A questionnaire on project management for use in manager indoctrination and training

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President of SETAK Computer Services Corporation Limited and is currently serving his second three year term as a member of the Science Council of Canada. Anassociate of Kates, Peat, Marwick & Co., Management Consultants, he has undertaken major projects in the field of transportation. A Ph.D. in physics, he was among the first in Canada to work on computer design and applications.

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A Professor and Chairman, Department of Industrial Engineering at the University of Toronto. He was among the founders of the editorial board of INFOR and OMEGA (The International Journal of Management Science).

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Deputy Associate Cornmissioner for Project Management, Public Buildings Service, General Services Administration.He is responsible for all aspects of policy-making and general supervision of all project managers and civil engineer with extensive experience in all aspects of large projects.

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Manager of Management Control Systems of McDonnell Douglas Automation Company of St. Louis. He has been responsible for many seminars and training sessions in Project Management techniques.

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A principal of McKee, Berger, Mansueto Inc., a leading firm in Project Management and construction consulting. He is well known for his seminars in Project Management and Value Engineering.

ITT Corporation

New York, N. Y.

INTRODUCTION

Various types of indoctrination and training seminars and courses on project management are continually conducted throughout the ITT Corporation. This paper presents and briefly describes the use of a questionnaire developed for a seminar held within a European ITT company in the Telecommunications equipment manufacturing business. It was found to be effective, and its use will be continued and extended to other companies.

PMI members or others who try out the questionnaire are encouraged to write to the author with their comments.

THE QUESTIONNAIRE

The questionnaire following contains 25 questions covering most of the basic concepts and problem areas of project management. The answers are purposefully ambiguous so that key issues will be brought out and so that the “right” answer will not always be obvious. In some cases, two or more answers could be considered correct, but one is “more correct” than the others. The “right” answers are given at the end of the questionnaire.

SUGGESTED USE

We used the questionnaire in the following way:

1. At the first working session in the seminar (after the 20 participants were identified and objectives of the meeting were defined), a copy of the questionnaire was distributed to each participant, and he was asked to complete it on his own.

2. Four teams of five members each were formed. The teams were asked to review each question jointly and determine a team answer for each. Some instruction was given regarding team work and reaching consensus.

3. Each team recorded

— Individual member score

— Average of individual scores

— Team score

4. The “correct” answers were then provided to the entire group, with discussions of each question under the direction of the seminar leader.

RESULTS OBTAINED

This process proved to be very stimulating and productive.It:

*  Clearly identified the areas of project management which were least understood by this particular group of people. These areas could then be concentrated on without wasting time on well understood topics.

*  Generated rather intense involvement and discussion in the team sessions very early in the seminar.

*  Enabled the direct transfer of knowledge and opinion from one participant to others in his team, effectively increasing the knowledge level of the group.

*  Demonstrated the benefits of team activity (as described later).

* Gave the participants direct experience in team participation, which is the crux of good project performance. (Since the participants were all directly involved in one major, advanced technology, multi-project program, the new team attitudes developed are expected to improve performance on the major program.)

PROVING TEAM EFFECTIVENESS

The individual and team scores were used in the following manner to measure the effectiveness of each team:

*  The potential improvement of the team over its individual members was determined by the difference between the average of its members’ score and a perfect score of 25. Team A, for example, had an average score of 19, or a potential improvement of 6.

* The actual improvement was determined by the difference between the team score and the average individual score. Team A had a team score of 23, or an actual improvement of 4 out of 6, or 67% of its potential.

The point was effectively made in the ensuing group discussion that a team must use all of its available resources. In one case, one participant had an individual score of 24, while his team score was 22. That team, for some reason, failed to utilize the knowledge which that team member possessed.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The concept described here was developed by Dr. Irving Borwick, Manager of Management Development, ITT Europe, Brussels, Belgium. The author prepared the questionnaire content and assisted in planning and conducting the seminar.

PROJECT MANAGEMENT QUESTIONNAIRE

Directions: Please read each question and place a check mark against the answer which you believe to be the most correct. Select ONE answer only; where there is uncertainty regarding the correct answer, select that answer that you believe to be more correct than the others.
  1. A project is:
    1. any contract or R & D case involving three or more men working together;
    2. a unique effort involving several parts of an organization or several functional skills, with a scheduled completion date and a limited budget;
    3. any effort so designated by the Managing Director;
    4. a complex undertaking of a continuous nature, involving several parts of an organization or several functional skills.
  2. A program is:
    1. the same thing as a project;
    2. a longer term effort involving two or more projects;
    3. a complex undertaking of a continuous nature, involving several partsof an organization or several functional skills;
    4. any special effort that should be carefully planned and controlled.
  3. The key concepts of program/project management are:
    1. appointment of a Program Manager with total authority and responsibility for the program, and with direct control of all contributing specialists;
    2. formation of a separate division of other self-supporting organization specifically for the program, with the Program Manager in charge;
    3. identification of a single point of integrative responsibility for the program in addition to existing responsibilities of contributing functional managers, and establishment of integrated planning and control of all aspects of the program.
    4. establishment of integrated planning and control of all phases of and all functional contributions to the program, and appointment of a Project Engineer for its technical aspects.
  4. Program/project management:
    1. is not needed if all functional managers would carry out their assigned responsibilities;
    2. is needed because the functional organization and its methods of planning and control cannot otherwise assure that complex programs will be completed on schedule and within budget;
    3. is not needed unless the program or project is in serious trouble;
    4. is needed only on programs or projects which have high visibility to ITT Europe and ITT headquarters.
  5. The Program/Project Manager:
    1. is primarily a coordinator of all functional contributors to the program, but with authority to resolve problems and obtain decisions by raising such issues to progressively higher levels of the organization;
    2. is the identified authority for the program, responsible for all decisions and for taking such action as is necessary to assure success of the program;
    3. has a functional responsibility requiring the administrative handling of diverse problems as they arise on the project;
    4. responds to the needs of members of the project; he aids, assists and attempts to provide the necessary information and services as they are required.
  6. In assigning a well-qualified man to the Program Manager position, the most important consideration is:
    1. assurance that he will remain with the program from start to finish to maintain continuity of responsibility;
    2. assurance that he will not have other major functional responsibilities while assigned as Program Manager;
    3. his personal desire to control, and impose his objectives upon, all functional contributors, to get them to complete their work on schedule;
    4. his technical knowledge of the specific product being created by the program.
  7. The Program or Project Manager assignment should ideally be rotated from a man in the Marketing Department to a man in the Engineering Department, then to a man in Manufacturing, and then to a man in Installation, as the program/project matures.
    1. True, because it is the best way to fill the Program Manager role, since the assigned person in each phase is very knowledgeable of that phase.
    2. False, because it breaks the continuity of responsibility and allows unsolved problems to be swept forward to the end of the program.
    3. True, because it is the only practical approach, since no one person will have the required expertise to manage the program in all its phases.
    4. False, because it combines functional and program management responsibilities, thereby creating organizational conflicts.
  8. On a major program or project, the Division or Product Line Manager should:
    1. not act as the Program/Project Manager;
    2. generally act as the Program/Project Manager;
    3. act as the Program/Project Manager only when special circumstances dictate;
    4. act as Program Manager if he has the necessary ability and feels that he should do so.
  9. The Program/Project Manager should:
    1. always report to the Division or Product Line Manager;
    2. report to the highest level whenever possible, preferably the Managing Director;
    3. report to the manager who will resolve most of the inter-functional problems which might be expected on the program/project;
    4. retain the previous reporting relationship held prior to being appointed Project Manager.
  10. For major programs or projects, the responsible General Manager (Managing Director, Division or Product Line Manager) should:
    1. make all important decisions on the program himself;
    2. establish priorities between programs, continually monitor their progress and status through reports from the Program Managers, and make decisions as required to resolve problems or conflicts on which the Program and Functional Managers cannot reach agreement;
    3. allow the Program Managers to run the programs without interference, but be ready to step in and take over when serious difficulty is encountered;
    4. establish a series of policies and procedures for managing the programs/projects and only intervene when policy is being violated.
  11. Functional Managers
    1. are justified in rejecting responsibility for programs or projects, since the Program Managers are accountable and possess the responsibility for the programs;
    2. should manage their portions of the programs as tightly as possible, and resist attempts by the Program Manager or others to intervene or change the plan or schedule as agreed upon initially;
    3. retain responsibility and accountability for their portions of the program, and are also responsible to be receptive to the coordinating actions of the Program Manager;
    4. should assume responsibility for their portion of the project and impose whatever constraints are necessary to attain the results they have agreed upon;
  12. Formalized program/project management:
    1. weakens the existing organization because it introduces additional reporting relationships, and because the Program Manager, in effect, tells the functional managers when and what to do;
    2. strengthens the existing organization because it more clearly identifies each functional responsibility on the project, establishes the discipline needed between functions so that each performs the work needed by the the others, and provides the means for effective, coordinated progress evaluation so that the entire organization performs better;
    3. weakens the organization by encouraging conflicts between areas by introducing overlapping responsibilities;
    4. strengthens the organization by clearly delineating the responsibilities of each member of the team and thereby avoids unnecessary conflicts among the various departments.
  13. Conflicts between managers on programs and projects:
    1. generally occur because of personality differences;
    2. must be avoided at all costs;
    3. may be caused by poor definition of responsibilities or scheduling of too many tasks for the available resources, in addition to personality clashes;
    4. are inevitable and should be coped with on a “give as you get” basis.
  14. Responsibility conflicts are best resolved, in most cases, by:
    1. letting the people work out the conflicts on their own;
    2. smoothing over conflicts, and letting them eventually fade away;
    3. confronting the conflict squarely, and forcing early agreement either mutually or by higher direction;
    4. appealing to a third party to arbitrate and, if necessary, make the necessary decision as to who has the responsibility.
  15. Interface management refers to:
    1. defining, planning, scheduling and controlling, by the Program Manager, the points of change in responsibility or other interactions between functions;
    2. managing the specialized technical functions of interface design;
    3. managing a team effort to achieve improved interpersonal and functional operations;
    4. managing the internal functions of each department.
  16. Priorities
    1. should be determined within each program or project without trying to compare the relative priority between projects;
    2. are not too practical since a good Project Manager will usually know from past experience what is the most urgent thing to do next;
    3. should be established between programs or projects by the Product Line Manager but only resorted to when necessary to resolve activities within different projects;
    4. usually have limited influence since each Project Manager tends to rate his project or program as top priority, and consequently conflicts have to be mediated on the basis of the individuals involved.
  17. In dealing with functional managers and their functional project leaders, the Program/Project Manager should:
    1. maintain a formal and official relationship with each, in order to ensure respect and acceptance of his authority;
    2. avoid too much personal contact, which tends to generate unnecessary interpersonal –conflict, and rely mainly on the formal organization communication structure;
    3. develop a personal rapport with each manager through frequent face-to-face contact, and provide each with pertinent available information on the project;
    4. restrict information to what a manager absolutely has to know about his part of the project.
  18. Planning and Control of Project Tasks:
    1. is the responsibility of the Project Manager, and therefore the otherproject team members should not be burdened with planning and control duties;
    2. should be exercised by each project team member;
    3. is important for reporting to higher management in order to minimize interference with production work;
    4. should be performed for the entire project on an ad hoc basis when it is experiencing severe difficulty.
  19. Project control:
    1. should be imposed by the Project Manager to assure that all project team members adjust their plans to conform to his plan;
    2. usually stifles or inhibits needed creativity within functional areas, resulting in an inferior result;
    3. is best achieved by joint planning of all activities, open communication between project team members and joint evaluation of progress and problems;
    4. can be achieved only with very detailed PERT network plans processed by computer, for large programs or projects.
  20. Project evaluation and review meetings:
    1. should only be called when a major change, problem or crisis has occurred; frequent meetings, which tend to waste a great deal of the productive time of key project team members, should be avoided;
    2. should be attended by the designated project team members at their discretion, since they probably know best whether anything important will occur within their area of responsibility;
    3. should be held on a regular, frequent schedule, with mandatory participation by the designated project team members, since this is the most effective way to ensure open communication between all members to evaluate overall progress and to enable identification of current or future problems, and to assign responsibility for resolution of such problems;
    4. are not required if the project is well managed from the start, since the Project Manager can identify the problems and initiate the corrective actions with the respective managers.
  21. Written position descriptions for the Program or Project Manager and key members of the project team:
    1. are generally of little value except for per sonnel administration purposes;
    2. may be useful in some situations to get the people to understand their jobs;
    3. can be useful means of assuring joint agreement on and understanding of each person’s responsibilities;
    4. are usually prepared primarily to justify a predetermined salary or grade, and therefore are not too useful in understanding the actual duties of each person.
  22. Major problems within a particular functional area of the project:
    1. should be resolved by the responsible functional people, with involvement of the Project Manager only as a last resort;
    2. should be reported immediately to the Project Manager to determine what the best course of action is for the project;
    3. should be disucssed with the responsible functional manager and the project manager, corrective action agreed upon from the functional point of view, and both the problem and corrective action presented to the project team at the next project review meeting;
    4. should be reviewed by the responsible functional manager to determine the best corrective action to be taken.
  23. During the project evaluation and review meetings:
    1. the best approach is for the Project Manager to conduct the meeting, and report on each functional area, with emphasis on the problems he has identified;
    2. are more effective when each functional manager or Project Leader reports on his own area of responsibility, stating what the problems are, what corrective actions are under way and what is requested of others;
    3. should be run by the manager to whom the Project Manager reports because he can be informed in this way about the project and can make any necessary decisions to resolve conflicts on the spot;
    4. should also cover design review, since many of the same people are involved in this and the design problems have direct impact on most of the other functions involved.
  24. Specialized planning and control assistance should be provided to each Project Manager:
    1. by having a qualified specialist directly reporting to the Project Manager in every case, since this is the most effective way to assure that the Project Manager will place sufficient time and emphasis on this important area;
    2. only when the Project Manager requests such assistance, since otherwise he may resist and not fully support and use the planning and control help;
    3. by qualified specialists assigned to the project, who may or may not be transferred permanently to the Project Office, and who are related to a centralized planning and control staff, so that they maintain and improve their skills and use standardized practices wherever possible;
    4. during the initial planning phase when the project starts, and when major problems occur which require extensive re-planning.
  25. Graphic display charts of the project plan, schedule, status, budget, expenditures, etc.,
    1. usually are out-of-date and therefore are not too useful for . managing the project, unless a large staff is available to keep them up to date;
    2. are generally useful primarily for informing higher management aboutthe project;
    3. are useful during project meetings for correlating different kinds of information and assisting in the identification of problems;
    4. are usually not very useful, since the Project Manager and other keyproject team members know much more detail than can be displayed on such charts.
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