Friday 16 October 2015

The Project Dilemma Triangle

It is as constant as life itself
I have written about this many times before, my battles with Project Managers who do anything but manage the project.
During my postgraduate course, I took the Project Management module and we were tested not by the methodology, but by the problems with personnel in the sub-group that we were in.
Each person had a deliverable within the project assignment and some received wisdom suggested that we put a time frame on when that task had to be completed after which the task was taken away from the allottee if not completed and given to someone else to complete.
A reality project course
In our team of five, one just did not pull his weight and when we took over his task and completed it, he threatened to report us for ostracism and discrimination. I withstood him at all points of this attempt to blackmail us pointing out his responsibility and apparent lack of consideration for others even if he just wanted to get by rather than excel as the rest of us did.
Meanwhile, our lecturer was watching our exchanges and in the end commended me for handling such a difficult situation calmly, respectfully and decisively. We did not make a distinction for that module, but the biggest lesson I took away from that experience was that I did not want to be a project manager.
A common-sense experience
27 years in the Information Technology profession has taught me a few home truths and it is best illustrated in what I now call The Project Dilemma Triangle.

The angles of the triangle labelled are labelled Good, Fast and Cheap, and from that I have developed a number of truisms. A very commonsensical view of projects without the attendant jargon or obfuscation with meaningless terminology.
Much as I strive to do the very best job I can, I am constrained by time, by cost, sometimes by knowledge I still have acquire and mostly by project managers with unrealistic expectations. The project managers I have worked best with are those who have taken the time to come to understand what I am doing, what I am thinking and what it takes to create a deliverable that works at implementation the very first time.
I battle daily
However, because the time and the cost is usually determined long before understanding what the work entails, the technical resource is in a bind. We are compelled to work within the constraints of the Fast and Cheap to achieve the Project Manager’s goal of the Fast and Good with everyone pretending that the Fast and Cheap will be Good and Fast. It is never the case.
Where Fast is delivering on time and Cheap is doing it on a shoestring with Good being the minimum we can get away with that appears to work, we find that we do never really get it right the first time even if the Project Manager ticks it off as delivered and the technical resource is still left with that ‘delivered’ project, firefighting issues and problems that should never have been there is the time and scope was there to get it right from the get-go.
That sums up my daily work life and the battles I am constantly fighting with Project Managers in The Project Dilemma Triangle.

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