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The PM triangle

Nowadays, the Project Management provides us some instruments to keep under control the factors that can affect our project. But most of all, someone could underestimate or totally forget the relationship between them.

 The Project Management Triangle (called also Triple Constraint or the Iron Triangle) is a model that show the relationship existing between three constraints:

  1. The time constraint refers to the amount of time available to complete a project.
  2. The cost constraint refers to the budgeted amount available for the project.
  3. The scope constraint refers to what must be done to produce the project's end result.

Just like in a triangle, where you cannot vary one side without varying the other two, you cannot vary one of the above factors, without varying the other two:

  • increased scope typically means increased time and increased cost,
  • a tight time constraint could mean increased costs and reduced scope, 
  • a tight budget could mean increased time and reduced scope.

Centre to the concept of the IronTriangle is the mutual dependency between the three constraints.

A further refinement of the constraints separates product "quality" or "performance" from scope, and turns quality into a fourth constraint, most of the time placed at the center of the triangle.

This simple framework enable project managers to evaluate and balance the competing demands of cost, time and quality within their projects and to keep in mind the consequences of one simple action on one of these elements.

The real value of the project triangle is to show the complexity that is present in any project.


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