Project ManagementProject Management Office

6 Ways PMOs Can Balance Time, Cost, and Quality

Sixty-one percent of firms struggle to bridge strategy with actual implementation, and the triple constraint of cost, quality, and time lies at the heart of executive and PMO frustration. Each time one variable shifts, it changes the nature of the other two constraints, making for a hard balancing act. Moira Alexander asks six questions at whose answers can ease this common PMO pain point:

  1. Is the project aligned?
  2. Is the scope manageable?
  3. Are the stakeholders involved?
  4. Are deliverables and objectives defined clearly?
  5. Are resources used effectively?
  6. Is the project being monitored with care?

Finding Answers

The first question is very straightforward, yet only 56% of projects meet their strategic objectives on average. Therefore, maybe it’s the kind of question your PMO should be asking. And notice the qualifier “strategic” is used here. There are plenty of great ideas and well-executed projects all across the IT world, but how many of them give the business what it wants?

Poorly aligned projects tend to have poorly defined scope. Each constraint, whether cost, time, or quality, must be defined in the clearest of terms that make sense to the organization. Stakeholders must be brought successfully into the fold. Their contributed time will ultimately contribute to lower costs (factor in risk and errors that go unnoticed without their presence) and higher-quality outcomes.

Defining objectives across departments, teams, and functional levels can cause communication chaos. By creating an enterprise project management office, the chance of encountering projects that lack key requirements, are absent on deliverables, or that flail in the absence of guidance on the triple constraint decreases.

Then there are times when missing resources become the de facto constraint. That is, without appropriate resource scheduling (meetings and holidays interfering with deadlines and work activities) the factors of quality and time are, in a sense, nullified. And at the juncture of the previous five questions lies the role of the project manager, which is to coordinate and oversee entire processes with the triple constraint in mind. A project process is, like a finely tuned instrument, prone to playing out of key at the slightest disturbance, and the PM’s role is much like that of a piano tuner.

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