Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The trias projectica

I had an interesting (that seems to be my stopgap these days) discussion the other day about who is in charge of a project. Who is responsible for the timely and correct delivery of a project. As is often the case, "the other side" claimed the project manager is end responsible for the entire project. I disagree strongly with that view.

As far as I can see there are (at least) three key factors in a project:

  • what do we build?
  • how do we build it?
  • when do we deliver it?
These are known by many other names (like: features, quality, deadline), but I'd like to stick with what, how and when for now. The what is determined by a functional designers, or in these days more often either a product manager or a "usabilitystop" expert. The how will normally be determined by the developers, the technical lead or maybe even an "architect". The when is the responsibility of the project manager, the resource planner or the "director".

As you might know or notice, there is a dependency between these factors. You can choose to create more functionality (what) in the same way (how), but that will certainly take more time (when). You can also say that you want more functionality and want it delivered in the same time, no matter how it's built. It will certainly result in lesser quality (not to mention less motivation of your developers), but it can be done.

The important thing is that a change in one of the factors, influences the other one. And the trick to a successful project is balancing these three factors.

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