“SO what happened to tips 1 thru 2306?” You’re asking yourself…
… And NOW you understand the real-life bewilderment faced on a daily basis by project managers around the world!
You see, project managers, herein referred to as PM’s, are presented with unexpected questions like this every day.
You plan your project, and travel along the path you designed, only to be broadsided by something completely unexpected… in this case, my IT department newbie DELETED all my prior tips from 1 – 2306, and being that the PM is usually the LAST guy to be told about a problem (in reality), the project is now in jeopardy!
Did the newbie tech really delete my other pm tips? In this case, No; but that’s the point, project management is about resolving issues, some expected, some not; while delivering a project. It is akin to the fact that landing an airplane is basically a controlled crash. It’s true; the airplane is actually falling from the sky and hitting the ground; only you as the pilot are controlling how fast it actually falls, and how hard (hopefully!) it hits!
Project management is similar…
There are only 3 elements to any project: Scope; Cost and Time (Schedule).
The general rule (reality) is that you can only have any 2 of the 3 at any one time… and therein lays the “Crash”!
Well, think about it for a second… The client wants 100 widgets produced (Scope). Normal cost to produce those 100 widgets is $100 (Cost), and takes 10 days (Schedule)…
Here you have the 3 factors I mentioned in play.
The kicker, however, is that the client wants the widgets in 5 days… and therein lays the potential airplane crash for the PM.
He (or she), now has to deliver the project in the reduced timeline, so something has to give. Either the cost to produce the 100 widgets in 5 days rather than 10 days is going to double (double the man hours to do it in half the normal time); OR, the Scope (# of widgets) has to be cut in half to meet the reduced delivery time.
Which do you choose, because the client isn’t going to be happy with either outcome?
There is another factor in play though, a 4th, which I didn’t mention… and that is “Quality”.
Although “Quality” is somewhat dependant on the eyes-of-the-beholder, it can be quantified.
With “Quality” in play, the PM can now suggest to the client that the 100 widgets (Scope) can be delivered in 10 days (Schedule), and can be produced at the normal cost of $100 (Cost)…
However, the “Quality” of each widget will only be 1/2 as good as normal, which will reduce the sales value to the customer on the end product.
So as you can see, the PM’s MAIN role within a project, is not only to control the 3 (4?) factors of Scope; Schedule; Cost; and Quality, but also to address and resolve customer expectations as best as he or she can, so the project deliverables are agreed upon by the client AND the project team, at the beginning of the project, thereby controlling the “crash”.
What is this “Crash” you ask?
Well, although you may deliver the project successfully in the end, the “Crash” from the PM perspective, is the customers satisfaction level with your projects deliverables, if they did not actually receive exactly what they wanted; when they wanted it; nor for how much they wanted it; given their originally desires when they hired you. — Welcome to Project Management!
Happy landings, perspective PM’s
Johny B. is a certified PMP with PMI.