The role of the Project Manager is very simple: to attain the project objectives. If these objectives are framed coherently, this always means: to deliver the right product at:
- the right quality
- in the project time scale
- at the right price.
i.e. Time, Quality and Cost are the only three variables that matter in Project Management. Everything else can be summed up within these three words. Inevitably there is a tension between them: the time scale can be reduced, but only by providing additional funding (prejudicing cost) or by delivering less (prejudicing quality) – or both, as below. Conversely, quality can only be increased by increasing cost or increasing time scale (again usually both).
Figure 8.1 .The tension between time, quality and cost is illustrated in the first diagram. As more of any one element is demanded, lines to the other two become longer (stretched). Thus in the second diagram a decision has been taken to reduce the timescale, shortening the time ‘thread’. This results in increased pressure on budget or quality, as their threads are lengthened. The project manager must maintain the appropriate balance between these three elements.
In environments where change is rapid (e.g. software, computer technologies) it is very common for events subsequent to the agreement of the objectives to necessitate a reappraisal of the time/cost/quality triangle during development. Sometimes this occurs many times, ‘on the hoof’, as the project develops.