The Real Project Management Triangle

As a project manager you’ve heard and seen this diagram too often in your career.  It’s often said that project managers are responsible for delivering on scope, budget and schedule.  In turn they are asked to ‘manage’ this.

But how does one do this?  Answer: you don’t.

Scope, schedule, and budget are not managed.  They are tracked to ascertain proximity to targeted objectives.  What’s managed are the things that affect scope, schedule and budget.  What are those?

1. Risks – Or the things that could go wrong or right.  Threats and opportunities.  A project manager that manages these well avoids trouble before it happens.

2. Issues – No one can see everything.  In time issues will come up, and part of how well a project is managed is how quickly and completely issues can be addressed.

3. Expectations – grounding stakeholders in reality and guiding them to a course that makes business sense rounds off the rough edges of a project.  It keeps everyone in alignment and makes issue resolution and risk mitigation easier.

So, while the PM is accountable for budget, scope and schedule; he/she makes a mistake by trying to ‘manage’ these.  Seeking out the  handles behind these indicators and using them to affect the outcome is what good project delivery is rooted upon.