Abi Asmerom Triple Constraint What is the Triple Constraint? The triple constraint of project management is the balance of the project’s scope, time and cost. Triple constraint is used to determine whether or not a project’s objectives are being met. During the planning phase of a project, a project manager will define the scope, time, and cost of a project. As the planning phase continues, the project manager discovers that there may be some changes or adjustments needed in the project’s scope, time and/or cost.
When one aspect needs change or adjustment, then it directly affects one of the other factors of the triple constraint. For example, if the cost increases, it is logical to assume that the scope and time will increase as well. Or, if the cost decreases, one can assume that the scope and time will decrease. This rings true for scope and time as well. A project manager must be thorough and detailed in planning the scope, time and cost of a project in order to maintain the constraint or be prepared to fluctuate with it.
Adjustments can be made during the project for various reasons to include changes made by the client as well. It is the project manager’s responsibility to be aware of the changes and how they will affect all aspects of the triple constraint and be prepared to modify each aspect accordingly. Scope The scope of the project is what is actually included in the project as well as what is to be excluded. A project’s size, how complex it is and its importance all affect how much effort goes into scope planning. Defining the scope of a project is important in determining the success of the project.
A detailed scope overview and statement is the basis for project decisions. It helps those involved understand exactly what the outcome of the project will look like and what is to be expected. Let’s say we have a client who wants to launch an inspirational T-shirt company. This client wants to produce, market and sell t-shirts with inspirational messages to the young adult population, ages 18-35. As project manager, I would begin the project by first establishing the scope to must summarize the project itself: the goals, objectives, success criteria, assumptions, risks and obstacles.
By doing this, I am able to gather all the necessary details to help my team gain a broad understanding of the project at hand. In scope planning, a management plan is developed to document all aspects of the project. This plan will define boundaries and deliverables of the project. Our client wants to produce the shirts, market the shirts and sell the shirts through a website. In the plan, the project scope is defined with a clear statement explaining the client’s wants and the various components of the project that must be included.
The scope is verified for approval to ensure that everyone is on board and understand the deliverables. The client will verify the scope and management plan after reviewing it and an agreement is reached on the project’s plan. Time The time constraint is simply time management and a schedule, which are essential to ensure that a project gets completed on time and with the resources available. Time management is key to avoiding delays and issues with costs and budget. Once the scope has been determined, it’s important to estimate the amount of time needed to complete all aspects of the project effectively.
At times, a client may come to the table with a predetermined deadline and the expectation that their project must be completed by that deadline. A project manager must take into consideration realistic estimations of time to provide an accurate timeline for the duration and completion of the project. The client’s expectations may be unrealistic or the project may have too many components to be completed in a timely fashion. It’s up the project manager to determine how long the project should take based on the various elements of what needs to be done to complete the project.
Once a proper deadline and timeline is established and agreed upon, it must be determined who can make and approve changes to the schedule. Ultimately the client is the one who can approve changes to the schedule, as it is their product, financing and deadlines that must be adhered to. A mechanism must be put in place to track the timing of the project as well in order to assess if the project is progressing on schedule. With a clear definition of project activities, the project manager can assess a schedule and deadline for each activity.
Accurate estimation is integral and effective tools are necessary used to track progress. We can provide accurate estimations by using references and professional contacts who can vouch for the amount of time needed for identical project activities. Cost The cost constraint involves the cost of any and all resources needed to complete all tasks and activities involved in the project. Mainly, it is the budgeted amount of funds available for the completion of the project. To fully appreciate the cost constraint, a project manager must first estimate the costs of the project, then budget the costs and finally control the costs.
All elements must be considered that would incur a cost from materials to labor. An astute project manager knows that to properly estimate costs, various tools and techniques must be employed so that clients can be aware of costs up front. Research must be done to provide accurate estimates. One technique used to estimate costs is to base the cost on a similar project. It is important that the similarities line up so that it is easier to visualize how the costs can fluctuate. Another method is to estimate based on statistical information.
Research the trend of the costs for a project with similar components and apply the numbers to the current project. Vendor analysis can also be used to request accurate costs of materials or labor, which can bring a more accurate estimation. The last thing a project manager wants to have is to estimate too low or too high. Too low of a cost estimation will lead to additional and unanticipated costs being incurred during the project. This can delay and even halt the project altogether if the client is not prepared for these costs and unable to support them because the cost has exceeded their budget.
Profit is another aspect that should be analyzed when considering cost as well as risk. Determining the potential to make or lose money is an important component that needs to be considered. The cost budget is essential in providing the total estimated costs for the entire project. After each aspect of the project is given a cost estimate, the total sum of all the estimates are put together to form the parameters to provide the working guidelines of the cost budget. It is with these working guidelines that the costs can be divided up against appropriate needs.
It is also important in budgeting to establish contingency funds to allow for underestimation. Lastly, cost control is important to ensure that the budget is being adhered to and to keep excess expenditures at bay. There may be needs for adjustments in the budget at times; the client should only authorize this after consulting with the project manager. It is important to collect actual costs during the project to accurately report and assess progress of the project and keep an eye on the budget.