Project Management Triangle

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The Project Management Triangle (called also the Triple Constraint, Iron Triangle and “Project Triangle”) is a model of the constraints of project management. While its origins are unclear, it has been used since at least the 1950s. It contends that:

For example, a project can be completed faster by increasing budget or cutting scope. Similarly, increasing scope may require equivalent increases in budget and schedule. Cutting budget without adjusting schedule or scope will lead to lower quality.

In practice, however, trading between constraints is not always possible. For example, throwing money (and people) at a fully staffed project can slow it down. Moreover, in poorly run projects it is often impossible to improve budget, schedule or scope without adversely affecting quality.

The Project Management Triangle is used to analyze projects. It is often misused to define success as delivering the required scope, at a reasonable quality, within the established budget and schedule. The Project Management Triangle is considered insufficient as a model of project success because it omits crucial dimensions of success including impact on stakeholders, learning and user satisfaction.

The time constraint refers to the amount of time available to complete a project. The cost constraint refers to the budgeted amount available for the project. The scope constraint refers to what must be done to produce the project’s end result. These three constraints are often competing constraints: increased scope typically means increased time and increased cost, a tight time constraint could mean increased costs and reduced scope, and a tight budget could mean increased time and reduced scope.

The discipline of project management is about providing the tools and techniques that enable the project team (not just the project manager) to organize their work to meet these constraints.

Another approach to project management is to consider the three constraints as finance, time and human resources. If you need to finish a job in a shorter time, you can throw more people at the problem, which in turn will raise the cost of the project, unless by doing this task quicker we will reduce costs elsewhere in the project by an equal amount.

As a project management graphic aid, a triangle can show time, resources, and technical objective as the sides of a triangle, instead of the corners. John Storck, a former instructor of the American Management Association’s “Basic Project Management” course, used a pair of triangles called triangle outer and triangle inner to represent the concept that the intent of a project is to complete on or before the allowed time, on or under budget, and to meet or exceed the required scope. The distance between the inner and outer triangles illustrated the hedge or contingency for each of the three elements. Bias could be shown by the distance. His example of a project with a strong time bias was the Alaska pipeline which essentially had to be done on time no matter the cost. After years of development, oil flowed out the end of the pipe within four minutes of schedule. In this illustration, the time side of triangle inner was effectively on top of the triangle outer line. This was true of the technical objective line also. The cost line of triangle inner, however, was outside since the project ran significantly over budget.

James P. Lewis suggests that project scope represents the area of the triangle, and can be chosen as a variable to achieve project success. He calls this relationship PCTS (Performance, Cost, Time, Scope), and suggests that a project can pick any three.

The real value of the project triangle is to show the complexity that is present in any project. The plane area of the triangle represents the near infinite variations of priorities that could exist between the three competing values. By acknowledging the limitless variety, possible within the triangle, using this graphic aid can facilitate better project decisions and planning and ensure alignment among team members and the project owners.

The STR model is a mathematical model which views the “triangle model” as a graphic abstraction of the relationship:

Scope refers to complexity (which can also mean quality). Resources includes humans (workers), financial, and physical. Note that these values are not considered unbounded. For instance, if one baker can make a loaf of bread in an hour in an oven, that doesn’t mean ten bakers could make ten loaves in one hour in the same oven (Due to the oven capacity).

For analytical purposes, the time required to produce a deliverable is estimated using several techniques. One method is to identify tasks needed to produce the deliverables documented in a work breakdown structure or WBS. The work effort for each task is estimated and those estimates are rolled up into the final deliverable estimate.

The tasks are also prioritized, dependencies between tasks are identified, and this information is documented in a project schedule. The dependencies between the tasks can affect the length of the overall project (dependency constrained), as can the availability of resources (resource constrained). Time is different from all other resources and cost categories.

Using actual cost of previous, similar projects as the basis for estimating the cost of current project.

According to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) the Project Time Management processes include:

Due to the complex nature of the ‘Time’ process group the project management credential PMI Scheduling Professional (PMI-SP) was created.

To develop an approximation of a project cost depends on several variables including: resources, work packages such as labor rates and mitigating or controlling influencing factors that create cost variances. Tools used in cost are, risk management, cost contingency, cost escalation, and indirect costs . But beyond this basic accounting approach to fixed and variable costs, the economic cost that must be considered includes worker skill and productivity which is calculated using various project cost estimate tools. This is important when companies hire temporary or contract employees or outsource work.

Project management software can be used to calculate the cost variances for a project.

Requirements specified to achieve the end result. The overall definition of what the project is supposed to accomplish, and a specific description of what the end result should be or accomplish. A major component of scope is the quality of the final product. The amount of time put into individual tasks determines the overall quality of the project. Some tasks may require a given amount of time to complete adequately, but given more time could be completed exceptionally. Over the course of a large project, quality can have a significant impact on time and cost (or vice versa).

Together, these three constraints have given rise to the phrase “On Time, On Spec, On Budget.” In this case, the term “scope” is substituted with “spec(ification).”

Traditionally the Project Constraint Model recognised three key constraints; “Cost”, “Time” and “Scope”. These constraints construct a triangle with geometric proportions illustrating the strong interdependent relationship between these factors. If there is a requirement to shift any one of these factors then at least one of the other factors must also be manipulated.

With mainstream acceptance of the Triangle Model, “Cost” and “Time” appear to be represented consistently. “Scope” however is often used interchangeably given the context of the triangle’s illustration or the perception of the respective project. Scope / Goal / Product / Deliverable / Quality are all relatively similar and generic variation examples of this, while the above suggestion of ‘People Resources’ offers a more specialised interpretation.

This widespread use of variations implies a level of ambiguity carried by the nuance of the third constraint term and of course a level of value in the flexibility of the Triangle Model. This ambiguity allows blurred focus between a project’s output and project’s process, with the example terms above having potentially different impetus in the two contexts. Both “Cost” and “Time” / “Delivery” represent the top level project’s inputs.

The ‘Project Diamond’ model engenders this blurred focus through the inclusion of “Scope” and “Quality” separately as the ‘third’ constraint. While there is merit in the addition of “Quality” as a key constraining factor, acknowledging the increasing maturity of project management, this model still lacks clarity between output and process. The Diamond Model does not capture the analogy of the strong interrelation between points of the triangles however.

PMBOK 4.0 offered an evolved model based on the triple constraint with 6 factors to be monitored and managed. This is illustrated as a 6 pointed Star that maintains the strength of the triangle analogy (two overlaid triangles), while at the same time represents the separation and relationship between project inputs/outputs factors on one triangle and the project processes factors on the other. The star variables are:

When considering the ambiguity of the third constraint and the suggestions of the “Project Diamond”; it is possible to consider instead the Goal or Product of the project as the third constraint, being made up of the sub factors “Scope” and “Quality”. In terms of a project’s output both “Scope” and “Quality” can be adjusted resulting in an overall manipulation of the Goal/Product. This interpretation includes the four key factors in the original triangle inputs/outputs form. This can even be incorporated into the PMBOK Star illustrating that “Quality” in particular may be monitored separately in terms of project outputs and process. Further to this suggestion, the use of term “Goal” may best represent change initiative outputs, while Product may best represent more tangible outputs.

Project Workforce Management (PWM)

Project workforce management is the practice of combining the coordination of all logistic elements of a project through a single software application (or workflow engine). This includes planning and tracking of schedules and mileposts, cost and revenue, resource allocation, as well as overall management of these project elements. Efficiency is improved by eliminating manual processes, like spreadsheet tracking to monitor project progress. It also allows for at-a-glance status updates and ideally integrates with existing legacy applications in order to unify ongoing projects, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and broader organizational goals. There are a lot of logistic elements in a project. Different team members are responsible for managing each element and often, the organisation may have a mechanism to manage some logistic areas as well.

By coordinating these various components of project management, workforce management and financials through a single solution, the process of configuring and changing project and workforce details is simplified.

A project workforce management system defines project tasks, project positions, and assigns personnel to the project positions. The project tasks and positions are correlated to assign a responsible project position or even multiple positions to complete each project task. Because each project position may be assigned to a specific person, the qualifications and availabilities of that person can be taken into account when determining the assignment. By associating project tasks and project positions, a manager can better control the assignment of the workforce and complete the project more efficiently.

When it comes to project workforce management, it is all about managing all the logistic aspects of a project or an organisation through a software application. Usually, this software has a workflow engine defined. Therefore, all the logistic processes take place in the workflow engine.

This invention relates to project management systems and methods, more particularly to a software-based system and method for project and workforce management.

Due to the software usage, all the project workflow management tasks can be fully automated without leaving many tasks for the project managers. This returns high efficiency to the project management when it comes to project tracking proposes. In addition to different tracking mechanisms, project workforce management software also offer a dashboard for the project team. Through the dashboard, the project team has a glance view of the overall progress of the project elements.

Most of the times, project workforce management software can work with the existing legacy software systems such as ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems. This easy integration allows the organisation to use a combination of software systems for management purposes.

Good project management is an important factor for the success of a project. A project may be thought of as a collection of activities and tasks designed to achieve a specific goal of the organisation, with specific performance or quality requirements while meeting any subject time and cost constraints. Project management refers to managing the activities that lead to the successful completion of a project. Furthermore, it focuses on finite deadlines and objectives. A number of tools may be used to assist with this as well as with assessment.

Project management may be used when planning personnel resources and capabilities. The project may be linked to the objects in a professional services life cycle and may accompany the objects from the opportunity over quotation, contract, time and expense recording, billing, period-end-activities to the final reporting. Naturally the project gets even more detailed when moving through this cycle.

For any given project, several project tasks should be defined. Project tasks describe the activities and phases that have to be performed in the project such as writing of layouts, customising, testing. What is needed is a system that allows project positions to be correlated with project tasks. Project positions describe project roles like project manager, consultant, tester, etc. Project-positions are typically arranged linearly within the project. By correlating project tasks with project positions, the qualifications and availability of personnel assigned to the project positions may be considered.

Good project management should:

When it comes to project workforce management, it is all about managing all the logistic aspects of a project or an organisation through a software application. Usually, this software has a workflow engine defined in them. So, all the logistic processes take place in the workflow engine.

The regular and most common types of tasks handled by project workforce management software or a similar workflow engine are:

Regularly monitoring your project’s schedule performance can provide early indications of possible activity-coordination problems, resource conflicts, and possible cost overruns. To monitor schedule performance. Collecting information and evaluating it ensure a project accuracy.

The project schedule outlines the intended result of the project and what’s required to bring it to completion. In the schedule, we need to include all the resources involved and cost and time constraints through a work breakdown structure (WBS). The WBS outlines all the tasks and breaks them down into specific deliverables.

The importance of tracking actual costs and resource usage in projects depends upon the project situation.

Tracking actual costs and resource usage is an essential aspect of the project control function.

Organisational profitability is directly connected to project management efficiency and optimal resource utilisation. To sum up, organisations that struggle with either or both of these core competencies typically experience cost overruns, schedule delays and unhappy customers.

The focus for project management is the analysis of project performance to determine whether a change is needed in the plan for the remaining project activities to achieve the project goals.

Risk identification consists of determining which risks are likely to affect the project and documenting the characteristics of each.

Project communication management is about how communication is carried out during the course of the project

It is of no use completing a project within the set time and budget if the final product is of poor quality. The project manager has to ensure that the final product meets the quality expectations of the stakeholders. This is done by good:

There are three main differences between Project Workforce Management and traditional project management and workforce management disciplines and solutions:

All project and workforce processes are designed, controlled and audited using a built-in graphical workflow engine. Users can design, control and audit the different processes involved in the project. The graphical workflow is quite attractive for the users of the system and allows the users to have a clear idea of the workflow engine.

Project Workforce Management provides organization and work breakdown structures to create, manage and report on functional and approval hierarchies, and to track information at any level of detail. Users can create, manage, edit and report work breakdown structures. Work breakdown structures have different abstraction levels, so the information can be tracked at any level. Usually, project workforce management has approval hierarchies. Each workflow created will go through several records before it becomes an organisational or project standard. This helps the organisation to reduce the inefficiencies of the process, as it is audited by many stakeholders.

Unlike traditional disconnected project, workforce and billing management systems that are solely focused on tracking IT projects, internal workforce costs or billable projects, Project Workforce Management is designed to unify the coordination of all project and workforce processes, whether internal, shared (IT) or billable.

A project workforce management system defines project tasks, project positions and assigns personnel to the project positions. The project tasks and project positions are correlated to assign a responsible project position or positions to complete each project task. Because each project position may be assigned to a specific person, the qualification and availabilities of the person can be taken into account when determining the assignment. By correlating the project tasks and project positions, a manager can better control the assignment of the workforce and complete projects more efficiently.

Project workflow management is one of the best methods for managing different aspects of project. If the project is complex, then the outcomes for the project workforce management could be more effective.

For simple projects or small organisations, project workflow management may not add much value, but for more complex projects and big organisations, managing project workflow will make a big difference. This is because that small organisations or projects do not have a significant overhead when it comes to managing processes. There are many project workforce management, but many organisations prefer to adopt unique solutions.

Therefore, organisation gets software development companies to develop custom project workflow managing systems for them. This has proved to be the most suitable way of getting the best project workforce management system acquired for the company.

Open-Design Movement (ODM)

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Image by/from The original uploader was CharlesC at English Wikipedia.

The open-design movement involves the development of physical products, machines and systems through use of publicly shared design information. This includes the making of both free and open-source software (FOSS) as well as open-source hardware. The process is generally facilitated by the Internet and often performed without monetary compensation. The goals and philosophy of the movement are identical to that of the open-source movement, but are implemented for the development of physical products rather than software. Open design is a form of co-creation, where the final product is designed by the users, rather than an external stakeholder such as a private company.

Sharing of manufacturing information can be traced back to the 18th and 19th century. Aggressive patenting put an end to that period of extensive knowledge sharing.
More recently, principles of open design have been related to the free and open-source software movements. In 1997 Eric S. Raymond, Tim O’Reilly and Larry Augustin established “open source” as an alternative expression to “free software,” and in 1997 Bruce Perens published the Open Source Definition. In late 1998, Dr. Sepehr Kiani (a PhD in mechanical engineering from MIT) realized that designers could benefit from open source policies, and in early 1999 he convinced Dr. Ryan Vallance and Dr. Samir Nayfeh of the potential benefits of open design in machine design applications. Together they established the Open Design Foundation (ODF) as a non-profit corporation, and set out to develop an Open Design Definition.

The idea of open design was taken up, either simultaneously or subsequently, by several other groups and individuals. The principles of open design are closely similar to those of open-source hardware design, which emerged in March 1998 when Reinoud Lamberts of the Delft University of Technology proposed on his “Open Design Circuits” website the creation of a hardware design community in the spirit of free software.

Ronen Kadushin coined the title “Open Design” in his 2004 Master’s thesis, and the term was later formalized in the 2010 Open Design Manifesto.

The open-design movement currently unites two trends. On one hand, people apply their skills and time on projects for the common good, perhaps where funding or commercial interest is lacking, for developing countries or to help spread ecological or cheaper technologies. On the other hand, open design may provide a framework for developing advanced projects and technologies that might be beyond the resource of any single company or country and involve people who, without the copyleft mechanism, might not collaborate otherwise. There is now also a third trend, where these two methods come together to use high-tech open-source (e.g. 3D printing) but customized local solutions for sustainable development. Open Design holds great potential in driving future innovation as recent research has proven that stakeholder users working together produce more innovative designs than designers consulting users through more traditional means.

The open-design movement is currently fairly nascent but holds great potential for the future. In some respects design and engineering are even more suited to open collaborative development than the increasingly common open-source software projects, because with 3D models and photographs the concept can often be understood visually. It is not even necessary that the project members speak the same languages to usefully collaborate.

However, there are certain barriers to overcome for open design when compared to software development where there are mature and widely used tools available and the duplication and distribution of code cost next to nothing. Creating, testing and modifying physical designs is not quite so straightforward because of the effort, time and cost required to create the physical artefact; although with access to emerging flexible computer-controlled manufacturing techniques the complexity and effort of construction can be significantly reduced (see tools mentioned in the fab lab article).

Open design is currently a fledgling movement consisting of several unrelated or loosely related initiatives. Many of these organizations are single, funded projects, while a few organizations are focusing on an area needing development. In some cases (e.g. Thingiverse for 3D printable designs or Appropedia for open source appropriate technology) organizations are making an effort to create a centralized open source design repository as this enables innovation. Notable organizations include: