Sunday, February 17, 2019

Functional Requirement

Any software/application development project ends up in the creation of a unique product or a service. However, for the project to succeed, shouldn’t the features and functionalities expected in the system uniquely identified?
Yes, they should and are called Functional Requirements!

What are Functional Requirements – Quick Overview

Functional Requirements describes the functionalities, capabilities and activities a system must be able to perform and they specify the overall behavior of the system to be developed.
At a basic level, they specify what any service/product should be able to perform.
Let’s try to understand it better with some simple examples. Functional Requirement for a:
  • ‘Key’ – Shall be able to lock and open a door
  • ‘Pen’ – Should be able to apply ink on a surface
However, since functional requirements are expected to describe all the ‘functionality’ related aspects of the solution to be developed, they are usually not as simple as the examples above and consists a lot within themselves. For instance – business rules, processes and flows, authorization and security needs, legal/compliance requirements. Since functional requirements define the features and capabilities expected from the solution, they are sometimes called as Solution Requirements.
Functional requirements are generally written in the format “system shall do/perform <followed by the description of the requirement>”.

Examples of functional Requirements

Let’s assume Rob is the owner of RobRolls, a company which manufactures basketballs. Now, Rob wishes to expand his products range and produce baseballs and footballs as well. This requires better management at his manufacturing plant and thus Rob wants an ‘Inventory management system’.
The functional requirements for the ‘Inventory management system’ will be:
  1. The system shall save the details of the goods available in the warehouse by dividing them into different categories
  2. The system should maintain tracking of sales of products and inventory levels
  3. The system should provide alerts when an item in the inventory goes below a threshold level.
  4. Maintain the balance between too much and too little inventory
  5. Only authorized persons will have access to the system and the role of the administrator shall be assigned to only one person at a time
  6. The system should reduce wastage of raw materials while improving cost savings
  7. The system should provide weekly/monthly selling trend details by analyzing past data

Characteristics of Functional Requirements

  • Are given by the users/business stakeholders
  • only states ‘what’ the system is expected to do/perform and not ‘how’ the system is expected to do that (that’s in Application design document)
  • Are written from the perspective of the system and not from the viewpoint of the user (remember the prefix “The system should ….”)
  • Deal exclusively with the functionalities and features and do not contain any technical requirements within them
  • Should be crisp, non-ambiguous and written in non-technical language
  • Form the basis of the ‘functional scope’ of any application or product

Where are Functional Requirements captured?

Functional requirements are documented in a Functional requirement specification (FRS)/ Functional Specification Document (FSD)
Functional requirement specification or Functional Specification Document describes the intended behavior of a system including data, operations, input, output and the properties of the system.
A functional specification document is prepared by a Business Analyst and it’s a detailed, descriptive and precise requirement document. Owing to their NON-technical nature, FRS/FSD are equally used by developers, testers and the business stakeholders of a project.
Don’t you wish to take a peek into what all the Functional requirement specification (FRS)/Functional Specification Document (FSD) contain? Here’s what one contains –
  • Product Context: Description of the product or application being developed along with its background and other associated details
  • Data Requirements: what type of data could be entered into the system? What is the format of the data? How should this data be stored?
  • Business Rules: What are the rules that define the expected functioning of the system? What operations should the system handle? What are the work-flows typical to the system?
  • User Interface Requirements: How shall an external user interact with the system? What are the different actions possible on screen? What are the fields and icons available on the screen?
  • Authorization and Security Requirements: What all users could interact with the system? What are the different user roles? What are their access permissions?
  • Legal/Compliance Requirements: What are the standards and protocols the system must comply with? Are there any government laws applicable? Are there any regulations that must be imposed on the system?
  • Performance: How fast the system should perform? What is the maximum load system could handle? What are the factors that might affect performance?
  • Dependencies: Is the system dependent upon any external systems? What is the level of interaction between them? How severe are those dependencies?
  • Assumptions: A listing of things that are supposed to be true for the system being developed
  • Constraints: The known restrictions you have while developing the product. These could be budget constraints, technological constraints or even environmental constraints.
The format of an FRS/FSD could be altered based on the organization policies and needs and sections could be added and deleted based on the system being developed.

Who documents Functional Requirements?

It’s the sole responsibility of a Business Analyst to elicit and document the functional requirements in a Functional requirement specification (FRS) document / Functional Specification Document (FSD) / Use case / User story.
The general flow of activities performed by a Business Analyst to documents functional requirements is:
  • Make a listing of all the functionalities, features and capabilities of the application being developed by studying the artifacts of the project. These artifacts include – Project charter, Project vision document, Statement of work (SOW), Business requirement document (BRD)
  • Identify the key business stakeholders of the project – These are the people who decide and defines the functionalities of the application/product being developed
  • Discuss each feature and functionality with the business stakeholders, in-depth
  • Elicit any hidden requirements while gaining consensus and approval on the identified functional requirements
  • Record each functional requirement in the document appropriate as per the organization policies
  • Share the documents with the project stakeholders for feedback and approvals

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Six Sigma

Six Sigma is a quality management methodology which helps you reduce defects and maintain consistent quality in products.
Six Sigma is a very useful methodology which helps you improve the quality of your deliverable. 

What is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma was developed by Motorola in 1986 with main focus to remove the causes of defects from a process before it starts.
This methodology proved to be very successful for Motorola. GE also adopted it and also had excellent results, after that, the fame of the Six Sigma methodology skyrocketed and many manufacturing industries started to adopt it.
Six Sigma can be defined as a “data-driven, customer-focused and result-oriented methodology.”
Six Sigma is a data-driven process and product improvement methodology, the goal is to improve quality to the extent where no more than 3.4 failures per million are allowed, or 99.9967% accuracy.
The chart below shows the Six Sigma graph.
6_sigma_normal_distribution
Image Credit: Jayen466, Fleshgrinder [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In this graph, you can say that Six Sigma is the six standard deviations from either side of the mean. Here, LSL stands for lower specification limit, and USL stands for upper specification limit. Any measurement outside of these limits is considered a defect.
The mean line is the target and this is the ideal measurement.

Roles in the Six Sigma Organization

You can divide the Six Sigma roles into two segments:
  1. Initiative Leadership
  2. Project Leadership
Along with these segments, Six Sigma roles can be divided into six categories:
  1. Six Sigma Executing Leadership or Deployment Leader
  2. Six Sigma Champions
  3. Six Sigma Master Black Belts (MBB)
  4. Six Sigma Black Belts (BB)
  5. Six Sigma Green Belts (GB)
  6. Six Sigma Project Team or Yellow Belt (YB)
Out of these six categories, Executive Leadership, Champions, and Master Black Belts are considered a part of initiative leadership. Black Belt, Green Belt, and Yellow Belt are a part of project leadership.
A champion and Master Black belt can be part of project leadership as well as initiative leadership.

Six Sigma Executing Leadership or Deployment Leader

Executing leadership includes project sponsors or top management. They are the ones who establish the business objectives, create the Six Sigma vision for the organization, and make sure everyone understands it.
Their active participation is mandatory for an organization to achieve the Six Sigma objectives.
Executing leadership is responsible for hiring Master Black Belts, Black Belts, and other top-level members and provide them with the necessary support.

Six Sigma Champions

They are selected by the Executing Leadership and are responsible for the implementation of Six Sigma. They manage Master Black Belts, Black Belts, and Green Belts. Champions work with these professionals to understand the issues they face and provide support to resolve them. They are responsible for managing the Six Sigma environment across the entire operative base.
Champions manage the projects from a high level. They can distribute the projects in programs or develop a portfolio to manage them efficiently.

Six Sigma Master Black Belt

Master Black Belts are selected by Champions. They are responsible for project selection and human resource training. They train Black Belts and Green Belts.
Master Black Belts are responsible for the development of Six Sigma skills within the organization and ensure the sustainability of Six Sigma quality in the project.
They are directly responsible for rolling out Six Sigma methodologies in the project and ensuring activity compliance. They mentor the project team and can engage the Deployment Leadership if any issue arises.

Six Sigma Black Belts

Black Belts are responsible for executing and implementing Six Sigma in the project and can be part-time or full-time project team members.
They create the Six Sigma environment and challenge the status quo where there is resistance to implementing the Six Sigma methodology. They help utilize project resources, mentor the project team including Green Belts, and share best practices.

Six Sigma Green Belts

Green Belts have fewer functions than the Black Belts and they are involved with other project activities in addition to the Six Sigma activities.
They are sometimes called the “engine” of Six Sigma projects. They are responsible for day-to-day Six Sigma activities, solving issues, and, if needed, calling for help and ensuring sustainable results.
Green Belts are responsible for their respective processes and have the authority over them to complete the work effectively. This is a very important aspect of the organization because Green Belts can build process improvement structures within each process.
They work at the project execution level, are responsible for Six Sigma results, and share best practices and lessons learned.

Project Team

Project Team or Yellow Belts include project managers and team members. They are directly responsible for executing project activities. These people work with Green Belts or Black Belts to achieve the Six Sigma objectives.
These people are subject matter experts who support Green or Black Belts in developing the process maps and doing data capture for further analysis.
They need not be either Black or Green Belt holders but they should aware of basic Six Sigma functions.

Stakeholders in Six Sigma Projects

The following are the main stakeholders in any Six Sigma project:
  • Customer
  • Employee
  • Supplier
  • End users

Six Sigma Methodologies

You can achieve Six Sigma objectives by using two Six Sigma sub-methodologies:
  • DMAIC
  • DMADV
DMAIC helps you improve the existing processes incrementally.
The DMDAV process is used to develop a new process or product. You can also use this methodology to existing processes when you need more than an incremental improvement.

What is DMAIC?

DMAIC is a Six Sigma sub-methodology. You can use this methodology as a standalone process for improvement or along with Six Sigma initiatives.
It is a structured problem-solving methodology where each phase depends on the successful completion of the previous phase.
DMAIC stands for: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control.
Define
In the define phase, you define the customer, their problems and issues, their expectations, and their requirements. You also define the process with the help of a process map, identify the areas of improvement, define the Critical-to-Quality (CTQ), set the goal, define the project boundaries, and make sure that the required resources are available whenever they are needed.
Measure
In this phase, you measure the outcome and determine the current process performance.
Here you draft a plan to collect reliable data from the process and determine the defects. This data should help you see how the process is performing.
You may use customer surveys to find the defects, areas of improvement, or any feature requirements. In this phase, the baseline performance is established. It helps you understand the process so you can then take further steps to improve it.
Analyze
Here you analyze the data collected in the measure phase and identify the issues which may affect your project or its outcome. In this phase, you identify the gap between the baseline and the current performance. If there is a variation, you identify the sources of variation and correct them.
You also look for any opportunities and use them to improve your project.
In this phase, your main focus is to isolate the top causes behind the Critical-to-Quality characteristics (CTQ). You also quantify the economic benefits of solving the problems.
Improve
Once you get to the root cause of the problem in the analyze phase, you identify a permanent solution and implement it to improve the process.
In this phase, you carefully study the main cause of the error and find ways to contain it. Here you develop and implement your new plan and new method so that defects are stopped and do not recur in future. After the implementation, you measure the results of the change.
Control
This phase controls the process for stable performance and prevents the process from reverting to the “old way”. This is an important phase to ensuring lasting results and sustained changes. Here you continuously monitor the process, ensuring every approved change is implemented and followed accordingly.

What is DMADV?

DMADV is used to develop new processes or when the improvement received through the DMAIC is not up to the client’s expectations.
DMADV stands for Define, Measure, Analyze, Design, and Validate.
In both methodologies DMA is similar; however, the last two letters “DV” stand for design and validate.
In the design phase, you design the process or product that fulfills all Critical-to-Quality requirements. In the validate process, you check if all CTQs are as expected and if the final product is meeting or exceeding the customer’s expectations.

Difference between DMAIC and DMADV

Although both are Six Sigma methodologies with a similar objective of eliminating defects and improving the process, there are many differences between how and when they are implemented. Some of the differences between these two methodologies are as follows:
  • DMAIC is used for existing processes while DMADV is used for a new process.
  • DMAIC represents correction and DMADV represents prevention.
  • In DMAIC Six Sigma focuses on a few CTQ, while in DMADV Six Sigma is focused on all possible CTQs.
  • DMAIC are usually a shorter duration while DMADV takes a longer time.

Tools Used in Six Sigma

If you are preparing for the PMP exam or are a PMP holder, you should aware of these tools.
These are the same seven basic quality tools you have studied in the quality management knowledge area.
  1. Tally Sheet
  2. Flow Chart
  3. Histograms
  4. Cause and Effect Diagram
  5. Pareto Diagram
  6. Scatter Diagram
  7. Control Charts
I have written several posts to cover some of the above tools. For others, I will try to provide you with a link to follow.

Tally Sheet

The tally sheet is also known as the check sheet or checklist.
With a tally sheet, you record the data by marking it in real time. To record the data you go to the location and observe the process and record it on the sheet. Most of the time you only have to tick or cross it off.

Flow Chart

A flowchart is a diagram that consists of several boxes connected with lines. This diagram shows you the workflow, process procedure or an algorithm. The flowchart helps you visualize the process flow and find any issues or bottlenecks.
The flow chart is a useful communication tool and can help you significantly while studying process improvement or documenting a process.

Histogram

A histogram is similar to a bar chart and displays the graphical distribution of numerical data. It is primarily used to show frequency distribution.
A histogram can assist in discovering if a process change has occurred from one period to another. It is also a good communication tool to express data quickly.

Cause and Effect Diagram

This diagram is also known as an Ishikawa or fishbone diagram.
The cause and effect diagram helps you find possible causes for a problem or effect. With the help of this tool, you can also find bottlenecks in your process and determine any issues within the process, such as why a particular process is not working.

Pareto Diagram

A Pareto Diagram is a bar chart where the longest bar is on the left side, and shortest is on the right side. The height of bar decreases gradually from left to right and displays the frequency of various errors.
With the help of a Pareto Diagram, you can focus on the problem with the most frequent occurrence.

Scatter Diagram

In a scatter diagram you use two variables: One is the dependent variable and the other is the independent variable.
This diagram can help to determine a relationship between the two variables. After determining the correlation between the variables, you can easily predict the behavior of the other variable.

Control Charts

Control charts are one of the most widely used charts in quality management. With the help of this chart, you can determine if a process is stable or not.
In this graph, you have the mean, lower control limit, upper control limit, lower specification limit, and upper specification limit.
Specification limits are set by the client and any measurement outside of these limits are considered defects.

Advantages of Six Sigma

Six Sigma helps organizations immensely; some of the benefits of this methodology include:
  1. It is customer driven.
  2. It covers the entire production process rather than the final outcome.
  3. It is a proactive process. It helps you improve the process even before you discover your first defect.
  4. It improves quality, eliminates defects, and reduces waste, which means more profit and brand recognition and hence more satisfied customers.
  5. Low variation in deliverables.
Six Sigma can help your company save a lot of money by avoiding rework, scrap, return cost, and after-sale support.

Disadvantages of Six Sigma

Although there are no inherent disadvantages of this methodology, in some cases it may not produce the desired result or a delay may occur. A few examples of these situations are:
  1. For production work Six Sigma works well, but for research work it does not work (source).
  2. Sometimes it may create rigid boundaries which could delay the process.
  3. It might be costly to apply to a small-sized company.
  4. According to some experts, 3.4 defects per million is too low, which may lead to putting more focus on areas with low yield.
  5. If the top management is not supportive, it will not give the desired result.
This was a short review of Six Sigma, and I believe you now have a better understanding of this methodology.
However, before I conclude this blog post let’s discuss the differences between Six Sigma and the PMP certification.
First, you should note that Six Sigma and the PMP certification do not compete. Both certifications are different and serve different purposes, though at some points they interact with each other.
The Six Sigma methodology is mainly applicable to manufacturing and financial industries. On the other hand, the PMP methodology applies to all aspects of projects, regardless of industry.
Six Sigma focuses on eliminating defects and reducing waste, or you can say that it increases the quality of the product or the process. PMP concentrates on completing the project successfully.
The Six Sigma methodology is forced from top management down to operations, and active involvement from management is mandatory for its successful implementation. 

Conclusion

The Six Sigma methodology must be implemented and monitored by top management and only their active involvement and support can make this methodology successful. If you are Green Belt or Black Belt holder, it will help you in improving the quality of the deliverable and influence leadership.
Implementing the Six Sigma methodology involves a lot of expense, especially in training and applying changes to the process. However, if implemented correctly it can bring a fruitful result to organizations, such as profitability and brand recognition.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Leadership Interview Questions & Answers

1. What are the most important values you demonstrate as a leader?
The most important value that I have is my integrity. I demonstrate honesty and trust in all my actions to establish credibility as a leader. By having this conviction behind my words and actions, those who I lead are gain bought into the direction I take them.

2.How have you gained commitment from your team?
I gain commitment from my teams by influencing and persuading them to set specific objectives and also buy into the process. Once they have established cooperation and cohesion, they are on board to attain the goal.

3.How can a leader fail?  Give an example of that.
A leader can fail when they can’t get their team on board with the goals of the organization. Factors outside of a leader’s control may also lead to failures such as available resources, time constraints, and the economy.
In the example you give, make sure that you talk about how dealt with a difficult challenge and how you analyzed the setback. Make sure you explain how to seek honest feedback to ensure that you learned from the failure.

4. What is the difference between a Team leader and a Team manager?
A manger is able to handle tasks and responsibilities and ensure that others get their work done. A leader will inspire and motivate their team to achieve their goals.

5. What is your greatest strength?
Being able to lead and inspire a team to perform their best and strive to achieve goals. I can do this through relationship building, being passionate about the goals, and influencing those around me.

6. What would be your greatest weakness?
When I delegate duties to others that I know I can do better.  However, if I don’t delegate, then I could end up with more work than I can handle myself. I’ve taken courses in time management and learned how to effectively handle tasks to overcome this weakness.

7. How do you get others to accept your ideas?
I talk about the benefits of the idea and how to apply it. I would stay open to other thoughts and change my ideas in a way that we can all agree. When you gain buy-in from others, you are much more successful in attaining the goals than when you make it mandatory to follow procedure.

8. How would you go about praising a team member in public?
I would use a time when we would be gathered in a group, such as a meeting to bring up the praise to the team member. I would recognize their success in front of the group so others could also learn best practices.

9. Are you more effective in a group or one on one basis?
I feel that I am more effective in a group because everyone has some unique quality that they bring to a group. We can develop our interpersonal skills by helping those in the group who need it as well as learning from those who are successful.

10. How often do you feel it’s necessary to meet with your team?
I feel that I should meet with my team at least once a week on a set time and day of the week. Communication among team members is critical, and this will give the team an opportunity to get together on a regular basis and talk about their challenges and best practices. Also, when our team reaches a milestone, a new project begins, an award or promotion is given, or when there is a challenging situation, I would want to bring the team together. Everyone will get the same message that way, and we can celebrate successes or come together in challenging times.

11. Describe a time you took a leadership position when you did not have the title of a leader.
In this question, take an example from a situation where you were in a group and took responsibility to delegate to achieve goals. Show how you gained from the other members to follow your lead and the result of your leadership.

For instance, in college, we were put into groups of four to complete a marketing project. We had to prepare a 15-page paper and 10-minute presentation on a new product. We want to introduce that outside the U.S. I took the initiative among the group to lead a discussion on how we should split up the work when we meet throughout the semester and deadlines for each person’s part of the work. Because I was the one to take the lead the discussion and had a plan in mind, I gained the buy in of the other members quickly. I took everyone’s e-mail address and created a group email to help us all keep track of our progress and so we could help each other outside of class and our meetings. By the end of the semester, my group achieved a 95% on our project.

12. How would you go about getting cohesion among a team who disagree?
I would find common ground between the members who disagree. I would talk about the importance of the overall goal and the implications if we didn’t come together to achieve it. We would then work together to come to an agreement that is a win/win for both sides.

13. What sort of leader would your team say that you are?
They would describe me as someone who will clear the way when there are obstacles and always has their back.

14. How do you motivate your team?
I find out what motivates them individually so I can speak to how a goal or change is going to benefit them. I ensure that I have the right amount of positive and constructive feedback to help them perform effectively. My actions always match my words so when I speak to my team with conviction; they are on-board with performing their best.

15. How do you set an example to those for your team members?
I will perform my best at everything and ensure that my actions match my words. My team sees that my expectations that are set for them are the same expectations I put on myself.

16. Have you ever been in a mentor to another aspiring leader? How did you go about establishing that relationship?
Yes, I treated it much like the relationship that I have with my team. I built a strong working relationship with the person, listened to their goals, gave advice, and my personal experience. I shared my best practices and constantly monitored their progress to celebrate their success and move them in the right direction.

17. What is the most difficult part of being a leader?
In some ways, although you are part of a group, you are alone. It’s a leader’s responsibility to see the end goal and vision of an organization to lead others towards it. When others do not see it the same way, you have to be the lone voice to bring them back on track.

18. How do you lead through change?
As a leader, you have to be the first one to embrace change because if you don’t like those around you will quickly see that. After that, I ensure that I can communicate the change with the conviction that it’s the right path to adopt.I prepare by ensuring that I can answer any questions that may be asked, or have the resources to find the answers. I listen to others concerns about the change and help them through the transition.

19. How do you measure success for you as a leader?
By the goals that the team achieves. When someone on the team is successful, then it reflects on my leadership.

20. What motivates you to be a leader?
I am motivated by my team’s growth and achievement of their professional and personal goals.

21. What is a leader’s best asset?
Their ability to motivate and inspire a team of professionals who can work together to achieve the goals of the organization.

22. What do you do when you are unsure about how to achieve the goals of the team?
You have to be open to feedback and be willing to ask for help when you are not clear on how to achieve a goal. I would ask my leader first for their feedback on how they believe I should go about achieving the goals. I would also use all the resources available to me to find the best course of action.

23. Are you more comfortable with verbal or written communication?
I am comfortable with both types of communication. However, I feel that verbal communication is more effective.  That’s because when you speak to someone directly, you will be able to see their body language toward the discussion. You are also able to address questions/concerns faster than in written communication.

24. How would you deliver bad news to your team?
I would bring them together and state the news. I would explain as much as possible as to why it occurred and what steps we will need to take in the future. I would also open it up to the team to speak about their concerns, answer questions, and share their viewpoints to know how we can avoid a similar situation.

25. Is competition among a team healthy? Why or why not?
I believe competition among a team is good as long as it is in good spirit. A team has to have a high level of cohesion among its members to prevent misunderstandings. As a leader, it’s my responsibility to ensure that when there is a competition that it is being monitored to ensure its positivity.

26. What are the most difficult decisions to make?
It’s difficult to take the decision to let an employee go. However, if they are not performing the way that they should be, it is the right decision. It is never easy to make a decision that will impact a person’s life.

27. What kind of criticism you most get?
I have not received criticism on the same area over and over. I’m always open to personal and professional growth and welcome any opportunity to improve. When I receive criticism, I work on improving that aspect and furthering my growth.

28. How would you proceed to reorganize your team?
I would look at the overall goals of the organization and match my team’s strengths up with the reorganization.

29. Have you ever been a member of a successful team? What was your role in the success of the team?
Use an example of when you were part of a team and demonstrate the leadership skills that you used to pertain to your role.

30. How do you build support for ideas/goals with people who do not report to you and you have no authority over?
In situations where I must build support for my ideas with cross-functional teams, I ensure that I communicate my opinion clearly and effectively. I listen to their feedback and their ideas, and I will make amends if they are necessary to build support or improve on the idea. I foster an environment where an input is sought and validate my idea by explaining why its the best route.

31. How do you go about resolving conflict?
I take a mediated approach to conflict. I believe it’s important to listen to both sides and understand where each is coming from. There is usually some common ground between conflict, and I start there and build.

32. Name a time when an employee disagreed with your directive and how you handled it?
I heard them out to understand why they disagree. I may have to go back and re-explain the directive and reasons for it. I would listen to their feedback and if it is the right thing to do, take it to change the directive. However, if that is not the case, I would stick to the facts as to why their commitment is necessary.

33. Who are the most important members of your team?
Everyone is equally important. Each person contributes something different to the team, and that makes us as a whole stronger.

34. How do you delegate responsibilities to your team?
I match up responsibilities with each member’s strengths. If I have a team member who is working on improving an aspect, I will give them the opportunity to take on the task and ensure they have the tools necessary to be successful. I would monitor their progress as well.

35. Name a time when you had to change a decision due to new facts.
Pick a situation where you showed that you were open to change and show how you were effectively at changing your decision based on the new facts.
For example, I had created a new spreadsheet for managers to use at the end of the night to keep track of sales for the day. This spreadsheet was due in an e-mail every morning and helped us see how we were doing on a daily basis. A few months later, our point of sales system allowed us to input this information into a program that would allow managers to input sales for the day. With this new technology, I decided to do away with the spreadsheet and had the managers use the program to capture the information and send it to me.

36. How do you achieve objectives in a fast-paced environment?
I ensure that the team knows the objectives and the timeliness that have been set. I place milestones so each member can check their progress.

37. Explain a time when you had to make a decision without all the relevant facts.
Pick a decision that you would not have all the facts for at the time of the decision. Make sure that you speak about all the different options you had and how you picked the best one out of what you had available. Talk about the results/takeaways.
For instance, I had to decide whether our organization was going to be involved in a new marketing campaign that used social media to advertise our products. At this point, our company did not have relevant information on how successful our previous social media marketing campaigns were. If we were to proceed, I was going to have dedicated at least one member of my team to its success. It would be time-consuming and if not successful, would take up a lot of productivity time. I decided to take part in the campaign because it was relatively inexpensive and the potential to gather information about best practices when launching them in the future. We ended up with a very successful marketing campaign with measurable results.

38. How do you formulate and present arguments to others?
I look at all sides of an argument first so I know what may come up when I present my position. I base my arguments strictly on facts that are objective.

39. How did you a handle a time when you had to make an unpopular decision?
Talk about a decision that you made that was necessary, but not popular with your team. Explain how you communicated the decision, listened to their concern, and stood your ground on the decision.
One possible answer –
Last year I decided to change our commission structure to our sales reps. I felt it was a necessary change because there were too many sales reps who were doing the bare minimum to collect a paycheck. Needless to say, many of the sales reps were upset with the decision. I reiterated the reasons for the change and ensured they had the tools they needed to be successful in the new commission structure. The organization saw an increase in their revenue and sales reps were making 5% more with the new commission structure.

40. What do you do to remain engaged in a conversation?
I actively listen by paraphrasing what others say to me. That ensures that I am on the same page as the other person and keeps me attentive to the conversation.

41. How do you organize projects and tasks?
I organize them by what is the most important and time-sensitive to complete.

42. Explain a time when you were not able to meet a deadline?
Use an example were you where not able to meet a deadline due to outside factors.
For instance, there was a big project that my team was working on, and I had split up the work among some members and myself. During that time, one member of the team had to leave due to their spouse getting a position in another city. He left at a critical time, and I had to re-assign his duties to someone else. I make the new person work to speed with the progression of the project and due to this, was not able to complete it on time. We were still able to complete the project a few days after the deadline even with the change in the team member.

43. How have you rallied your team in the past in difficult projects/tasks?
I communicate my confidence in their ability to complete the project. I ensure that I remove as many obstacles as possible and they have all the tools/answers they need to complete the task. I ensure there are clear expectations and open communication.

44. How do you encourage the development of your employees?
I develop my employees by being a mentor, giving effective performance feedback on a regular basis, and coaching. I take a personal interest in the development of my employees, and when they see that I am committed to their growth, they are more motivated.

45. What is the most significant change that you brought to an organization?
Provide an example that shows how you demonstrated your vision to make a positive change in the organization. Also, talk about the results of the change.
For instance, at my previous organization, the management team came up the ranks and never had formal management training. They did not know how to lead their former peers and were uncomfortable having productivity discussions with their teams. I felt there was a need to train these managers on the skills they would need to be successful. So I made my case to the leadership team on why it is important and provided examples I was seeing. Due to this, all managers go through a rigorous management training program that prepares them for their new role.

46. Have you been developed an innovative solution to a non-traditional problem?
In your example, show how you promote change and innovation. Solutions to unique problems occur when there is a constant information flow in all directions to ensure responsiveness to change.
For instance, I was responsible for a sales team in my previous position. A separate production staff handled the orders that my sales team would prepare. This production team had difficulty making the deadlines that my sales team promised their clients. In addition, the product was sometimes not customized to the level the client was looking for. So I decided to change the process that our sales reps put in sales order by having the sales rep communicate with the production team who was responsible for each client’s product. This helped my sales rep create achievable timeliness and a product that was the way the client expects.

47. What is the role that leadership plays to a manager?
A leader’s role is to communicate with clarity to the strategic vision to the management team. This vision must be able to be in the form of a clear direction and plans. There should be clear priories, objectives timeliness, accountability, and performance measures.

48. What leadership style do you use?
This answer should be based on the type of organization you are joining. You should show that you will be able to change your style in different circumstances.

49. How would you go about developing your team?
I encourage training courses, soft skills workshops, on the job mentoring, and coaching.

50. Have you ever taken on a job that you were unqualified for?
In your example, show how you are not afraid of taking risks to achieve goals at work. Demonstrate your focus on the job at hand and how it inspired others.
For instance, I took on management responsibilities in my previous position to take the place of my manager who had left. I did not have any management experience, but I knew that the team was not going to be able to be effective without a leader in place. I may have made a few mistakes, but ultimately was successful in taking on that additional responsibility. The upper-level management was impressed by my growth and efforts, so they ended up promoting me into that position.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Project Quality Manaegment

In the late 80’s or early 90’s, quality management found its place within project management. Today, no one can deny the fact that project management has become quality driven. Everyone prefers not just project delivery but ‘quality’ project delivery.
Quality improvement, quality control, kaizen, valued added management etc – key elements in quality management are gaining grounds in project management these days. A large number of organizations are hugely investing on quality management professionals in order to ensure the level of quality in projects.
Six Sigma or lean implementation is an approach taken in order to ensure zero defects in projects. Constant improvement and elimination of errors are the desired results for all projects and therefore, quality management has emerged as a major factor in project management. In fact, project quality management is defined as a knowledge area of project management in PMBOK Guide. In this article, let’s have a look at quality management processes implemented in a project. Here is an evaluation of various aspects of quality management within project management.
What is Quality Management?
Quality management as the term suggests is all about managing quality in services. When it comes to project management, ensuring desired quality is the goal. The project delivery should ensure quality management. Here, quality doesn’t always mean perfection and high quality services, but maintaining consistency in quality across projects. The quality to be maintained in a project is decided by the stakeholders, owners and clients of the project. Quality standards are also defined based on organizational values and standards. A quality management process is introduced in a project towards quality planning, quality assurance and quality control.
Quality Characteristics to be maintained in Project Management
In a project, quality characteristics are defined by the stakeholders. Some of the most common quality characteristics are performance, functionality, suitability, reliability, consistency and more. The levels of quality in these terms are measured as per project and organizational standards. From project initiation and processes to project delivery, each should be measured in terms of quality standards. In project deliveries, various things like computers, project equipment, team etc., too matter in terms of ensuring quality characteristics as desired. Thus, quality management should be in place from the beginning of a project till the end.
What are the different phases in Quality Management?
Quality management involves typically three phases – Quality Planning, Quality Assurance and Quality Control.
  • Quality Planning: Here, the quality plan is created. Every plan should have a desired objective or goal and quality plan is no exception. The goal of quality management should be clearly communicated to all the stakeholders in a project. After the goal is defined, the measures to ensure the level of standard should be worked out. How will the customers be satisfied? What is the level of quality that the stakeholders are expecting? How to determine if the quality measures will lead to project success? When all the answers to these questions are in place, tasks should be delegated to respective team members and quality plan is initiated.
  • Quality Assurance: This is a process that moves along with project throughout the lifecycle. Quality assurance is all about evaluating if a project is moving towards delivering quality services. If all the quality characteristics are in place the quality plan can proceeding in an effective manner. When quality goals are not achieved or are not in the process of getting achieved, necessary steps and corrective actions should be identified. Ensuring corrective actions too falls in the phase of quality assurance.
  • Quality Control: Here, operational techniques are used in order to ensure quality standards. Any time a problem arises relating to quality or if the quality plan is not executed in the desired manner, corrective actions should be effective. Quality control involves monitoring project results and delivery to check if they are meeting desired results or not. If not then alternative actions should be implemented.
This is how, quality management is ensured in project management. By following the quality management phases, projects are worked upon towards delivering desired results. Thus it ensures quality standards that are defined and are a must in today’s project management world.

Who should write the Project Charter?

The project charter is a document that officially starts a project or a phase. It formally authorizes the existence of the project and provides a reference source for the future. The charter gives a direction and a sense of purpose to the management from start to end. We should take great pride and care in our project charter because this is where you sow the good seeds. It will eventually take care of you. A project charter names the project manager and defines the authority of the project manager. It gives the project manager the authority to utilize organizational resources to accomplish the project objectives.

Charter also helps executives see the business value of the project. They can also reference the charter to understand how well the project is aligned with the organizational strategies.

A project charter should also serve as an executive overview of our project, one that any new executive can reference to evaluate it. A good project charter can help save us from unnecessary scrutiny or having our project shut down because some executive didn’t see the business value in it from their perspective.

As per the PMBOK® Guide, the project charter is created during the "Define" process . This process is one of the first ones to be performed in a project and is completed during the "Initiating" process domain.

The project charter is signed by the sponsor or the initiator.


So should the Project Manager write the Project Charter or the Sponsor and Initiator?
The charter should be written by the project manager (or at least a PM), as the PM is the person in the organisation with the necessary skills to create the charter.
Many argued that only a sponsor could draw up a charter, but my response was that many sponsors don’t have the necessary skills or training required to write a charter, yet it’s well within a project manager’s capabilities.
Another comment that as it was the charter that named and authorized the project manager, the project manager could not be involved in it’s writing. Who says they can’t?
Well these arguments are pretty well settled, when you read PMBOK Fourth Edition.
Page 73
“It is recommended that the project manager participate in the development of the project charter”
And Page 74
“Projects are authorized by someone external to the project such as a sponsor, PMO, or portfolio steering committee. The project initiator or sponsor …will either create the project charter or delegate that duty to the project manager. “
So I think that’s pretty clear.
The other reason of course why you, as project manager, should write (or being heavily involved in the writing of) the charter, is that the charter will have a big influence on your project, and so it makes a lot of sense having some level of control or influence of your own, in these earliest stages.
Small is beautiful
And I’ll finish with a reminder that the charter is a very high-level document with very few pages (often one or two pages). Why? Because in these earliest stages nobody knows much detail (and what they do know will change – often).  Besides, the more you have in writing at the stage, the more people will argue over it, so it will delay the project authorization and you can’t bill the arguing time to the project. Why not?
Because the project isn’t authorized, so there’s no budget of cost account!
What should be on a Charter?
Title and Description, Authorization and Resources/Team Members, Scope, Deliverable s, Measurable Objectives, Risks, Business Case, Business Outcome/Benefits, Timeline Problem Statement.