‘A Lot – Fast – Cheap – Good’ is a set of expectations that can never be achieved simultaneously. These expectations are the result of the customer’s (completely understandable) lack of understanding regarding the realistic efforts required to achieve the project’s goals, as well as lack of trust regarding the estimates presented at the project’s sale. Why is this? Well, most projects deviate—often quite significantly—from their original timetables, the resources assigned to them, the budget and even the content that was to be delivered within the project’s framework.
One of the clear differences between projects and non-project activities is the high level of uncertainty associated with the ability to meet a project’s goals, simply because each project is unique. Despite the fact that some projects are similar to each other, each project begins at a ‘low-point of certainty’ of the project’s ability to meet its goals. Fortunately, for most projects this point is relative to the project itself, not an absolute low point, since we usually manage projects in fields where we have previous experience. In new or innovative projects, where no prior experience exists, this ‘low-point of certainty’ is absolute. In such cases, it is crucial to utilize tighter planning and control systems—ones that are operated through smaller cycles.
Project Management rests on three distinct pillars: planning, control and communication. These are the building blocks of the profession, and every single project, regardless of type of industry or specialization, depends on them.
If we use the process of baking bread as a metaphor for project management, then the bread represents the project’s end product, which is the combination of all its ingredients: flour is the basis; yeast is the means for leavening the dough and turning it into bread and water is the glue that bonds all the ingredients. The same applies in a project: planning is its basis; control provides the means needed to achieve the project’s objectives and communication bonds all the project’s stakeholders and expresses the project’s management tone and pace.