Projects of any sort are often subject to pressure to be completed with fixed resources and as quickly as possible, all while maintaining the intended scope. Gantt charts are most commonly used but are seldom robust enough to meet the “game-time” changing events that often come up throughout the project. A more comprehensive approach is required. In this article, we will present a combination of methods and tools that has proven to deliver project excellence time and time again.
Beyond the Triple Constraint
Project Management provides a structured methodology and set of tools to aid in the planning and execution of a project. Projects are temporary in nature, and set out to deliver a particular outcome (scope) by a specified due date (time) and using given resources (cost). Scope, Time, and Cost are typically referred to as the Triple Constraint, since changing one impacts the others.
But there’s much more to know about Project Management…
The Process of Projects
The Project Management Institute (PMI) has established a standard process, framework, and set of activities that may be easily used for the planning and execution for your next project. At the time of this article the PMBOK Guide is at its 6th edition and provides the definitive framework that goes well beyond the Triple Constraint.
First, it outlines the 5 Process Groups that all projects must go through: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closing. The 10 Knowledge Areas outline different facets of project planning and execution that should be considered when embarking upon any initiative. While all 10 Knowledge Areas are beyond the scope of this article, we will focus next on one of the key project planning activities: project scheduling.
Scheduling Short Comings
Project managers are responsible for accurate schedules in order to complete project deliverables on time. Single point estimates are typical, but schedules are often either adjusted or initial estimates are overstated. 3-point estimates are sometimes used but are typically only used to present best and worst-case scenarios. Monte Carlo Analysis can give certainty to scheduling estimates.
However, complex Gantt charts and/or statistical project scheduling modelling can easily become a full-time endeavor. Furthermore, things don’t always go per plan and project teams may need the agility to pivot in an effort to recover lost time.
The Discipline of Execution
Failing to plan is planning to fail. But even the best laid plans still need the discipline of execution. In this case, we recommend 4 disciplines. In The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals, authors Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling provide a framework that teams may use to provide the agility needed, yet the structure and discipline to achieving your project objectives.
Learn all about these 4 disciplines and how to ensure success on your next project from one of our past articles: Getting Things Done!