Balancing the Trade-Off among Cost, Schedule, and Quality


As I prepared to write this chapter I received an e-mail that ended this way:

I have recently changed job focus. I work part-time from home while caring for my six-week-old girl. Parenthood has consumed more of my personal resources than I budgeted. Consequently, I am behind schedule on this project.

This new father is not only learning about the demands of parenthood, he has aptly summed up a dilemma of life: limited resources. Whatever we do, we are faced with limited time, limited money, and a shortage of the people, equipment, and materials we need to complete our job. This problem of limited resources goes beyond issues of efficiency or productivity. No matter how efficient they may be, new fathers and project managers alike must realize their limits and make choices.

But doesn’t good project management mean we get more done, in less time, for less money? This is a valid question. Good project management does deliver more for less (particularly when compared to bad project management). But there are still limits. The best predictor of project success remains realistic stakeholder expectations. The project manager needs to rein in any unreasonable demands by the customer, as well as any unreasonable hopes of the project team. If these hopes and demands are allowed to drive a project, the result will almost certainly be cost and schedule overruns—and painful disappointment later in the project. ...

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