Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Academics Meet Real Life

One of the courses I occasionally teach deals with Project Management. I used to run software development projects, along with business process re-engineering and new product implementation projects, for one of the (at the time) largest banks in the world. I've also done a little academic research concerning project management, so I like to think I'm qualified in this topic.

In my Project Management class I emphasize what's often referred to as the Iron Triangle of Project Management. At the risk of over-simplifying, the underlying premise is that every project contains three basic variables: time, quality, and cost. The idea is that you can maximize any two of those three variables, but no matter how hard you try, you can't maximize all three at the same time. The figure below illustrates that

I really like that figure, because it captures in a nutshell several complex concepts. Plus it can be applied to many other contexts. For example, the next figure illustrates what every parent eventually figures out.

If your life is anything like mine, it's actually more a matter of "Pick One."

Oh well, at least it keeps things from getting boring...


Old NFO said...

Actually you CAN overcome the itron triangle in the military... :-) My group's motto was Cheaper, better, faster and we routinely kicked procurement's ass on getting new tech into the airplanes!

CenTexTim said...

No doubt that one project team can outperform another. But I still maintain that for a single individual project the relationship among the variables holds. For example, if the implementation time is decreased, either the quality will also decrease or the cost will increase.

Toejam said...

Roger that, CTT,

The rule of inverse proportion I heard seems to fit here:

Individual intellegence vs. over-staffed, government entity:

People tend to get dumber as they get into bigger groups.

Old NFO said...

Oh no question Tim, but we had one hellva group! :-)