Project Management And The Triangle Of Doom

category ➞ Marketing

Image: "Project Triangle" by Cosmocatalano

"Project management must recognize and work within constraints. Resources are always finite, and understanding the tradeoffs involved makes or breaks a project."

Do your coworkers hide when they see you coming?

Good project management must efficiently handle constraints. If you manage resources of any kind, you know time and budgets are always finite quantities. However, when your project management philosophy neglects this reality, you'll find yourself causing undue stress to your team and your stakeholders.

The "Project Management Triangle" is a model of constraints. Time, Scope, and Cost represent the three points of this triangle, and the job of a project management professional is to align a project against this triangle according to the project's business objectives. This isn't always easy.

Have you heard the scenario that says a project can be characterized as Fast, Good, or Cheap but you can only pick two options? This is the very definition of constrained resources. By choosing your two options, the third quality will suffer.

For example, if you request a content-heavy, standards-compliant website using bleeding-edge design practices and you want it done in a week, the cost will be enormous! A complex project requires a large number of moving parts. Speeding up the processes involved results in either significant employee overtime or additional resources needed to complete the extra work.

This is why it's so important that all stakeholders involved in a project understand the Project Management Triangle tradeoff. But even the most experienced project management professionals will have trouble keeping a project on the rails when reality flies out the window.

Miscommunication between the stakeholders defining a project and the people responsible for doing the actual work can result in disaster. Good communication is always key when defining business objectives. If you think it only takes 2 hours to do a certain task and your programmer is telling you it will take 8 hours, listen! He or she is telling you there is a time constraint hidden within your scoping assumption.

Take time to understand the Time, Scope, and Cost tradeoff specific to your projects. Stakeholders and project management professionals should be working within known, realistic constraints.

When you plan your project according to the triangle, coworkers should no longer hide when they see you coming. They will welcome the project management process as an efficient way to achieve success.

How do you manage constraints in your projects?