Project Flexibilities

In Darrell’s recent post on the Triple Constraints Model, he discusses the triple constraints and the importance of establishing which constraint is the least flexible on a deliverable basis. In my projects, I explore this concept through the use of a tool that I use a little differently. Before I get into the differences, let me explain the tool first. Then we can discuss different approaches and see what you think.

I call this tool “The Flexibility Matrix.”  It is based on the triple constraints concept and is a terrific tool for understanding where the main constraints really are. It gives me a reason to talk to the sponsor and customer at the very beginning of a project or when I first take over a project. This discussion provides me an opportunity to understand, and eventually meet, their expectations. I cannot meet something I don’t know about! I have found this simple technique to be extremely helpful in running my projects and really believe in it.

My Flexibility Matrix looks like this:

The idea is that one ‘X’ goes in each column (no cheating!).  Through this process I find out the expectations of the sponsor and customer (together if possible, separately if not). If the completed matrices (or set of expectations) do not match, I use that opportunity to highlight the different expectations and get both the sponsor and customer together to decide the project’s true constraint vs. greatest flexibility.

I love this tool for its simplicity and ability to create an early dialogue, understand and set expectations, know my true constraints and give me a tool to help evaluate change requests.   For example, if time is least flexible, I will not accept a change request that will threaten my end delivery date without customer and sponsor approval and additional time provided.

Darrell and I use this tool differently – he uses it for each deliverable, and I use it to define the project in total. We have both used the tool successfully, and neither approach is wrong. But I’m curious:

  • Have any of you used this or a similar technique?
  • Did you use it per deliverable or per project?
  • How well did it work?

Let us know.

From Vicki Wrona

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