Published November 1, 2009

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What We Liked
 | Downside | Summary | Postscript


Schwalbe - An Introduction to Project Management

We have to say that we were disappointed to see a whole page dedicated to The Triple Constraint.[15] Clinging to this obsolete construct suggest that the adherent does not have a fundamental grasp of project management. Kathy observes that "Every project is constrained in different ways by its scope, time and cost goals." That is true, but it is also constrained by the need to satisfy its quality goals. You can meet the first three but fail miserably on quality, in which case we guarantee that the product will be a failure. The truth is that scope and quality requirements are the input to the project execution/product creation phase resulting in the time and cost consequences. This is how the four fundamental variables of project management scope, quality, time and cost, knit together.[16]

We had a further concern around the Project Management Process groups, namely: Initiating, Planning, Executing, Monitoring & Controlling, and Closing processes. Kathy says that:[17]

"All projects use the five process groups as outlined in the following list:
  • Initiating processes included actions to begin or end projects and project phases ..."

We believe that this statement further adds to the confusion wrought by PMI in using confusing labels.

The process groups are intended to apply at a lower level in the project management activity hierarchy, that is, to each individual task and upwards. Which means that these process groups are incurred repeatedly throughout the project. However, when it comes to the project's overall life span, this sequence may or may not be used.[18] In fact it is better if a separate methodology is applied for appropriate executive project control, especially in a portfolio management environment.[19] We think this is implied when Kathy says: "A methodology describes how things should be done"[20] as we noted earlier.

Gido - Successful Project Management

We were a little disappointed to see that the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) was given such short shrift given its fundamental importance in establishing the scope of the project's product. Although mentioned in several places throughout the book,[21] apart from a WBS description there is little guidance to the reader on how to develop and apply the WBS tool.

Once again we were disappointed by the pitiful treatment of "quality". The attainment of an appropriate level of quality in the product produced by the project, i.e. a quality grade suited to the product requirements, is probably the one thing that long outlasts cost and schedule issues in project management. It is fundamental to the success of the project endeavor whichever way "success" may be defined.

Unfortunately, we could not find any reference to quality anywhere in the Table of Contents, the Glossary, or in the book's Index. The best we could find is the following statement listed under the attributes of a project:

"Furthermore, it is expected that the work scope will be accomplished in a quality manner and to the customer's satisfaction."[22]

What does "quality manner" and "customer's satisfaction" mean in practical terms? While no doubt laudable, neither of these is expressed in objective and measurable terms. There is an old adage that says: "What gets measured gets managed." The implication is that what is not measurable does not get managed and so quality, as in "quality grade", appears to be a nonentity in this book. Without actually mentioning it, Jack Gido and James Clements fall into exactly the same "Triple Constraint" trap as our previous author Kathy Schwalbe. As we said earlier: "scope and quality requirements are the input to the project execution/product creation phase resulting in the time and cost consequences. This is how the four fundamental variables of project management scope, quality, time and cost, knit together."[23]

Doesn't anyone on the project management training circuit every learn? Doesn't anyone do their homework? Or are we forever condemned to parrot an "approved" committee-driven view of the project management discipline?

What We Liked  What We Liked

15. Schwalbe, pp5-6 [pp6-8]
16. For a more detailed discussion, see my Musings: Triangles, Sex and Simplicity here:
17. Schwalbe, p71 [p77]
18. For a more detailed discussion, see my Paper: Section II - The Standard for Project Management of a Project, Downside here:
19. For a more detailed discussion, see my Paper: The Role of the Project Life Cycle (Life Span) in Project Management here:
20. Schwalbe, p75 [p81]
21. Gido, pp12 & 14-15: example; 116-117: repeat of example; 128-129: referenced in scheduling; 134-135 second example
22. Ibid, p6. The term "quality manner" is repeated again subsequently on pp20, 22
23. See Endnote #16 above.
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