Organizations and firms try to perform their activities in a cost-effective manner and with less time and workforce involved. Project management is the discipline which helps companies to align their current objectives with their long-term strategic goals. Rita Mulcahy (2005) believed that project management is “both art and science”. The project manager professional would agree that the efficiency of the project depends on how one operates scope, cost, and time – all together known as “triple constraints”. These core aspects are carefully defined and monitored during the whole project life cycle. The paper aim is to define each of them and understand how they are interconnected.
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The first constraint to manage is project scope. According to PMBoK (p.103), Project Scope Managements involves all the activities necessary to make sure that the project includes only the work needed to run and finalize it successfully. Paul Sanghera (2010, p.98) defines project scope as “work that must be performed to deliver the required products, services, or results with the specified functions and features”. The input for scope planning is “the project and product requirements” (Sanghera 2010). Scope managing process is covered during two process groups, which are planning and monitoring and controlling process groups (Mulcahy 2011). During Planning Process Group, the requirements of stakeholders are collected and scope is defined; while monitoring and controlling the projects, Work Breakdown Structure, or WBS, is created, the scope is verified and controlled.
The first one is a “process of defining and documenting stakeholders’ needs to meet the project objectives” (A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK Guide) p.105). In addition, Sanghera (2010, p.102) emphasizes that requirements may be sourced from multiple stakeholders and defined both by standards of the particular industry and stakeholders involved in the project. The author states that after defining project and product requirements, one needs to develop a plan to manage those requirements. This will help clarify what actually is expected to be done (Sanghera 2010, p.100). When the process of collecting requirements is completed, one will have stakeholder requirements document and the requirements management plan (Sanghera 2010). These are so called outputs of the collecting requirements activities.
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Next step to manage project scope is to define it. Project manager and the team need to make sure they are aware of the goals they need to accomplish for a project to be considered successful. This is how project scope statement is created (Phillips 2007). After planning process is over, the project execution kicks off, followed by the phase of reviews or Monitoring and Control Process. In this part of the project, there are three types of activities with regard to project scope. The first one is Work Breakdown Structure creation. Joseph Philips (2007, p.144) says that WBS is “all about deliverables”. He states that WBS divides the project deliverables into smaller parts so that they would be easy to manage and tracking (Philips 2007). This kind of exercise is a guarantee that all the manageable items of the endeavour will be in the right place, and nothing will be missed out or ignored. Even a small deviation from the initial project plan might affect stakeholder’s interests and have a direct impact on the project pace.
The further step in managing the scope of the project is to verify and control the deliverables. Joseph Philips (2007, p.148) sees the project scope control as protection of the project scope from change and as recording changes when they happen to prevent the slippage of the project deliverables. Another action to take on scope management is to verify it. Rita Mulcahy argues that “Verify Scope” if referred to regular meetings with clients or project sponsor to acquire a formal acceptance of deliverables of the project or some its phase (Mulcahy 2011, p.163). Having in mind all the five activities, a project manager will always have an assurance of the right project flow.
The second constraint to take care of in project management is time. Most of the activities to be performed in this section fall into the Planning Process Group, and the last one – Control Schedule – to the Monitoring and Control Process Group. According to Joseph Philips (2007, p.161), project time management includes and is limited by defined and approved project activities, estimated resources and time needed to perform the activities, as well as developed project schedule and its afterwards control. When these goals are achieved, project manager and project team will have at hand the activity list, various schedule network diagrams, activity resources, and duration estimates along with the project schedule accompanied by the defined set of KPIs (Sanghera 2007, p.132). Careful planning and estimate are the guarantee of a smooth project execution and timely delivery of the project results.
Finally, the cost is the third measurement to be aware of when working on projects. As per PMBoK, the process includes cost estimates, budget definition, and control (p.165). Basically, this set of activities needed to determine “monetary resources” is required for the project to be accomplished. Cost management process includes payments to human recourses engaged in the project or its phase, as well as “purchases and acquisitions” required for work to be done (Sanghera 2007). Like in time management, only the last activity belongs to Monitoring and Controlling Process Group. The two preceding operations are done when planning the project.
To sum it up, a project manager has to bear in mind all the three parameters when it comes to planning and performing the actual work on the project he is in charge of. As general practice and project management guides suggest, one of the constraint should be considered in a “bigger picture” only since a change in one constraint area will cause the deviation in the rest of the constraints. An experienced and skilled project manager allots enough time to project planning where he actually builds his whole vision based on the three key elements – cost, time and scope.
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