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The 8 Dimensions of Project Management
By Tomer Sagi

I’ve been thinking about this concept for a while now and decided to put it together in a diagram and see if it works.

I tend to see Project Management go beyond the standard triangle of constraints (Time, Cost, Scope while controlling Quality).

I wanted to include the Needs and Requirements to the mix in addition to the deliverables and value as outputs. Naturally I believe they are all linked together to start, control and complete a project.

I think project management is definitive process with definitive inputs and outputs and in the middle we will need to control certain aspects (dimensions) in order to achieve the desired outputs. Therefore he’s my proposition:

The Project Management Octagon

Figure 1: The Project Management Octagon

Input

I believe the Project’s input is made out of Needs / Wants and Objectives / Requirements.

  • Needs / Wants

    I think there is a distinctive difference between Needs and Wants. I recently took a Marketing course and believe many Project Management concepts could be modeled off the Marketing context.

    Marketing clearly distinguishes Needs and Wants. Take for example the basic human need for eating and a Need would be translated to “I’m hungry”. A want in this case would refer to a desire for a specific product. In this example “I want McDonalds”1.

    I think they could be grouped together and form the basis of a desire / reason to commence any work. In future articles I’ll investigate these two areas in more detail.

  • Objectives / Requirements

    After Needs / Wants are established, a few possible options could be investigated. Once a solution has been selected, a requirements gathering or objective clarification process kicks in. Here a variety of stakeholders are engaged and their requirements are captured.

    The requirements are specific to a solution, the one that was selected previously. I believe that an Options Exploration phase always exists at the outset of a project as many times stakeholders / users confuse need from want (see example above). How many times did we hear stakeholders say “I want product X” or “I want to use it this way”. This is normally ‘jumping the gun’ and a simple Needs analysis could illustrate the real demand or problem.

Control

This layer is based on the standard constraint triangle (in this case the square part of the octagon). I will not elaborate on this layer at this stage as I assume this is familiar to most Project Managers.

I will mention that Quality is something used throughout the project as a Quality Assurance of deliverables and the quality perceived by the stakeholders or users

Ouput

Outputs seal the project and are directly linked to the Input dimensions. Example, the Value dimension is linked directly to the Need.

  • Deliverables

    The output of any project will be in the form of a deliverable, being tangible or non-tangible. Deliverables are directly linked to the 2nd dimension = Requirements / Objectives.

  • Value

    This is a key one. This dimension includes the benefits (as value is something that has to be valued by the customer and ensure the benefits have been realized). Do I hear Benefits Realization measurement?

    Another key point here is that Value must be qualified by the customer and not by the project delivery team.

Example #1 (non-IT)

Take for example a situation as follows:

  • Input
    • I’m cold = I have a need to be warm.
    • I could have a want = I want a specific t-shirt.
    • My requirements are = long sleeve, color blue with a cool pattern on it.
  • Control

    • I must invest time to find this shirt.
    • I must pay to buy a shirt.
    • I must ensure I buy only the shirt (and not pants etc).
    • I want to make sure the shirt is good quality.
  • Output

    • I have a t-shirt in my hand.
    • Does it make me warm?

Example #2 (IT)

Take for example a project for developing an online service desk for providing useful information to customer on specific products.

  • Input
    • I need to improve customer satisfaction.
    • I chose an online service desk to provide information to customer (chosen solution).
    • I want the web-site to be usable, easy to understand and well designed (requirements).
    • I have only $30,000 in my budget.
  • Control

    • I must ensure web-site is developed under or at $30,000.
    • I must ensure we deliver exactly what is required.
    • I must ensure we deliver within a month.
    • I must ensure the quality of the site is measure and rated high.
  • Output

    • I have a web-site that meets requirements.
    • Value? = Have I improved customer satisfaction? Let’s do a survey and see…

1 Note: This fast food chain is mentioned solely as an example. PM Hut does not endorse any company, product, or individual in the body of its articles.

Tomer Sagi is a Senior IT Project Manager who has been managing software projects using RUP, Prince2 and Agile methodologies for the past 4 years. He has introduced companies to agile methods and practices including Scrum, Scrum-ban, Lean and TDD.

“Chaos Dimention” is a Project Management consultancy and professional services company based in Wellington, New Zealand. “tProject” is a blog by Tomer Sagi that collects and communicates practical and time-proven project management methods and practices. Check it out at http://www.chaosdimention.com/.

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