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The project management triangle and how it benefits your team!

Posted by Carla Molina Whyte on November 29, 2022

Project managers play an important role in any organization. They’re tasked with the complex job of managing a project from start to finish and delivering high quality results to their clients every time. 

The project management triangle defines the undisputed relationship between the fixed constraints of a project, including cost, time, and scope. 

In this blog, we will explore what the project management triangle is, its basic concepts, and how project managers use it to help mange their team in order to deliver high quality projects to clients.

What is the project management triangle and how can it help your team?

The project management triangle is the heartbeat within the benefits of project management. Also referred to as the project management iron triangle”  or the "triple constraint", the project management triangle considers the three common restrictions that co-exist within a project — cost, time, and scope. 

The iron triangle project management is used to help visualize what's going on and make it easier to understand how changes impact different parts of the project. It's also helpful when talking to stakeholders about projects that you are working on so they can see the implications of those decisions.

Basic Concepts of the Project Management Triangle

The basic concepts of the project management triangle include:

  • Scope: The total set of work required to achieve a goal or objective. This includes activities, tasks and deliverables; it does not include resources such as staff or equipment needed for those tasks.
  • Cost: The amount of money needed for an act; also known as budgeted cost of work scheduled.
  • Schedule: The coordinated sequence of activities necessary to complete a task on time; also known as critical path method scheduling or critical chain project management .

By understanding the interrelationships among scope, cost and schedule, you can make better decisions about where to allocate your resources to support your project’s objectives. Using a project management software can give you a clear view of all your assets and resources.

3 Primary Elements of the Triangle

The triangle is a simple visual representation of the relationship between these three elements. It helps you to understand how they are related to one another and how to balance them effectively. See below a project management triangle example:

Copy of The 10 project management skills you need to have-3

The project management triangle is a framework that helps you understand how to prioritize the three primary elements of any project: cost, time, and scope.

  • Scope Constraint

This is the most important element of the triangle because it affects all other aspects of your project. It refers to whether or not your project has been defined clearly enough so that all stakeholders can understand what needs to be done and what success looks like in relation to your goals. If there is no clear definition at the start of your project, then it can lead to problems later down the line when people have different expectations about what should be included or excluded from their work.

  • Time Constraints

Time constraints are a primary element of the project management triangle. A schedule is created to define how long it will take to complete each phase of a project. This schedule also determines when each task must be completed by and what deliverables are expected at each stage in the process. Using a tool like Cirkus can benefit your project managers. As they will be able to add due dates, milestones and have a clear overview of the schedule for each project.

cirkus schedule

  • Cost Constraints

Cost constraints are another primary element of the triangle. These constraints include budget limitations and other financial considerations that may impact your project's success or failure. For example, if there is no money available for additional resources during certain phases of a project or if there are unexpected costs associated with completing a task, then those costs may need to be factored into your budget or timeline accordingly.

Common Applications and Uses of the Project Management Triangle

Balancing the basic limitations within the project management triangle is one way project managers can effectively plan, schedule, and deliver a successful project. 

By identifying stakeholder expectations and constraints, a project manager can improve the overall quality of the project and provide a positive experience for all parties involved. Using the project management triangle as a guide, project managers will be able to make the best  decisions.

Common applications and uses of the project management triangle include:

  • Improve Communication With Clients

Poor communication is a contributing factor in most of all failed projects. With limited understanding or poor project management skills - using the iron triangle as a visual tool can assist project managers in explaining project restraints to clients and stakeholders.

  • Anticipate and Mitigate Risks

Risks are inevitable, understanding a project’s iron triangle can help drive project managers to be proactive in their decision making and mitigate risks. Knowing which constraints are fixed and where any measure of flexibility lies allows the project manager to navigate obstacles and achieve the wanted result.

  • Adapt to Project Changes

Changes in scopes, timelines, and budgets are very common and sometimes unpredictable. A solid awareness of the fixed constraints within the project management triangle allows project managers to adapt to sudden project changes and updates.

  • Deliver Quality Projects

For a project manager, their goal is to deliver the highest quality project. Setting up the project management triangle and successfully balancing the project’s fixed constraints can help achieve success throughout all projects.

There are many project management tools out there, but with a tool like farmerswife that adapts to all types of project management and gives a clear view of your schedule and projects, you will be able to make the best decisions for your team and for your clients.

fw and ck

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Why is the project management triangle important?

The purpose of the triangle is not simply to illustrate the relationship between the three project constraints — time, cost, and scope , but also to help you manage them effectively.

What are the phases of the project management lifecycle?

The phases of the project management life cycle can be slipt into 5 phases: initiation, planning, execution, monitoring and control, and closure. These phases build the path that your project will follow from start to finish.

What causes scope creep in project management?

Scope creep occurs when the focus of a project extends beyond its expected perimeters.

  • The most common causes can be
  • Vague project boundaries
  • Lack of management
  • Poor communication
  • Clients making additional requests
  • Lack of task prioritization
  • Underestimating project scope

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Topics: project management,

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Carla Molina Whyte

Written by Carla Molina Whyte

Marketing Executive at farmerswife