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A project manager’s guide to getting the job done

Adeline Teoh ed.
November 10, 2015

The old adage goes: ‘Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick any two.’ But what use is a fast and cheap project that doesn’t get you what you want?

In the days before Xbox, Candy Crush and even graphical user interfaces, I used to play touch-typing games on the computer. The early levels were designed to help you get used to having your fingers in the correct position and made you type repeated strokes: fff jjj ddd kkk and so on.

The harder levels had the players type out full sentences without looking at their hands while doing it. The computer would then score on two counts—speed and accuracy.

I was reminded of this the other day when I visited an acquaintance of mine who grows tea on a farm in regional Victoria. He requests volunteer workers through organisations like WWOOF (Willing Workers On Organic Farms) where, in exchange for food and board, a volunteer comes along and helps out on the property for a few hours a day.

The volunteer for the tea farm has the not-very-taxing job of removing gum leaves that blow onto the tea bushes, lest the eucalyptus oils spoil the taste of the tea to be harvested. I helped him out for half a day alongside a girl who’d been there a few weeks, and lamented how slow I was compared to them both. “You’re better than a girl we had a few weeks ago,” he remarked. “She was really fast, but she missed a lot.”

I started thinking about our ideas of success when it comes to completing projects. A reader once noted it was better to finish a project on time and reduce the scope rather than run over schedule to realise all the benefits. Clients tend to remember if a project was on time or not when they consider whether it was successful, he said.

After hearing about what happened with the fast but essentially useless worker, I wonder if this is actually true. Do clients really remember whether a project finished on time versus whether it was a waste of time?

I think the results should speak for themselves! I type at about 45 words per minute (using three fingers and a thumb on each hand rather than my whole hand like I’m supposed to), but I’m not entering any speed or typing technique competitions. My goal is to make sure the right words are in the right order so you come away with something to think about.

Adeline Teoh ed.
Adeline Teoh is the editor of She has more than a decade of publishing experience in the fields of business and education, and has specialised in writing about project management since 2007.
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