THE THREE SPHERES OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

The successful delivery of a project exists in three spheres. Quality, budget, and schedule. Most can meet or exceed expectations in deliver of one of the three. Some can do so in deliver of two of the three. Few, however, can meet and exceed expectations in all three. In this article I discuss some of the factors that that drive the three spheres and suggest some management practices for meeting expectations in these spheres.

Budget

Budget constraints can drive quality down and schedule out…

This occurs for obvious reasons. When budget is constrained to a point that is below industry standards or design expectations, the pool of willing and qualified companies to assist in project delivery gets narrow and is not easily found. In cases where it is found, such companies will tend to view the project as a last priority for their companies existing commitments and upcoming commitments. Simply put, they often don’t see the value in their efforts on your project, regardless of their contract commitment to it, and that is a poisonous belief that can drag a projects schedule out and quality down

SCHEDULE

Schedule is agreed upon as being critical, but few can clarify why….

Schedule can shrink a clients budget faster than the upfront costs they might incur from having management push a schedule. In other words, the upfront costs of driving a schedule are often less on larger projects than the resulting “hidden” costs of allowing the project to draw out over an extended period of time. This occurs for multiple reasons, including client carrying costs and lost opportunity costs as well as staff wear out and exhaustion on long term projects that can lead to mistakes and an increasing delay that tends to slow project production over time. These factors not only affect the client but can also have the same costs to the management company and subcontractors. It is for this reason that schedule is a critical sphere of our management practice for any project.

Quality

I have seen many companies that provide superb quality in project deliverables but break the budget, or simply take far to long to produce the deliverables….

The steps we take in project management to ensure quality without a doubt cost time and money. Paradoxically, a lack of the same quality assurance can have an even more severe effect on budget and schedule when we are repeating work already completed to meet an industry quality standard. Thus, quality control is a needed aspect of any project not only from an ethical and professional standpoint in the service we are providing but from a management standpoint in ensuring budget and schedule needs for both ourselves and the client. The question that is raised, is how to reduce schedule and cost impacts in quality control.

MANAGING THE THREE SPHERES

It should be relatively clear that changes in any given sphere can affect outcomes in other spheres. It is for this reason that many feel it is difficult to excel at all three on a consistent basis. However, it is done in many organizations out there. The traditional management model makes this difficult, in part because it expects the shift in other spheres to occur. In some cases this is acceptable and unavoidable. What we hope to achieve as management professionals is to reduce this occurrence when it is avoidable. Below, I offer some thoughts on how we might achieve this.

  • Increase front end management to further clarify design, quality, schedule, and budget issues in detail with clients and subcontractors
  • Increase management efficiency through technology and innovation in management practices
  • Reduce schedule delays through real time issue management and protocols for dealing with issues
  • Balance budget constraints and quality through established associations with reputable companies who understand the long term value of working with you
  • Increase quality through building your team and project associates vision of personal responsibility, and leadership potential.
  • Maintain high moral through a management team that aims to serve not only its clients but its sub-contractors and project associates interests at all times

The fact remains that this subject could have volumes of information written on it, which is not in the scope of this article. However, It is my hope that the present article stimulated your curiosity into the interplay that the three spheres have in our project outcomes. To sign off with a quote from author and business guru Jim Rohn:

“If you don't have a plan, chances are you are going to fall into some one else's. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much!”