We get it. Time is something you wish you had more of (don’t we all!).
Maybe if you had more time – getting a new degree, diploma or certification would be more than viable…
But reality sets in, and there’s simply not enough time in the day to meet all of our deadlines, achieve all of our work goals, let alone, deal with the personal stuff before and after work.
BUT… At the same time, the demand you may have to deliver a successful project, on time and budget has you a little wary or concerned.
What was once acceptable to “knife and fork” our way through, just doesn’t fly anymore.
You need something better than uninformed project management…
The good news is, we’re here to help.
Here’s something that we’ve put together to help you maximise the results of your next project without any training at all…
Just a 5 minute read…
Now, full disclosure – we’re not suggesting that learning shortcuts (when it comes to project management) are often the go.
However, we do think that in this instance, we can teach you about four key concepts that when applied properly, will have you off to an amazing start when managing your next project.
So if nothing else, remember these 4 concepts. Keep them in your back pocket and you’ll be a weapon. 👊
Here they are…
1. The Iron Triangle
First up, the Iron Triangle concept.
This is about the interconnectedness between the time, cost, quality and scope of your project.
Essentially, change any of these areas within your project, and it will impact the others.
The picture below represents the holy grail in terms of a balance between these areas.
This is the Iron Triangle. 💪
If you build a project that reflects what’s above, you’ve nailed it!
However, unfortunately, 9 times out of 10, it’s not the case.
Most of us will change one side of the triangle (voluntarily or otherwise), which will inevitably impact one, or two of the other sides.
For example, if your project has a very little budget (cost), yet seeks to achieve what would realistically require twice as much money, it’s going to take a long time to get the results that the bigger budget (and therefore resources) would achieve.
Or on the other hand, if you’re managing a project that has to be delivered quickly, this will no doubt impact the cost. This is because you’ll need more hands on deck to get it done. Most likely, it will also impact the quality too.
Our advice…Compromise, or if possible, do less
As the famous innovator, Red Adair’s saying goes, “you can have it cheap, quick or good. Pick any two.”
This is generally true. And whilst you’ll almost always have to compromise on either time, cost, quality or scope, there is one main workaround we can suggest to keep your project as balanced across these areas, as possible…
If it’s possible, try to reduce the scope of your project.
Take away the ‘nice to haves’ and stick with the ‘must haves.’
To do this, you might want to split the project in two, for example, or reduce the number of product units. Or, maybe it’s the number of people your service is trying to reach.
But don’t push the team!
Although we see this all the time, what we definitely do not recommend, is for you to push your team to work more hours to get the project delivered.
Project managers often do this with the aim of saving money (because employees’ salaries are fixed).
However, this approach is only going to lead to overworked and sick staff, and potentially even turnover.
This will cost you way more in the long run.
So when you’re planning your project, try to keep your triangle balanced as possible. Be as realistic as you can with the resources you’ve got.
We suggest you even physically play with the triangle idea. Draw it. Scribble on it! It will help you visualise what’s realistic to achieve.
2. The cost of change increases
This is all about the idea that as your project progresses, so too does the cost of pivots and variations.
Making changes to your scope or deliverables in the early stages of your project is fairly manageable and doesn’t cost a whole lot.
This is because as you’re still in the planning stages, you have greater flexibility.
However, once your project reaches a ‘tipping point’ (at the latter stages of your project. Let’s say 3 to 4 quarters of the way through), it would be more cost effective to stop the project altogether, than to significantly change it.
This was, in fact, the justification for the rise of Agile project management.
Our advice….Think, hard!
Really consider all angles and components to your project carefully in the early stages.
Take the time needed to define your scope and user requirements as much as possible up front to avoid costly surprises towards the end.
This will make a huge difference.
3. The Goldilocks Principle
Your level of project management (as in the verb) has to be just right 👌
This next concept refers to the idea that too little project management, i.e. ad hoc, and without systems and processes, will mean little to no clarity or control.
And lack of control, by failing to use applied processes and methodologies, is a leading cause of project failure.
This is because this lack of control leads to unpredictability, which leads to surprises, which cost money and time to fix, and can be fatal to your project.
On the other hand, too much project management is also counterproductive.
Getting caught up in unnecessary paperwork means that you’re not spending enough time delivering.
Think of it like the good old return on investment theory…
Constantly doing paperwork; updating documents etc is not going to give you any, or much of a high-value return in your project outcomes.
It’s not getting you closer to producing the product or rolling out the service. It’s simply taking up delivery time.
Our advice…Don’t guess. Use proven methods
What you’ll need, is a set of reliable processes to use throughout your project – from initiation and planning to delivery and reflection.
To help with your project planning, you can download and use this free project plan template.
As a side note, you may also want to consider creating a scalable methodology for your organisation, that will guide you on how much resources you should invest in your planning and documentation, according to the size of your projects. And this would vary per project.
Keep in mind, these pieces of work aren’t an easy feat! You’ll probably need some guidance or consultation if you choose to do this.
4. The importance of planning
Finally, the importance of planning.
Put simply; the right amount of time, effort and money invested into planning up front will save you loads of time, effort and money down the track.
If you invest in planning adequately upfront, you‘ll have fewer dramas, because you’ll have done your due diligence in terms of risk management.
So if and when issues occur, you will have a clear process to manage them. A plan of attack, as opposed to panic.
You’ll also have fewer change requests from your client because you’ll have done a robust job at scope definition, negotiation and stakeholder management in the planning phase.
Everyone will be on the same page.
Our advice…You must do the work upfront
We can’t stress this enough!
It seems painful, we know! And with often overly-eager management, who decide they want “this project delivered, right now”, it can be easy to rush over the planning work.
But please! Hear this. This will bite you in the bottom. EVERY. TIME.
As a famous CEO once said, “we never have time to plan but always seem to have time to do the project twice.” 😂
So, at the very least, use a project planning template to create a simple project plan and follow it through.
Furthermore, there’s always (if budget permits) the option to get in touch with industry experts (like us) if you need further consult to guide you through your project processes.
There is loads of stuff to learn when it comes to correct project management (which is why it’s a rapidly growing industry of its own).
And whilst there’s a lot more we can teach you to help you deliver wildly successful projects, if you implement the four concepts outlined above, you will be on your way (without formal training) to delivering a way more considered project than without.
Now, if you want a deeper dive into project management, check out Ecademy, our project management content hub, designed for professionals like you, who are on the go.
It contains over 12 hours of 5-10 minute project management visual and audio presentations, which offer clear and practical explanations of industry-standard project management concepts, processes, tools and techniques.
All of the content on Ecademy is aligned with the national (AIPM) and international (PMI / PMBoK Guide and IPMA ICB4) standard.
So your knowledge gained on it will be legitimate and will be genuinely recognised by employers and recruiters.
Should you be interested, Ecademy also offers a pathway for you to become fully qualified as a project manager by achieving the nationally recognised BSB51415 Diploma of Project Management. This is all with the support of a personal online assessor and can be completed 100% online.
Got any questions or feedback? Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org