Triple Constraint: Fast, Good, Cheap (Speed, High Quality, Low Cost)

 

 

Contributed by Kevin Bautz, Senior Project Manager

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Triple Constraint: Fast, Good, Cheap (Speed, High Quality, Low Cost)

Kevin Bautz H+M Industrial EPC

Speed.  High quality.  Low cost.  However you phrase it, we live within these parameters every day both in our personal and professional lives.  The goal for most is to have all three together. But when you step back and look at what you are actually requesting, it can be explained by the cliché:  You want to have your cake and eat it too…and not get fat.

Fast, good, cheap. Speed, high quality, low cost. These terms combined are known by a variety of names often referred to as the “Project Management Triangle”, “Triple Constraint”, or “The Iron Triangle”. I definitely do not know everything there is about this topic, I can just speak to my personal experiences.  What I want to do is help give an awareness and present something for you to think about that will hopefully drive you to perform some research of your own.

 

triple constraint

 

Take a quick look and you will see there is tons of information on the subject.  Many argue that you can completely have all three, while others think that is unattainable. Both sides of the argument are defendable. I tend to side with the argument that you cannot have all three in perfect harmony, there is always some type of tradeoff.  Even though you can have a project that is perceived as fast, good, and cheap, I interpret the triangle to say you cannot MAXIMIZE all three together. There is always a compromise between the constraints.

What do you notice about the terms fast, good, and cheap?  Are they concrete?  What/who defines fast?  How do we know if something is cheap?  If it is good, can it be better?  The terms are relative and can be subjective.  Each requires an established benchmark to determine if the goal has been met or exceeded.  Once you have that benchmark in place, it is oftentimes difficult to determine if the parameter has been truly maximized.  My experiences in production and projects have opened my eyes to the different constraint combinations. This experience has helped me determine which to maximize, because there is always a tradeoff, for each application.

In production, we wanted all three but would often tradeoff quality for the other two.  This was common because we had a higher tolerance for quality than for cost and speed.  The quality tolerance allowed for saleable products with some variation.  The main goal was to be efficient: high speed with low cost.  This was true for the production environments I experienced, but I do understand it can be quite different in other industries.

In the business of projects and project management quality is rarely, if ever, intentionally sacrificed.  Quality outlives the project life cycle.  Speed and cost are “here and now” parameters, while quality is present for the entire post-project existence.  Days to years after the completion of an EPC project, people will continue to either criticize or complement what they see in the field.  Operators who use the results of the project will curse those who made the operability difficult. They will praise those who provided a clean, understandable, sound design and installation.

Quality is a given.  So where does that leave speed and cost?  I have found these are the two constraints that are most commonly discussed at the start of a project.  We always want to know:  What is more important, speed or cost?  From this exchange, proper decision making can take place and a project can meet (or exceed) the expectations of its stakeholders.

We live in a world of constant balance, always trying to do things better, faster, smarter, and stronger.  When working for or with a company, the ability to understand and accept constraints as reality is crucial.  By listening to clients to figure out the right mix, the chances of successfully completing a project and building lasting relationships increases.

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KevinBautz

Kevin Bautz – Senior Project Manager at H+M Industrial EPC

B.S. in Chemical Engineering

Kevin has more than 13 years of industrial engineering experience in operations and project settings. His past experience ranges from process and equipment engineering in semiconductors, process simulation engineer for the oil & gas and chemical industries, and key management roles in engineering and operations for The Sun Products Corporation in Pasadena, TX and Bowling Green, KY. Kevin joined H+M in 2014.

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Stabilize, Standardize, Optimize – The Best Lesson My Mentor Ever Taught Me

 

 

Contributed by Kevin Bautz, Senior Project Manager

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Stabilize, Standardize, Optimize – The Best Lesson My Mentor Ever Taught Me

Stabilize, Standardize, Optimize - H+M Industrial EPC

Several years ago, I met a gentleman who had achieved great successes throughout his career. He had held various positions of responsibility, created and marketed useful products for his companies, owned and operated businesses, and mentored young professionals providing advice and guidance. I was one of those fortunate enough to receive mentoring from this man.  He was my Jonah (If this doesn’t ring a bell, I recommend you read The Goal by Eliyahu Goldratt).

It was through many interactions and deep discussions that I learned why mentoring had become his latest passion.  He had achieved all he personally desired and realized he could have an exponentially greater impact by mentoring those who had similar traits.  He always said if he only knew in his 30’s what he learned by his 60’s, his career would have been even more successful and come with greater ease.  I share this to show that he was deeply committed to his projects.

I, being one of his “projects”, felt the level of commitment and value immediately.  It was early on in my mentorship that I became responsible for my department and began feeling the effects of years of neglectful “leadership”.  My mentor provided the grounding needed to evaluate my department. He provided the knowledge to help shape a vision and he had the experience to make it even better.  He shared three words: Stabilize, Standardize, Optimize.  You cannot put the cart before the horse.  You must be stable before you attempt to standardize.  You must be standardized before you optimize.  He explained to me that being a simple man, he liked to keep things simple.  He also said that old age made him forget things so he tried to remember as little as possible. I sometimes think this was just a ploy to play-down the outward simplicity of what he shared.

So what was the impact of those three words?  Well, for starters, they straightened up the department and put it on the path to success. That path included:

  • Stabilize. The department had vacancies in key positions, other positions only had temporary support, interdepartmental relationships were strained, expectations were unclear and/or not being followed, and the list goes on and on. Being the first goal, these received immediate attention and were corrected.
  • Standardize. Each shift operated in its own manner. Expectations were clear but still varied between individuals. Reporting and formatting differed day-to-day and procedures lacked details.  With some focus, teamwork, and additional time these items were standardized.
  • Optimize. We strove to achieve this step and knew that optimization would be ongoing.  Optimization would be sustainable as long as stability and standardization had been established.  When we reached this stage, it felt like the sky was the limit.  Creativity, decision-making, results, teamwork…everything seemed to just click while being positioned on a solid base.

As for the lasting impact of Stabilize, Standardize, Optimize, much like my seasoned mentor, it is simple enough for me to remember.  It is applicable in more instances than I first realized.  I have used it for work assignments, large projects, leading departments, life events, and even seemingly simple tasks.  It is a shared vision that helps people to see and achieve opportunities without falling victim to constant inefficiency, confusion, or a “flavor-of-the-month” feel.

These three words are also, as I found out later on, what my mentor was using to guide me.  He evaluated me, determined my current stage, and worked a plan to move me through the stages.  He knew that he could not mold me and teach me effectively (Standardize) if I lacked a solid foundation (Stabilize).  He knew that he could not push the limits and test my ceiling (Optimize) if he could not understand or anticipate my thoughts and actions (Standardize).  The realization that my mentor used this to achieve success in so many situations left an even greater impact on me.  How can three words that we hear all of time in business (but usually separately) be brought together to drive success?

Try it for yourself.  Think of a current situation, assignment, or project.  Evaluate it to determine whether it is stabilized, standardized, or optimized.  Plan your path to move it from one stage to the next and act.

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KevinBautz

Kevin Bautz – Senior Project Manager at H+M Industrial EPC

B.S. in Chemical Engineering

Kevin has more than 13 years of industrial engineering experience in operations and project settings. His past experience ranges from process and equipment engineering in semiconductors, process simulation engineer for the oil & gas and chemical industries, and key management roles in engineering and operations for The Sun Products Corporation in Pasadena, TX and Bowling Green, KY. Kevin joined H+M in 2014.

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Success or Failure – Using the 5 Steps of Project Management to Plan Yours

 

 

Contributed by Kevin Bautz, Senior Project Manager

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Success or Failure – Using the 5 Steps of Project Management to Plan Yours

5 steps of project management H+M Industrial EPC

I wanted to write about a topic that would allow me to discuss something personal yet applicable to work, important to me yet topical to others, and in-the-moment yet timeless.  I found no better way to write about success and failure than in the context of a recent workplace competition.

I entered the workplace competition to succeed, not fail.  Isn’t that why most people compete?  If so, why is it that many will fail?  Why will few succeed?  What is the difference between success and failure?  What is the same between success and failure?  It is this last question that helps me understand answers to the others.

This competition had many motivating factors; “want” alone was not enough to succeed.  Both success and failure take effort; you have to try. Both outcomes require initiating, planning, executing, controlling, and closure. Coincidentally, those are also the 5 Steps in Project Management.

These steps can either support or thwart a positive outcome.  They can help you succeed, but they can also help you fail if not used correctly.  In the case of the workplace competition, many used these steps to execute a plan contradictory to their ultimate goal.  They subconsciously planned how to do everything BUT work toward the goal.

The same is true at work.  In my field, Project Management, the steps below are the ones that guide my work.  These steps, when used effectively, ensure the highest level of success.  They are specific, predictable, consistent, thoughtful, tested, uniform, familiar, and teachable to name a few.

5 Steps in Project Management

  • Initiating – consists of those processes performed to define a new project or a phase of an existing project by obtaining authorization to start the project or phase. (PMBOK Guide)
  • Planning – consists of those processes required to establish the scope of the project, refine the objectives and define the course of action required to attain the objectives that the project was undertaken to achieve. (PMBOK Guide)
  • Executing – consists of those processes performed to complete the work defined in the project management plan to satisfy the project specifications. (PMBOK Guide)
  • Monitoring/Controlling – required to track, review and regulate the progress and performance of the project; identify any areas in which changes to the plan are required; and initiate the corresponding changes. (PMBOK Guide)
  • Closure – consists of those processes performed to finalize all activities across all the Process Groups to formally close the project or phase. (PMBOK Guide)

Still wondering what workplace competition allowed me to use these steps toward success?  I lost…a lot.  I also won…a lot.  I succeeded at achieving better health, better self-image, a little bit of financial compensation, bragging rights, and everything else that comes with losing 35 pounds in 90-days.  Let’s just say that I don’t like to lose.

My success did not come by accident. I used the steps to accomplish my goal, not conflict with it.  The next time you are presented with achieving a goal, remember it is up to you to put your efforts toward either success or failure.

References:

Project Management Institute. (2004). A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK guide). Newtown Square, Pa: Project Management Institute.

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KevinBautz

Kevin Bautz – Senior Project Manager at H+M Industrial EPC

B.S. in Chemical Engineering

Kevin has more than 13 years of industrial engineering experience in operations and project settings. His past experience ranges from process and equipment engineering in semiconductors, process simulation engineer for the oil & gas and chemical industries, and key management roles in engineering and operations for The Sun Products Corporation in Pasadena, TX and Bowling Green, KY. Kevin joined H+M in 2014.

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