Project Management Triangle: Detailed Overview
Project management triangle is also known as ‘triple constraints’ or ‘iron triangle’ of the project. Another mane of this triangle is ‘project triangle’. Components of project management triangle are; time, cost and scope. Three sides of the project management triangle show three constraints and the quality is in the center of the triangle. Quality centered approach is used in project management triangle. These three constraints are considered as the most important ones as they are closely linked together and this doesn’t mean that the other constraints like human resource management, stakeholder management, procurement management, risk management etc. are less important. This triangle states that if project manager made some change in the one constraint, change in one of the remaining two constraints will occur which ultimately affect the quality. For example, shortening in scope will shrink the project timeline and quality will suffer negatively and similarly cutting in the project cost will definitely lower the quality of work. It is the duty of project manager to trade off among these constraints and produce quality products, services or deliverables. Following figure shows project management triangle:
Here is the detail of every constraints of project management triangle:
Time: Time constraint is defined as time required to complete the project. Time is one of the very important constraint of project management triangle. Every project has due time and in some projects it is extremely difficult to short the due time. Similarly, every activity has due time and project activities has dependencies over other activities. Without completion of predecessor activity, successor activity cannot start in finis to start activities like roof of a house cannot be built prior to the completion walls. In large and complex projects having broader scope, shorten the project time will negatively affect the quality of work. Effective time/duration calculation and later on effective time management better manage this constraint without effecting scope, cost and quality.
Cost: Cost is defined as the amount required to complete the project. Cost is the other important constraint of project management triangle. Projects need items, things, equipment to complete the project and everything has some cost because nothing comes free in the world. There are two types of cost incurred on the project i.e. recurring cost and non-recurring cost. Recurring cost regularly occurs e.g. employee’s salaries, electricity bills, communication charges, fuel charges of vehicles, and building rent etc. While non-recurring cost occur only one time in life of the project e.g. equipment purchased, land acquisition, infrastructure development etc. Lowering the cost of the project mean lowering the quality and standard of equipment installed in the project. Lowering the cost will also short the scope of the project. Effective overall cost determination and later on effective cost management better manage this constraint without effecting scope, time and quality.
Scope: Project scope is defined as the intended outcome of the project. Project scope (Scope = Time × Resources) is something which a project must fulfill. Scope is also one of the very important constraint of project management triangle. Without scope satisfaction, a client cannot accept the project because scope dissatisfaction mean project doesn’t meet customer’s requirements. Project goals and objectives are only met after satisfying (meeting or exceeding) project scope. Limiting the project scope will lower the project cost and required time and both these affects the quality. Effective scope determination and later on effective scope management better manage this constraint without effecting cost, time and quality.
Quality: Quality has numerous definitions, in the current context quality is defined as the conformance to the specification/requirements. Client desired to use the project output over the design life or beyond the design life and with degraded quality of equipment it becomes nightmare. Usually huge sums of money are associated with large projects and low quality of work/services/equipment put money and project reputation at stake. For example, in the case of NASA, they plan to launch a space shuttle on 08:00AM, first Monday of November, 2017. Local and international media is there and American President is also there and he press the button to launch the space shuttle and nothing happen. Guess what will be the situation? Everyone will look into the project manager having lot of questions in their mind. Embracing situation for project manager and everyone will question about poor quality of work. Another example, a long bridge over a river to connect two cities of country broken down on the inauguration day or prior to inauguration, what will happen? Think about it!
“People forget how fast you did a job but they remember how well you did it”
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