Entries tagged with “triple constraint”.

continuation of The Three Elephants in the Room (Time, Cost, and Scope)


Believe it or not the solution to your elephants is so simple you will wonder why people spend so much time on even thinking about it.


At the beginning of the project, ask your project sponsor (boss, organization chair, whoever is the big wig that asked for this whole thing) to prioritize the triple constraint components. Key word here is “beginning” ask questions before the problem arises.


Frequently, he or she will say, “They are ALL important.” They are, indeed, all important, but they should not be treated equally! Undoubtedly one of the elements of the triple constraint is more important than the others. For example, is the end date non-moveable due to other business commitments, regulatory considerations or mandatory stipulations? Or, is the budget fixed and your project absolutely cannot exceed the approved budget? Or, is scope critical because you are attempting to obtain a competitive edge and your company wants to be the first in the marketplace with a given product? Find out from your sponsor which element of the triple constraint is most important and why, which is second most important and, finally, which is least important.


This will help you when you have to make those critical choices between A and B in the scenarios above.


With every project there always seems like there are three nagging concerns:

·     Time-i.e. The event is on June 1st can we make it? Or I have to have my spring collection up, of course before spring.

·     Cost- i.e. We only have $5000 to start this new day camp. Or the $50 registration must include 2 speakers, lunch, and a take home gift. Not cost all includes your resources (i.e. the number or people you have on the project)

·     Scope- i.e. The Spring collection needs 5 new items, or the new building must be complete and in move in condition.


These critical factors affect the overall quality of your projects and ultimately the satisfaction of your customers. What makes it worse is these concerns are always competeing with each other. So not only are there 3 Elephants in the room, but they have the nerve to be fighting.


Don’t feel bad these worries are normal and dealing with them is considered part of the project and your project management. PMI (Project Management Institute) even has a name for them, the Triple Constraints. What makes a project successful is being able to deliver a project on time, with in budget, and with in scope (aka: give them every thing they asked for). And what makes you a successful project manager is dealing with the changes to these constraints as they come up. The triple constraints are often represented by a triangle because changes to one affect the others.


For example:
You are a committee chair planning a heath fair to service 100 attendees (your SCOPE)  in January  (your TIME)  with a budget $5000 and 5 committee members(your COST).
Let’s see how changes affect this project:

·     Scenario 1-You get a call that 2 of your committee members have quit and your budget has been cut by $1000. To resolve this issue you will need to a) cut the number of attendees or b) move the heath fair to march to give your exsisting committee members more time to work. Sometimes you may even need to do a little bit of both

·     Scenario 2- Weeks before the event you find out you will only have 75 attendees instead of the 100 you were planning for. You can either a) cut your cost by buying fewer supplies, or b) tell some of you committee members they can stay home that day. Since you received the information so late you may not want to change your time but it is always and option.

·     Scenario 3- Due to scheduling conflicts you need to have the fair in November instead January as planned. Wow that’s is a big change, for this you can either a) reduce the number of attendees so you can save on rushing in supplies and find a smaller cheaper venues or b) ask for more money to rush in supplies and more volunteers for you committee so you can get double the work done.