Ever tried defining the word “Project”? Or tried putting in words, what happens when a project is “ON”? What’s the difference between daily operations and a project? Could it be that a Public Relations Manager has daily operations AND Project Work to manage on the same day?
The basic building block to understanding Project attributes is that any project is “temporary” and has a definite end. A project’s expected end, results in the generation of a product within a stipulated period of time, by incurring a cost.
The end product or service is different, is unique. So, news feeds on ‘company performance’ that a Public Relations Manager sends to different media houses on a daily basis is NOT project work, it is daily operations. However, news feeds sent to media houses as part of a 3 day Mega-publicity event slated to happen in two months from now is definitely part of the Project Work. Similarly, bottling of 30,000 coca cola bottles per day at a bottling plant is part of daily operations. However, if these 30,000 bottles were different/unique….the shape of the bottles could have been different (an experimental batch by the coca cola designing think tank), the concentration of CO2 in the beverage for these 30,000 bottles was changed (for a specific delivery at a sports venue), or the water being used for the beverage was from their NEW in-house treatment plant, then the particular day’s operations would have been termed as Project Work.
The simplest method of viewing a project is by what is commonly known as The Project Triangle. Any project at any given point of time can be viewed in terms of it’s COST, TIME, and SCOPE. These three paramaters form the Magic Triangle or the Project triangle. At the core of this trianlge lies the QUALITY.
COST: The resources working on the project incur cost which is taken care of by the budget of the project.
TIME: The deadline of the project determines the time available to project completion.
SCOPE: This is determined by the expected unique output service or product of the tasks undertaken.
The ideal project progresses to complete the scope of the project on or before the deadline of the project incurring costs within the allocated project budget.
Changing any one of the COST, TIME, SCOPE also termed as project constraints, will cause an automatic change in one or both the remaining constraints. For example: if the project deadline changes to an earlier date, then to finish the scope of the project will require more resources/higher costs.
Alternatively, if the project gets extra funds, more resources can be employed to tasks and this shall subsequently decrease the time required to finish the project.
As the project progresses, a project manager should always remain aware of the status of these three constraints. Also, if the Project Manager makes a change to any one constraint, he should be sensitive to the impact this change will have on the other two constraints.
Many a times, there is a STUCK SIDE of the triangle,which is nothing but the side represented by the fixed element or the one that cannot change. One must figure out which, of the three elements – COST, TIME, SCOPE cannot be changed. In some projects, it is the end product or the scope of the projects which, come what may, cannot be changed. In others, it is the initial allocated budget which can not be increased. Many a times it’s the time that is the stuck element of the triangle, wherein the project must complete within the stipulated time period.
So, if you are able to figure out the stuck side, you know, which element(s) you can tweak to meet the changing environment of the project. Also, worth noting is that, at times, the stuck side and the problem side can be the same. For example: the deliverables of the project might be stuck and the deliverables are what are a cause of worry for the project manager. So, the project manager now knows that he can move the cost and time/schedules to ensure that the deliverables are exactly as desired.
Project Management is a skill. When thought about in a certain way, which I do at times, it’s like an artistic pursuit. You need to continuously make changes in the smaller pieces, yet keep the overall picture same.
by: neel pannu
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