Introduction to Mastering Project Time Management, Cost Control, and Quality Management: Proven Methods for Controlling the Three Elements that Define Project Deliverables
Organizations will structure their operations based on strategic objectives and through acquisitions and management of resources. They will conduct daily work activities to produce products that will accomplish goals consistent with their strategic objectives. To be effective in structuring the organization and in acquiring and managing resources to perform daily activities, the project manager requires a management structure to design, organize, and manage resources to accomplish daily objectives. Management will be most concerned about the type of resources that will be selected—the cost of resources. materials, equipment, and facilities as well as the time to set up the operation and conduct daily work activity. Establishing an operation is typically an enormous amount of work. Further, once completed. management has the task of overseeing all resources to conduct daily work activities to manage three primary concerns: the cost incurred to conduct the operation and produce daily deliverables or products, the amount of time it takes to produce products, and the overall quality of the products when completed.
The operation is considered successful when it can produce products that can be sold at a market value that is higher than the cost to create the product—therefore, the products are profitable and beneficial to the organization. Part of this cost includes the amount of time it takes to create the product and whether the quality is acceptable within the marketplace at the price being offered. Operations managers, therefore, are given an operations budget for each department to manage all purchases to stay on budget and secure profit margins. Operations managers also have a schedule of deliveries for products and need to manage resources to ensure products are being created within a specific time frame to ensure quality and throughput are maintained, which can also influence profitability. Managers need to utilize quality controls to ensure products are being maintained to a quality expectation of customers within the marketplace, which will also ensure ongoing sales and profitability.
Projects are similar to the structure of an operation; managers acquire resources to produce a deliverable where time, cost, and deliverable quality have to be managed to be successful. Project managers have the same responsibility as functional managers, but they are focused on a specific project to manage specific work activities for a single, unique deliverable. The exception with projects is that they are unique and typically performed only one time, so project managers have to go through all the tasks of designing and organizing a project structure that will only be conducted once and, therefore, have only one shot at effectively managing time, cost, and quality for one project deliverable. Organizations hire professional project managers to oversee projects because project management tools and techniques are typically used to ensure projects are managed for success. In the world of project management, project managers are primarily focused on designing a system of management plans that address all the aspects required to manage the “big three”: time, cost, and quality.
The Triple Constraint
As project managers assess the resources, materials and equipment, and facilities requirements, time, cost, and quality are the big three items they must consider not only in the selection, but also in the management of all resources throughout the project life cycle. This ensures a project is completed on schedule, on budget, and meeting the customer’s expectations of quality. An important aspect of managing time, cost, and quality for project work activities is the interconnection of these three elements. Any change to one of these elements has an effect on one or both of the others, which introduces constraints the project manager must manage. This is called the triple constraint (see Figure I.1).
The triple constraint imposes a project management dilemma. Not only does the project manager have to manage each component of the triple constraint, but he also has to assess any changes to one and how it affects the other two.
Figure I.1 Triple constraint
In this example, the project manager had the typical dilemma of making choices to manage the three elements of the triple constraint to maintain a project schedule, budget, and level of quality. A change in one element had an impact on one or two of the other elements. which formed a constraint. Decisions then had to be made to manage the triple constraint.
To manage the triple constraint, the project manager must understand the overall scope of each work activity. He must also understand changes that may be allowed or elements of the triple constraint that cannot change. These changes or elements can force the decisions as to which changes will actually be made, which might affect one or both of the other two elements. In most cases, the project manager does have to consider some form of change, and the second important aspect of managing the triple constraint is the consideration and management of changes that will be required.