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Weekly Question: Week 10

Leave your response as a comment on this post by the beginning of class next week as well as your comments on your peer’s responsesRemember, you need to average four posts a week for a B. For these weekly questions, I’m mainly interested in your experiences and opinions, not so much particular “facts” from the class!

Answer one of the questions below:

  1. Give an example of a project on which you’ve worked  (either professionally or otherwise) where you’ve had to make a tradeoff between time, scope, and cost. What factors affected your choice?
  2. Take a look at the “14 Common Mistakes” article from this week’s readings. Which mistake do you think is the most important to avoid? Why?

93 Responses to Weekly Question: Week 10

  • Give an example of a project on which you’ve worked (either professionally or otherwise) where you’ve had to make a tradeoff between time, scope, and cost. What factors affected your choice?

    One of the examples I can think of is this video app I was working on at my last job. It was supposed to be the principal product for the organization, and was supposed to house all the premium content that was produced over the years. Initially the scope of the project was defined well, and a timeline was set. Going forward, other stakeholders got involved and different opinions started floating around. Then, because the app was supposed to go on the Play Store and the App Store, the team got in touch with people from Google and Apple as well. Their involvement led to the scope getting extended. One of our partners was supposed to launch a new virtual reality technology, and offered to give us early access to it for the app. That added even more to the scope. With the scope being extended way more than what was initially decided, the timeline was bound to be missed. The app finally launched 2 months later than scheduled and the cost had gone beyond what was initially budgeted. The upside of this was that the new technology combined with the premium content we were offering helped us get a lot of media attention, and pulled in a lot of partners who wanted the app on their platform, and were happy to co-fund the development for their respective platforms. I believe that the distribution of the app on various platforms helped us decide if it was really a risk worth taking if the app launch was to be delayed. We finally got the app on Windows 8.1, Amazon, Windows Phone, BB10 etc.

    • Normally when scope changes there is a tradeoff with other requirements to try to keep a project within the budget and timeline. Was any discussion made around descoping other requirements before they increased the timeline and the budget? When the company I currently work for gets into these similar situations we will try to descope and if that doesn’t work we move to possibly release the product or service on time but provide a service pack enhancement soon after.

      • Stanley, we were in a dilemma if we wanted the product release as scheduled, or a better product that would be released later. The budget did take a hit, but we were able to recover well as the new technology helped us reach more platforms, and thus produced more opportunities to generate revenue.

  • Take a look at the “14 Common Mistakes” article from this week’s readings. Which mistake do you think is the most important to avoid? Why?

    Although hiring the wrong people on the project is the worst one can do to the project, I believe not keeping oneself up-to-date with the status of the project and also not tracking changes to the project could be disastrous. I think it is absolutely critical to make sure that every minute change is being tracked and logged. I have been a part of a project where the vendors were not really tracking every change that was being suggested and were working in their own space. Because of this, the log at my end ended up differently than what was at theirs. This also led to the project deadline getting extended and double the work for the vendors. I was working on around 68 products which were a part of the same project with the same vendor. Although it was difficult to track what was happening in all areas, I kept a log of what was being discussed over every call. On the other side, the vendor which had 2 different project managers failed to keep a log of all changes that were being discussed. We spent way too much time reiterating what was discussed previously. It was probably one of the worst experiences of managing a project I have had.

    • I am in complete agreement with you. I currently have individuals on my team who count on others and myself to track all the changes, keep meeting minutes and then expect me to update them at their leisure. Teamwork doesn’t work that way and if a single person is left to track the changes, whether they are the project manager or not, if that person should leave suddenly the project would suffer greatly. I make it a point to verbally update everyone and send out meeting minutes but if they do not keep themselves updated then they have to take ownership when their tasks are incomplete.

      • Stanley, I am all for team work as well, no matter what kind of project I am working on: personal or professional.
        Some people cannot work in a team, that makes it difficult for others in the team as we all know. It takes a special talent to be able to work in a team environment. I can lead and i can also work in a team. I wind up taking the un-named team leader role in many instances just to get the individuals in the team to move in a timely fashion on their portion of the project. It is definitely a stressor but I seem to wind up in teams like this more than teams which work well together. I feel that some of that is built into our self-discipline.

    • I think the vendor was also not communicating well in addition to not keeping track of the changes, which ended up having more time being spent discussing the discrepancies in the changes. I agree that if changes are not carefully tracked then something could end up in the final product that wasn’t meant to be there which could adversely affect the functionality.

      • I think the vendor did not really have the capability to handle a project of such scale. Not only was external communication poor, but even internal communication between the vendor teams was not up to the mark. Also having different product managers communicating with me, and not sharing information with each other was a complete disaster.

    • Sid, your example sounds like a variation of the dreaded meeting where no one takes notes, communicates to others, or does any follow up activities after the meeting. Everything discussed ends up having to be re-iterated at a later time and the meeting ends up being a complete waste of time for everyone involved. I agree that it is necessary to take detailed notes because it is impossible to keep track of all the details otherwise. This is especially true when it is necessary to reference the meeting or project weeks or even months later, like you explained.

      • Oh communication, so important, but no one ever remembers to communicate that to any one. I once had a supervisor who, upon taking control of the program made it a point to tell us how no one in our department communicated with one another. After which she made it a point to never communicate with us. So when she left we were completely in the dark about what special projects were under way and what grants were due- absolutely maddening.

    • I agree that tracking changes is really important. I’ve worked on projects where changes made were not documented. This caused issues for current team members who were not aware of updates and thus were working in the wrong direction or working on things that may no longer necessary. This also caused problems for team members who came on board after certain team members had left. The changes and new information that was obtained about a project or client left with the old employees so new employees had no idea what was going on or what had been done prior making it difficult to proceed.

  • Give an example of a project on which you’ve worked (either professionally or otherwise) where you’ve had to make a tradeoff between time, scope, and cost. What factors affected your choice?

    I once took in charge of the opening event for the new branch of fashion retailer in Shanghai. Because it was the first time that the company launched the business to China, we did not have lots connections for event support. Even though we booked the open deck where has the capacity of 300 people in the same department store that the branch located in advance, the reservation was cancelled by administration of the department store for other promotion event of local company 3 days before the launch. The team was forced to make the choice between pushing back the opening in order to match the original design as well as event scope in same location and reducing the event scope, changing the setting in smaller location nearby and making the opening on time.
    After discussion, I decided to cut the scope. First is because we already sent out all the invitations for the local press. We did not want to leave bad impression to them particularly in first launch. Second is due to the budget control. By holding the event on the same day, we were able to get full location compensation from department store. The saving could be move to pay the extra expenses from the issue. Additionally, company sent out a team of 6 people for the opening from Taiwan. Pushing back the event means the company needed to spend more in hotel and traveling. In the end, the team quickly handled the related changing, managed the event within the budgets, and completed the goal to attract enough local media and new customers in the first day opening.

    • Sounds like all your changes allowed the event to be held on time and on budget still. This is a nice example of how the tradeoffs between these 3 constraints work when done properly. Nice job!

    • I think you made the right decision in this situation. Pushing back the deadline would have caused even more problems and further increased the costs. Even if the scope was reduced, the project still sounds like it was a success. When these unexpected things come up I think it’s best to look for a solution that can best mitigate the negative impacts.

    • Hey Pei Yen, great example. But I am curious to know if cutting down the scope of the project had any major impacts on the project? I understand that the event went well, but was there any measurable impact that you think could have been avoided if you did not have to cut down the scope?

      • Good question, Sid! To be honest, as the project leader,, I was happy that we reduced the scope of work at the time. Because the company did not build any connection for event support. It took us some times to understand the environment difference between Taiwan and China. Take part time staffs as an example. In Taiwan, we can easily hire some event agencies to recruit and train the one day part-time staffs for particular event and we hardly need to monitor them. The project team can focus on dealing with more important guests and project flow. However, in China, it was totally different. At the time, we were forced to recruit and train the part-time staffs by ourselves. In addition, we quickly found out that employees in China need more micro-management to make sure they execute the task in the right way. The main purpose of the opening event is to build brand awareness and relationship with local media then with end customers. While we decided to reduce the project scope, we did not cut down the number of media that we invited. We simply cut down the number of free walk-in for the end customers at the day. At the same time, I was also able to cut down the part-time staffs that I need to hire and manage in the event. It is actually hard for me to say that we would have better quality or result for this event if we had executed it with original design.

    • I would have probably done the same thing Pei. Once everything is all ready and in its last phase close to the deadline, I just want it over with. If everything was moved to another date, people may see us as not worth trusted. We would lose their confidence in us. Many times, there are issues at the last minute, but I always keep in mind, a Plan B.

  • Take a look at the “14 Common Mistakes” article from this week’s readings. Which mistake do you think is the most important to avoid? Why?

    Even though projects that lack the right resources with the right skills is the most important mistake that I believe the organization needs to avoid, I would like to share my thought on another crucial mistake: Project team does not communicate well with project sponsors and stakeholders.
    The potential impacts of the mistake are failing to deliver the expected requirements, waste of recourse, time and human capitals, harming relationship among departments as well as stakeholders and demotivating.
    Take my previous company as an example. The company once tried to upgrade the CRM system to include the new business service into the analysis. The IT department and project manager did not put much time on communicating with related stakeholders, such as sales representatives, and project sponsors (our GM and CEO). Although the company indeed hold several cross-department meetings to identify the needs, it turned out that IT department, sales department and project sponsors all have their own interpretations for the topics decided in the discussion.
    When we ran first testing for upgrading, most stakeholders were not happy with the system and started to blame one another for misunderstanding. The blames also hurt the morale of IT department. To solve the problem, company assigned the new project manager who is familiar with both front line and support operation in the company and conducted series interviews with end users, strategy analyst and project sponsors. Additionally, the team also reported the process and mini-tests in week base. In the end, company spent twice as much time as they anticipated to complete the project.

    • I agree with you. Lack of communication is a huge problem in projects especially if they are large and across domains/teams. It leads to having to re-scope or scope creep and that causes a downward spiraling affect with the things you mentioned in your answer statement. I have to remind myself to never assume someone knows or understands what I’m talking about and to ask questions if I don’t know what they are speaking to. In the end, the client suffers because of communication is poor.

    • Haha! Worst mistake ever. I have been a part of a project where our team did not keep the all the stakeholders involved in the changes that were happening rapidly at that point in time. It was quite an intense experience, where rollbacks had to be made, shipments had to be stopped and partners had to suffer. Although the issue was sorted a couple of days later, the experience caused a lot of trouble and stress to all parties involved.

    • It sounds like simply summarizing the scope and goals and asking the project sponsors and stakeholders for confirmation in the beginning of the project and along the way would have fixed a lot of problems! On several different occasions in class we have eluded to the fact that one concept can easily mean two different things to different people (or probably 10 different things to 10 people) and that is is necessary to get everyone on the same page. I think this is especially true for inter-department projects when team members do not have a clear understanding (or any understanding) of the workings of other departments.

    • Pei Yen
      In today’s time, we are finding out more and more about team work. Some people have never done it. They have always worked independently and it is very hard to support a team and work as one. I see divisions among work groups all the time. Everyone always says that the other guy is responsible for the issues. No one takes responsibility and just troubleshoots as a team. Teamwork has to be taught and learned in the present and future world. More time spent together in meetings and training can enhance team togetherness and responsibility.

    • I agree. Proper communication plays a very important role in the success of a project. While it may seem like a simple and most obvious thing to have enough communication within the team members, lack of proper communication can be seen more than often in projects.
      I had witnessed a similar issue in one of the projects that I had worked previously. The database testing team for our project started writing test cases and test scripts based on the initial communication with the client. After about two weeks of effort, when the team was ready to proceed with the testing process, they realized that the source from which data is supposed to be pulled was not yet ready. This caused a significant delay in delivering the project on time. This problem occurred due to lack of proper communication between the testing and development team.
      As seen in the CGI and Hubble project case, communication becomes even more important while working in distance projects because of various challenges such as time zone differences, language barriers, etc.

  • Take a look at the “14 Common Mistakes” article from this week’s readings. Which mistake do you think is the most important to avoid? Why?

    One of the most common mistakes in projects is that problems are ignored or allowed to fester until they become even bigger problems. There are a variety of reasons why they are ignored. Sometimes the group thinks it’s minor so it does not have the priority of other things or it could be that the person who made the mistake does not want to come forth to identify it. When the problem is identified late in the development cycle it could become a blocking issue and push the timeline out further. This is something that occurred recently with my current project and now we need to wait several days for a new software build to have the fix unit tested before we can continue integration testing.

    • I’ve also seen times when small problems can snowball into something much bigger. In my job we have been getting alerts every day for an error message that’s occurring on our website when searching for a doctor. Right now the impact seems to be small since it’s a temporary error that is resolved by just trying the search again so we haven’t received any complaints. However, we are still looking into the error further cause it could have a larger underlying cause. Granted this hasn’t been made a top priority and has been put on the back-burner so as you said there is the risk that it can blow up into something much larger.

      • I agree, letting a known problem sit unaddressed can be a nightmare. I think it is always good policy to triage the problem, examine it and make you decision based off of what you know.. I have often found that small problems are symptoms of larger ones. It’s like standing in quick sand, suddenly you find yourself in over your head.

    • It is always best to admit when a mistake occurred or may have occurred. I am lucky to work in an environment where we actually welcome mistakes! Making a mistake is the best way to learn (presuming it’s not a matter of life or death!). We are a learning environment for the most part and often when a mistake is bigger than initially thought, many minds come together to solve the problem as opposed to focusing on the blame. In my limited experience with IT projects, I have found it fascinating how teams come together in support of each other at these times. Therefore, I encourage my staff to be open, honest and forthright about potential mistakes. Likewise, I manage up accordingly and have found my superiors very open to my admissions.

    • I totally agree with you. Ignoring problems until they become bigger problems is the most common mistake.That’s a really nice point by John that small problems are often symptoms of larger ones. Addressing the problems in the initial stage would save lot of money and efforts. Usually, problems are ignored at the initial stage as they seem to be trivial or of no importance. And there may be no motivating factor to spend resources on a minute problem. But, there are chances that this leads to a larger problem and affect the overall deliverable.

  • In a project I’m involved with currently we had to push back deadlines and increase the time to complete the project, which in turn has increased the cost. The project involves upgrading our message queue infrastructure. The message queues allow different systems to send and receive data to each other. The project was initially started in June 2015 and was scheduled to be completed in November 2015, however due to an issue found during testing we had to back out of the changes. Our company has a freeze period in December and January, which means only emergency changes are allowed to go in so we had to resume the project at the end of January. Another setback happened in January 2016 because due to some miscommunication between teams, the new message queues would not be completed in time to meet the deadline. We then had to back out again and schedule for an April 2016 go live date. Even since then there has been a couple delays with issues found during testing, but they were resolved and we are still on target for our April 2016 go live date. The scope of the project has been consistent throughout, but the costs have increased due to repeatedly pushing the date back. My department doesn’t deal with the cost aspect, which is managed by the Project Managers so I’m not sure on the details of how much the cost went up, but due to the increased hours and extra work involved it is known that the costs went up.

    • Jonathan, that sounds like a complete mess of a project. What I can make of it from this is that the execution was poor, and the team was not able to recover from the issues found during testing at all. I wonder if this was a case of putting the wrong personnel on the project or was the project not managed well. I am happy to have not faced this issue till date, but as John points out, this could be one of the worst mistakes the team can make.

      • I think the issue was the project not being managed well. There are 5 teams involved and at times there was poor coordination. After the two month freeze period the project manager thought that the project was ready for the performance testing environment, which is the environment it goes to right before production. But since the infrastructure team was not engaged they did not know when the new go live date was so they wouldn’t have the new message queues ready in time.

        When it came to my part of the project, I saw I was given the old message queues which was not right. When I reached out to the infrastructure team I saw they weren’t included in our weekly meetings. I then invited him to the meeting and we then realized what the issue was but it was too late to fix without pushing back the deadline. So yeah the project was a mess 🙂

    • Jonathan. This sounds like an issue I believe many organizations face. When departments are isolated from one another, the impact of work of one department isn’t seen in other departments. When I worked in performance improvement I was supposed to make recommendations for improving care based on trends and opportunities I saw in the data. I had no access to financials. I had no access to the financials to see the implications of the problems I was identifying to know if my recommendations saved money or cost more or how it impacted the scope of treatment. This made decision making very difficult.

    • Hello Jonathan:
      I have to agree with poor execution but it sounds there is more than poor communication at cause in your example. I am wondering how the project change control was documented in the project plan. It seems that this could also be an issue otherwise the Jan 2016 setback would have not occurred. Good luck on going live on time.

  • I have to say, I think the biggest mistake you can make is picking the wrong personnel for a project. I have seen some pretty poor choice for staff affect our every day operations in a major ways. I’d have to imagine that in a project even with the right amount of resources, if you pick the wrong personnel for a project it is doomed to fail.

    • John, I agree that staff are incredibly important as I have seen a seemingly simple project fail because of inadequate resources. However, I do think that with proper training this problem can be fixed. I know that in a fast paced environment it is difficult to find the time to mentor / train / explain improvements to team members but I have also seen complete turnarounds when a team member is given the proper knowledge.

      • Lauren,

        I think training helps, but ultimately it comes down to the individual. If they are unmotivated or unwilling to bend then all the training in the world won’t help them. When selecting staff I think it’s important to understand not only the skills of the individual, but their personalities as well. Like in the CGI study, they opted to choose a team of programmers who were not as experienced as their senior level staff but were very motivated to learn and complete the project. The team realized that their inexperience in this case was an advantage because it motivated the junior programmers, who were eager to learn a new language.

        • John I agree. I’ve worked in situations where a particular employee was making a lot of mistakes in their work. They had training and support but they chose not to implement any of it or verbalize when they didn’t know something and ask for help. When I questioned them about it, having their work be right was not even a priority. They had excuses why they weren’t doing it right and did not realize the negative impact their errors were having on other employees’ work. You can provide all the training in the world and they still may not care about the errors in the work they produce.

    • I agree. Without correct people trained who know what they are doing nothing much will get accomplished. Before hiring random people to get a certain project done, they should see what the job description holds for them and if they are capable of doing that. If not proper training should occur so that nothing fails.

  • I think that “Mistake No. 10: They don’t consider Murphy’s Law” can be a incredibly detrimental in any project. In my last position I quickly learned that it was necessary to stay a few days (ideally a week) ahead of schedule in order to have adequate time to deal with any surprises and keep the surprises from negatively affecting other moving parts of the business. I planned for surprises to happen because they consistently did happen and I wanted to negate the unnecessary stress and pinch for time associated with them. I think it is imperative that one does not plan for the stars to align but rather plans for a few roadblocks along the way and pads the timeline accordingly.

    • I agree with you, Lauren. Some concept should also be considered in budget allocation. During my experience in marketing field, I always tried to take 5-10% of the budget off before I decide the budget allocation. The way help me dealing the urgent accidents while the team could not easily change time or project scope. Additionally, if we are lucky to have a smooth project (which is nearly impossible), we would be able to earn extra profits.

    • Lauren, its an important point that you have highlighted. While working in support and maintenance projects where there were over 40 applications distributed among four people, it was quite important that there should be some overlap in terms of the knowledge about handling these applications. So that if anyone is unavailable due to some unavoidable circumstances, then the other person can jump in and perform the necessary task. Since, in absence of such a structure the issues might not get resolved and it could result in paying a penalty to the client.

    • Lauren, I tried to do the same with print production cycles. Sometimes (rarely), we would finish early, but we usually needed the extra time. When we did not have the extra time, we would have to push back our print dates, which cut into profits. Ignoring Murphy’s Law could spiral into a loss for the quarter and so forth, so adding that extra time to the schedule is imperative.

    • In my experience I can definitely say that Murphy’s Law is a real thing and that people often fail to account for it in planning. Anything thing that can go wrong, will go wrong. I think a good example of this from our our everyday lives is the friend who is habitually late. In the mind of this person everything goes off without a hitch. They will leave their house, it then takes exactly 30 minutes to get to the store, they will be in the store for 10 minutes, then meet you for dinner around the corner as scheduled. What actually happens is they hit traffic on the way to the store, the lines are long at the store and they have trouble finding what they want and next thing you know they’re 20 minutes late. Trouble almost always arises and it is very important to deal account for it in your planning. In the rare event that you don’t hit any speed bumps along the way then you’ve completed your task early and that is a good thing.

  • As a cook in a professional kitchen, there is almost always a tradeoff between time, scope, and cost. You could provide the least expensive, quickest meal (think fast food), but the scope/quality would be low. Conversely, you could prepare the most extravagant meal ever, but the cost and time would be massive. The key for cooking is to choose how you wish to position your kitchen within the market, and this positioning helps define which tradeoff you are willing to make. Do you want to be a fast food restaurant, or a high end dining experience? In our kitchen, we were mid-cost, mid-scope, mid-time: we weren’t the best at anything, but we were pretty average at everything.

    • I agree Margaret, you can’t have the high quality food, fast at inexpensive prices. This is an issue I’m currently working on with a CSA client in another class. It took a few months to figure out which trade off they wanted to make. They wanted to grow but did not know if they wanted to compete with price, quality, convenience, variety, etc. They couldn’t offer fresh, high quality produce at prices lower than their competitors on their customer’s door step the next day. Tradeoffs need to be made but first its important to understand which aspect is most important to you in order to identify how you want to compete.

      • Interesting application that is to the food industry! My friend is a food broker (pork, beef and cheeses mainly). Just recently, he was introduced to a cheese “product” that like American cheese, “slices & melts” and that’s all that is required of buyers of American cheese “slice & melt”. Yet, I questioned whether the “product” would sell given that it wasn’t real cheese. He explained that the “product” can be sold as such as long as it meets same nutritional standards as “cheese”. From a taste perspective, it is the same. Meeting the nutritional and taste standards was the easier part for cheese makers but nailing the “slicing & melting” was the hard part but they have succeeded. So, now the cost has been reduced yet the scope and time to delivery unchanged. What’s that triangle look like??

        • Hello Maria:
          I am wondering how long it took them to actually complete the project including FDA approval to sell a cheese product that in is non-dairy. One must not lose sight that in the business world time is money and while they have reduced the cost of making a non-dairy cheese product the development to market timeline must be taken into consideration.

    • Margaret, that’s quite a creative application of the concept. Back in my home country, street food is quite popular and one can easily find similar stuff sold by different vendors right next to each other. One of the aspects which differentiated a particular vendor from others was the quality that was offered. People tend to go more to the vendor who although might took some more time but provided right flavors and quality food. Similar aspect I observed when I was in New York and went to have halal food from the popular and oldest kart located at the 53rd street. Because of the quality and flavors, one might easily have to stand in queue for 10-15 minutes to purchase the food but people were happy to wait and enjoy the relishing meal in the end.

      • Rishabh, going further with your example of street food. Even if the two vendors take a similar amount of time to produce their food at that time, I can guarantee that the high quality food vendor took more time and ultimately spent more money to seek out and prepare their ingredients.

    • Hi Margret, great example, I think a lot of people can relate to it. However high quality may not imply high cost all the time. Deviating from the food industry, when I think about balancing time, scope and cost, Southwest Airlines has done a really good job. Just last week we had a case study on Southwest Airlines for one of our classes. Southwest was able to achieve high quality or service (scope) at a low cost and with a higher turnaround time than most of the other airlines. On of the key take always was that most people associate high quality with cost. Here, I’m referring to quality as the quality of service, not expensive raw materials to help make the experience rich .

      • Hi Swetha-
        Southwest is an interesting case study in this regards. I wouldn’t say that the quality, meaning service, necessarily means the scope of their product is broad therefore requiring a cost tradeoff. I think quality service is still within a narrow scope of amenities offered in Southwest’s “product.” Given their minimal amenities I would still say they have a very small scope business, allowing for them to compete on a low cost platform.

  • #7
    When a manager ignores problems, situations can quickly spiral out of control leading to expanding scope, over budget, and over time. Underlying all the other common mistakes is a Manager that ignored some problem- i.e. not considering Murphy’s Law. That is a problem that has been ignored, causing problems further down the line.

    • I agree that having a manager that ignores problems brought to his/her attention will lead to additional delays and time line expansions. Ignoring a problem in its initial state allows the problem to increase in size and accumulate additional rider issues that could’ve been resolved or never initiated if acknowledged when first presented. Managers play an integral role in a projects success. They must be able to maintain multiple projects, staff, and tasks to make sure minimal deviation occurs.

      • Brinn, I agree. Ignoring a problem lets it fester and get out of control. When I was working, we had a problem with one team member who was not pulling his weight. He came in late, blamed others for his mistakes, and almost always found a way to have others do his assignments (usually interns or recently hired employees). My manager did not get involved until his behavior impacted team morale, which made it difficult for her to reverse the damage. Another issue was that there was no documentation of his poor behavior so she was not able to penalize him under company policy. Her method was to create rules for the entire group that required everyone to submit what they worked on each day. While it was frustrating for us, all team members who were busy could easily explain what they had completed in a day. The problem employee did and he did not last long under the new policy.

    • Ignoring the problem is something that is a must to avoid. Ignoring problems will not solve anything, but it will probably make things much worse. I really do not think that a manager is doing his/her job by simply ignoring the problems because as a manager they should be solving them and creating solutions. They are in charge of others so if they are ignoring problems, who can one depend on to solve issues.

  • The mistake I find the most important to avoid would be #7. I find this most important probably because this is what frustrated me most about my past jobs. In my last position, I was trying to complete a task such as analyzing data from a report and was seeing that the data we were collecting wasn’t matching the data requested. This was because the data was already being collected when the project objectives were created and no one checked to see if we were actually collecting the information we said we were measuring. This was the first problem. I then found out that the data was not only wrong, but was also incomplete. Over the years, some sites had changes to their billing system and didn’t understand how to code for services to put into our data warehouse so they had been submitting aggregate monthly data to my predecessor. This was problem number 2. These large problems were ignored for about 2 years and snowballed into a very big problem of our data being completely wrong. When I brought this to my supervisor, she said if we fixed anything, we’d have to explain to our funding sources changes made to our process making our numbers drastically different than years before. She recommended just making my results up so they coincided with previous reporting periods. So ignoring a problem leads to other problems and eventually such a large problem that it takes a substantial amount of time and staff to fix. There is also an added issue of the outcome is inaccurate or wrong making the entire report useless. If problems are addressed as they come up, these large issues down the line can be avoided.

  • Give an example of a project on which you’ve worked (either professionally or otherwise) where you’ve had to make a tradeoff between time, scope, and cost. What factors affected your choice?
    Although I understand people are not necessarily “projects” I had to struggle with these triple constraints when I worked in utilization management. It was my job to get financial coverage for inpatients. The length of stay and cost health insurance was willing to pay for a particular patient depended on their progress in treatment and the doctor’s treatment goals. There were times when patients had insurance coverage only for a few weeks and managed care was strict in the amount they were willing to pay for care. Often times, patients would require more time in the hospital but managed care would deny additional days or financial coverage thus compromising the scope of treatment. This resulted many times in patients relapsing and needing to come back into the hospital which then cost managed care more money than if they would have agreed to pay for the patient to stay longer in the first place.

    • Hi Rikki. This example is both sad and alarming when you work in an environment that it suppose to be patient centered, but revolves around health care insurance cost factors. It must be very difficult and frustrating when you as a stakeholder have (in essence) no controls over the major decisions, but witness the recourse there of. There should be some instances where cost, scope, and time hold no precedence over one another.

    • To Rikki:
      I liked your example of the tripple constraint as it applies to the process of managed care at hospitals. I feel this is a good example

      where the lack of flexibility in the managed care process leads to a down stream clinical event requiring readmitance. Unfortunately, this is the norm for manage care rather than the exception and these types of rigid rules are a cause healthcare in the US is so expensive.

    • Rikki, it is interesting to apply the triple constraint concept to people because the tradeoffs seem that much more detrimental. Your example makes be wonder what managed care providers are possibly thinking because it seems so obvious that this scenario ends up being more costly. I would like to think there is a method behind the madness and am really curious what that is — or if the system is truly that inefficient.

    • Rikki, this is a great example of the tradeoff between time, cost, and scope. I would argue that although we don’t like to think of them as projects, in this context people can be considered projects. If taken care of properly their inpatient stay should be temporary, there is a start and an end, you’re working within a budget. Obviously working with human beings is much less predictable than your typical project, the “deliverable” is not as clear, but can be measured by the doctor’s treatment goals.

  • I believe it’s really important to have the right resources on the project and that’s the key mistake that one should avoid. If you get people on-board who do not have the appropriate expertise required to perform the task at hand, then you will not only lose the time and money to get the job done but also will affect the reputation of you and your company in front of the client. Getting the right people determines the success and failure of your projects. While working on one of the projects in my earlier company, I had to bring on-board a new hire instead of an experienced person, as part of the company policy, to my team to perform code analysis for issues. However, the person was not technically sound, in which case whenever the technical issues surfaced, I had to get assistance from other colleagues who were part of the bigger team. This not only increased the overall resolution time for the issues but also adversely impacted the relationships with the customers and clients. The situation only changed after 5-6 months when the new-hire had gone through certain training’s and got some experience from handling some of the repetitive issues.

    • Rishabh,
      I agree with you that having the right people is the most important element of a project. Having team members with the right skills is more important than the number of team members you have or even how highly skilled they are. For example, at a publishing company, you could have a highly skilled data analytics expert on a team for a print magazine project that will only be tracked through the print circulation department. The data analyst could be brilliant, but his or her skills are not relevant to the project at hand. Without the right people on board, the project will not be successful.

  • I haven’t been in the decision making spot, but usually you can’t change the scope because you have commitment to the client or management and the only way to deliver is with a trade off of time and cost . I had a couple of projects where it took about a month, a month and a half more time to deliver the project with a higher cost respectively. The deadlines were very aggressive and had to take more time than expected because there were a lot of bugs, issues to be addressed.

  • Take a look at the “14 Common Mistakes” article from this week’s readings. Which mistake do you think is the most important to avoid? Why?

    The most important mistake to avoid from the “14 Common Mistakes” article is Staffing. This can be difficult for a project manager to accomplish if all staffing position are new to the project. In this example all participants have no history with the company thus no track record of knowledge/experience other than the individual’s previous work history. This would make it slightly more difficult in deciding which tasks are ultimately distributed to each individual or team. If the incorrect members are chosen (including the project manager), the best decision for the project could be over looked or disregarded, delays in task completions will occur, and team moral will diminish pushing the time line for completion further out.

    • Hi Brinn,
      Yes I agree my post is very close to yours if you don’t have the right resources you should be able to do the shuffling of the resources you have to bear less damage as possible, of course you may need an extra time to deliver, but still you can try most of it.

    • Hi Brinn-

      I agree that staffing can be an insurmountable problem to avoid unless addressed at the very start of a project. It also seems difficult to predict which staffing decisions would be best, so avoiding this problem may be unavoidable at times (no one sets out to have a poorly staffed team).

  • I think #1 Mistake Projects lack the right resources with the right skills can be crucial for the project success to have some developers learn the things on the fly and even never had a similar experience or are short in the talent department for example. What happens is they drag down the whole team because some people are not good learners or don’t have good understanding of technology and you have to show them multiple times the same things over and over. They drag the project down because the senior resources who have to help them are allocating a lot of time to the guys who don’t have skills to contribute much. Sometime it’s not to blame the guys who can’t do the job, but the management who has given them the assignments without realizing the resource allocation format is not good for the project, but they are thinking how cool is new guys will learn the technologies. It is about the PMO experience and familiarity of the technology to know who, what and when, so we get to project mistake #2 the things are being tied up.

    • Hi Bisser. I just read your response and agree with your stance. Resource allocation must be distributed in the correct fashion to allow a project to opportunity to succeed. Management must be able to choose the correct skilled staff across the board to handle the tasks (from minimal to detailed). Some staff will not have the same experience or knowledge as others, but the must have the willingness to learn and adapt to the environment or ask to be placed in a more suitable role to help the betterment on the project’s success. Managers must be able to access this ability and make the appropriate changes if staff is not willing to step forward with their concerns.

    • To Biser:
      I struggle with this question because the project manager works with whom ever the HR department felt was a good fit to the company. When an HR hires the individuals with limited work/technology experience the organization suffers the consequences. Unfortunately, the blame falls on the shoulders of the Project manager who simply uses the resources HR hires to work on the projects. I see your point that these individuals consume resources rather than move the project forward.

      • Hi Rogelio,
        It’s very important how you assign the work the less skilled re-sources should have more routine tasks easily to accomplish and the skillful re-sources should carry the harder load. You may always get behind the schedule this may happen to anybody but you should be familiar with your team to assign to whom and what. to assign.

  • Give an example of a project on which you’ve worked (either professionally or otherwise) where you’ve had to make a tradeoff between time, scope, and cost. What factors affected your choice?
    Every client project I worked on as an editor involved a sacrifice of the deadline set by the client (time), the page length, design elements, amount of written pieces, etc., required (scope) or the budget set by the sales rep (cost). One specific project was a product safety guide for promotional products. The initial scope was for a 24 page guide with ads from various vendors that sold safe products. We finished writing and choosing art designs for the stories, but there were few advertisers as we neared the print date. The publisher decided to have one company sponsor the whole guide, which meant having that client approve all content and going up to 32 pages. I worked with the graphic designer to choose new art concepts that would allow us to keep our current stories, but have them fill more pages. We also worked heavily with our art department in India to turn around pages as quickly as possible. Ultimately, we were able to meet the print date (time) and come in with higher profit than expected (cost), but we had to sacrifice our initial design (scope).

    • Hello Collen, I think your post is a good example on the role “flexibility” plays in the success of a project. I see that the guide had to accommodate s single sponsor which in turn led to a change in scope. Did the final print, in your opinion, turned out better than the original 24 page design?

      • Rogelio, I lucked out because the client’s vision aligned closely with mine. I was happy with how the final guide turned out. It allowed me to get creative with art, which was one of my favorite parts of my job. In this example, the change in scope actually enhanced the final product. The biggest challenge was completing the pages and gaining approval from the client in time for print, but having a good rapport with the client was helpful in completing the guide on time.

    • Colleen, I can certainly relate to a project changing scope near the end of a deadline. There were several times in my previous position when it seemed like every project I was working on was continually changing. Some would even change two or three times and then end up where they started. It seemed pointless to get attached to any decisions because I expected everything to change… and then change some more. It can be quite frustrating but certainly teaches you to work efficiently from getting so much practice with re-doing things!

      • Your comment reminded me of how I feel about our client project in the GMBA marketing class. It is a great project, but the scope keeps changing so we are having trouble maintaining momentum. Additionally, we are running into problems because our team is too big. The large team makes it more difficult to shift focus, especially when team members miss meetings. Sometimes a smaller team of highly skilled individuals is more effective than a 15 person team with varying skill levels.

  • 2.Take a look at the “14 Common Mistakes” article from this week’s readings. Which mistake do you think is the most important to avoid? Why?
    I believe that Mistake No 8:”They don’t take the time to define the scope of the project.” We have learned this week how the tripple constraint impacts the overall success of a project. The project scope involves identifying specific project goals, deliverables, tasks, costs and deadlines. Without a well defined and documented goal the project will lack the clarity and direction to complete the project on time and meet stakeholder’s expectations.

    • Hi Rogelio, I couldn’t agree more. I remember during our EMC project we initially got a project scope along with the project description. We were paired with a PMBA team to work on different part of the project for the same client. Initially we had to spend some time defining the scope of our project and make sure it does not overlap much with the PMBA’s part. For our project itself, the scope was so wide that we had to limit it, given the time frame. Another factor that helped us deliver on time was that we had two extra resources from marketing to help us with data analysis. We learnt about balancing the three constraints this week and I think that for any project to succeed it is very crucial to hit the sweet spot – the circumcenter of this triangle.

    • Hi Rogelio, I agree with your point. Oftentimes, the team members in a project won’t spend enough time in defining the scope. Starting the project with a vague idea can turn out to be dangerous. Even I had a similar experience as Swetha. In one of the projects for my marketing class, we spent a considerable amount of time narrowing the scope so as to have a defined limit and understand what needs to be done. I believe that this is the first logical step that needs to be taken care of before going ahead with executing the project.

  • Take a look at the “14 Common Mistakes” article from this week’s readings. Which mistake do you think is the most important to avoid? Why?
    I think the most important mistake to avoid is ignoring little problems. It is especially crucial when that error effects other parts of the project as well. Gradually, a lot of problems arise around the one thing ignored at the beginning. Problems can be ignored for two reasons – first there may be a lack of initiative among the team to report small things. Employees may not be motivated to report small issues in the fear that they may be assigned to work on it along with their regular tasks. The environment in the team may not encourage members to come forth with their findings that may not be related to their job task. Second, due to high pace of the project employees may simply forget about it. Both these situations can be turned around if the team lead or manager communicates and encourages the team to report little things. Updates can be given and followed upon during daily stand ups

    • I agree Swetha. In my experience people tend to ignore small problems hoping that they will just go away. The issue is that someone needs to deal with these problems and they don’t simply go away. Small issues slow down the overall process and tend to grow larger as they’re ignored. Your reason that the environment of the team may not encourage people to come forward with issues is very true. Coming forward with an issue can sometimes be a touchy subject. Effective teams communicate openly to effectively deal with any issues that may arise.

    • Swetha, your point is so common and daily experienced in any project life cycle. I couldn’t agree more that small ignored problems when allowed to percolate through the ongoing project snowballs itself into a much bigger problem towards the end. There are quality checks that are initiated since the beginning of the project and there are standard checks that should be maintained at each level. But nothing will yield result if each employee doesn’t take an initiative to work towards it and report any issues on the go. Other way to encourage employees is to offer incentive. Like in the stand ups, recognizing people for recognizing defects and how it affected in reducing defects, having a wall of fame or something similar.

  • Mistake #14: They don’t communicate well with project sponsors and stakeholders.
    Communication is #1 in my book on any project. Meetings and communication with all stakeholders is a priority. Expectations must be clear on each worker’s level of understanding. There are grammatical differences in language and there must be assurance that each individual understands their role and scope of the project. Time is of essence so someone has to keep an eye on the project workers and their work to make sure, they are clear on the directions of the project. Working from a spreadsheet can be done in many different ways based on each individual’s understanding. There can be many right ways, that is the reason, the work has to be monitored before time runs out and people get frustrated at the last minute. Once the work is on the right track in the first several weeks, then everyone can go about their own work at a faster rate, in a more accurate direction. meeting together as a group can enhance the flow , scope accuracy and communication of the projects.

    • Susan, I agree that communication is critical at every turn. Although most posts discuss “right resources”, that even can be hampered if the goal of the project is not clearly communicated. That is, in order to apply the right resources, the benefactor must be well aware of what the project entails. As I noted already, I think it is critical that consistent patterns communication patterns and formal documentation be employed at all turns. We have all seen organizations employ email templates, project proposal forms, etc that are meant to capture the formality of the organization’s communication methods. I support such attempts. Within our 100+ HR division, it has been mandated that all professional staff attend a two-day PM seminar with the goal being that we communicate more consistently within and between the various departments. To that end, i am charged with applying such techniques to our day-to-day”mini” project that arise within our HRIS department. These include quick fixes as well as longer-term projects. We start with the “initiation” sheet so as to clarify & communicate for ourselves the ultimate project scope. I am excited by this more methodical approach to communication.

    • Susan, i am totally with you that communication is very important in the execution of any work or project. There are many ways, and maybe considered right, which is so relative from one person to another. If the communication is not clear and proper, then the deliverable may not be as expected and then it will cost us more, in terms of time or money or even both. When i was working as an offshore member, it was critical to communicate well with the onshore members and the clients continuously, clearly and in sync. We couldn’t meet in person, so the entire project clarity was dependent on how well the communication was. Even while we were on call, or video conference, we used to share desktops, exchange IMs, at the same time. And that wasn’t it, there was one person who always used to send minutes of meetings to every attendants of the meeting so that at the end of the meeting, everyone was on the same page, followed by assigned action items.

    • Communication plays a big role in getting things done. Without good communication where everyone can understand one another nothing much will be effective. Many times people do not communicate well therefore the messages are not clear of what to do and that causes problems. One must be able to communicate well so that it benefits everyone in the end.

  • Projects as well as day-to-day operations must be supported with the right resources in order to succeed. However, for projects specifically I am going with the #2 most common problem as #1 for me: “repeatable project management process”. As a fairly methodical person myself, i was appalled at my first project meeting to see that a “PM” had not even a pencil let alone a laptop, notepad, etc. I was told that she was considered a very good PM however. During the course of the meeting and others that had followed, it was really the “doers” who led the meeting, talked among themselves (in their own techno language), and drew up “next steps & time frames”. The PM only reiterated some key To-Do items and sent an Outlook meeting request based on the “doers” instructions. The project was successful due to the tactical actions taken and the fact that it had met a deadline within scope (delivered a service). I personally saw very little oversight or influence. Unfortunately, when a break-fix was needed months later, some of the players were gone and there existed very little documentation as to the build and critical decision points. The next round then included a new PM who was of the more traditional nature, took minutes, asked clarifying questions, tempered the”doers” and truly managed the project all while using entity-approved documentation tools.

  • As a golf professional planning tournaments can be considered a project. Our largest tournament of the year was the “Member-Guest” and their was a planning committee made up of the members as well as managers of the various departments. During meetings discussions almost always revolved around the issue of the triple constraint. The members wanted the tournament to be as extravagant as possible, but also as cheap as possible. My boss used to say “they want steak and lobster, but only want to pay for a cheeseburger.” In order to keep costs low we had to come to an agreement in a timely fashion to keep shipping cost low. Eventually we would come to a middle ground that provided a reasonable level of service (scope), for a decent price (cost), that fit within the schedule (time).

    • Tom, your example represents how triple constraint issues are often solved: compromising on cost and scope to fit the timeline. I love the quote “they want steak and lobster, but only want to pay for a cheeseburger.” It is such a good explanation of how many clients treat consulting services, event planners, etc. I’m sure Lauren has worked on many weddings where they couple wanted Wagyu for the price of McDonald’s. On the publishing front, we had several clients who wanted the full scope of our services (video, print, web, e-learning) for the price of a print ad. There were times when the publisher would discount our services hoping that it would turn into more money in the future, but it often was not worth the impact it had on resources and cost to the company.

    • Tom, your example is so to the point and simple. One can relate that with any service industry, where people want jobs to be performed and keep on demanding more and more but doesn’t want to pay for the amount of work they demanded. And also they want the tasks to be completed ASAP thinking that the service people are only loaded with their work. Every single time there will be meetings and discussions compromising on the time, cost and scope of any incoming work. Not even a single time i have experienced that the client or the service industry are happy or are in a common ground at the first go! And yes, loved your boss’s comment: “they want steak and lobster, but only want to pay for a cheeseburger.” 😉

  • Give an example of a project on which you’ve worked  (either professionally or otherwise) where you’ve had to make a tradeoff between time, scope, and cost. What factors affected your choice?

    I can relate the experience of trading off between time, scope and cost in majority of development projects that i have worked in or observed other people working in. In my last company, there was hardly a resource that was 100% dedicated to development. The resource was partially in development and partially in support work, and when a resource is also in support work, he/she has to dedicate time from the development work to handle critical issue which can’t be delegated at the similar crucial time of development phase. At that moment, it was mostly that we have to trade off the time for the development project as we couldn’t miss the SLA for the support tickets and especially if they high or urgent tickets. I was stuck in the similar issue when i was working in a new development project and we newly adopted the agile methodology to execute the project. Since the deliveries were in sprints, we had a small turnaround time and the the next delivery was very close. At the time, there was critical support work that was brought for a project of which i was the designated SME. Since it was among the platinum (the highest ranked) applications, we in any condition couldn’t miss the SLA of the asked support work. At that moment, i had to stop working on the deliverables of the project, delegate the work to a subordinate and start working on the support work. This definitely affected the time and cost of the project. But since this wasn’t the final deliverable at that moment, we were able to recover the loss of work later. But this experience brought the managers ti rethink to reduce the scope or increase the time of the development project.

  • Take a look at the “14 Common Mistakes” article from this week’s readings. Which mistake do you think is the most important to avoid? Why?

    I believe mistake no.2, “Projects lack experienced project managers” is a very crucial mistake that needs to be avoided. Hiring right people in the team is important for the success of the project. But, having a right person to manage the team is of greater importance. Without a proper direction, the probability of failure of the project is quite high.
    Good project managers learn from their past experiences, have a better understanding of the situation and would know exactly what has to be done to get a project on its tracks. Project managers are responsible for proper execution of the project and for allocating resources in economically efficient manner. A poorly handled project would make the costs go up significantly. As suggested in the article, project managers who are certified, and have significant prior experience and knowledge in the technology being deployed should be hired to manage the project. Extra efforts should be taken for the staffing process as having the right people in the team would reduce the problem greatly.

  • Take a look at the “14 Common Mistakes” article from this week’s readings. Which mistake do you think is the most important to avoid? Why?

    Without the correct resources nothing much can be accomplished. With that being said one needs to have the correct people working who are trained and know what they are doing to get the job done. Both are necessary to maintain a good IT department. If one just has a bunch of people who do not know how to get the job done then what use are they. The same can be said if those people do know what to do, but just do not have the resources to get it done. Both are vital so that a project or IT department can be successful.

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