The Project Management Corner Series – Part 1

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In 2010/11, Snowden ran a series of articles in our newsletter on Project Management. The focus of the series was to illustrate the practical use of project management processes, tools, and skills to achieve project success. We have decided to share this series with you as a reminder that whilst the tools and technologies may advance, the basic principles of project management remain the same.

Part 1 is below and we will share the remaining articles over the coming weeks.

Discussions on Project Management commonly include questions such as

  • Why do companies use project management?
  • Why invest in project management?
  • Why would you as an employee want to utilise project management tools and skills?

Often the initial answer is that the benefits of project management are to deliver a project within budget, scope and time, such that it meets the client’s specification for quality. The relationship between these competing constraints is shown as a triangle, known as the "Project Constraints Triangle", depicted below. The sides of the triangle form the project constraints and the area within the triangle is generally depicted as representing project quality. This approach highlights the benefits of good project management and shows how inter-related the various project constraints are. For example, if the project experiences a change in scope, then there is likely to be a corresponding change in time and/or cost, and possibly also quality.

Project Constraints Triangle Image

Figure 1 – Project Constraints Triangle

This response focuses our attention on the main factors that influence the successful outcome of a project, but not on how we can achieve it using project management. Possibly, a better response to the questions posed, is that project management processes, tools and skills provide a proven, usable framework, through which to manage, control and deliver change. A project at its most basic level is after all the management of change, from an undelivered product or service, to a delivered and accepted product or service. Project management has at its core methods, tools and techniques for the planning, execution and control of project work.

The project management framework varies from method to method. But all project methods encompass planning, change control, execution and closure processes, tools and skills. These processes, tools and skills utilised within a project framework, are used on a regular basis to manage a project to a successful outcome. A successful outcome for a project is that it is on time, within budget and cost and delivered at an acceptable level of quality. It is for these reasons that an individual or a company chooses to use and invest in project management. 

These responses are suitable at a higher level, to justify the use and investment in project management systems. But, to be of real value and assist project managers in the day to day management and delivery of projects, greater detail around the use of project management processes, tools and skills is required.

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