I was once on a project to develop a system that should have taken a year to build. Instead, the business need demanded that the system be ready within 5 months—impossible! On the first day of the project, the project manager drew a triangle on a white board to illustrate some tradeoffs that he expected to occur over the course of the project. The corners of the triangle were labeled Functionality, Time, and Money. The manager explained, “We have too little time. We have an unlimited budget. We will not be measured by the bells and whistles that this system contains. So over the next several weeks, I want you as developers to keep this triangle in mind and do everything it takes to meet this 5-month deadline.”
At the end of the 5 months, the project was delivered on time; however, the project was incredibly over budget, and the final product was “thrown away” after it was used because it was unfit for regular usage. Remarkably, the business users felt that the project was very successful because it met the very specific business needs for which it was built. They believed that the trade-offs that were made were worthwhile. Barbara Wixom

1. What are the risks in stressing only one corner of the triangle?
2. How would you have managed this project? Can you think of another approach that might have been more effective?

  • CreatedMarch 13, 2013
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