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Taming the Project Beast: Managing Constraints Through Project Management Framework

While Project Management practices have matured over the years, organizations and institutions still struggle with managing the triple constraints: Time, Scope and Resources. Not managing these constraints affects not only the quality of Higher Education project implementations but can sometimes push projects out for a year or more.

Project Fundamentals

What to Do:
1. Start with Time.  Setting up the project management framework with a focus on the academic calendar year provides the project team and executives with a focused urgency to meet specific time frames in order for the institution to serve its faculty and students. Key HE processes like Admissions, Financial Aid, Registration, together with other factors including budget, year-end processing and government mandates, need to be taken into account.

2. Manage the Scope. Time provides the boundaries for Scope analysis to limit what can be done during the time to deliver. Business decision criteria need to be established to help manage the scope within the time constraint.

3. Set up Resources. Identifying and scheduling the right Resources and enough of them to complete the project is the next part of the project management framework. This is a challenge in itself in that most resources are already allocated to operational duties. The key becomes allocating the right number of right resources at the right time or risk missing implementation timeframes.

4. Assess the Risks. Risks assessment should focus on whether the project can meet the academic calendar year requirements first. If not, risks mitigation plans must be developed to help executives and project sponsors make timely and accurate decisions to keep the project on track.

5. Ensure the Quality. Quality is always a part of risk management of the triple constraint. Since time cannot move in most cases, quality must be addressed to ensure the effectiveness and efficiencies of the system will be realized. Parameters for quality, through measurements or documented benefits, need to be included in the decision-making criteria for managing scope and resources.

Once the schedule and processes have been established, they can then be standardized for future projects and repeated after the initial implementation of the system. The overall project management framework can be analyzed for continuous improvement evaluating it from the perspective of the institutions ability to deliver quality outcomes from a time, scope and resource perspective.

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