Continuing from yesterday we are beginning to explore the factors of a project and how project managers and PRINCE2 take these into account. In any project it can be said that there are six controllable variables and that these are universal (and pinnacle) to any project. These are: cost, timescales, quality, scope, risks and benefits. Each is explored more fully below.
Cost is always a concern for almost every corporate activity and projects are no exception. While we may start out with the best intentions and have an idea of how much we want to spend, where we want to spend it and so on- there's always the possibility of overspending. Which is where this is useful, we can use it to see just how the project is going and possibly identify ways to cut costs.
Having a good grip on finances at all times can also identify how viable the project is as if the projected returns are less than the initial costs we know it's a bad idea.
The other permanent concern of almost every corporate activity is time. We always want to know when things will be done, what our projected window of opportunity is and so on. There's always a chance it could be done on time and more of a chance it will be done later than expected, though, often when things are done before time they've been rushed and are not complete.
Or the initial timescale was not analysed and simply decided for convenience or fitting into a particular sale season/festive event.
Quality is a concern for the end-user more than the organisation, as only the end-user will decide what level of quality they expect, but for the organisation they will need to meet some kind of production standards. In PRINCE2 terminology this is when a product is "fit for purpose and conforms to requirements."
Tied to timescale above and even cost, quality is the culmination of the time spent to create the product and the materials and processes used. Too little time or cost and cheaper processes materials may be used, lowering quality, and lowering the possibility that concern will pass the PRINCE2 test.
Scope is more complicated than the previous factors and is often decided not only by the organisation but by the suppliers and retailers. Most products will have complementary goods which are designed to work with them, or to add functionality, it is important to know what these are as well as to produce the project- but always keep in mind what you are producing.
In the case of an Mp3 player- is it up to you to design the player? The cables? The case? All of these need to be designed but without any idea of what you're making it can easily go from a 6-month to a 12-month project, not to mention become incredibly costly and frustrating.
Risk is an inherent part of corporate practice and many believe that with the greatest risk comes the greatest reward. However, how much risk are you taking on? There are many risks but some are worse than others from a production point of view. Looking again at an Mp3 player, will you risk not having a USB charge facility and only allow it to be charged via a plug? If so, how much of that decision is going to affect the rest of the project? The promotion, for instance, would have to sell an extra feature to the user in hopes that the lack of a USB charging facility can be overlooked.
Benefits is one of the most interesting factors as most of the time people don't ask, "Why am I doing this?"
And it's a good point from the point of view of an organisation, with limited resources (financial and otherwise) what makes this project a good idea and what will you get out of it? Equally, there is the other side of the coin that even if you produce a brilliant product- what good is it if you can't use it or sell it because of a singular factor?
Keeping in mind why each project is important and what benefits it will bring is important not only for the viability of projects but the expected return.
This is a lot of information for today, so we shall leave it there for today and move onto structuring projects and the principles of a project in the next post.
Until then- thank you for reading!
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