Can your aspiring candidates answer these questions successfully?
The project management role may not be specific to software development, but there are certainly specific skills that are needed for managing software development projects. Project manager candidates should be prepared to answer these ten questions when competing for a position. The Anatomy of a Software Development Role: Project Manager can help you find out more about the role.
Author: ASAE Center
Q0: What are the most important aspects of project management?
A: A skilled project manager is organized, and should be held responsible for keeping track of project decisions, action items, risks, and issues. The candidate should be able to articulate what aspects of project management are most important to them.
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Q1: What is the PMBOK?
A: The Project Management Body of Knowledge. It is the central place where practitioners have sought to put and learn best practices.
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Author: Robert Higgens
Q2: Do you apply everything in the PMBOK?
A: The best answer here is no. A project manager should be selecting the right practices to match the environment and the project. This sometimes means using some, but not all, best practices for individual projects; in other words, the PMBOK should be used as a guideline, but not always as the hard and fast rule.
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Q3: What do you do when a decision has to be made about a risk?
A: Project managers should always be deferring decisions about risk to the business owner. The business owner makes decisions related to risk after receiving input from the technical resources, so the project manager can recommend a decision based on risk, but ultimately it should be deferred to the business owner.
Author: Tim Gouw
Q4: How do you facilitate difficult decisions?
A: The answer will vary, but a good candidate should mention allowing all of the perspectives to be put on the table. For particularly thorny issues, the PM should be willing to fall back to rational decision making. Rational decision making involves weighting various factors and getting a relative rating on each of those factors from the important parties in the project.
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Q5: How do you manage scope changes?
A: In general, a candidate’s answer should speak to the relative rigor that the project manager uses to manage scope change of the project. For some, it’s extremely fluid, and for others substantially more rigid. Regardless, an effective project manager will understand the importance of clear definitions and control over the changed scope.
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Q6: How do you simplify the details of the project into executive reporting?
A: The answer will vary from person to person, but should include a conversation about a simple analogy, such as a stoplight, to show the relative risk that the project won’t complete successfully. Perhaps there are counts of the number of high risks or number of issues open on the project.
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Q7: How frequently should project status reports be generated?
A: A good candidate will know that the answer varies based on the situation. Projects of different scopes, sizes, and criticality require different reporting requirements. Generally, status reports should be done between once a week and once a month, but a candidate should know that consistency is just as important as frequency.
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Q8: How do you handle developer estimates?
A: Most project managers expect that developers’ estimates are 1/2 to 1/3 of the overall effort the developer will really spend creating and testing the item. A candidate should know that the estimates will sometimes vary depending on the developers’ estimating accuracy; at the very least, they should have a feel for how much effort is involved beyond the developers’ estimates.
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Q9: What are the biggest challenges of project management with an agile software development team?
A: Project management is best when the project is well known and has a defined scope. Agile software development is closer to a set of mini projects. Each iteration is its own project inside the overall program of the application development effort. A candidate’s response should show how they manage this distinction, and prove that they are flexible enough to deal with potential conflicts.
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