The Hidden Pyramid



By Andrea Caccamese, PMP®, Prince2® Practitioner, ITIL® V3 Foundation


Damiano Bragantini, PMP®, Agsm Distribuzione




Soft skills for the Project Manager have been traditionally identified as a set of cross-cutting skills that should complement the core job of establishing and maintaining reasonable tradeoffs among the elements of the traditional project management “iron triangle”. But there is more: the project manager needs to extend its integrative role also to a “hidden pyramid” where “soft factors” like motivation, socialization and attitudes are managed into a constrained environment between themselves and with the traditional “hard factors”, like scope, time, cost and quality. Project management can rely upon tools for dealing with “hard factors”: scope, time, cost and quality can be quantitatively defined and measured. But, what about “soft factors”? This paper presents the result of an extended research effort aiming to identify a model for “soft factors”, including taxonomies and proxies representing their qualitative/quantitative values. This model can be put in place in any context where the integrative project management effort is extended to the “hidden pyramid”.


In the last three decades the issue of what constitutes project success has been debated, and many efforts have been made to provide the project manager with tools and techniques useful to pursue project management success. At the beginning the effort was focused upon tools and techniques related to the “iron triangle”, originally focused upon scope, quality, time and cost, and further integrated with tools and techniques focused upon uncertainty governance issues (Atkinson, 1999; Bernroider and Ivanov, 2011; Toor and Ongulana, 2010). Some steps ahead have been made in the direction to incorporate “soft” factors in the basis for project management success: “the project manager’s leadership style influences project success” and “different leadership styles are appropriate for different types of project” (Muller and Turner, 2006, p. 30). Even recently (Serrador and Turner, 2015, p. 30), in debating the relationship between project efficiency (as they redefined project management success) and project success referred “team satisfaction” as one of the dimensions of project success and identified ”team morale”, “skill development”, “team member growth” and “team member retention” as possible measures for it. Overall, there is a quite diffused tendency to complement the traditional view of project management success based upon the successful maintenance of the “iron triangle”, with a need to support, throughout the project, the growth needs of individual team members; at the end of the day, no one is happy if the project delivers according to the goals set up by the iron triangle and, as a result of this, team members suffer for low morale and may decide to leave the performing organization.

In 2012 the existence of a soft pyramid (Exhibit 1) has been postulated, in which the management of “soft” factors in a constrained environment should complement the traditional effort of managing “hard” factors in a constrained environment (the “iron triangle”), and that this should be reflected appropriately in project management methods (Caccamese, Bragantini, 2012).


To read entire paper (click here)

Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright. This paper was originally presented at the PMI North America Global Congress 2015. It is republished here with the permission of the authors.



About the Authors           



Andrea Caccamese




Andrea Caccamese
is an Electronic Engineer with more than 30 years of work experience in Information Technology and in Management Consulting for Banking, Finance, Insurance, Oil, Manufacturing, Defense, Software Development and Hardware Manufacturing sectors. Currently he is an independent Project Management Consultant and Trainer. Mr. Caccamese has gained extensive experience in Program and Project Management, working for or with large organizations or Customers from Banking, Finance, Insurance and Manufacturing, being the leader of several relevant Programs and Projects. Andrea Caccamese is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from Project Management Institute (PMI). He is also a certified PRINCE2 Practitioner and ITIL V3 Foundation Certified. He has been actively involved with Project Management Institute (PMI) in the development of the standard for OPM3 (Organizational Project Management Maturity Model) Second Edition as a Sub-Team Leader, as a final Exposure Draft Reviewer and Contributor of PMBOK Fourth Edition, and as an Internal reviewer and final Exposure Draft Reviewer of PMBOK Fifth Edition. He has also been actively involved and is still involved with the local PMI Northern Italy Chapter, where he has been a contributor to some research projects. Mr. Caccamese is a frequent contributor and speaker at various Project Management events and is co-author of the preparatory text book for PMP Certification examination “Professione Project Manager”, and co-author of the text “Il ruolo del Project Manager”.   Andrea Caccamese can be reached at [email protected]


pmwj41-Dec2015-Caccamese-BRAGANTINIDamiano Bragantini




Damiano Bragantini
is a Civil Engineer with more 15 years of experience in Civil Infrastructure and Information Technology experience. Currently he is working with Agsm Group, an important Italian utility in generation, distribution and supply of electricity and gas. Mr. Bragantini is also a recognized teacher at the University of Liverpool (UK) where he teaches in the project management MSc. Mr. Bragantini is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI). He has been also actively involved with PMI as a final Exposure Draft Reviewer for Project Cost Estimating Standard and Practice Standard for Earned Value and as internal reviewer of PMBOK Fifth Edition. Mr. Bragantini has also been actively involved and is still involved with the local PMI Northern Italy Chapter, where he has been a contributor to some projects. Damiano Bragantini can be contacted at [email protected].