate its value to the project team and a lot of the key stakeholders.”
She nods in your direction, and says “You’re a PMP, so you tell me how we can justify the use of project management processes and best practices for this project to the people we’ll be working with? What’s in it for the organization as a whole, and what’s in it for them?”
Question 2 (15 points)
You are the same project manager described in Question 1. You ace the job interview, and the hiring manager gives you the job. You hit the ground running, and persuade a lot of skeptical team members to give the PMBOK-compliant predictive life cycle processes you recommended a shot. They include a well-developed integrated change management process which includes a Change Control Board (CCB). The CCB consists of the project sponsor, the functional managers involved with the project and you. The change management process requires all requests for requirement changes to be submitted to the CCB for evaluation and possible approval.
Two months have passed since the project requirements gathering was completed. The software construction is in full swing, a senior stakeholder who had some input into the requirements and is not a member of the CCB comes by your cubicle with a sour expression on his face.
“I was talking with one of the software developers on the project, and happened to see some of the web pages she was putting together. I was the one who provided the requirements for the features she was working on. When I saw what she did, I realized that there were more details than I originally thought of to be considered. I told her she needed to change what was there, and she told me she couldn’t just do it on my say-so, that I had to fill out something called a ‘change request.’”
“What’s the big deal?” he complains. “These changes are essential, and I think she should just do them. Why do I have to go through all of this ‘change request’ nonsense to get this done?”
How would you respond?
Question 3 (20 points)
You have just been hired as a project manager for a large company, and have been assigned to manage Project Icarus, a mission-critical project which needs to be completed within a fixed deadline. While the organization is large and runs many projects, it has never paid attention to project management best practices.
The manager who hired you told you that senior management has indicated they want to change that, as a couple of big projects started in the past two years failed spectacularly. “We’ve hired you and a couple of other PMP-certified project managers because the CEO was furious about those projects,” he confides. “We need to develop better processes, and need people like you to get us moving in the right direction.”
You take your manager’s words to heart as you start planning efforts on Project Icarus. You work with your project team to develop project management plans in all of the knowledge areas. This includes a risk management plan which requires you to sit down with project stakeholders to identify and analyze risks qualitatively and quantitatively.
You hold the first risk identification session and appoint yourself to be the facilitator. In attendance are several senior managers who are major stakeholders in the project. You sent out an agenda before the meeting and included a detailed description of the risk identification and analysis approaches you are prescribing, which follow PMBOK process guidelines.
As you start the meeting, one of the senior managers raises his hand. “I feel I have to speak up before we start this meeting. I’ve talked this over with a couple of the other managers, and we are NOT comfortable with this process. Why are you asking us to identify threats to the project and estimate their impact and likelihood? We’re not statisticians and we’re not here to fail – we need to get this work done. It seems like you are expecting us to come up with reasons why we shouldn’t be undertaking this project at all. Are you trying to get management to kill this project?”
How would you respond to the manager’s remarks?