Interview Questions

Quantitative Project Management (QPM)

Quantitative Project Management involves gathering data at every possible stage of software development lifecycle. Most of the data can be gathered through review process. However some of the metrics can be gathered only through a proper follow up process and updating the Project Plan.

Resource availability: Planned resources and their availability is key to execution. Only if a resource is available as per plan (and even beyond sometimes) execution can adhere to the plan. After all project execution without resources is no progress. A PM has to actively monitor and update the plan over the availability of resources. If deviations occur for whatever reason (internal/external/environmental/political/climate factors), make sure alternate arrangements are there in place and help in the progress of the project execution.

Sign-off on input artefacts: For every stage to proceed further there will be certain inputs required mandatorily and some could be optional. If the mandatory inputs are not signed-off and frozen at the expected timelines for a downstream activity, PM has to take a call on the risk of proceeding further deviation in schedule. It pays to escalate and get a sign-off from customer if there is a risk of proceeding further without signed-off frozen input artefacts. Most of the defects later found can be attributed to unclear requirements or frequent addition/change of requirements.

Schedule Deviation: One of the most feared metric is deviation in project schedule. No customer likes to get this communication from a project team. Unless a daily, proactive and effective tracking happens on the factors affecting schedule (this should ideally be captured as a risk to the project plan in risk management) there is bound to be surprise. Surprise on schedule at any stage is an unacceptable issue. So when one or more factors influence the delivery, it is better to escalate immediately without delay and arrive at an alternate plan to deliver as per agreed schedule. If there is a big shift in schedule, first thing required to do is to get an approval on new plan considering all the factors and sign-off.

Effort Deviation: Another dreaded word in a PM’ job. This occurs due to various reasons such as capability of the resource, training effectiveness, knowledge management process within the project/organization, bad project plan or too much of requirement churn and above all not planning for risks. Capability of a resource is attributed to his/her skill acquired and also the knowledge the project imparts to the resources. Effective training plan is required for the same.

As a PM, you need to identify the qualitative/quantitative data behind deviation and address them.

Factors that could de-rail execution as per plan shall be (not limited to the following):
Internal – Cross functional teams dependencies within the organization; Support teams that need to provide necessary facilities on time such as backup, infrastructure, finance, administration, hospitality, facilities, etc.

External – Vendors/suppliers whose input is required; Dependency on other agencies who interact and provide an input delivery to the project.

Environmental – Power supply, Transportation, etc.

Political – A suitable and investor-friendly political climate is always an implicit input to ensure smoother delivery. All environmental factors that are regulated come under government control and hence a facilitating atmosphere is mandatory.

Climate – Normal climate, by this we mean a climate where productivity interruptions do not occur on a frequency basis, is always a desirable one. This includes a conducive weather that does not affect resources.

As a PM, should you be worried about all these factors which cannot be controlled? Well it may not be for controlling, but for better planning, taking care of identifying the potential risks, charting out risk mitigation plan. Even if a PM cannot control some of these factors, he can factor them into his schedule based on historic data. Also he can escalate them to the relevant stakeholders (say support teams) and get them addressed with captured data and historic data.

Some of the quantitative tools available are Control Charts, Histogram, Parteo charts, Scatter diagram.

Control charts help you identify the effectiveness of a process metric. Histogram indicate the distribution of data captured thereby conveying the area to focus on for improvement. Pareto charts convey the importance of a process metric. Scatter diagram help in decision making based on data and relationship between two variables.

Then there is also fishbone diagram and flow charts that can facilitate qualitative decision making and help improve a process.