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Wednesday, 2 January 2013

The Keys behind the Project Succees

Most people think that project succeed is only because of the project manager. However, there are lot elements that can be the keys to make the project meets the objectives. Before I analyze more, my friend told me that based on her experience, the project can succeed if there are good team members, trust, good leadership, honest and good plan. Then, based on my project experiences and my observations, what she said is quite similar.

1. Project Manager
S/he is a key of project. As a leader, a project manager I think has to be expert. Though a project manager has not to have technical skills but in my opinion, it could be better if the project manager understand at least major of tecnical skills. Because as project manager, if you have some knowledge, your team members will respect you more. You will find easier to assign the tasks to your team member, direct, support or facilitate them. At least, before you are appointed to be a project manager, you better study first about the project and what the skills and knowledge required on your project. My brother shared his experience in construction project, he is a team member and is only young engineer, so he has to be directed and supported by his supervisor. However, his supervisor though has lot experiences and quite senior, he does have enough skills, knowledge, experiences in construction project. His background is IT. Thus, because of his lack of knowledge and skill, my best brother often finds some issues related to his jobs, and he has to find the solution by himself because his supervisor cannot help him. Even sometime, my brother has to deal the problem with the client without any help of his supervisor.
So, based on this case, a project manager or supervisor at least has to have good knowledge and skills.

A project manager has to be trusted by her/his team members. That is why, first, s/he has to be good in skills and knowledge. No wonder, PMBOK stated that the best power of Project Manager is "expert". Because if you are an expert, your team members will trust you. To be trusted, you also need to be honest. Because the dishonest person will not be trusted by people. Moreover, a project manager also has to trust the team member. In my opinion, a project manager that believes in Theory X McGregor will face more conflict than a project manager who believes in Theory Y McGregor. Because people need to be trusted that they can perform their work and they are competence enough to finish their task. As PM, if you keep asking and directing the task to your team member though you know that they are still in progressing their work and actually it is still under control, people a.k.a your team member will get bored or annoyed and reluctant and sometimes in the worst case they will leave their job and find another job. Sometimes being a X PM will be useful if you are directing young people that lack of experience, skills and knowledge. Because you have to be firm and supportive to them. However, if your team members have lot experience, skills and knowledge, you cannot do the same. You have to trust your team member, just asking them the progress occasionally not too often. You better create a RAM (responsibility assignment matrix) for them, trust them and monitor them.

Back to the power of being an expert, actualy you do not have to be a 100% expert, if you are appointed to handle a project that you are inexperienced in that particular project for instance, you have to manage the event, and you are never experiencing in handling the event, you can do brainstorming to other project manager that succeed in managing the event, you can ask her/him what are success factors and failure factors. If you are willing to learn and get some feedbacks and you can succeed.

A project manager has to be a taugh person. S/he knows what have to be done and how to do it. As project manager, you have to assign the task to your team members. If you do not know the detailed scope of work and the characteristics/skills of your team work, how can you assign them to the task. I have an experience as team member that my project manager actualy is inexperience in managing that kind of project. She did not know what have to be done to meet the project objectives, and she cannot be firm to her team member. That is why at the beginning until the middle of the project, one of team member was in charge in the project. This team member controlled the project and made a decision instead of the project manager. Whilst the project manager, because of her lack of firm leadership, lack of experience in this kind of project, cannot control the whole project. She only controlled in some parts that in my opinion were not the critical parts. The worst part, every regular meeting, the project manager did not lead the meeting, but the project team led the meeting. The project manager kept busy typing on her laptop, created minutes of meeting, emailed the project stakeholders instead of leading the meeting and discussing the key points or project status. The problems of her that she did not review and discussed the project status together with the meeting attendants. She also did not create first the meeting agenda, so the 4 hours meeting did not perform well. If we discussed only the important things and focused on our agenda instead of being busy working alone with own laptop, the meeting would not take too long and more than 4 hours.

Thus, based on some cases, in order to manage project successfully: a project manager needs to have some knowledge or skills related to the project. A project manager has to be honest and trusted by team members. A project manager has to be a firm leader and be organized.

2. Team Member
All the points of the project manager as mentioned above has to be supported by a solid team member. A good project manager may not succeed in managing project if s/he is not supported by her/his team member. But a not good project manager can succeed in completing the project with the solid team members' support.
As long as you have a solid and competence team member, your project will run smoothly. I acted as a Project Manager last year for two days international workshop. I only had 3 team members who really supported me to host the event. We handled starting from the marketing and communication through speakers, participants and sponsors without using any event organizer. We also managed by ourselves the venue, catering, seminar kit, etc. We only need additional people on the D day to help us to be LOs. The event ran successfully, the participants satisfied, there was no any major problem occurred, the speakers satisfied and both speakers and participants right after the event asked us to host another workshop within 3 months. Without the support of my limited team members, the event would not run successfully.
Another example of the role of team member, in this case I acted as team member. My project manager may be a good project manager in other type of project, but in project that I was involved, she is not too good. Because she is not a firm leader, she did not create RAM for her team member, thus, there was lot overlapping tasks, unorganized monitoring, and the team members have to have own initiative and to solve the problem by themselves. Actually, she was lucky that her team members had high responsible, were very competence in performing their tasks and supported the project, thus, the project succeeded. In external parties opinion, the project succeeded because of the role of project manager, but in internal parties, the project succeeded because the role of the whole team members. I strongly believe, if she did not have any support of her team members, for instance the team member resigns, the project would be chaos. So, the role of team members actually is bigger than project manager's role. As project manager, you have to select high responsible and high motivation team members to help you perform the works. Because without them, you will be nothing!

3. A good planning
To create a good planning means you have to be a competence project manager, also have good team members because initial team members will help you in planning the project. Some people quite underestimate the planning in particular in construction project. Most project manager in this industry only focus on schedule plan, cost plan and quality plan. As long as they have these three plans, they will start their project immediately. Though they do not have communication plan or risk management plan yet. That is why, many problems occur in executing process. It is not only because the construction projects are more complex than other projects, it might because in Indonesia, project management is not well implemented. Practitioners in construction project believe in best practice and learning by doing.

I have interviewed some friends who work in construction project. Some of them told me that major problems occurred because there is no good risk management plan. Though their PMO already planned the project risks including all risks identified, risks rank and risk responses, but there are lot new risks that are not identified in planning process, occur in executing process. The risk management plan is created by risk department, but, those persons who created the plan almost never visited the construction site, never updated the risk into risk register as well. Furthermore, most of the risk response plan cannot implement in field work, that was why the project manager and team member had to respond the risk by themselves and did not follow the respond plan as stated in PM plan. In Indonesia, many construction firms hire the project manager outside the organization. Thus, planning is created by engineering department with or without project manager involvement. For instance, project risk management plan is created by Risk Department, people in this department identify the risk, qualify the risks and plan the risk responses without any help from people who will be involved in the project at executing process. In the result, many variances happen in construction site, many new risks happen and many risk responses cannot implement, these all problems, my friends said to me, will increase cost and project delay. They often face penalties from owner because of a not good plan.

Other friend and also based on my experience, another problem related to planning is communication plan. Before starting the project, you better create first your communication line and communication method. How many meetings, how the team members member coordinate and communicate their tasks among stakeholders, etc. Without clear communication plan, conflicts and project reworks will occur often, because that will be lot miscommunication and misunderstanding among stakeholders. My brother also experienced it, as a quality control, he found out that lots misunderstanding and miscommunication among surveyors, laboratory, clients and engineers. He often had to rework the tasks and to rewrite project report due to these problems. Rework will lead to morale decrease, and unmotivated employee will not have good performance, in the end, if this case is not solved immediately will delay the project and increase the project cost.

In summarize, the three elements to make your project succeed are:
1. A firm, trust, honest and competence project manager that can be called Integrity and Competency.
2. A solid and high responsible team member
3. A good planning

Of course, there still are many keys behind the successful of the project. I write these three elements based on my own and my friends experiences. If you have any experiences related to project success, you can inform me so I can update my blog. Thank you for spending your time to read my blog and good luck with your project......

Monday, 19 November 2012

How to pass PMI-RMP on first attempt

A Brief about PMI-Risk Management Professional

PMI-RMP is the Risk Management Professional certification provided by Project Management Institute. The PMI provides several professional certification, such as: CAPM, PMP, PMI-SP, PMI-RMP, PgMP, etc.

PMI-RMP certification is for the risk professionals who work in risk analysis for several industries. This exam was conceived in 2008. Once achieved, this certification places you above the rest in terms of risk management competency.

The certification exam is quite similar to PMP exam, you must be eligible first before taking the exam. The requirement to be eligible can be seen in the pmi website You have also to follow audit process if you are selected, but if you are lucky enough to not selected in audit process, after you receive an email that you are eligible, you can schedule your exam at the prometrics website.

The PMI-RMP exam will take 3.5 hours with 170 questions. 150 questions are scored, while 20 are "Pre Release" and not scored. However, you will not be able to identify the pre-release questions. Therefore, you have to answer all questions to the best of your ability.

There are four key areas in the PMI-RMP Body of Knowledge which are:
1. Risk Communication
    Including 27% of all certification exam questions, that contains all six project risk 
    management activities (PIER-C, Plan Risk, Identify Risk, Evaluate Risk, Respond Risk - 
    Control Risk)
2. Risk Analysis
    Including 30% of all certification exam questions and concentrates on five of the six
    project risk management area, except Plan Risk Responses.
3. Risk Response Planning
    Including 26% of all certification exam questions.
4. Risk Governance
    Including 17% of all certification exam questions, covers concepts in the Monitor and
    Control Risks activity.

Tips and Tricks
For me, answering the questions for PMI-RMP certification is quite different with PMP exam. You have to be familiar with risk management terms and your work is pretty often related to risk analysis. Because it is not easy to find a good book of PMI-RMP exam. Meanwhile, for me the exam preparation book is really helpful to pass the exam. It is the exam for certification, sometimes what you are experienced in real world is not the same perspective with the PMI's perspective. You have to familiar with the type of questions, the way of PMI's thinking. Though I passed my PMP and PMI-RMP exam on my first try, I found out that PMI-RMP is quite unique. Because for PMP exam, what you learned and practiced on your PMP exam preparation books or programs, is almost 90% similar. I do not say that the questions are similar, but the type of questions is pretty similar. When answering the PMP questions, you just feel that what you studied is paid off. Because you will find some of questions will ask you the same questions (just different sentences or different list of choices), and it will be easier to answer the questions because you already studied and practiced it before. 

But for the PMI-RMP exam, I just found out that what I learned on my PMI-RMP exam preparation and my simulation is only similar about 50% questions. However, if you are familiar with all the risk terms, the risk analysis tools, it will easier to answer the questions correctly.  Fortunately, that I was involved with risk analysis since 2002, so I am quite familiar with the tools and techniques of all risk activities. Because the questions will ask you more about the tools and techniques of risk management process. Since the PMI-RMP  certification has been established for 4 years since 2008, so the additional books to help you study and practice in answering the questions is quite difficult to find. Moreover, the exam preparation book usually only provide less than 150 practice questions. I used three books to help me pass the exam, but no book that contains 170 practice questions just like real exams. Meanwhile, for PMP exam, there are lot books and simulation software that contain hundred even thousand questions that will help you to practice answering the questions. 

Besides you have to be familiar with all risk management terms, process and tools and techniques that means you have to work in risk department at least three years, for me it is easier to pass the exam if you already pass the PMP exam or study about the whole process of project management. Risk management is part of project management and relates to project scope management, project time management, project quality management, project communication management, project human resource management, project procurement management. Thus, if you know the concept and process of project management that would be easier to understand the risk management process. The questions sometime will ask you the motivation theory as well as the leadership style of project manager for instance. If you have studied about it in preparing your PMP exam, you just need to recall your memories about the concepts and the theories and you also already knew about the interelation among project management knowledge areas and PM process, 42 sub processes as well. Though you do not have to pass the PMP exam first before you take the PMI-RMP exam, you will not more effort to study the interrelation between risk management and other PM knowledge areas.  

So, if you want to pass the exam on your first try, I will give you some tips based on my own experience:
1. Use PMI-RMP exam preparation books, at least use two books. I used three books that are: Passing the Risk Management Professional (PMI-RMP) Certification Exam The First Try by Daniel C. Yeomans, PMI-RMP, PMP, CMQ/OE; Study Guide for the Exam. Risk Management Professional Exam, by Abdulla J. Alkuwaiti, RMP, PMP; Risk Management, tricks of the trade for Project Managers and PMI-RMP Exam Prep Guide, by Rita Mulcahy.
The first book will help you to understand more about risk management based on PMBOK. The explanation on this book is quite simple, very helpful to memorize the risk management processes and also contains 125 simulation questions. 
The second book will help you to understand the risk management by studying the example given on book. Because my background is civil engineering, I found out the book is easy to understand because it gives you a lot example that based on construction project, hehehe. But this book only contains 65 simulation questions. 
The last book in my opinion that does help you much to pass the exam. But if you want to understand more about the risk management, you can read this book cover to cover, because it contains lot of risks that will be happened in the project. 
2. Read your PMI-RMP exam prep books cover to cover. Because those two bookes I described above are not too thick, I read them twice cover to cover just to help me memorize and understand more the concept. Practice to answer the questions on book, over and over until your score reaches more than 90%. I got 100% on my second simulation in practicing answer the questions. 
3. Concern and study more about the risk management process and plan risk response. Do not spend your time in quantitative analysis. In real work, yes you have to know how to perform the risk quantitative analysis but regarding the exam, you do not have to know the detailed of the tools of risk quantitative analysis. Because it only no more than 5 questions relating to quantitative risk analysis.
3. Learn more about the risk terms, the tools and techniqus of risk management processes.
4. Study about what are differences among risk responses for both negative risks and positive risks.
5. Another tips and tricks, I think it is pretty similar to PMP exam. You can read on my previous post about how to pass the PMP exam on your first try.

Just study about the risk management concept, practice in answering the questions and be calm and confident on the D day and believe that you will pass the exam. Good luck for your exam, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Type of Research

There are several type of research, but before you know what kind of research do you want to do, you have to know first what is concept and theory. 

Concept & Theory

Model: Is a term used to describe the overall framework that we use to look at reality, based on the philosophical stance

System Modeling and Optimization


Concept is general expression of a particular phenomenon, is expressed in the form of statements and is expressed and communicated through symbols. There are two types of concept:
  • Abstract concept that is completely independent of a specific time or place, ex. temperature, three days; 
  • Concrete concept that  is specific to a particular time or place, ex. temperature of the sun, 4 to 6 Dec. 1976.

Concept can be measured by:
  • Compare a statement to some phenomenon or phenomena
  • Operational definition:
    • A set of procedure that describes the activities an observer should perform in order to receive sensory impressions, that indicate the existence or degree of existence of a theoretical concept
  • Criteria for evaluating an operational definition:
    • Gauge its suitability as a measurement procedure which is called inter subjectivity (inter-observer agreement)
    • Assess its relation to a theoretical concept

Moreover, the quantification of concept can be measured by its level, which are:
  • Nominal
    • Divide data into categories that can be compared to each other
  • Ordinal
    • Rank ordered
  • Interval level
    • Equal unit of measurement and has a zero point
  • Ratio level
    • Can express values in terms of fractional parts

Whilst Theory is:
  • A set of interrelated constructs (concepts), definition and propositions that presents a systematic vies of phenomena by specifying relations among variables, with a purpose of explaining and predicting phenomena
  • Combine diverse and isolated pieces of empirical data to create an intelligible conceptual model which is capable of being more generally applied

Main Characteristics of a Good Theory
  • Must permit deduction that can be tested empirically
    • Must provide the means for its confirmation or rejection
  • Must be compatible with both the observation and previously validated theory
  • Must be stated in simple terms

Conception of theory
  • A set of laws theory:
    • Describes a relation in which scientist have so much confidence that they consider it and absolute ‘truth’
    • Ex. Law of gravity
    • Contain concepts that can be measured or identified in concrete settings
    • It can’t lead to a sense of understanding of the phenomena
  • Axiomatic theory:
    • Comprises an initial set of statements (axioms or self-evident truths)
    • Are not required to be ‘laws’, fully supported by empirical evidence
    • Most form of axioms are abstract
    • Ex. Pythagorean geometry
    • Can be used to classify and organize phenomena and to logically derived explanation and predictions
    • Fails to provide means of gaining a sense of understanding of the phenomena
  • Causal process theory:
    • Consist of an interrelated set of definition and statements
    • Define theory and explain causal process
    • Asking ‘why’ and ‘how’ things occur

Concept & Theory

  • Research questions or propositions
    • Theoretical statements that indicate direction and scope of the research, which is not possible to be rigorously tested
  • Hypothesis
    • Theoretical statements which is possible to be tested
  • Empirical generalization
    • Based on several empirical studies
  • Paradigm
    • Overall effect of the acceptance of a particular general theory approach

Types of Research

  • Historical:
    • The systematic and objective location, evaluation and synthesis of evidence in order to establish facts and draw conclusions about past events
    • Involves exploring the meaning and relationship of events
    • Uses primarily historical data (artefacts, records and writings)
    • Value of historical research:
    • It enables solutions to contemporary problems to be sought in the past
    • It throws light on present and future trends
    • It allows for the evaluation of data supporting selected hypotheses, theories and generalizations that are presently held about the past
    • Facts or data must be checked whether the are genuine and/or authentic
  • Comparative:
    • Help to reveal the origins and development of social phenomena
  • Descriptive:
    • Relies on observation as a means of collecting data
    • Attempts to examine situations in order to establish what is the norm
    • Observation can take many forms (interview, questionnaires, visual records)
    • Depends on human observations and responses à data distortion can occur
  • Correlation:
    • Measure of association or relationships between two phenomena
    • Information sought is expressed in numbers
    • Principally quantitative study
    • Relational studies
    • Prediction studies (where correlations are already known)
    • Allows for the measurement of a number of characteristics (variables) and their relationship simultaneously.
  • Experimental:
    • Has a greater control over the subjects of its studies
    • Involves making a change in the value of one variable (independent) and observing the effect of that change on another variable (dependent)
    • Class of experiments:
      • Pre-experimental
      • True experimental
      • Quasi-experimental
      • Correlation and ex post-facto


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