In our second edition of “How to..” we are going to explore how to deliver a project on time, scope and budget.
To deliver any project with quality you need to consider the equilateral triangle theory. Basically every project has 3 inter-related variables. If you move one then the project will fail, the trick is to ensure that your project triangle stays balanced. These variables include:
The model creates a simple way to look at a project to ensure you always deliver premium work without sacrificing quality. Let me show you how. Let’s create a hypothetical project. Within the project we know the scope, the budget and timeline for delivery, quality is a given.
Lets say the client calls and asks to add to the scope but wants to keep the time for delivery and budget the same. The impact is that scope is now pushed out, so your triangle will look something like:
The aim is to always to keep your project triangle in harmony. To make sure a quality project is delivered on time, scope and budget – you need to move either the budget, the time or both.
The power of using the project triangle is that it gives you a simple method of assessing any project at any time and understanding what the relationships are and what needs to be modified to put a project back on track.
A critical factor with any project, outside the triangle, is the relationship with your clients. Project management is less about the project and more about the relationship. The Project Manager (or as we call them, Client Partners) are the guardians. They are the liaison between the resources and the client. It’s a tough role and one that needs to be managed with skill and sensitivity.
It’s critical for a Project Manager to have a strong relationship with their client. From the start of the project, it is essential to build mutually respectful lines of communication and emotional equity.
What is emotional equity? Simply put, it is the level of ‘give’ in a project that demonstrates how we (the agency and the Project Manager) are investing in the relationship. As explained in our book ‘GRiP’, Generosity and Responsiveness are key to building emotional equity. Project managers need to quickly understand what drives a client’s decision making – are they the kind of person who wants quality above all else or one who wants to exercise power and use a ‘just do as I say’ attitude. Knowing the drivers of a client (Responsiveness) means you can better understand how to be generous. Generosity is worthless if it’s not valued by a client.
From the start of the project and through to completion, Project Managers need to be generous to clients. They need to give in big and small ways e.g. not charging for changes, value adding wherever possible. By doing this, the Project Manager is investing in and building emotional equity with their client.
This is critical to the success of a project because the Project Manager may need to call on the accumulated good will. It could simply be to ask for more time. Whatever the reason, a key component to project success is the delicate emotional equity exchange that happens throughout the project.
Now let’s look at the buzzwords in project management methodology. Recently trending words like ‘agile’ or ‘waterfall’ have featured in many projects during my career and I have come to learn that these mean next to nothing. They are tools in a toolbox. The most powerful project management skills are intuition, logic, organisation and the ability to use these tools as and when needed. A great Project Manager is one that can fit project management methodology to a specific company, a project and team. These methodologies are not ‘one size fits all’. You have to have the right conditions to make them work. A really great Project Manager will know how to pull in the most relevant aspects of the methodology at different times.
So, to summarise:
To successfully deliver a project you need to:
• Make sure the elements of your project triangle are in complete harmony.
• Ensure you build a level of emotional equity quickly.
• Understand your client’s drivers (Responsiveness) and what types of Generosity they value. This will help you build emotional equity.
• All projects are built on a constant exchange of emotional equity. You have to give before you have permission to take.
• Don’t get lost in methodology. Use the most appropriate tools as and when needed. Agile and Waterfall methodology have pros and cons. The trick is not to use them, but to know how to adapt them to different project, client and resource needs.
We hope this helps you when you’re delivering and building brilliant working relationships between yourself, your clients and your project team.