Mark Langley, CEO of PMI has proposed a new project management triangle. Instead of the points Scope, Time, and Cost, the points of the triangle should be Business Acumen, Leadership, and Technical Project Management (the old PM Triangle).
Here is a quote from Mr. Langley:
"If we only speak the language of project management as in scope, time, and cost; then project management as a profession will fail today’s businesses..!"
Mr. Langley is not advocating that the triple constraint of scope, budget and time, be replaced but that it is a small triangle (technical project management) on a larger triangle of TPM, Business Acumen, and Leadership.
I agree with him and others that have said that managing scope, budget, and time is the basics of project management. It is the LEAST that we do. But in today's world and for our customers today, it is not enough. It is not the value add that project management can and should bring to our customers.
We should not think that our customers do not know what they find as valuable or that we know more about value than they. Like beauty, value is and always will be in the eye of the beholder. Project success always trumps project management process. The project owners, the customers, define what project success is, not the project manager. Our focus as PMs should always be on project success. We work within some set of parameters (usually including scope, budget and time and others) that we manage in order to ensure project success. The point is that my customer's definition of project success may not include the triple constraint. And that is just fine because it's their project, their money and their time. So I better be managing their project in manner that is consistent with their definition of success and in a manner that meets their needs. I will do so, of course, using the tools of my profession to the best of my ability and as appropriately as I can. But my goal is to meet their definition of project success. I work for them after all.
That doesn't mean I am going to chase every whim or suggestion they make because sometimes my job includes providing guidance to help them make good decisions. I will use that bias' of scope, budget, and time plus other information to explain consequences of their change requests and other decisions. But they own the project and have every right and responsibility to act as they own it.
In order for me to act as a good steward of their project, I need to bring (or obtain) a knowledge of the business to the project. Since nearly all projects involve teams and people who don't report to me, I must be a good leader. And I need to be good at using the tools of my profession (project management). I must be good at all points of this triad in order to fully serve my constituents. I bring the most value to my customers through servant leadership as I act as a good steward of their project. I bring value by being a problem solver, flexible and adaptive as needed.I bring value by working to ensure that the objectives of the project are met and I bring value when I do all that I can to ensure the benefits of the project are met.
The project objectives and the realization of project benefits are the elements of project success. These are the reasons projects are undertaken and where the value lies. There is no value in the project itself, only in the results of the project. So I believe it is my responsibility to manage to the results, using the appropriate tools of my profession. This is what my customer expects of me.
As I have said before, I have often heard, from project managers, "the business doesn't understand project management," well there is no reason they should. It's why they hired us. To me what is more troubling is how often I hear "project managers don't understand my business." If we don't understand the business, we run the risk of not making the appropriate project related decisions or of taking the wrong actions.
Sorry for such a long winded post. But I believe this is such an important topic because it is indicative of the need for our profession to be more customer centric in our focus.