Refereeing the Holy Trinity: Creative, Business, and Technical Folks

timeoutWhen it comes to the classic “iron triangle” project management model of time, scope, and cost, the three key stakeholder groups which directly influence and work on a typical interactive project are in constant conflict based on their perspectives. I’ve been asked many times in the past: “What’s your approach to handling this kind of situation? How do you resolve the differences between the creative, business, and technical teams?”

My perspective comes from lots of hands-on experience with each of the three groups. Creative folks need time to let ideas marinate and mature into thoughtful assets. Technical folks (good ones, anyway) need scope to build the best possible product (if only I had a dime for every time a developer’s asked me “Well, if I do it this way it can work okay, but I think it’s better to do it this way because [insert comment about future capabilities or cool functionality]”, I’d be rich!). And of course, we can’t forget business folks, whose tolerance for time seem to fall lower every day. How can you get the three groups working together?

Recommendation: Building mutual respect and condensing each group’s issues into soundbites for the other groups is my approach to handling any initial situation. Project managers must have a strong curiosity for new domains and the nuances of each group’s work and background, which will help them argue for each side. This kind of position will guide a project to success for all stakeholders since it strikes a good balance and effectively negotiates a lot of tension out of the situation. However, when I’m in between a rock and a hard place, I have to side with the money but not without a fight for quality and extensibility. Doing right by the client is my mantra and I would never sacrifice that until I’m kicked out of the building.

What do you think?

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