Triple Constraint Theory in Project Management

What is Triple Constraint Theory for Project Management?
The triple constraint theory may sound complicated but it is actually very simple.
Let’s start with a definition. The triple constraint theory is the basis of project management. Every project must be within the constraints of cost, time, and scope. Any changes in one of these factors will have an effect on the others.
Clients who want to add multiple features to their project will need to budget more money. If your boss reduces your project budget, you may need to reduce project requirements.
It’s all about making compromises. As a project manager, it’s your responsibility to balance these constraints and manage expectations so that everyone understands what it takes to make a project successful.
The project management triangle
The triple constraint theory is often used to describe the project management triangle. Each point or side of this triangle represents one of three constraints that project management faces: cost, time, or scope.
Let’s get a little deeper into each project constraint.
Scope: Triple constraint
Scope creep can sneak up and take advantage of you in a strange way. Before you know it, “just one more thing” has become a completely different project deliverable.
Before any work begins, it is crucial to clearly define and document your project goals and requirements. This will ensure that everyone is clear about what “done” and that there is a project truth to refer back to if the scope changes.
Adding extra features to a project can increase its budget and time constraints. Project costs can rise if you need to extend the deadline or add people to the project. You can monitor scope changes and make adjustments before the project gets off track.
Triple constraint: Time (schedule)
Project management is time-consuming. This is something that most people are aware of. This is especially true if your goal is to maintain the scope. A shorter deadline means you will need more resources to complete the project on time.
A detailed scope document is the best way for you to understand the time constraints of your project. It can also be used to estimate the project’s cost. Involve your team in the discussion. Think beyond task hours. It doesn’t matter how many meetings you attend or how close you are to a stakeholder.
The more accurate your estimate, the better it will be. This estimate will be what you use to schedule work and make decisions about the project, if needed.
Triple constraint: Budget (cost).
Your project budget will also reflect the effort and time spent on the project. These are the costs to consider when creating a project budget.
Resource costs are calculated based on the estimated hours (or stories points, in Agile).
Budget constraints can be communicated quickly and often. Nobody likes being surprised by a large bill, or the tense conversations that follow.
Unexpected expenses are possible. Prepare to explain the impact on other projects and let your client decide whether it’s worth it. Your client might not be an expert in project management and may not know the exact cost of this shiny new feature.
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Triple constraint theory is all well and good. How can you put this project management framework into practice?
It’s all about keeping the ball in your sight. Here are some i