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Project Management and Projects

Many of the most famous projects in history involved construction or engineering of some sort. The pyramids of ancient Egypt were built over hundreds of years but are still considered projects. Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris took roughly 200 years to build and had dozens of what we would now call project managers, although that term was not in use during these two massive projects.

The important information concerning any project is in the definition we give for projects. PMBOK suggests that A project is a temporary endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result. Memorize this. You will certainly be asked about it on the exam.

Let's look at what this definition means to us as project managers. First, the fact that a project is temporary means that the management of the project is very different from managing a standard operating organization. Resource needs, financial considerations, quality concerns, risk management, and communication needs are all concerns that arise because a project has a specific beginning and ending.

Q.

A project is a ___________ endeavor undertaken to create a unique product, service, or result.

 

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A.

Difficult

 

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B.

Complex

 

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C.

Critical

 

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D.

Temporary

The answer is D. Although all of the other answers may be true, the temporary nature of the project is one of the major defining characteristics of a project.

Many organizations have difficulties in placing project managers because projects do not continue to be managed year after year as do the operations of a standard organization, so there may be slack or down time for the project manager. This "on the beach" or "on the bench" time is when project managers like you can help with other tasks in the organization such as responding to RFPs (Request for Proposal), or you can use the time to learn new skills that will help you on your next project. However, during this time, you are not actually project managing, and that is difficult for some organizations to defend—having someone on the payroll who is not actually doing the job for which he or she was hired.

For the most part, project managers become project managers because the organization needs someone to manage a project, and that need is often filled with someone who did not come to the organization as a project manager. There are very, very few organizations that have planned paths that lead to project management positions as a part of their overall HR strategy. Before 1969, there was no governing body to define the role of a project manager and no tests that could certify someone as a project manager. There were many good project managers working in a variety of industries, but there was no single certification or examination that would be accepted universally. The Department of Defense was one of the leaders in this area because it needed project managers for much of the construction it did as well as major projects such as those done by NASA. But the training given in the DoD was not the single international standard for project management, and that changed in 1969.

In 1969, the Project Management Institute was formed, and topics were discussed and material was written on the topic of project management. These early offerings gave way to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, the PMBOK. The PMBOK that we are referencing in this book is one that has gone through major revisions as project management becomes more and more a major type of management in our modern era.

A second event further codified the standards for project management when in 2000 ANSI (American National Standards Institute) declared that the standard for project management literature would be the PMBOK. This action changed the project management world. The PMBOK is now the official book to read, and the materials from it make up the official exam that qualifies the test taker as a Project Management Professional, or PMP.

Q.

PMI was founded in:

 

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A.

1954

 

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B.

1969

 

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C.

1970

 

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D.

2000

The answer is B. PMI was founded in the late sixties.

Q.

In 2000, _______ certified the PMBOK as the standard for project management literature.

 

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A.

American Academy

 

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B.

Ohio State

 

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C.

ANSI

 

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D.

Sorbonne

The answer is C. The American National Standards Institute is the body that governs standardization of information in the U.S. This is important because this is the first time that any document or book has been accepted as the single standard for project management in the United States.

One of the problems, albeit a small one, with the PMBOK is that there are several different writing styles within the book because it has multiple authors. This means that you will see slightly different styles of explanation. Throughout this book, we'll make sure that the questions and explanations you see conform to PMI and are explained as clearly as possible.

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