PMP exam question of the week

Keep you PMP skills sharp subscribing to our "PM question of the week" newsletter! Below a list of past issues.

PM Question of the Week - week 19 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 19 2015.

Situational questions may be difficult to answer. A useful technique to answer this kind of questions is to visualize in which of the five process group the recounted action can be placed (initiating, planning, etc.). Let's try this technique with the following PMP question:

The ship building project is on budget but behind schedule. Additionally, the cruise company complained about the quality of some of the cabin interiors: as a consequence a recommendation was made to select a new supplier. You organized a new bid, a new seller was selected and the first shipping of the new cabin furniture has just arrived. Which of the following options best describes the process you are managing?
a. Perform integrated change control.
b. Control quality.
c. Plan procurement management.
d. Direct and manage project work.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is d. Direct and manage project work.

Explanation: in fact this process is where you implement the approved changes. You can also identify the correct answer by visualizing the situation described in the question: you should agree that you are not carrying out an initiating or planning activity, and also you are not monitoring and controlling or closing. You are, indeed, executing the project. Therefore, even if the question mentions a procurement activity, you are not planning procurement. Controlling quality can be also safely excluded, as also perform integrated change control: the latter is the process that basically keeps the project management plan coherent over time, and like the former it is a monitoring and controlling process.

PM Question of the Week - week 18 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 18 2015.

Interpersonal skills are a crucial part of the project manager background: this week question will challenge your knowledge of the set of abilities and attitudes that are mastered by the effective project managers.

You are taking responsibility for a project mishap: which of the following option best describes what you are doing?
a. Trust building.
b. Leadership.
c. Conflict management.
d. Team building.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is a. Trust building.

Explanation: by taking responsibility for the issue you are demonstrating accountability and commitment to the project, which is crucial to establishing a positive relationship of trust with the team and the stakeholders.

PM Question of the Week - week 17 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 17 2015.

In the present issue of our weekly newsletter we explore a situation that every project manager has faced at least once: the premature closing of a project.

Which of the following options is a good reason to prematurely close a project?
a. The project manager resigns.
b. The project scope is not well defined.
c. The project customer has declared bankruptcy.
d. The project is misaligned with the strategic objectives.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is c. The project customer has declared bankruptcy.

Explanation: this is clearly a typical situation where you would want to close the project, as it has no reason to exist anymore since nobody will use, or pay for, the results.
Let's examine the other options:
a. The project manager resigns. is clearly a poor answer, as the role can be taken over by another project manager;
b. The project scope is not well defined. this is a bad issue but can (and should) be corrected.
d. The project is misaligned with the strategic objectives. this is another bad issue for the project, but again you as a project manager should work to correct the situation instead of closing the project.

PM Question of the Week - week 16 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 16 2015.

In order to successfully pass the PMP exam you should consider that your project management experience will be carefully tested together with your knowledge of the PMBoK. In fact, some questions may be quite easy for a project manager with experience. The latest PMI policy for the admission to the PMP exam explicitly requires 4500 hours of experience leading and directing projects, so let's try an example of question aimed at checking just this:

Which of the following options you would not always include in the project management plan?
a. Risk register.
b. Cost baseline.
c. WBS.
d. Schedule baseline.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is a. Risk register.

Explanation: the risk register is a fundamental part of a project management plan, but it may as well be omitted if the project is small. On the other hand, the WBS and the cost and schedule baselines are a fundamental part of any project management plan, for projects of any size. Please not that this information is not provided by the PMBoK, but should be part of your background.

PM Question of the Week - week 15 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 15 2015.

Sometimes the PMP exam will test your knowledge of a very specific PMBoK topic. Clearly, it is impossible to keep the full body of knowledge in mind, and you will have to rely on your project management experience, intuition and on the overall grasp of the standard. At times you may also get a good hint from some of the four choices that are provided. But let's see an example:

"Problem solution generation" is an example of:
a. Conflict management.
b. Create WBS technique.
c. Decision making.
d. Leadership.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is c. Decision making.

Explanation: this is mentioned in the PMBoK as a phase of a possible decision making model. The model is described in appendix X3 Interpersonal Skills: as previously said, answering correctly to this kind of question requires either a very careful study and a good memory, or a intuition, project management experience and a good grasp of the overall PMBoK structure. Let's examine the wrong answers as well.
Answer b. Create WBS technique. is clearly wrong. Answers a. Conflict management. and d. Leadership are more plausible: they can be discarded after pondering the alternatives. These choices should also provide you with a clear hint on which topic the question is about, that is interpersonal skills.

PM Question of the Week - week 14 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 14 2015.

In this issue we challenge you with a situational PMP question regarding conflict management: this type of question describes a situation and ask how would you behave. As always, situational questions assume that your are the project manager, even if this is not explicitly stated.

You are in charge of delivering on budget and on time, and you manage a number of team members from the IT and engineering departments. During a meeting, the customer and the IT head start a though conversation about a specific requirement: the IT head implicitly suggests that the customer does not understand the limits of the framework technology that was selected for the implementation, while the customer is trying to make his point regarding the requirement. You know that it is impossible to change technology at this stage of the project, and at the same time you remember that the customer requirement is clearly specified in the contract. You need to step into the conversation to sort things out: which of the following conflict management strategies will you use?
a. Avoidance.
b. Compromise.
c. Assertiveness.
d. Accommodation.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is b. Compromise.

Explanation: compromise, that is giving up some ground and gain other ground elsewhere, is the best conflict management strategy when no other viable alternative exists: in the situation it is impossible to change framework technology (IT head ground) and at the same time it is also impossible not to fulfill the contractual obligations (customer ground), so you need to compromise.
Let's examine the other options:
a. Avoidance consist in doing nothing: this is a very bad choice as the conflict will not go away and will get worse over time if not solved.
c. Assertiveness means that you force a "IT head wins - Customer loses" solution. This is impossible as you are bound by the contract.
d. Accommodation means that you force a "IT head loses - Customer wins" solution. The question clearly states that this is impractical at the current stage of the project.

PM Question of the Week - week 13 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 13 2015.

In this issue of our weekly newsletter we propose you a situational PMP question.

You have just signed a contract with the customer organization. You will now proceed to acquire the project team according to the human resource management plan. Which of the following options best describes what you have just done?
a. Define project requirements.
b. Develop project charter.
c. Manage project team.
d. Conduct procurement.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is b. Develop project charter.

Explanation: the project charter is the document that formally authorizes the project. Sometimes this is represented by a contract with the customer. The other options are clearly wrong, and among them the worst one is probably d. Conduct procurement.: if you chose this option you probably need to clarify the difference between customer and seller organizations.

PM Question of the Week - week 12 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 12 2015.

This week we test your general understanding of the project management framework.

Which of the following options represents a common cause for project failure in the initiating phase?
a. Failure to identify key stakeholders.
b. Unclear roles and responsibilities.
c. Misalignment between project objectives and organizational strategy.
d. Wrong assumptions over estimates.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is a. Failure to identify key stakeholders.

Explanation: stakeholders need to be identified early in the project; in fact identify stakeholders is an initiating project management process. Let's examine the other options:
b. Unclear roles and responsibilities. this issue relates more to the project team management, and to the planning phase.
c. Misalignment between project objectives and organizational strategy. this is another typical issue that affects scope management and the planning phase.
d. Wrong assumptions over estimates. again a typical planning phase issue: estimates are clearly not part of the initiating phase.

PM Question of the Week - week 10 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 10 2015.

Exercises constitute a fundamental part of the PMP exam preparation: they provide a set of unambiguous questions that can give you a good score advantage during the test. This week we challenge your understanding of one of the seven basic project management quality tools: the Cause and Effect Diagram.

In the diagram shown in the image, what does "bad communication" represent?

a. A gap to be closed.
b. An objective to be achieved.
c. An effect of the problem.
d. An actionable cause.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is d. An actionable cause.

Explanation: a Cause and effect diagram, also referred to as Ishikawa or fishbone diagram, is a tool used to track an issue or problem to its actionable root causes. It is important to remember that the problem is stated in the "head" of the fish, while the causes are listed in the fishbone.
The other options:
a. A gap to be closed. and An objective to be achieved.: this information goes in the head of the Ishikawa diagram.
An effect of the problem. this information too goes in the head of the cause-and-effect diagram.

PM Question of the Week - week 11 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 11 2015.

ITTOs stands for Inputs, Tools and Techniques, Outputs. In our PMP exam simulator we make a careful and limited use of this type of question in order to avoid a bare mnemonic test but rather using this as a tool to increase your understanding of the PMBoK standard.

Which of the following processes has accepted deliverables as an input?
a. Close project or phase.
b. Control scope.
c. Validate scope.
d. Control quality.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is a. Close project or phase.

Explanation: accepted deliverables are deliverables that have been formally signed off by the customer or sponsor of the project. This is a necessary input in order to close the project or phase. Let's examine the other options:
b. Control scope. this process focuses on the scope baseline and impact of changes thereof, not on the deliverables.
c. Validate scope. if you selected this option: close, but no cigar! Accepted deliverables are a specific output of this process, that aims at getting formal sign off of the deliverables by the customer or sponsor.
d. Control quality. this process receives "raw" deliverables as an input, and produces verified deliverables as an output.

PM Question of the Week - week 9 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 9 2015.

The following question focuses on the relationship between the project and some of the project stakeholders.

You receive an invitation to participate to a meeting where you are requested to show that the project management plan is compliant with the templates. Which of the following options best describes the meeting?
a. Progress status meeting.
b. Quality assurance meeting.
c. PMO meeting.
d. Quality control meeting.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is c. PMO meeting.

Explanation: a Controlling PMO may require that your project management work is compliant to predefined templates. Let's examine the other options:
a. Progress status meeting. is clearly incorrect: usually you should not discuss your project management plan templates with the customer.
b. Quality assurance meeting. this is a better choice, because the role of the quality assurance department is similar to that of a Controlling PMO. The crucial difference is that quality assurance is focused on project work, not on project management.
d. Quality control meeting. this is clearly wrong because quality control is applied to work performance data and to project deliverables.

PM Question of the Week - week 8 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 8 2015.

This week we present you with somewhat of a classic question, aimed to test your understanding of the differences between projects, programs and portfolios.

Which of the following options is true?
a. Program success is measured in term of customer satisfaction.
b. Project success is measured in terms of benefits realization of the project.
c. Program success is measured in terms of aggregate investment performance.
d. Project success is measured in terms of product quality.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is d. Project success is measured in terms of product quality.

Explanation: this is one of the objectives of project management, the others being timeliness, customer satisfaction, project quality and budget compliance. Let's examine the other options:
a. Program success is measured in term of customer satisfaction. is wrong because this is true for projects.
b. Project success is measured in terms of benefits realization of the project. is wrong because this is true for programs.
c. Program success is measured in terms of aggregate investment performance. is wrong because this is true for portfolios.

PM Question of the Week - week 7 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 7 2015.

Again a "back to the basics" PMP-like question that we hope will sharpen your exam skills.

Which of the following sentences is true?
a. Controlling processes produce data that are then integrated into reports.
b. Reports are, in general, communicated to project stakeholders or team members.
c. Execution processes produce data that are then converted into reports.
d. Estimate to complete and status of deliverable are examples of data.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is b. Reports are, in general, communicated to project stakeholders or team members.

Explanation: this is why reports are produced in the first place. This question is designed to test your understanding of the difference between data, information and reports: let's examine the other options. a. Controlling processes produce data that are then integrated into reports. is wrong, because they produce information, not data.c. Execution processes produce data that are then converted into reports. is wrong because data need to be converted into information before going into a report. Answer d. Estimate to complete and status of deliverable are examples of data. is wrong because they are examples of information, not data.

PM Question of the Week - week 6 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter # 6 2015.

This issue of our weekly newsletter focuses on aspects specific to the PMBoK, that is the project management process matrix.

Which of the following knowledge areas has no planning process?
a. Communication management.
b. Integration management.
c. Stakeholder management.
d. None.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is d. None.

Explanation: all of the project management knowledge areas have at least one planning process.

PM Question of the Week - week 5 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter # 5 2015.

We propose you another question covering some of the project management basics.

Which of the following options does not include only project management constraints?
a. Schedule, budget, risk.
b. Resources, budget, results.
c. Resources, quality, scope.
d. Budget, risk, quality.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is b. Resources, budget, results.

Explanation: results are not a project constraint, but rather an output. Project constraints are: scope, schedule, budget (sometimes referred as "the iron triangle"), quality, risk and resources.

PM Question of the Week - week 4 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter # 4 2015.

This week newsletter is about the project management basics.

What is the most important output of the Direct and Manage Project Work process?
a. The activity schedule.
b. The scope baseline.
c. The project deliverables.
d. Change requests.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is c. The project deliverables.

Explanation: deliverables are the products of the project and Direct and Manage Project Work is the project management process that outputs them, according to the project management plan and objectives.

PM Question of the Week - week 3 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter # 3 2015.

This week we challenge you with the following situational PMP question.

You are in the early stages of the project and still carrying out planning. You are being pressured by a senior manager of the company who is clearly trying to impose his own views regarding important aspects of the plan. You are considering whether his involvement in the project planning is legitimate or not. Which of the following options best describes what you are doing?
a. Considering ethical issues.
b. Identifying risks.
c. Analyzing stakeholders.
d. Considering organizational process assets.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is c. Analyzing stakeholders.

Explanation: you are evaluating the source of the influence power of the stakeholder. Answers d. Considering organizational process assets and b. Identifying risks. are good guess either but less specific to the case in point. Answer a. Considering ethical issues. is not correct, as the described situation involves the company structure and policies rather than ethical issues.

PM Question of the Week - week 2 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter # 2 2015.

One of the most relevant changes in the fifth edition of the PMBoK, with respect to the previous editions, is the introduction of the project stakeholder management chapter, that has been clearly separated from the project communication management.

Which of the following options best describes why it is important to manage stakeholder engagement?
a. To ensure stakeholders clearly understand the project goals.
b. To decrease the ability of stakeholders to influence the project.
c. To convert unaware, resistant or neutral stakeholders into supportive ones.
d. To assess how key stakeholders are likely to react or respond in various situations.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is a. To ensure stakeholders clearly understand the project goals.

Explanation: this is clearly stated in the PMBoK as one of the stakeholder management objectives. Answers b. To decrease the ability of stakeholders to influence the project and c. To convert unaware, resistant or neutral stakeholders into supportive ones. can be legitimate actions in some situations, but cannot be generally assumed. Answer d. To assess how key stakeholders are likely to react or respond in various situations. is not a reason to manage stakeholder engagement, but rather it is part of the technique to analyze them.

PM Question of the Week - week 1 2015

Dear colleague, welcome to the first "PM question of the week" for 2015!

Let's kick start the new year testing your knowledge about project procurement management.

Which of the following options is not necessary to develop a SOW?
a. Signed contract.
b. Project schedule.
c. Scope baseline.
d. Cost estimates.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is a. Signed contract.

Explanation: the logic behind this question is quite simple. First of all, in order to develop a Statement Of Work, that is that part of a procurement documents describing the goods or services to be purchased, you need to factor in the time, cost and schedule constraints of the project, that is options b. c. and d. are all necessary. Moreover
a. Signed contract. is clearly wrong because in order to produce a contract you need the SOW in the first place.

PM Question of the Week - week 52 2014

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter # 52 2014.

This week PMP question aims to test your knowledge regarding the interaction between project management processes.

Which of the following is sometimes pictured as a "background" group of Project Management processes?
a. Project integration management.
b. Monitoring and controlling.
c. Project risk management.
d. Planning.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is b. Monitoring and controlling.

Explanation: this is because Monitoring and Controlling processes occur at the same time as processes belonging to other project groups. Planning processes activity on the other hand decrease as the project progresses, therefore answer d. Planning. is wrong.
a. project integration management. is an area of knowledge, and not a process group, while c. Project risk management. is a single process, and not a process group: if you answered a. or c. you probably misread the question.

PM Question of the Week - week 51 2014

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter # 51 2014.

This week's topic is project life cycle. This is a basic topic, anyway answering correctly to simple questions like this one can earn you a good amount of points during the PMP exam. Therefore when reviewing the PMBoK be careful not to overlook the first 3 chapters: they can greatly help you increase your score!

Which of the following aspects will usually increase as the project progresses?
a. Project scope.
b. Risk.
c. Uncertainty.
d. Cost of making changes to the products.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is d. Cost of making changes to the products.

Explanation: as the project progresses towards its conclusion any significant change to the requirements of the products will generally increase in cost. Options b. Risk. and c. Uncertainty. work in the opposite way, that is they generally decrease with time. Answer a. Project scope. is wrong, as you are supposed to answer considering that good project management practices have been applied by the project manager, unless otherwise stated in the question, therefore you can safely exclude issues such as scope creeping.

PM Question of the Week - week 50 2014

Dear colleague, welcome to the "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 50 2014.

One of the most pervasive concepts in the PMBoK is the change request: getting this concept right will take you a long way during the PMP exam. So let's have a look at our weekly PMP question.

The senior management has just approved a change request. What will you do first?
a. Monitor and control project work.
b. Identify risks.
c. Estimate activity resources.
d. Control scope.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is d. Control scope.

Explanation: the first thing to do is controlling the scope of the project. You need to identify if and how the approved change request affects the scope. Remember that project scope management leads project time management therefore answer c. Estimate activity resources. is an action you will need to perform afterwards, after the impact on the scope has been identified. Action b. Identify risks. is also coming after the new baselines have been drafted. Answer a. Monitor and control project work. instead is clearly wrong.

PM Question of the Week - week 49 2014

Dear colleague, welcome to our "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 49 2014.

We specially like the seven "basic quality tools" introduced by the chapter 8 - Project Quality Management of the PMBoK, therefore this week we will focus on another one: the Pareto diagram. Let's introduce our weekly PMP exam question.

The following picture represents the Pareto diagram of the production process. In order to meet the product specification you need to reduce the number of defects by 80% at least. What is the best thing to do?

a. Eliminate issues 1, 2 and 3.
b. Reduce issues 1 to 5 by 80%.
c. Eliminate issues 3, 4 and 5.
d. It is impossible to tell.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is a. Eliminate issues 1, 2 and 3.

Explanation: Pareto diagrams are used to determine the sources that cause most of the effects. Pareto diagrams are often associated to the "80/20 rule", that can be stated as follows "the 80 percent of the effects are determined by the 20 percent of the causes". In this week question the sources are represented by the issues, while the effects are the defects. Issue 1 is clearly causing the majority of the defects. In order to reduce defects by 80% it is necessary to eliminate issues 1, 2 and 3: in fact, even if the exact amount of defects that are caused by each issue is not provided, looking at the Total line in the Pareto diagram it is easy to recognize that issues 1, 2 and 3 together account for more than 80% of the total defects. Please note that answer b. Reduce issues 1 to 5 by 80%. is not correct, because the total amount of defects accounted for in the Pareto diagram is not 100%: you have to assume that there are other issues or causes not listed in the diagram.

PM Question of the Week - week 48 2014

Dear colleague, welcome to our "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 48 2014.

This week sample PMP exam question aims to test your knowledge of one of the seven "basic quality tools" introduced by the PMBoK: the quality control chart.

You are managing a project for Racrox Electronic Corporation aimed at developing a new series of touchscreen devices. A member of the quality team has sent you the following control chart showing the screen white balance measurements of pre-production. Is the process working properly?

a. Yes, because there are less than three points out of the control limits.
b. No, because there is a point below the lower specification limit.
c. No, because there is a point below the lower specification limit and one above the upper control limit.
d. Yes, because of the three points rule.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is c. No, because there is a point below the lower specification limit and one above the upper control limit.

Explanation: control charts are used to determine whether a process has a predictable performance or not, in other words whether it is stable or not. Upper and lower specification limits are based on requirements, and should not be exceeded. Control limits are determined using statistical (sigma) calculations and should also not be exceeded by a stable process. Please note that answer b. No, because there is a point below the lower specification limit. is correct, but not complete.

PM Question of the Week - week 47 2014

Dear colleague, welcome to our "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 47 2014.

In this issue of our weekly newsletter we focus on a key concept that is pervasively mentioned throughout the PMBoK, often as a process output: change requests.

Which of the following change request types usually impacts on the scope baseline?
a. Risk acceptance.
b. Defect repair.
c. Preventive action.
d. Corrective action.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is b. Defect repair.

Explanation: preventive and corrective actions are aimed to align the project work with the baseline, and therefore they usually do not affect the baseline itself. Risk acceptance is a risk response strategy, not a type of change request. A defect repair change request is usually an output of the quality control or validate scope processes: it may be issued for example when a deliverable of the project has not been accepted for quality issues. As such, a defect repair usually directly affects the scope baseline of the project.

PM Question of the Week - week 46 2014

Dear colleague, welcome to our "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 46 2014.

This week we propose you a PMP question regarding the different project life cycle models that are described in the PMBoK:

A junior project manager seeks your advice over the best way to manage a large and complex project that aims to collect requirements, design, implement and deliver a new information system to support operations and management of a large organization. Which of the following general approaches to the project life cycle would you recommend her?
a. Fully plan-driven.
b. Predictive.
c. Adaptive.
d. Iterative.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is d. Iterative.

Explanation: the iterative life cycle provides advantages when the project scope is complex and can be subdivided into portions that can be delivered separately and still provide value to the customer. Fully plan driven and predictive project life cycles are synonyms: these approaches will increase risks in complex scenarios. On the other hand adaptive methods, such as Agile, require a continuous engagement of the stakeholders, that is often impractical in large organizations.

PM Question of the Week - week 45 2014

Dear colleague, welcome to our "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 45 2014.

This week PMP question covers a project management concept that is treated in some detail in the PMBoK fifth edition, while it was almost absent in the previous PMBoK editions:

You have been directed to manage a project only a few days ago, and are undecided whether to escalate an important issue regarding a stakeholder to the project sponsor or not. What is the best thing to do?
a. Refer to the project governance framework.
b. Consult with the project team.
c. Refer to the stakeholder register.
d. Consider the enterprise environmental factors.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is a. Refer to the project governance framework.

Explanation: project management governance is described in some detail in the last PMBoK edition, and it specifically includes the process to identify, escalate and resolve issues that arise during the project. Please note that the enterprise environmental factors include organizational governance, but that is separate from project governance. The stakeholder register is an auxiliary document providing information needed to identify and engage the stakeholders. Consulting the project team over important issues escalation is disingenuous at best.

PM Question of the Week - week 44 2014

Dear colleague, welcome to our "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 44 2014.

This week PMP question regards organizational influences on project management:

You are working in a weak matrix organization. Which of the following is likely to be the most important stakeholder?
a. The Chief Executive.
b. The functional manager.
c. The Customer.
d. The project staff.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is b. The functional manager.

Explanation: this is somewhat of a classic question. The Project Manager's authority in weak matrix organizations is low, as well as resource availability. Even more critically, the budget is managed by the functional manager. Therefore the functional manager exerts a very high influence over the project life, and conversely the ability of the Project Manager to influence the functional manager is critical for the project success.

PM Question of the Week - week 43 2014

Dear colleague, welcome to our "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 43 2014

This week PMP question:

Which of the following is NOT a way to support strategic objectives?
a. Align strategic objectives with the organizational scope.
b. Integrate a subproject into a program.
c. Exclude a project from a portfolio.
d. Run operations.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is b. Integrate a subproject into a program.

Explanation: although the term subproject is part of the PMBoK glossary, it is never used in relation to portfolio management, that is clearly the topic of the question. You may also note that answer d. Run operations is a distractor: operations do support strategic objectives of an organization, even though they differ from projects because of their ongoing, not temporary, nature.

PM Question of the Week - week 42 2014

Dear colleague, welcome to our "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 42 2014

Project Managers often see risk everywhere... so let's test your project risk management knowledge with this week PMP question:

You are managing a project for the construction of a new highway tunnel. In order to mitigate an hydrogeological risk the team elaborates a response plan that includes the excavation of a draining gallery. How would you define the risk related to the excavation of the draining gallery?
a. Secondary risk.
b. Accepted risk.
c. Residual risk.
d. Transferred risk.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is a. Secondary risk.

Explanation: The questions does not say anything about the risk management strategy for the risk related to the excavation of the draining gallery, therefore it is impossible to say whether it has been accepted or transferred (answers b. and d.). Residual risk is the risk that remains after risk responses are in place, while secondary risk is the risk that arises from a (primary) risk response, therefore a. Secondary risk is the correct answer.

PM Question of the Week - week 41 2014

Dear colleague, welcome to our "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 41 2014

This week PMP question:

You are ramping up the project resources. You are informed that a key member of the project team will not be released from a different project. You know the project success is dependent on his expertise. What is the first thing to do?
a. Negotiate with the other project PM, in order to acquire the needed resource.
b. Hire a consultant with the required skills.
c. Identify an alternative resource, even if with lower competencies.
d. Pre-assign the resource, in order to acquire the resource in advance.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is a. Negotiate with the other project PM, in order to acquire the needed resource.

Explanation: sometimes more than one answer to a PMP situational question may appear to be correct. In our example, answers b. Hire a consultant with the required skills and c. Identify an alternative resource, even if with lower competencies are both legitimate actions to address the situation presented in the question. Anyway, it should be noticed that the question asks for the FIRST thing to do, not the best one. The first thing to do is obviously trying to a. Negotiate with the other project PM, in order to acquire the needed resource.. Answer d. Pre-assign the resource, in order to acquire the resource in advance is wrong because the question says that you are ramping up the resources, that is you are already executing the project, while preassignment should be carried out at an earlier stage. If you picked the wrong answers b. or c., take a mental note to always read carefully the actual PMP question!

PM Question of the Week - week 40 2014

Dear colleague, welcome to our "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 40 2014

Today we focus on a topic that is usually a bit hard to grasp for less experienced Project Managers... but let's not put the cart before the horse! This week PMP question:

You are transferring the deliverables of the phase to the operations, and reviewing customer acceptance documentation to ensure that all project requirements are completed. Which of the following processes are you managing?
a. Control scope.
b. Validate scope.
c. Close project or phase.
d. Perform quality assurance.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is c. Close project or phase.

Explanation: in order to answer this and similar PMP situational questions you need to correctly identify what phase of the project lifecycle the question is describing. In the presented situation you are transferring the deliverables, that represent the outcomes of the project phase, to the operations, that is the day to day business of the company. This indicates that you are in the closing process group (this is sometimes called the "turnover" phase). The second part of the question is a distractor that tries to trick you into the b. Validate scope answer. This answer is wrong because the question says that you are reviewing the customer acceptance documentation, not getting them signed off. So the customer acceptance documentation is an input to the current process, not an output. In our experience, the Close project or phase process is often a difficult topic for less experienced PMs: make sure you digest it before sitting the PMP exam.

PM Question of the Week - week 39 2014

Dear colleague, welcome to our "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 39 2014

A topic often overlooked by the PMP exam candidates are exercises: they may represent a small portion of the overall scope of the exam but we strongly encourage you to learn your way around them. Ignore PMP exercises at your risk!

This week PMP question:

Which is the critical path?
Activity Duration
A 3
B 2
C 8
D 4
E 2
F 2

a. START – A – D – F – STOP
b. START – A – D – E – F – STOP
c. START – A – E – F – STOP
d. START – B – C – F – STOP

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is d. START – B – C – F – STOP.

Explanation: Answer to this kind of questions is often very simple: the critical path is that of the longest total duration. Therefore you may either calculate the total duration of the four paths, or, better, you may recognize that paths a. and c. are subsets of b., and therefore can not be critical. The choice is then clearly only between paths b. an d. . Additionally, you may also recognize that activity F is included in all the paths, and then you can safely exclude it from the sums.

If you have problems visualizing the question please follow this link

PM Question of the Week - week 38 2014

Dear colleague, welcome to our "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 38 2014

This week PMP question:

You are reporting directly to the Vice President. During a meeting with her, she underscores how much the project you have been selected to manage is strategic for the company. Therefore, she expects you to immediately report to her any major issue the project may face. Additionally, no risk will be accepted above a certain risk threshold. To which of the following documents, assets or characteristics would you assign the information you received from the VP?
a. Stakeholder Register.
b. Enterprise Environmental Factors.
c. Organizational Structures.
d. Organizational Process Assets.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is b. Enterprise Environmental Factors.

Explanation: The VP provided you with valuable information regarding the risk tolerance of the organization. This information is part of the Enterprise Environmental Factors that are input to the Plan Risk management process. Please note that this terminology is sometimes referred to as a PMI-ism, a word to identify terms that are specific to the PMBoK Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge.

PM Question of the Week - week 37 2014

Dear colleague, welcome to our "PM question of the week" newsletter for week 37 2014

Let's dive directly into this week's PMP question:

Which of the following is not a project stakeholder?
a. The project customer.
b. A junior member of the project team.
c. The customer's main competitor.
d. The performing organization.

Answer to question and explanation

The correct answer is c. The customer's main competitor.

Explanation: to correctly answer this PMP exam question it is necessary to start from the exact definition of stakeholder: "Stakeholders are individuals, groups, or organizations who may affect, be affected by, or perceive themselves to be affected by a decision, activity or outcome of the project." Because this definition is extremely broad, we need to put it in the context of a Project Manager who is managing the project. The customer is, in most of the cases, the individual, group or organization most affected by the project outcomes. Team members are also directly affected by the activities and outcomes of the project: for example their career may be at stake. The performing organization is also directly affected by the project activities and outcomes. It may be said that the customer's main competitor may be also negatively affected by the project outcomes, or that may negatively affect the project, but this cannot be stated for sure, and also we should remark that, even if this is the case, this may not happen during the lifetime of the project.