The project managers and business analyst can make a great partnership as long as they’re speaking the same language.
In this video, I provide guidance to BA’s on how they can use the theory of triple constraints to work better with their PM’s.
In most of the business analysis work that you’re going to do, there’s a very high likelihood that you’re going to be working with a project manager on the project. OK. There are some instances where you wouldn’t have to do that. So for example, if you’re doing an enhancement to the system that doesn’t require a lot of analysis or development work chances are that your company is not going to dedicate a project manager a full-time project manager to manage that piece. Right. The expectation for most clients in that situation is it’s for the business analysts to do some of the project management work that needs to get done to get that small piece of change implemented into production.
In most large projects when you start to get into larger and larger and larger projects business analyst becomes dedicated strictly to analysis work and the client cannot rely on the analyst to do both the analysis and project management. So that’s why in the larger projects typically what you’ll have is you’ll have a dedicated project manager who is responsible for making sure that the project. Gets delivered on time on budget and with the scope and quality that has been agreed to. OK. And so when you’re working with those project managers. There is one central theme that you should understand in order to be able to build a good relationship with your project manager and to be able to stay on the same page with the project manager throughout your project. That central tenet the central theme that you should learn is what’s referred to as the triple constraints. OK. The concept of the triple constraints is a fundamental project management concept that all project managers are tied. The triple constraints tell a project manager that they do not have unlimited resources to deliver a solution. And I’ll explain to you. Why understanding the triple constraints can help you with your relationship with your project manager in a second but let me explain to you what the triple constraints it’s. The triple constraints is fundamental project management theory that tells your project manager that they have limitations. That they have real-world limitations of. Cost. Of schedule. And of quality that they have to follow. So when the management of your company assigns a project to your project manager they will always tell your Project Manager.
Here is the amount of money you’re allowed to spend to deliver this project. Here is the schedule that we’re expecting you to stick to. And then the here is the set of functionality the scope and the level of quality that we expect for the solution that needs to get delivered. Those three things are always made very clear to a project manager. So all project managers understand the fact that there are tradeoffs between scope between schedule and between cost. That is what is referred to as the triple constraints because you essentially have to start making tradeoffs not you as the business analysts I’m talking now but the project manager the project manager has to make tradeoffs within their project between how much scope they’re going to deliver how much it’s going to cost and when that what the timelines look like.
So the thing that project managers are always taught is that the client. Their clients can expect them to choose two out of the three of those elements. And a really easy way to understand this is if you think about the statement. Do you want a good fast or cheap? You can have two but not three. Hey I’ll repeat that again. You can have it good. You can have it fast or you can have it cheap. You cannot have all three. You can only have it good and fast but it’s not going to be cheap. If you choose to make it cheap and good. And it’s not going to be very fast. Right. Good fast cheap means scope and quality schedule cost. You can the client can choose to do the three things but they cannot have all three. You as a business analyst. Once you understand that central concept and more importantly once you know that project managers fundamentally understand that concept you can start to use that concept in your own conversations with your project manager. So if your project manager says. I want a huge amount of analysis scope to be done. I want it in a very squeezed timeline and you don’t have any other analysts helping you with this. What are they telling you? They’re telling you I want you to deliver a lot of stuff. In a short period of time. And without any additional cost. Right. They’re saying I want a good fast and cheap. Once you understand the concept of triple constraints you can use that as a bit of a negotiation tool at two different points. Throughout your project. In an earlier estimating video I talked to you about how you should give estimates. The concept of the triple constraints. Is a very useful and effective tool in justifying the estimates that you get because if you start to use the language of good fast and cheap. Right scope schedule quality. If you start to use that language. Your estimates are going to be able to hold their weight a lot better than if you’re speaking in the language that your project manager might not really understand all that clear. OK so that’s essentially what the triple constraints is. Where you use it again is in the estimating process so when your project manager asks you for an estimate. You provide the scope. And you provide a lot of assumptions about what’s in that scope.
And then what you do is as part of the negotiation right.
When you go to the next stage of estimating and your project manager says well justify to me how this it’s going to take this long for you to produce that much analysis work. You can start to use the language of good fast and cheap. You can. You can say for example look the scope of this project is huge. And I know that you want it done in three months. But just by looking at the scope of this. And knowing that I don’t we can’t spend any more money which means we cannot hire another analyst to help me on this project. Within those constraints it’s going to take me a long time to produce this. And that’s part of my justification for why I’ve given you the estimate that I have right. In what I just said. I use the concept of triple constraints to justify my estimates to my project manager now. Right. So now the project manager understands right. Everything clicks a lot more clearly in their mind. The project manager thinks he off course. That makes total sense because I’m a project manager and I understand the concept of triple constraints. So then you’re project manager knows what to do next. Right. So they understand. Either they have to reduce the scope of the project to reduce the timelines. Right. They have to. Bring another analyst on board which will cost them money. Right. Or they just have to live with the fact that it’s going to take longer than they thought for you to deliver that work. Right. Because of the fact that they know that there’s tradeoffs. If they want you to deliver things more quickly. One of those two things has to give if they want it the schedule to be good. They have to either give up a little bit of scope. Or they have to add a little bit of cost. Right. You kind of see how the whole triple constraints thing works. So throughout you’re estimating process when you give your project manager an estimate you say here’s my scope statement that I’m estimating against. And that is the first of that that gives you the first piece of conversation that you can have with your project manager gives you the scope part right. You provide an estimate which is their schedule part and then the fact that there are no other resources on your project is the cost of now during the estimating process you use that and if you do use it you’re going to end up with a much better outcome than you would if you were to start speaking about things that project managers don’t really necessarily understand or if you start talking about it in a way that doesn’t automatically click in their minds you’re going to get a lot more friction in those conversations than you would need to have. If you understand the triple constraints use the concepts in the language that project managers use. That conversation becomes very simple right and your ability to justify the estimates that you give increases a lot because now you’re getting a lot less resistance right. Estimating starts to become easier when you start using the triple constraints as a way of explaining and justifying your estimates OK so estimating is the first part where you use this concept of triple constraints when you’re talking to your project manager so now let’s say the project manager takes your estimates they put it in the plan. The project is approved. Now you’re well into producing the analysis right you’re doing the analysis and requirements part of the project throughout your project. There are always going to be changes that happen. And one of the biggest types of changes that happen in your project are what are called change requests or scope changes to your project. Right. The scope statement that you gave way during estimating. Right your client might say to themselves Well you know like we need to add to this you know maybe four or five months ago we thought that that was the scope that we needed. Now that we’re further into it we’re coming to the realization that we need actually a couple of other things within that scope. OK. This is another instance where the concept of triple constraints comes in very handy because if your project manager tries to add scope to the project but they ignore the fact that that has a cost or schedule implications then that puts you in a very tough position because essentially what the project manager is saying to you mid project is that while we have to do all of this extra work now but we can’t add any extra costs we cannot add any extra time to the schedule. Right. They have broken the law of triple constraints. If they make that type of a statement because they love true triple constraints basically tells all project managers no if you want to add more scope. Either cost or schedule or potentially both have to you have to make some tradeoffs in that department. So if your project manager says hey here’s a bunch of extra scope I’m going to give you an extra two months to make sure that you can do that scope than what they’ve done there is they’ve still observe the rules of triple constraints they’ve said I’m going to add cost but I have to trade off a little bit of schedule to make sure that that happens. Alternatively they could say to you. Well let’s add that scope in and I know that you don’t have the time to you know to deliver it all within the same schedule. What I’ll do is I’ll go and find another analyst who you can ramp up really quickly into your projects that they can do that part of the work as long as you coordinate and make sure that the work is getting done. That’s another alternative that they can follow what they cannot do or I mean they can if they want or and if you let them. They can do is they can add scope without observing the triple constraints. They can add scope without making the tradeoffs that they need to make.
And that for a lot of analysts who don’t understand the concept of triple constraints this is a very heavy paint point because a lot of analysts find it difficult to negotiate the schedule for example when it changes when scope changes midway through the project a lot of analysts don’t have the right language and it’s very difficult for them to push back against the project manager and sayMr. orMrs. project manager. I understand that we have additional scope but you have to also understand that the triple constraints are in effect here right. Triple constraints obviously tells us that if we’re gonna add more scope we either have to trade off a little bit of cost or we have to trade off a little bit of schedule. So understand the concept of triple constraints and start to use it in your conversations with your project manager with your resource manager with anybody who is responsible for managing any types of resources the concept of triple constraint. It’s a fundamental principle that even if they haven’t been taught it. Formally in project management education because of the fact that they have done project management for so long it’s an inherent concept that they that they understand right viscerally a lot of project managers will understand you of course. Of course if I had more scope I have to either you know budge on the schedule or the costs a little bit. So try to start using it in your conversations with your project managers during estimating if the client asks for additional scope to be added make sure that the project manager is in line that the project manager is doing they’re fulfilling their role to make sure that either the schedule gets adjusted or that that they can start to help you procure more resources. So spend a little bit more money to help you procure a little bit more resources to make sure that you’re not taking the full brunt of that change request without the project absorbing it the right way formally through like project through project management facilities and through project management mechanisms that could change your path.
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