The Holy Grail of Project Management

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The Holy Trinity Of Project Management

Paul Waggoner, MBA, PMP, MCSE, CHP, CHSS Waukee, Iowa, USA

The software project manager usually defines the role of each team member at the beginning of a new project, including why each team member’s skills are vital and the general responsibilities each person should anticipate. However, these documents seldom include an explanation of the software project manager’s role during the project lifecycle.

The challenge for the project manager (PM), especially when working with a new team, is to convey the essence of project management in a 30 minute overview, without overwhelming the team with methodology details.

With a busy organization and team members whose first priority is taking care of their primary work assignment, your challenge as PM is to convey, as concisely as possible, one primary point team members will take away from your meeting. The “Holy Trinity”, also know as the triple constraint.

To introduce this core concept, prepare a slide or other visual depicting the triple constraint. This is a triangular figure with the three points of the equilateral object labeled, Time, Cost, and Scope. Together, they outline a space in their center which is the project Quality. This geometric representation of the project work illustrates that increasing the length of any one of the three sides forces a corresponding change in at least one of the other sides of the triangle. Thus, change also affects the project quality.

Point out that this fixed relationship between the three constraints explains why defining scope becomes a critical first step, and a primary limitation. While you may have your own key points depending on the project management maturity of your organization, the type of project you are helming, the maturity of the project management effort, and past experiences with your customers, be sure to cover these.

• The importance of each team member’s individual participation on the project and that it includes assisting with the development of the project plan.

• Project risks, what they are, how to identify them, and how to create and monitor plans to avoid, mitigate, or respond to them.

• Tasks needing further breakdown to define the work to be completed by each member of the team.

• Task assignments, scheduled completion dates, interdependencies of the tasks for the entire team, and project manager’s role in following up to ensure timely completion of the assignments.

• Possible task completion delays, impediments to completing tasks in a timely manner, and the PM’s role to assist with removing roadblocks. • Communications plans, team member communication responsibilities, and the PM’s role as focal point in coordinating plan details.

• Project status meeting responsibilities and schedules.

• Outline of next steps you plan to perform as PM as the project plan unfolds.

Unless your organization is a “mature” project oriented business, adding an overview of the basic PM concepts at the beginning of all projects is critical to assist team members in understanding the full extent of their responsibilities and the details of their support structure. This includes laying out your role as their software project manager.

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