The 5-Sided ‘Triangle’ of Today’s Project Management
January 13, 2022
Open any book on project management and you’re likely to see a familiar graphic: a triangle showing the inter-relation of scope, cost and time as the key parameters for success. Through these three aspects, when schedules get delayed, business leaders can plan more effectively by understanding when key resources will be needed on site, in addition to having visibility into their cash payments and outlays across the project’s timeline.
No matter the scenario, they all point back to our triangle of scope, cost and time, and how changes to one of these can directly affect the other two.
While there’s nothing inherently “wrong” with this traditional trio — as centuries of project managers would attest to — I believe that something is still missing.
In today’s world, the aspects of safety and quality have become just as important to the various stakeholders — owners, engineers, contractors, and all end users across a project — as scope, cost and time, and are driving more accountability in those areas. Let’s take a closer look at why safety and quality deserve a place in our newly-constructed, 5-sided “triangle.”
Real-World Safety and Practicality
The construction of Roman aqueducts (think 300 million gallons of water daily) and copious Egyptian pyramids (stone upon stone ad infinitum) were just as subject to our triangle principle as any modern capital project. Thankfully, today we are also concerned with the well-being of our teams as they plan and build today’s projects.
That means that on many projects, understanding the ramp up, ramp down and peak capacity of labor resources is a key safety metric.
When added to our enhanced project management triangle, project teams can visualize how many people will be onsite at a given time to ensure adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), supervision, logistics support and accommodations can be secured, ensuring a safe working environment for all as well as our pillars of scope, cost and time.
As we continue to see more complex projects with demanding budgets and timelines, we will need to be sure to include safety as a key driver of project outcomes for an even more practical reason.
When we drive over a bridge or enter a building, we are suddenly much more invested in the safety record and quality control of that project than we are in the fact that it was built as quickly as possible by the lowest bidder.
From that point of view, safety — and quality — can cast a much longer shadow than scope, cost and time alone.
A Boost in Quality and Project Certainty
As work progresses in the field on our modern projects, hold points for inspections and quality monitoring will be necessary. These can be built into the critical path and orchestrated in such a way as to make the most efficient use of quality assurance and quality control resources.
Working alongside our clients for years, I’ve seen many cases where there is a desire to model a change — for instance, changing a crew size — to see how that would impact a project’s critical path. In addition, I’ve helped many of our customers plan for project escalation by understanding when and what certain planned costs will be and when we may expect them to change.
By having a time-phased view of when and where these resources will be needed, and an efficient means of communicating that to project teams in the field, a more proactive approach can be taken, minimizing impacts on the schedule’s critical path, helping to assure quality and certainty.
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