strengths and weaknesses of the “iron triangle”

Project Management-Discussions

Assessment Item 1
Assessment item 1 is intended to provide students with an opportunity and an incentive to consolidate their grasp of the course material and to canvass ideas.
A substantive contribution constitutes a posting of up to, say, 500 words for each discussion.  The posting may take the form of a question related to the weekly topic, a comment on the weekly topic or a question/comment on postings by one or more fellow students. The criteria for marking the forum participation of individual students are set out in Appendix 1 to this brief on assessment arrangements.

Appendix 1 to Assessment Brief
Marking criteria for Assessment Item 1
Task: Contributions of 100-200 words
Criteria:
1.    Evidence of substantive engagement in the online conversation;
2.    Evidence of enquiry and research beyond the textbook;
3.    Grasp of concepts demonstrated;
4.    Quality of insight demonstrated.

Discussion 3
We begin this session by discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the “iron triangle” depiction of project success from a business perspective.  We use Kerzner’s depiction of project success as the focus of this discussion.  We then consider project success from the perspective of, firstly,  the project funder who is making an investment in the project defined and specified in the project business case.  We then consider project success from the perspective of,  secondly, the project owner who the project funder has commissioned to act as his/her agent and who the project funder holds accountable for realising the business case in general and the project’s target outcomes in particular. Finally, we consider project success from the perspective of the project manager who is accountable for managing the resources allocated by the project funder so as to generate project outputs.
Set reading:
•    for an overview of project success, Zwikael & Smyrk pages 37-50, 62-74;
•    for an alternative view on project success: Kerzner, H.: Project Management – A Systems Approach to Planning, Scheduling and Controlling (11 ed), Wiley, pp 2-8 (Overview)
The Sydney Opera House
In thinking about what constitutes project success I often ponder the Sydney Opera House.  This is widely held up as the quintessential project management disaster but also hailed -belatedly – as a public policy success.  Without prejudice to any other topics the group wishes to pursue, I’d be interested in members views.
Response: (100 to 300 words) -if needed please use other sources of reference

Discussion 4
In deciding to fund a project, a prudent project funder will have ranked that project with other alternative proposals.  In doing so, her/she will have compared the candidate projects in terms of their investment merits. The latter entails judgments by the project funder about the project’s “worth”  relative to other projects.  In this session we consider what determines a  project’s “worth” and how the funder might gauge it .
Set readings:
•    for a discussion of project worth, Zwikael & Smyrk, pp 53-62;
•    for an overview of other project evaluation methodologies, Kloppenborg, T.: Contemporary Project Management (3ed), Cengage, 2015,  pp 35-41.
Judging Project Worth
According to Zwikael & Smyrk, a potential project funder will decide whether or not to invest in a project by trading off potential project worth and assessed project riskiness (see  text book section 3.3, page 53 and section 5.4.2 pp179-180). When resources are constrained, such trade-offs will inform project selection and prioritisation.  The trade offs can be informed by financial and scoring models (see extract from Kloppenborg provided in the set readings for Week 4).   Students might discuss how, if at all,  their organisation uses financial and/or scoring models in deciding whether and when to proceed with a project.
Response: (100 to 300 words) -if needed please use other sources of reference

Discussion 5
The kind of projects germaine to the realisation of business objectives typically involve large numbers of people doing a lot of work.  Organising these people so as to perform that work effectively requires some sort of management and administrative framework.  We call this framework “project governance”.  In this session we consider the principles of project governance, noting that these figure prominently in your Project Business Case (assessment item 3) and Project Plan (Assessment item 4).
Set readings:
•    Zwikael & Smyrk: pp 95-109.
Project governance and accountabilities
In their discussion of the principles of project governance (text book section 4.3.2, pp 96-99) Zwikael & Smyrk advocate:
•    the project funder holding the project owner accountable for the eventual realisation of target project outcomes;
•    the project owner holding the  project manager accountable for the production, delivery and implementation of the project’s outputs.
In your judgement and/or experience, is this cascading model of project accountability reasonable in principle and workable in practice? I encourage you to use a practical example to illustrate your response.
Response: (100 to 300 words) -if needed please use other sources of reference

Discussion 6
Zwikael & Smyrk define “stakeholders” inclusively as “an individual or entity who is either potentially impacted by the project or who has a potential impact on the project.” (text book , page 110).  In this session we focus on the project stakeholder management process, with particular reference to the linkage between stakeholder management and project outcomes.
Set readings:
•    For detailed discussion of stakeholder management, Zwikael & Smyrk, pp 110-125;
•    For a discussion of the practicalities of stakeholder management,
Jepsen, A. and P. Eskerod: Stakeholder analysis in projects: Challenges in using current guidelines in the real world, International Journal of Project Management, 27 (2009), pp 335-343
Stakeholder management
Zwikael & Smyrk (text book Section 4.5.1, Box 4.5, page 113) boil stakeholder management down to:
1.    Increasing the support provided by those who are favourably disposed to a given project;
2.    Decreasing the resistance generated by those who are not favourably disposed to that project;
3.    Reducing any risks associated with active opposition.
Discuss how this might work in practice.  Illustrate your posts by referring to a project you know about or in which  you are interested.
Response: (100 to 300 words) -if needed please use other sources of reference

Discussion 7
Arguably, the statement of project scope is the keystone of the project business case (which is the focus of Assessment item 3).  This is because the project scope establishes a project’s boundaries and, hence, shapes project outcomes and project outputs which in turn drive project duration, project resource requirements and project risk. In week 7 we explore the project scoping principle proposed by Zwikael & Smyrk,  to the effect that a project is scoped when its outputs are defined and a project’s outputs are defined when all project outputs are listed and critical fitness-for-purpose features foe each output are described.
Set readings:
•    For a detailed discussion of project scoping, Zwikael & Smyrk pp 146-149;
Project scoping
The ITO model leads Zwikael & Smyrk to advocate (text book section 5.2.2) defining project scope  via (1) an explanation of why the project is being proposed (project objective); (2) a list of target outcomes, realisation of which would indicate achievement of that objective; (3) a list of project outputs that are fit for the purpose of generating those target outcomes.  How, if at all, do you think this would enable project managers to avoid scope creep (defined as the gradual expansion of a project, typically without adjustment of target outcomes, budget or schedule)?  Illustrate your posts by reference to one or more practical examples.
Response: (100 to 300 words)- if needed please use other sources of reference

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