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APM PMQ Exam Questions Starter For Ten

Paul Naybour Paul Naybour

Published: 8th November 2013

For those who have just started an APM PMQ course here are a couple of exam questions for you to try.

1) Describe five responsibilities of the project users during the project lifecycle?

2) List and describe the differences between projects and operations?

3) Describe the five benefits of a project lifecycle?

4) List and describe five factors that define the project environment (or context)?

Remember each answer must be made of five paragraphs of two to three sentences each.

If you post your answers below I will give you feedback.

  1. Student says:

    Hi Paul,

    Please critique my answer to question 2.

    1.Projects: produce a predefined product once / Ops: produce repetitive products consistently.
    2.Projects: temporary specialist organisation & definite time / Ops: permanent organisation & indefinite time.
    3.Projects: induce strategic change / Ops: maintain Business As Usual (BAU) & status quo.
    4.Projects: Focus on PROJECT lifecycle through discrete steps / Ops: Focus on PRODUCT lifecycle & the products own evolution.
    5.Projects: Fixed scope / Ops: Varied scope (may of started with a fixed scope).

    1.Projects produce a defined specification product once. Ops will constantly produce multiple products of the same specification. A projects product could be a bespoke IT server. Ops could produce a IT server of the same specification multiple times.
    2.Projects organisation has specialists who’s skills needed for the project or phase. Ops the organisation has varying specialist skills constantly. An IT network project might need a Cisco voice specialist for implementation phase. Ops will have a team of cisco voice specialists working all the time.
    3.Projects produce deliverables which will make strategic changes. Ops ensure that the operational performance of the organisation is stable. A project may produce a new IT network to provide improved performance & Ops will maintain a IT network to ensure its performance.
    4.Projects are linear and go through a sequence of PROJECT phases from inception to handover/closure. Ops looks at the PRODUCTS lifecycle which spans longer that the PROJECT lifecycle (from design to disposal of the product). A project lifecycle might only consist of implementing a new IT server but the product lifecycle will be extended and include decommissioning the server at its end of life.
    5.Projects deal with scopes which are concise, specific and objective. Ops will have a varying scope of working with a visionary objective, with frequently change. Example, Project to build a specific IT network with 4 nodes and two connections per node. Ops will may start off with the same specification but then add another 2 nodes at a later date as the company strategy changes.

  2. Student says:

    List and describe five factors that define the project environment
    1.Political: The political environment reflects the potential effects the overall political environment has on a project. There are several instances where this can happen from upcoming national or local elections to a change of government policy. These events can have implications on a specific project or indeed a programme. For example, the British government cancelled all BSF projects in 2010. This decision was a fundamental change in government policy and suspended several building projects and programmes across the country.
    2.Economic: The economic environment can be described as those economic drivers that can impact a project. These can include period of a boom or a recession. In a boom, there may be a shortage of skilled staff available as there are several other projects occurring at the same time and this will cause resourcing problems for a project which in turn can cause delays or poor workmanship. On the other hand an economic downturn may lead to a shortage of money and/or a restricted lending regime introduced by banks and lending authorities. In this situation it may be more difficult or more expensive for organisations to obtain the funding for the proposed project adding to costs.
    3.Sociological: Sociological factors are those that impact society. It is essential that the sociological environment is understood particularly for large scale, usually divisive projects. These types of projects often include very large developments that on one hand have very beneficial outputs and on the other hand can have a very negative impact. Some examples are the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C and the new train HS2 train line. Projects like these are often constrained by their location and the use and usefulness of the project or programme by society in general. Understanding user interaction with the end product and identifying stakeholders are crucial when considering the sociological environment of projects. The sociological environment can have major programme and cost implications, not to mention public hostility.
    4.Technology: It is no surprise that technology and the speed at which it changes and develops have a huge impact on a project. On a PFI project, the model, which is the financial payment schedule and the basis of the unitary charge for at least 25 years, is specifically required to be updated annually as part of the model audit process. This is to avoid storing the information using a programme or system that could become obsolete and therefore unusable which will lead to the loss of the contractual payment information. Models in these instances must be usable for 25 years and the original basis will undoubtedly change over this period. This example demonstrates that the impact of future technological changes must be considered during the development of a project as the impact of change is enormous.
    5.Legal: The legal environment is very broad ranging. There are obligatory EU procurement rules and processes that must be followed when procuring certain government projects over specific values. National laws also dictate the precautions and restrictions that must be in place particularly relating to health and safety and data protection. Additionally there are statutory rules and regulations that projects must comply with including planning approval and building control compliance. The legal environment is very influential on how a project is operated.

  3. Student says:

    Describe five benefits of a project lifecycle
    A project lifecycle has defined points or stages at which a project’s business case can be reviewed and assessed and if necessary, can be terminated. These distinct phases also off an opportunity to review the risks associated with the project and further detailed plans can be prepared – or existing plans detailed further.
    The project lifecycle is broken down into recognised bite sized chunks or phases that have a defined set of activities and outcomes that follow each other in a logical sequence. By describing a project as being at a specific stage in the lifecycle, it explains in an easily understandable manner where the project has got to, what has been done and what is left to do. This assists in communications.
    The project lifecycle provides greater understanding of how a project evolves. They provide an indication of periods where different processes need greater attention or detailing. This understanding assists in the proper planning and allocation of resources, both routine and specialist which assist an organisation plan it resource allocations.
    Project lifecycle stages provide key points at which the project reviews are undertaken, usually referred to as gateways. Gateways allow an organisation to check that all necessary approvals, permissions, costs, analyses, etc. have been appropriately undertaken and are acceptable. These reviews or gateways are particularly important at the early stages of a project.
    The project lifecycle provides an organisation with confidence. By successfully passing a stage gateway and progressing from one stage to the next stage will provide an organisation and stakeholders with confidence that the project is not only progressing but is progressing in line with the business case that was signed off and the benefits are still expected to be realised.

  4. Student says:

    List and describe differences between projects and operations
    1.Creates a change/Maintains status quo
    2.Finite time scale/Ongoing
    3.Specified scope or prototype/mass produced
    4.Bespoke specialist team/ established team
    5. Produce specific deliverables once/ produce specific deliverables repeatedly
    6. Project Lifecycle/Product lifecycle
    A project creates a change whereas business as usual maintains a stable unchanging environment. For example say a washing machine factory wants to introduce a new machine that can also dry clothes. The project is the development of a combined washer/dryer and its integration into the production of the factory will create a change. Business as usual is the ongoing, day to day production of washing machines without dryers. The project will change the day to day output of the factory as it will introduce the manufacture of washer/dryers and washing machines.
    Projects have a defined start and completion timescale – this is often called a programme or schedule. Business as usual is ongoing without a defined start and finish. Take the example above – the project (to introduce a new washer/dryer) could be given a one year duration with a specified start date. This is a limited period or a defined period from start to finish. On the other hand, the business as usual does not have any defined start or end date, it is ongoing.
    A project creates a one off single product. This can be a prototype (washer/dryer) or a one off new IT system server. Business as usual mass produces products (washing machines) or operates with the existing products or IT system server.
    A project has a specialist team put in place with experts in the team to prepare the bespoke information (designs, plans, risk schedules etc.) for its duration. Business as usual has established staff with rolls and responsibilities clearly understood and operating in place for some time not just for the duration of a change or the implementation of a project.
    Projects produce deliverables once and only once. There is a set of deliverables and end date on which the product is to be delivered. Business as usual repeatedly produces deliverables (e.g. a conveyor belt of washing machines), they are not just once off.
    Projects have a different a limited number of steps to deliver the product including concept, definition, implementation and handover/close. This is called a Project Lifecycle. Business as usual products have a different lifecycle including build, operate and disposal. This is called a Product Lifecycle.

  5. Student says:

    Hi Paul,

    Please provide feedback on my answer to your question ‘describe 5 benefits of the PLC’. My answers are below, thank you.
    1)Project Life cycle shows logical progression through a project: The Project Life cycle shows clearly the phases that a project passes through and gives a common understanding. This makes it easier to communicate the projects progress/performance to the team and stakeholders. It also clarifies what outputs/activities should be expected per each phase, setting expectations accurately.
    2)Project Life cycle is good for efficient resource management: Project Life cycle gives clarity on when specialist resources will be needed, and to what volume. Certain resources will be needed only for set phases and the Project Life cycle helps to plan in advance for their use. For example, in the design phase of a IT network project specialist IT architects will be needed and the project can schedule them in advance.
    3)Provides a High level view of the project to enable more detailed planning: This is a benefit as more detailed stage plans can then be expanded upon during each phase. The exact detail required to perform each phase might not be known at the start of the project, so a ‘rolling wave’ planning technique can be utilised to compensate. It also gives a better understanding of what processes are involved in each phase & this helps the planning.
    4)Better management of risk & aides in the identification of risk(s) at certain phases. It allows us to add emphasis on risk identification in the early phases. Certain risks may only come to fruition at a certain phase and the Project Life cycle will enable us to proactively identify and manage them. For instance on a phone system installation project, certain users might not understanding & be able to use the new system features, but we can managed this risk at the handover phase by providing user training.
    5)Sets logical points (called Phase Gate Reviews) at which to review the business case & PMP: It allows for the business case to be reviewed at regular points to ensure the benefits will still be achieved as outlined. It also allows for the PMP to be reviewed & made more robust if necessary, ready for the next phase. The review gates also provides stakeholder engagement, efficient use of their time and a point at which to stop the project if business case is no longer beneficial (valid).

  6. Paul says:

    @Billy Williams-Lovelock remember they are looking for 2-3 sentences for each paragraph, so while most of your answer is good a few paragraphs need a few examples to maximise your marks

  7. Paul says:

    Jessie Hiney a fantastic answer, just The right length and sufficient detail in Each point, see you on-line tomorrow.

  8. Student says:

    1) Describe five responsibilities of the project users during the project lifecycle?

    Project users are the operators of the products and have very important responsibilities during a project lifecycle.

    At the initial stage, the users set out exactly what they want the products to provide and therefore what the project must deliver. As operators, they are responsible for describing what they will want the new product to do. These requirements must be captured and detailed in the business case and shared with the Project Manager so that the project can deliver the specific requirements.

    At the end of a project or during the handover/project closeout stage, the users must accept delivery of the product. Acceptance will usually follow bespoke testing and commissioning of the products prior to handover and the users are not only best placed to understand the test results and commissioning exercises but also responsible for accepting the products. This acceptance is important as it part of the processes that draws a project to a conclusion.

    After the project has completed and the products are being subsumed into operation, it is the users that are responsible for this smooth transition. Users are the operators and it is their responsibility to properly use the new product so that it can be assessed and evaluated for the realisation of the benefits described in the business case.

    During the lifecycle of a project there will inevitably be changes to requirements, be they as a result of a change in market conditions, operational needs or organisational strategies. Where there are changes required by the users due to operational needs (and these changes are accepted by the project sponsor), the users are responsible for and must liaise with the Project Manager to implement them. In turn the PM will ensure the proper configuration management and records are in place to implement the changes.

    During a project users must accept the authority of the project sponsor. This maintains the correct protocol and avoids any differing priorities. Occasionally there may be operational objectives that do not align with strategic organisational ones. In these circumstances, the project sponsor has the authority to take a decision or a direction that may not please the operators. This decision/direction must be accepted by the users as it was probably taken in the light of a higher or more strategic organisational review.

  9. Student says:

    5 benefits of a project life cycle

    The project life cycle is a way of communicating to those involved and in the project and to the end user , the phases of and the logical progression of a project. Therefor making it clear what progress should be expected at each phase.

    The life cycle of a project gives clear points at which those involved can stop and take stock i.e. phase review. Also points in the project to pause and consider the plans and risk management for the next phase of the project and agree a strategy to move forward.

    The project life cycle allows those involved in running and building the project as well those who will be the end user to understand the evolution of the project and which areas need the most attention and risk management. Also helps to plan the distribution of resources across the length of the project.

    The project life cycle provides the frame work for breaking down a project into manageable sections. Each of which can then be planned for in detail. Providing the key points for review (phase review). Ensuring the correct people are involved and co-ordinate in each phase for planning and review.

    Using a project life cycle model, those involved in the project can make sure proper planning in the early stages ensure the project goes through designated phase gates. Which in turn will map the progress of the project. So it is easy to recognise the completion of a phase. Which will give stake holders a greater understanding therefore confidence.

  10. Paul says:

    Billy Williams-Lovelock
    2/. list and describe the differences between projects and operations
    This answer is very good however

    Billy Williams-Lovelock
    The user/s are responsible for defining the product to be created by the project. is a bit brief, remember that they want 2-3 sentences for w=each paragraph for full marks.

  11. Paul says:

    Steve Potterill
    List & describe 5 factors that define the project environment

    You have go the idea with this answer well done,

    best of luck for your upcoming exam, ten like this and you should pass.


  12. Paul says:

    James Saunders, you have got the idea of this very quickly, your answers are very good, I don’t think you will have any difficulty.

  13. Student says:

    4.List and describe five factors that define the project environment (or context)? (I have done 6 for practice)
    1.Political – For large public projects such as the construction of a new MOD garrison, there may be many politically interested stakeholders all of which have different objectives. The strategic direction can often be difficult to determine.
    2.Economic –Initiatives such as Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) or private partnerships are often used when looking at the construction of a new university and multi-storey car park for example. Where private investors part-fun and take a stake on the operating costs (i.e. revenue from car park for 25 years). Long term projects carry a more unknown risk when it comes to interest rates and this needs to be considered.
    3.Sociological – The impact on the public is a crucial consideration. Building a nuclear power plant on the edge of a rural town will have a massive effect on the local residents.
    4.Technological – The understanding of technology is crucial. If you are building a nuclear power plant, the specification in regards to materials is key to understand the contribution to the safety of the finished product but also to help understand the operational lifespan before it has to be decommissioned.
    5.Legal – Need to take particular attention to health and safety legislation and monitor how this changes over the period of the project lifecycle to ensure compliance. Nuclear power projects carry with it a high level of safety critical requirements and it is important how these can affect the progression of the project.
    6.Environmental – For the construction of a nuclear power project you may have tonnes of concrete that needs to be safely disposed of as well as contaminated substances which need to be dealt with in order to help protect the environment. This needs to be considered so that it doesn’t hinder overall programme.

  14. Student says:

    3.Describe the 5 benefits of a Project Lifecycle

    A project lifecycle has a number of key benefits which include:

    Providing a clear, logical progression through the timeframe of a project with clearly defined outputs and activities for each phase. E.g. it is simple to understand at what point of the project lifecycle the PMP is required to be produced (at end of definition stage).

    Clearly illustrates each phase within the project lifecycle providing obvious points of which to stop. This phased visual allows the sponsoring organisation to easily identify the end of each individual stage and provides an indication when project reviews can take place, ensuring the relevant authorities are in place to proceed. A lifecycle also ensures that attention is put on the early stages by demanding that the project goes through a number of phase gates or go / no go hold points.

    A project lifecycle will help illustrate when project resource is required and what resource is best place to deliver each phase. An obvious advantage of this is that it allows the organisation to forecast and managing resource across each phase. An example is a project which is approaching the definition stage where we may need input from a number of key users, we have to ensure the resource is managed in order to fulfil the requirement of the project but also to ensure business as usual is not affected by the absence of key staff.

    They provide the high level initial breakdown so that detailed planning can be carried out within each phase.

    They act as a format to record progress. Due to the clarity of phases within a project lifecycle it is easier to match progress to each phase. Another way of putting it is marking the achievement of set project objectives i.e. successful test, commissioning of 100 electric vehicle charge points 2 weeks early. This will provide increased confidence and a clear method for a reporting structure.

  15. Student says:

    2.List and describe the differences between projects and operations

    1.Projects are temporary. Operations are business as usual.
    2.Projects bring about change whereas operations seek to create a stable environment for efficient production.
    3.Projects are temporary – limited by time whereas operations are repetitive and continuous.
    4.Temporary project team with key project experts to deliver the requirement. Operations have a permanent team with clear procedures, roles and responsibilities
    5.Specified scope so we understand what the project consists of whereas operations may have a clear scope at first but thereafter it is simply business as usual.

    Projects are temporary. Operations are business as usual.

    Projects are set up by the sponsoring organisation to deliver future benefits to the organisation. Operations are what the business does on a day to day basis. An example would be the construction of a new terminal at Gatwick being the project. The running of the existing terminals and airlines would be business as usual.

    Projects bring about change whereas operations seek to create a stable environment for efficient production.

    Using the same example, a project brings about change in terms of creating a more advance terminal with virtual assistance whereas the operation is concerned only with ensuring customer satisfaction and flights arrive and depart on time. Two different objectives, it is not until the project becomes part of the operation do the objectives become more aligned.

    Projects are temporary – limited by time whereas operations are repetitive and continuous.

    A clear difference is that the construction of a new terminal may take 10 years however the operation of the existing terminal (and the new one when built) will be indefinite.

    Temporary project team with key project experts to deliver the requirement. Operations have a permanent team with clear procedures, roles and responsibilities

    The project team will be somewhat different to the operations team to start with. The construction of a new terminal may call on engineering experts and project planners whereas the operations are dealing with getting the passengers navigated around the airport and flights departing on time. Another way of putting it is the project team is more delivery focused whereas the operations team is benefits focused.

    Specified scope so we understand what the project consists of whereas operations may have a clear scope at first but thereafter it is simply business as usual.

    For the construction of the terminal it may be that we need to get the first two runways operational in 24 months and to the specified budget with zero accidents. The operations may need to ensure 190 flights leave the current terminal each and every day. This soon becomes repetitive and business as usual.

    A project is associated with a PROJECT lifecycle where each phase is clearly identified from concept of a requirement to the handover and close out of the end product. Operations tend to be more PRODUCT focused where the operation goes through the build stages through to operation to disposal or decommissioning / termination.

  16. Student says:

    1.Describe five responsibilities of the project users during the project lifecycle?

    The project users have very important responsibilities in the project lifecycle and the successful delivery of a project. They are the people who will be producing the benefits and running the operation of the products. Five responsibilities of the users include:

    One of their key roles is to help define what is required from the products. They will help determine what they need in order to make the operation more successful. They will be using the products so it is important they are involved not only to help the sponsor realise what it is the organisation needs but also because their early involvement will ease in the transitioning when the products are put to use.

    The users will be the ones who accept the products. They are the ones that know what is needed and therefore they will accept them. The products will have to meet acceptance criteria and pass test and commissioning stages in order for the users to validate that the products are ready for use.

    They will operate the products and migrate them into business as usual activities. In order for the benefits to be fully realised the users need to be fully involved with defining the product so that the deliverables meet the actual business needs and not just a presumption of need from head office staff.

    They have to be in regular communication with the Project Manager with regards to changes. It is often the case that the need evolves, especially over a long project duration and if it does the products may need to adapt to suit. Any such change will need to be fully communicated to the project manager.

    The users need to accept the authority of the sponsor. Sometimes it can seem that the objectives of the sponsor and the users are not completely aligned but that may be because the users are focusing on tactical objectives and operational risks whereas the sponsor may be looking at the wider, strategic objectives of the organisation.

  17. Student says:

    2/. list and describe the differences between projects and operations

    1/.projects seek to introduce change/operations maintain stability for efficiency
    2/.projects have experts in key areas to manage risk/ operations are procedural to allow for continuity of oversight.
    3/.projects produce a product once/ operations produce a product repeatedly.
    4/projects have a scope of works/operations work off repetition??
    5/.projects have a project life cycle/ operations have a product life cycle

    projects aim to bring about change to an organisation often with the aim of improving productivity and/or efficiency. Where as operations aim to provide efficiency through repetition of a process does not change such as production lines or through the implementation of systems such as standard invoicing.

    Operations by their nature are repetitive and procedural and therefore need continuous oversight, supervision and maintenance which does not change.
    A project on the other hand requires various specialists to give input at strategic points of a project life cycle to help minimise risk i.e. using an engineer to do the structural calculations for a building.

    Operations are the use of a process for the achievement of the same product i.e. a production line or for efficiency i.e. the running of an office using systems and procedures to which everyone is expected to conform.
    whereas a project will undertake a procedure once with the aim of producing a specific end product, such as a house.

    Projects are defined by a scope of works which lay out the parameters of the project being taken and the desired end product.
    With operations once the proto type has been developed the process is simply repeated over and over with the end product always known and the same.

    Operations will produce a product which will go through a life cycle from build, operation and disposal this is known as the product life cycle. This will be repeated with the same aim and product over and over.
    A project will have a set number of steps over as set period of time known as the project life cycle. With the aim of producing a singular one off product.

  18. Student says:

    The user/s are responsible for defining the product to be created by the project. They will also have ideas about how the end product of the project will work or be used.

    The acceptance of the end product by the user is critical. The handover of the product cannot be completed if it is not considered fit for purpose by the user.

    The user/s must learn to use and use the product to realise the full benefit of it to the and the organisation for which it was created. Also to justify the time, effort and cost involved in creating it.

    The user must accept the parameters of the project, as specified by the project sponsor. Who will set these with the aim of getting maximum benefit and quality, while balancing the risk, time and cost.

    The user should liaise with the project manager to ensure the requirements of the product are being met. also to ensure the usability of the end product.

  19. Student says:

    Thanks for undertaking this Paul, I’m finding it rather useful.

  20. Student says:

    List & describe 5 factors that define the project environment
    Factors that define the project environment (often referred to as PESTLE) include:

    Political: The political aspects of the environment can range from external (UK governmental politics) to internal (the interactions between stakeholders within the organisation). Political aspects can also vary between being static and dynamic during the project timescales, and can either be known constraints or aspects of stakeholder management.

    Economic: The economic aspects relate to each of the funding for the project, the implementation and the forecast benefits of the project outputs. Exchange rate variations may vary the cost of implementation if a supplier costs in a different currency, or the market for a product developed is (at least in part) overseas. Interest rate variations can change the business case by altering the return on investment, or opportunity cost of investing in the project vs investing elsewhere.

    Sociological: The cultural attitudes, practices and morale of stakeholders are an contextual factor. (This is taking the broad definition of anyone affected by the project being a stakeholder). For example, the perception of stakeholders indirectly affected by the project can lead to negative publicity which could in turn put political pressure on the project. (Newspaper furore about those cities/regions not involved with HS2, but which could resultantly lose out on investment is a case in point).

    Technical: The technical environment can encompass both the currently availability technology, and technology that may or may not be in the pipeline. For example, delivering a solution within a project that relies on a known and loved technology may not be supportable due to external product obsolescence. Alternatively, a project that delivers a product that is not compatible with emerging technology risks the benefits of bringing that product into use (if for example the users shun the product).

    Legal: From statutes to contract law, the legal environment is relevant to project – both in the implementation and the project’s products. Considerations would include the threshold of work beyond which CDM regulations come in to force, and knowledge of where responsibilities lie and may competently be carried out. Typically many of the aspects of the legal environment apply as much to the organisation as a whole as to the project, and if advice is not available internally to the organisation then an external supplier of legal advice may be required.

  21. Student says:

    Describe the 5 benefits of a project lifecycle

    Five benefits of a project lifecycle are:

    Ensures next phase of work is understood. The project is broken down into consecutive phases. The planning for each phase is presented for authorisation at each decision point (end of phase), giving the control of ensuring a phase is understood and planned before it is authorised. Typically a whole project will be planned at least in outline at the outset. Each phase plan will refine the original plan and elaborate to a level of suitable detail.

    Better estimating (shorter durations). Incorporated in each phase plan will be the estimates for that phase. As with the plans’ elaboration from the original (typically higher level) project plan, estimates for each discrete phase should be better than a long-range estimate both because of the shorter duration of a phase (compared to that of the project) and because lessons learned in the project to date may be fed-back to refined estimates.

    Limits risk. In addition to the routine escalation of risks (that should happen by the project manager to the project board) which are outside the delegated project risk tolerance, the project board has the opportunity to consider at each project point (end of each phase) whether the aggregated risks of the project are acceptable before authorising the project to proceed to the subsequent phase. This control ensures that sufficient oversight is applied in order to limit the risk to the business.

    Funds allocated through a series of Go/No-Go decisions. The project phases are separated by decision points. At each decision point, the project will only proceed if it still has a valid business case (and have forecast benefits and costs that are acceptable to the business)

    Lessons learned can be applied to future phases. As lessons are learned throughout the project, they’ll be logged. When planning successive phases of the project, the available information of previous lessons learned (including those learned during the project) will be taken into account. The benefits from previous lessons are therefore maximised.

  22. Student says:

    List and Describe the differences between projects and operations

    Projects and Operations (or business-as-usual (BAU)activities) have differences:
    1.Different parts of the product lifecycle
    2.Defined start and end / temporary
    3.Change vs process
    4.Products / outcomes vs benefits realisation
    5.Approach to Risk

    Different parts of the product lifecycle. Within the product (or extended) lifecycle, a project will conceive, develop, deliver, hand-over products. The products will then be used in operations until it is decommissioned at end of product life. Although users would normally start using the product during the project, steady-state operations with the product continue after the project closes.
    Defined start and end / temporary. Projects have defined starts and ends. They are temporary in nature, bringing together a team to perform a particular purpose. BAU can be indefinite, and have many, changing purposes.

    Change vs Process. Projects, by definition, will always produce and manage change. BAU may include a repetitive cycle and outputs, but not necessarily changes. BAU will manage process, for example by driving out inefficiencies in a repetitive process.

    Products / outputs vs benefits realisation. The project will produce products (and perhaps outcomes), but will rarely be responsible for delivering benefits that results from these products. The benefits realisation falls to the business (operations), for example under control of a business unit that sponsored the project, or under programme or portfolio direction to a BAU function.

    Risk. A project will manage risk whereas operations will look to minimise risk. Since projects by definition bring about change and have a unique element, projects are inherently risky. Projects will look to manage the risks without necessarily minimising them. BAU functions will look to minimise risk wherever possible, particularly where the risks are as enduring as the business itself.

  23. Paul says:

    @Derek Clarkson feedback on “1.Describe five responsibilities of the project users during the project lifecycle.” almost a model answer, I would just number the answers but it’s a really minor point

  24. Paul says:

    @Sarah Beesley, 4) List and describe five factors that define the project environment (or context)?

    A really good start, please try to include an example or illustration in each point. These can be as simple as
    1. Political context: This is the context in which the different stakeholders have a vested interest and will try to influence the strategic direction of the project. An example of this would be a change in government which could lead to the change of government policy on for example the building of new schools.

  25. Paul says:

    @david feeback on “Describe five responsibilities of the project users during the project lifecycle?” a very good answer not much to add

  26. Paul says:

    @david a really good go at List and describe the differences between projects and operations?. It just needs a list and I think it would be better to include the example in each of the points that you are making. The examiner has 5 x 10 marks to give you, giving them 5 paragraphs of 2-3 sentences including an example makes it easy to give you full marks

  27. Paul says:

    @David your answer to List and Describe five factors that define the project environment is almost perfect. Except remember the guidance notes (page 6 say )

    LIST AND DESCRIBE – 10 marks per point
    3 marks (maximum) for an appropriate list item
    7 marks (max) for a description appropriate to the question
    3 marks (maximum) for a statement of fact about the list item that indicates why it has been selected /
    what it means/etc, as relevant to the question.
    4 marks for statements clarifying/supporting/demonstrating further comprehension of ‘what’ is
    involved in the list item relevant to the question

    So you will lose 15 marks for not doing a list….I know it seems silly but that is the way it is marked.

  28. Paul says:

    @David Feedback on question “Describe the 5 benefits of a project lifecycle”

    The question asks for benefits of a project life cycle. You have given a fantastic description of the project lifecycle. The benefits however are things like

    1) The project management lifecycle provides a common structure for all the project in an organisation. By having standard phases that apply to all the projects in an organisation then we can be sure that the right things are done at the right stage. For example all projects in Network Rail follow an eight stage life cycle with pre-defined gates and stages (you will need to use an example from your own experience)

    2) A common life cycle defines gates at which the decision to progress with the project can be reviewed. Typically these gates are arranged by the sponsor and project manager to review the business case and PMP. The aim of these gates is to ensure that the project will deliver the business benefit and that the plans in place for the project are realistic and robust.

    Remeber that are looking for five paragraphs with three sentences in each.

  29. Student says:

    Describe the 5 benefits of a project lifecycle

    In the concept phase of a project work is performed establishing a clear set of benefits and the requirements of the project deliverables to realise the benefits that will result from the project.The concept phase of a project ensures that a process is followed where all of the projects stakeholders are consulted to ensure the deliverables of the project will be able to realise the business benefits identified in the conceptual phase of the project. In the concept phase benefits of the project are established together with requirements of the project to realise those benefits. High level costings and time estimates are produced which help the project sponsor judge the value of the project.

    During the design phase the organisation has a clear understanding of the methods for the production of the project deliverables. The resources required to complete the project are identified.

    During the build phase of the project the deliverables are produced, Splitting design and build allows for separate contractors to undertake these pieces of work.

    At the end of design comes handover and acceptance which ensures that the users of the project are in agreement that the requirement have been met and the benefits are likely to be realisable.

    Ensuring that regular reviews occur within the project lifecycle to ensure that the project is on track with regard to cost and time for delivery. This gives an opportunity to judge the continuing viability of a project.

    At the end of the project the closeout phase ensures that the project is closed down in a orderly manner and that all costings and reports are complete. This helps an organisation learn from project work to ensure better costings and estimates in future. It also provides an opportunity for feedback on performance to team members and allows people to move on in an orderly and sensitive manner.

  30. Student says:

    List and Describe five factors that define the project environment

    The Political climate is one factor that may affect the project environment. For instance if the project is to build a coal fired power station and an election is imminent and the likely incoming party is keen to demonstrate its green credentials then this may have an effect on the funding or the planning application success, and may affect the progression of the project. Political considerations may need to be taken into account on a smaller scale within an organisation, for instance major stakeholders may be able to influence the views of funding groups within the organisation, due to social ties This may benefit or hamper the progress of the project and an awareness of these ties is required to ensure the appropriate amount of persuasive effort is spent with the appropriate groups.

    Economic factors may affect the progress and viability of a project. For instance the project may be aimed at launching a new luxury car, with very expensive finishing processes and materials. If there is a downturn in the economy, resulting in consumers having less available money, the car might not sell in the quantities anticipated in the project’s business case. This may affect the financial viability of the project resulting in the termination of the project or a modification of the specifications and requirements so as to reduce the production costs of the new car.

    Sociological issues can have an effect on a project as it may limit the appeal of the products, or the resources required to produce them. As an example it may not be viable to set up a biotechnology research facility in a developing country, that does not have an established tertiary education system. Without the availability of qualified and experienced personnel it may not be viable to set up such a facility, as all of the labour would have to be relocated, incurring costs that may make it more sensible to house the facility elsewhere.

    Technological factors need to be taken into account in the planning of Projects. High technology products tend to operate in cycles where new products attract a premium price and more established products become commodities and can be obtained more cheaply. Additionally, occasionally new technologies hit the market that completely change the way that a task might be completed. For instance it would not be sensible to set up a drawing office with lots of large desks and pencil maintenance equipment, when most drawing work is now performed using Computer Aided Design techniques.

    Changes in legislation can often affect a project. New laws can come in place that may affect how a product is produced, the disposal of any waste materials from the project or the employment terms of the staff employed on the project. An awareness of existing and new legislation is essential to the successful planning and progress of a project.

    An awareness of the effect a project might have on the environment is critical. Environmental issues are often related to political ones (as in the case of the coal fired power station mentioned earlier). There are also factors such as minimising ongoing energy costs once the project is in operation that may have an impact on the economic viability of a project and affect the realisation of benefits from the project.

  31. Student says:

    List and describe the differences between projects and operations?

    Projects are transient. Projects tend to have a fixed planned timescale with defined dates for start, milestones such as acceptance, delivery, commissioning and completion. Operations continue indefinitely without a planned end for the business operation.

    Projects are generally unique. A project will be conceived to produce a defined product or change to a business operation and it is usual that the products of a project have not been produced before within the organisation. Operations will more likely invoke the repeating of a set of defined and established processes to achieve a business outcome.

    Projects tend to have personnel assigned to them for delimited periods to perform defined pieces of work for the project. Business operations will tend to have personnel with skills specialist to the operation permanently assigned to the operation.

    Projects tend to have more informal reporting lines between the project manager and the project team. This is due to the transient nature of the project. Operations tend to have more formal fixed reporting lines with functional managers heading up teams of people with specialist skills needed to perform the business operation.

    An example of a project might be the modification of a custard cream biscuit line to enable it to also produce Garibaldi biscuits. The project will have a defined timescale to make the change to the biscuit line, however the operations of the biscuit line will continue indefinitely. The Garibaldi project may require work from personnel working in the biscuit operations team as well as specialist contact individuals in disciplines such as dried fruit technology. The organisation may not have tried to produce Garibaldi biscuits before so there is some uniqueness to the project. Personnel in the biscuit operations team may be required to help with the Garibaldi project and the Garibaldi project manager will need to negotiate with the biscuit operations supervisor in order to get time from his personnel. There will be a defined end date for the Garibaldi project after which Garibaldi biscuits can be produced on the biscuit line, however biscuit production operations will continue indefinitely.

  32. Student says:

    1) Describe five responsibilities of the project users during the project lifecycle?

    Project users are critical at almost every stage of the project process. Users are important in identifying the need for the project at the conception stage. They may have ideas for products that can help them perform their business functions and so add value to the business.

    The project’s users pay an important role in formulating the requirements for the project. It is necessary to consult with the users to determine what the functions a product must or should perform in order to enable them to realise business benefit from the products.

    After the product is created the users play a vital role in testing that the product meets the requirements that they helped formulate in the earlier part of the project. The users need to highlight any area where the products fail to meet with the requirements or any errors or omissions in the requirement that may put the realisation of benefits from the products at risk. Any changes to requirements will need to be managed with a project change process that needs approval from the project sponsor.

    Users pay an important role in accepting the products and formally signifying their acceptance as part of the project control process. They must give their acceptance in order for the commissioning of the products to take place and for them to go into general usage as part of established business procedure.

    Finally once the products of the project have been delivered, accepted and commissioned the users have a responsibility to utilise the products in order to realise the project benefits for the project sponsor. The users need to make use of the products of the project in the way that they were conceived in order to realise the benefits that the project was designed to deliver.

  33. Student says:

    4) List and describe five factors that define the project enviroment (or context)?

    1. Political context
    2. Economical context
    3. Sociological context
    4. Technological context
    5. Legal context

    1. Political context: This is the context in which the different stakeholders have a vested interest and will try to influence the strategic direction of the project.
    2. Economical context: Means the funding/ investment conditions surrounding the project. eg availibility of funding is critical for a project to gain approval to go ahead at the environment agency.
    3. Sociological context: The human dimension and in particular the make up of the society will be key factors in deciding on the model to manage the stakeholders. The average age and different social classes of a certain area will dictate how the communication is to be delivered.
    4. Technological context: The specification requirements will be designed for a specific purpose. The technical aspects have to be understood.
    5. Legal context: The duties and obligations of the client organisation will influence how they prioritise their projects. Beyond this legislation is subject to change and this can have a significant impact on the life cycle of a project. Achange of legislation is a significant risk to projects. eg The interpretation of the Water Framework Directive in the UK and the timing of the guidance had such an impact that a number of projects had to be reviewed and a whole dedicated programme had to be put together to address the issue.

  34. Student says:

    1.Describe five responsibilities of the project users during the project lifecycle.
    Define what is required.
    That is to clearly state the intention of the project with regard to forming acceptance criteria. For example – a Handling Facility for nuclear waste would require the plant (product) to safely transfer a set number of boxes of waste per day whilst ensuring radiological and environmental safety. This would assist the Sponsor and Project Manager in forming the requirements section of the business case during the concept stage.
    Accept the Products (Advise the sponsor)
    The users would develop along with the Sponsor a set of acceptance criteria, which would define the end point of the project (Up to Handover). These criteria would be at a level understood by the key project team members and would form part of the contract documentation. In more complex projects these would be contained in one or more specifications detailing specific parts of the overall deliverable. E.g. a specification for a crane as part of a handling plant.
    Operate the product.
    Once acceptance and commissioning/start-up it is the responsibility of the users to use/operate the product in order to obtain the benefit described in the business case. For Example a new biscuit line in a bakery. The line would have to be run for a period in order for a benefits review to be carried out to understand whether or not the investment had delivered a profit.
    Liaise with the Project Manager (PM) over changes
    User requirements may change during the project lifecycle. It is the responsibility of the users to communicate these to the project manager the nature and reasons for them. This will enable the PM and his team to Log, evaluate and make a recommendation to the sponsor regarding the change. This may be a relatively minor change such as a change to a colour scheme or a fundamental change to the product such as increased throughput. The users need to understand where in the project lifecycle the change is occurring as this will have a significant bearing on the potential impact.
    Accept the Authority of the Sponsor
    It is with the Sponsor that authority ultimately lies for the success or failure of the project. Users must accept that the Sponsor is responsible for the big picture and as such has the final say. For example the users may be desirous of a change, however the Sponsor may reject this due to cost overruns or significant delays to the project.

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