This topic was modified from the original post in May 2018 by a member of the Parallel team to better provide an appropriate answer for people preparing for the APM PMQ exam (previously known as the APMP).
The original poster also expanded his answers and they can be viewed here.
The first point to note in this type of question is that the examination markers are looking for specific elements to every answer. So where you are asked to describe any number of things such as 5 Key Attributes of a Project you should first of all list those attributes before providing more detail about them. The list alone is worth up to 20% of the total mark for the question. So a good answer might be:
5 Key Attributes of a Project are:
- Projects have a start and finish point.
- Projects have a set budget, which is capitalised.
- The first prototypes of a mass produced product would be considered a project
- A project seeks to make instant changes/benefits
- A project has a number of steps that make up the project life cycle
Once you have your list you can then go on to describe each element in more detail in a separate paragraph. Here the examiner wants you to demonstrate basic understanding and also further understanding of the topic. Each of these represents half the total marks available so you need to demonstrate both basic and further understanding to pass the exam.
You can demonstrate basic knowledge simply by stating facts about a project but to demonstrate further understanding you need to:
- state why certain attributes are important
- provide examples
So you can see how the original poster’s answers below lacked a demonstration of further knowledge and would be unlikely to achieve a high mark in the exam:
- Projects have a start and finish point; A project could be used to produce a standard operating procedure for manufacturing a new product. Once the SOP is approved and is being used to produce said product: The project ends and business as usual proceeds.
- Projects have a set budget, that is capitalised. Whereas business as usual would be funded by op’s budget.
- The first prototypes of a mass produced product would be considered a project; as they would form part of the development and launch phase a project. Once in production, the manufacture of said product then becomes business as usual.
- A project seeks to make instant changes/benefits; whereas business as usual looks to steady incremental changes over a longer period.
- A project as a number of steps that make up the project life cycle; whereas business as usual, products go through ‘product life cycle’: build, use, end of life – disposal.
Let’s take point 4 and expand upon it for a better answer.
A project seeks to make instant changes/benefits; whereas business as usual looks to steady incremental changes over a longer period.
Out of a possible 8 marks (4 for basic understanding and 4 for demonstrating further knowledge) the above answer would only be likely to achieve 2/8.
If we expand the answer to:
A project seeks to make instant changes/benefits and in general has not been executed in this configuration before; whereas business as usual looks to steady incremental changes over a longer period and is often repeated on a day-t-day basis.
But this still doesn’t demonstrate further understanding because we haven’t stated why it is important nor included any examples. So, let’s further improve the answer:
A project seeks to make instant changes/benefits and in general has not been executed in this configuration before; whereas business as usual (BAU) looks to steady incremental changes over a longer period and is often repeated on a day-t-day basis. For example the a standard operating procedure for manufacturing a product day in day out is a good example of a BAU operation whereas the development of a new standard operating procedure for manufacturing a product is an example of a project. This is important becauseBAU operations must focus on doing the same thing in a very consistent way whereas projects must concentrate on the management of change and associated risks.
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