Winning in Project Management

In my course and readings about successful project managers I have found that successful projects and project managers share some commonalities that lead to their accomplishments.

First of all, I would like to start about what leaders in project management thought defined project management, I will start with a very influential project management school of thinking “IBM”.  IBM defines project management as managing the interrelationship between 3 vital factors in each project and the importance to achieve the ideal balance between all 3 critical factors which are Project Scope, Budget and Time which is commonly referred to by project management professionals PMP’s as the project triangle.


 Now, considering the above factors it’s not easy to be able to manage those 3 angels in projects hence, they involve numerous subdivisions to keep track. I will mention those below with the top points that I found best project managers stress on:

  • Planning: common mistakes that caused a lot of projects to fail is that they rushed to start working on the project and went to fast through the planning process. Always give planning the bigger chunk of your time.
  • Time estimation: most valuable take home lesson for me from this project management course and readings about the subject is that time is unforgiving. You can go overboard with the cost and still have a project but when the deadline is due and you have no complete project the cost overboard will be a breeze compare to not having delivered a project at all.
  • Communication: a very vital skill to have as project managers hence, ideas and dreams “final project” in your mind are defiantly not similar across your team members. Try to be very clear!
  • Coordination:  define requirements to each individual and be very clear on delegating responsibilities. Successful project managers have an eye for identifying talents and skills in their team members
  • Tracking: this point I found that there was a lot of stress on by my studies in class and readings. The importance to keep check points alongside the project “success points” is crucial for success of the project!! Assessing each stage and the timeline within a project is one of the most important duties of the project manager.
  • Risk assessment & mitigations: even with the an excellent plan things can go wrong, predicting problems and obstacles is indispensable skill for PM’s while identifying risks is on one side, on the other side providing solutions to those problems forecasted is of the same weight of importance. An important lesson here is to assign a devil’s advocate in your team J
  • Reporting:  understand who your customer is! All projects have an owner or a requester, as a project manager you will have to establish a reporting line between the project developments and your customer. An important lesson here is to establish a good relationship with your customer, after all they are the ones paying your bills 😉

Questions that inspire the thought:

  • Is there an optimal mix in the project triangle? How could we measure it?
  • Which is most important from the three project angles?

References and sources:

7 thoughts on “Winning in Project Management

  1. The steps highlighted by Badran are completely correct. In order for us to manage the “3 Angels” as it were, we need to make sure that we have the necessary understanding on what needs to be done. Once we have that then the planning phase needs to be well thought out. There can never a complete win-win situation. There are always compromises. Where those compromises are is what needs to be addressed. The three angels being time, cost, and quality. We automatically know that quality costs money which in turn takes time. Balancing these three is an art, one that needs to be mastered. In a perfect world we would not have any compromises but we live in a world that isn’t perfect. Thus striving for a balance is what matters the most and finding out the best combination of the three is where a project manager should always strive to meet. Get the best quality from the time he has and the budget allowed. Meeting these three things in no particular order a project manager should accomplish what he/she was set out to do.

  2. This actually made me think deeply about the optimal mix of the project triangle, I believe that there is not universal rule for an optimal mix of the project triangle, there is a saying that my professor used to say, it is “It Depends!”, yes the optimal mix of the project triangle depends on the situation. For example: when a project have a strict due date and an open budget, then you can go lose on the budget and try to emphasis more on time as an optimal mix.

    I also agree with all the tips you gave us, especially the one regarding planning, it happened to us at our field project, once the project reached its final stages, we all wished that we can go back in time and plan the project more and wished that we made our plan a more detailed plan.

  3. I would definitely agree that this is a good “start” to winning in project management. The 3 critical factors are good to think about briefly but are really too broad as it needs to be broken up into numerous subdivisions. Another way to think of your subdivisions could be Scope Management, Requirements Management, Schedule/Resource Management, Financial Management, Quality Management, Communications Management, and Risk Management. You could even break up the project into different phases such as Proposal, Setup, Execution, and Closure. The point is that there are many ways to look at project management all depending on the project itself. As the poster above stated, the optimal mix of the critical factors and most important factors really depend on the project itself. The optimal mix of your critical factors should really be laid out well in your planning phase of the management process. Here you will also find out which stages, processes, and factors will be most important to the inherent success of the project. This is why I believe project planning is so important, but is still often disregarded during the management process.

  4. I love all of these listed top points! It is such a great reminder that all of these elements are truly important. All of these are so vital to project success!

    Tracking is probably the point here I struggle with the most but, in my experiences leading teams, I have found tracking to be so important! It really allows everyone to celebrate all the small successes as they go and keep up motivation. It also points out weakness and holes very quickly. Good tracking holds everyone accountable.

  5. I completely agree with what you wrote and I think that IBM’s scope is perfect. Time, cost, and quality are three essential functions of any project and for a project to be completed efficiently; managers need to optimize those three components. However, I feel as if communication should be a vital part and should be included in that triangle and make it a square perhaps. I have been part of school projects and in retrospect those are very small projects compared to these large projects that companies and firms start. Even working in a small group project I have realized how important communication is in any project. Everything else can be running smoothly, but once there is a lack in communication many problems arise. There is interruption in different areas of the projects and they are not getting handled well because of a lack in communication.

  6. In regards to which is the most important of the project angles, I would like to echo some of the comments above saying that it depends. Some projects need to put emphasis on quality, therefore allow for some leeway with time and budget to ensure that the quality is on point and even beyond. However, other projects have strict deadlines and therefore need to sacrifice parts of budget and perhaps quality. I agree that communication is absolutely vital, and if not done correctly, it has the potential to wreck a project from any of the project triangle angles. If there is no communication about the quality of the project, it could need to be redone and will mess up the budget and time, or if the project is running behind and it is not communicated to the project manager, then cost and quality could suffer. Communication is the element that ties everything together, but is often overlooked.

  7. I don’t think that there is any universal mix to the 3 vital factors. For any given project, the mix can change drastically depending on what the desired outcome is. As for what is the most important, I don’t really think there is an answer for that either. I could make an argument for quality being the most important, but I’m sure there are just as strong of arguments for the other 2. Again, I think it all depends on the project.

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