ARE THERE 3 OR 4 LEVERS?

In Sept 2010 in a good Tech Republic blog, Patrick Gray wrote “Most of us have seen the famous “three levers” diagram of project management. The story goes that one can move any two of the levers (scope, timeline, or cost) and the other will move independently of the others. For example you could increase the scope of a project and decrease the timeline, but your costs will rapidly spiral up. Or if you cut costs and keep your scope constant, the timeline will increase. The three levers are a nice conceptual tool, but they imply CIOs have more control over their projects than usually happens in practice. For most CIOs, scope is the only factor within their control once a project starts, and the one that should be most jealously guarded.
While cost management, rigorous tracking of deliverables and documentation, and tight resource management are all admirable, many projects take a dangerously cavalier attitude towards scope. I have seen businesses that require signed authorization and an escort to the locked supply closet for a fresh pen, yet allow a junior person from an implementation firm to commit the project to several weeks of additional work (and tens of thousands of dollars) without batting an eye. ….”

I thought the newer thinking was that there was a rectangle with four elements, time, cost, scope and quality. Moving any one of them will affect at least one other and may affect all three others. I would make two points for PRINCE2. If you are using PRINCE2 correctly, there is no way in which ‘a junior person’ can commit the project to any extra work. All changes must go through the change procedure, and the impact analysis will show to the Change Authority what the effect would be on cost, time, scope quality, benefits and tolerances – all this before a decision is made. If the junior tries to carry out the extra work without telling anyone, this would soon be clear by the Team Manager reviewing the time and cost used.

Another corner of the rectangle is quality. I’m sure most of us know that the first thing that workers turn to when time gets short is cutting the amount of time spent on quality checking. PRINCE2 builds quality and its checking into a project from day one, and the Quality Register will soon identify any effort to slip an untested product under the wire. Go with PRINCE2. You know it makes sense!

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