Chris Croft
Tips of the Month – Archive

Project Management Tip 7


Blow your own trumpet

Be assertive at the start

What is a Gantt Chart?

Avoiding people problems

Listing all the tasks

Internal projects

How to discover the key project driver

Three methods of project costing

Why I love Gantt charts

Three ways to handle uncertainty

Overspend or underspend?

Why PM is difficult

My instant guide

Why review?

Some eccentric PM abbreviations

What exactly is a PID?

It’s never too late to plan

Why PM is good

Good questions to ask a project manager

Key project drivers

Before you start the project, find out what the key driver is.
There will be one thing that the customer wants above all others. If you ask, they'll say they want all three - good quality, on time, to budget. This is true. But there will be one that they want more than the other two.
 Discover it by asking the three questions:  

Why do you want it by that date why that budget / why that specification?

What would happen if it went late / over-budget / below specification?

Offer to trade - for example "if we could have a bit longer we could do a better quality job".

If they say forget it, you know that time is more important to them than quality; if they say "better quality in what way exactly" you know that time is negotiable. 
Why do we need to know it? Because we can then put more contingency in for this (e.g. millennium dome, time was the key driver, so make sure there's plenty of contingency on the time) And also if something goes wrong (always happens) you can make sure the time is OK by putting more people on it (= more money) or reducing the quality. If quality is the key driver (e.g. building nuclear power station) you don't reduce the quality, but instead you spend more money or just let the time slip. etc Find out the key driver at the start, and you'll be able to make the right decisions

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