What constraints does a typical project have?

In general, a project has three variables that can be directly influenced:

  1. Scope
    • What will be delivered and what is the quality of delivery?
  2. Time
    • When will the platform be delivered?
  3. Cost/budget
    • What is the amount of money that can be spent?

When two of the three are fixed, there is room to maneuver. If scope and time are fixed, most of the time, there are solutions that can be found with extra budget: Outsourcing parts of the project, adding resources, etc. When time and cost are fixed, adjusting the scope will help meeting the platform delivery. Riskier is when scope and budget are fixed. Then there is less room, extra time means extra budget in most cases. You enter the golden triangle of project management: all axes are fixed. The ensuing optimisation will ensure extra stress, which in turn will lead to less productivity.


Before starting and during the project, keep an eye out for the triangle. Sometimes, the variables that are flexible are clear. They might change over time: as the spending rises, the budget becomes fixed, or competitor's moves require a fixed time. Aligning with the sponsor, the team and stakeholders will enable to identify the variables, their relative flexibility and will help in discussing these.

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