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The Triple Constraint of Project Management

The triple constraint of project management is represented by a triangle, where three sides or inputs, scope, cost and time, regulate the ability to deliver a project. The triangle represents the individual constraints that exist with each function and their relationships. “The triangle illustrates the relationship between three primary forces in a project” (Jenkins, “n. d. ”). The triple constraint is a critical factor in determining a projects quality and success.

These three constraints require a PM to execute a very difficult balancing act, as things change over the course of the SDLC and movement of any, can have a direct impact on quality.

The ultimate goal of every project is to achieve success by meeting the prescribed goals and standards, while residing within the boundaries of the triple constraint. “Project managers are expected to manage the triple constraint and are often compelled to live in this triangle of time, cost and scope/quality. The initial idea of the triple constraint was a framework for project managers to evaluate and balance these competing demands.

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It became a way to track and monitor projects. Over time, it has also become a de facto method to define and measure project success” (Duggal, 2010). The time constraint represents the amount of time that is available, to complete a project, without surpassing the deadline. The cost constraint represents the total amount that has been budgeted for, ensuring that the appropriate resources, staff, equipment, and materials are available to complete the project. The scope constraint is representative of the actual tasks that must be executed in order to produce the deliverables that are specified.

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If you change one of the three variables, the laws of project management say that one of the others has to change too” “There is a relationship between these three parameters, like three sides of a triangle. If you increase one side, another side needs to expand as well. That means if scope of a project is increased, either cost or time is increased (within the physical constraints) ( that you cannot work more than 24 hours in a day or that you do not have infinite money). If you want to decrease the cost, you need to decrease the time on project or reduce the scope ( features or span ) and vice versa.

For example; If you want to start an e-commerce store, the best way is to first know three things 1. Features of store 2. Time to get up and running 3. Cost of developing the store You might have a fair idea of the above three, however, during the implementation either you or your client decides to add a new feature. Because of this addition we either hire a new developer ( more cost) or ask someone from team to work on it( more time). Here you either have to increase time or the cost to match up the project scope” (Saxena, 2011). Duggal, J. (2010). Next Level Up:How Do You Measure Project Success? Rethinking the Triple Constraint.

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The Triple Constraint of Project Management. (2016, Dec 13). Retrieved from

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