Project Management: Interacting Subsystems
I have a mental exercise for you project management type people out there. In this exercise, we are going to explore the possible interactions and results of the various knowledge management areas as defined by the Project Management Institute or PMI. In this exercise, we will start with an Ishikawa or fishbone diagram. In this exercise, we will label the diagram differently than the typical 5 or 6 M approach. For this exercise, we will label the diagram with the 10 knowledge management areas:
- Integration Management
- Scope Management
- Time Management
- Cost Management
- Quality Management
- Human Resource Management
- Communications Management
- Risk Management
- Procurement Management
- Stakeholder Management
Now, visualize a project management failure, and put it at the head of the Ishikawa diagram as the symptom for which you want to uncover the reasons, for example, late delivery to the schedule as the symptom. Now see how many of items you can generate, at least one from each knowledge management area that will perhaps give you the symptom of late schedule. You will likely be surprised just how many things of the knowledge management areas can have things go wrong and produce a failed schedule. Try this for other project failures and you will see that each of these are connected to one another. We are really working with a system that is a collection of subsystems and we are balancing the performance of each subsystem against the target or objective.
You will likely produce many items from the other knowledge management areas that will allow the project to be late to the schedule, even though the schedule is defined as being part of time management. Poor scope management, for example, can have in impact on our ability to produce and effective schedule. Insufficient talent (human resources) may also have a similar impact on the schedule.
Try it, and let me know what you discover!
 A guide to the project management body of knowledge (PMBOK Guide). (2008). Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.