PM in our everyday life. Set goals and go through “Iron Triangle”

Before we start implementing something in our everyday life, it would be great if we decide what exactly we are going to achieve. So, I’ll try to describe goals and main project constraints, using examples from our everyday life.

When we are speaking about goals, the first thing that comes to mind is SMART criteria. It consists of the capital letters of Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time bound.

Ideally speaking, each objective should be:

  • Specific – your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise you won’t be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it. E.g. “I want to travel” – is not specific, but “Family travel with 5 year old child to Italy for beach holiday and sightseeing” is much more specific.
  • Measurable – it’s important to have measurable goals, so that you can track your progress and stay motivated. So let’s rephrase our holiday goal and make it measurable: “Family travel with 5 year old child to Italy for beach holiday and sightseeing. Some days for beach holiday, visit amusement parks, see ancient Italy cities”. From the first view – it’s ok, but you can not really track progress. It’s not clear whether goal achieved if you visit only Rome on not. In order to make it measurable we have to add some numbers. E.g. “5 days for beach holiday, visit at least 5 amusement parks, travel to Milan, Venice and Florence”.
  • Achievable – your goal also needs to be attainable to be successful. In other words, it should stretch your abilities but still remain possible. In our example: the family must agree for travelling, make some efforts to receive visa, be ready for quite active trip and be ready to find themselves in unknown environment. All family members must approve this approach before we can move forward. E.g. if child wants to visit LEGO-park, we have to plan travel to Munich. If it’s important for another family member have views of nature, we need to plan a trip to Como Lake. However, if they have visited Italy many times before, it would be great to find some other destinations for travelling, thus planning to get new emotions and expand horizons.
  • Realistic – the goal must be real. If parents cannot take vacation at the same period in summer or do not have enough free money for travelling or child do not like walking or visiting amusement parks, then we set unreal goal. Suppose that it’s ok with child interests and vacation possibilities, but there are some budget constraints. The family must spend not more then 8 500$ for the trip. Thus looking for airline ticket prices we can decide to fly to Milan as this destination is the cheapest. In addition, such complex trip would be very expensive if book with tour operator and it will not be flexible, so they need to book it for themselves.
  • Time bound – every goal needs a target date, so that you have a deadline to focus on. Due to our previous constraints, we can detailed that journey should take place in June-August. For planning vacation let’s take 29th May 2017 as start date and 18th June as finish date.

The final goal for journey can be the following: Family travel with 5 year old child to Italy for beach holiday and sightseeing from 29th May 2017 till 18th June 2017. Arrive in Milan, settle in Rimini, reserve 5 days for beach holiday, visit at least 5 amusement parks around Rimini, travel to Milan, Venice and Florence by car from Rimini. Then go to Munich and visit LEGO-park. Finally, trip to Como Lake and back to Milan for home flight.

The final goal may seem too large, but we have rather complex journey and now the final statement is complies with SMART criteria. Based on this goal we can go to next steps of project management – planning and then execution.

Today I also would like to speak about “Iron Triangle” of projects.

Let’s do it fast, good and cheap… and now pick any two. Each activity including projects is balancing Cost, Time, and Scope. You cannot change one of these factors without affecting others. Moreover, any change affects Quality – the fourth element of the “Iron Triangle”, that is placed in the middle.

Let’s discuss several examples on how described above principles work. We’ll continue with our journey to Italy.

  1. If we want cheap journey and are going to travel next week – we would be limited only by several offers and frankly speaking, Italy with 99% percent would be not presented among them.
  2. If we want trip as it described below and want to go next week – it would be rather expensive. We would have our scope and would have it quickly, but for quite large amount of money.
  3. If we want full scope for acceptable prices, we have to start booking flight, car and hotels as soon as possible. Therefore, we have to spend much more time for organizing the journey.

Project manager have to know about main factors that affect quality and about main project constraints. We can imagine the situation, when parents approved their vacations just in 1-2 weeks before the journey. In this case, cost will be less important than time and scope – if you want your dream journey right now you have to pay or hold it for the next year.

Today we learnt how to set goals using SMART criteria and how sides of “Iron Triangle” affect the final quality of our project. I’ve selected the example based on holiday trip, but you can easily use it for any of your everyday activities. In the next post, I’m going to write about planning phase and how it can be used in our everyday life.

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