When the rubble settled after the attacks in New York City on September 11th, the city had set a goal:
To replace the towers with a monument and new World Trade Center by September 11th, 2011.
To do this they had to reconcile the three critical facets of a project:
Scope, budget, and deadline.
Each of these components is elastic with respect to the others.
Here’s an example:
If the city planners wanted to add features (increase the scope) to the building outside of the original plan, they’d either have to hire more people to finish it on time (increase the budget) or they’d need more time to get it done (extend the deadline).
If any of these facets is inelastic, the others must become MORE elastic to compensate.
Here’s what actually happened:
The Deadline was the most important part. The city wanted to have the new monument completed before the tenth anniversary of the attacks. It was important for the spirit of the city to see this recovery. It had sentiment. It could not be changed.
Since this building was going to be the face of the memory of so many brave people, city planners were reluctant to minimize them. They couldn’t erect a crummy, half-baked remnant after an attack like that. It had to be robust and beautiful. It could not be changed.
So when the deadline and the scope are inelastic, the budget must be TWICE as elastic to compensate.
You guessed it.
They went way over budget.
How are you reconciling these three facets of project management in your business? Based on their relationships, are you surprised by where your budgets or deadlines are? How about the set of features in your scope?
You’re going to have to compromise. It’s inevitable.
Based on the mission of your project, will you kill a feature or go over budget when you’re faced with reality?
Would your team make the same choices?