Published here August, 2004.

Introduction | Book Structure | What We Liked | Downside | Summary


It is time that project management practitioners started a serious dialogue on the subject of managing scope as one of the variables, and perhaps the key variable, in project management. Ask not what is the cost of this project, or change, and can we afford it? Ask instead, what is the value to the organization of this project, or change, is it worth it and how does it stack up against our other options? Some may argue that a dollar value metric is not pertinent to their particular type of project, but whichever way you look at it, money is the only common vehicle for comparison between projects in a portfolio.

Stephen sums up his position at the end of chapter 1 by observing:[21]

  • The purpose of a project is not to be short or inexpensive, but to make a profit. It should be managed in such a way as to maximize that profit.
  • All the work, and all aspects of the project that impact its profit should be analyzed together, in an integrated way that shows the effect of the various alternatives on the project profit.
  • Each project that is managed in a context with other projects should be analyzed in an integrated way that shows the effects of each (ostensibly internal) project decision on all other projects, and, specifically, on the multi-project profit.
  • Insofar as projects are managed without regard to profit, bad (profit-reducing) decisions will be made, both randomly and systematically, throughout the organization.

Stephen's book was first published five years ago. In our experience it takes about that long for new ideas to sink into the collective psyche of the project management populace. So, we share Stephen's view. It is time that project sponsors and the creators of the enterprise planning software they use (if any) figure out how to incorporate these variable scope and value concepts, and apply them to their projects. Then, perhaps, we will be in a better position to demonstrate that the traditional definition of project success of being "On time and within budget" is short term and very narrowly focused.

We think that Stephen Devaux's book makes a valuable contribution to the discussion of project and portfolio management, planning and tracking. However, some things have changed in the last five years, or are better understood, so we sincerely hope that Stephen will consider updating and reissuing his book "Total Project Control". If he does, we hope he will also add a glossary.

R. Max Wideman
Fellow, PMI

21. Ibid. p14
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