Project management

Guide to the Project Management Triangle – Forbes Advisor


The way(s) to successfully manage a project management triangle will depend on the project, its priorities, its risk appetite, and your team’s experience and resources. However, five strategies to consider when managing a project triangle include choosing a flexible constraint, listing features in order of importance, creating risk and change management plans, and adapting from your management methodology to your priority constraint.

Here are five possible ways to manage your project management triangle:

1. Choose at least one flexible constraint

When looking at the three constraints in your triangle – cost, time, and scope – have a clear understanding from your client or team about which ones are most important to them. Work with your team or client to identify one of these constraints where flexibility is allowed. Having this conversation upfront lets you know how to adjust when the project doesn’t always go to plan.

For example, if a client has a deadline to meet and a delay occurs, it might be a good idea to hire more talent to speed things up. Or, if cost is your client’s priority, you can extend the deadline to avoid new hires. Likewise, if your client wants to add new features as customer feedback comes in but insists on completing on time, make it clear that your team needs permission to be flexible on the budget for this to happen. produce.

2. Clarify Nice-to-Haves

Meet with your client, development team, and QA team to thoroughly review the functionality of your project’s final deliverables. Make a long list of all expected features. Then, just as you asked your client which constraint is most important, now ask which features are most important and which are just nice to have. Rank all features from most important (required) to least important (nice to have, priority constraints permitting).

This list will help you throughout the execution of your project to know how to master your constraints while maintaining high customer satisfaction. For example, if a feature requires a larger budget than expected due to an increase in the price of raw materials, you can look at the bottom of your feature priority list to decide which great feature can be removed to make room. in budget for a price increase of a priority feature.

3. Create a risk management plan

When managing project risks, set clear expectations and update your team frequently using proactive communication. This communication should begin before the project launch and extend throughout the project.

To get started, create a project management plan and present it to customers and project execution team members. This plan must clearly indicate the scope of the project. It should also include a risk management plan that shows stakeholders what could go wrong, the triggers that could trigger those risks, and plans to address them. These plans should indicate how the budget, scope and schedule will change if such risks occur.

Then, during project execution, communicate at the first sign of a risk trigger with your execution team and clients. Effective decision-making is often less likely to happen in the midst of an already spiraling crisis. Proactive communication, however, helps keep your triangle balanced by giving you the most options to get your project back on track.

For example, if a task is expected to take longer than expected, explain why the delay occurred to your team and your client. Then control your time and, by extension, your costs by convening your team to schedule which talent will be moved from less urgent tasks to the bottleneck task before a shutdown occurs. Throughout this time, keep your client informed of your decisions. Proactive communication shows competence and keeps satisfaction high.

4. Create a change management plan

Managing constraints is managing change. If everything goes according to plan and you have a document of agreed costs, timelines and scope from the start of the project, managing your project triangle will require very little effort. It’s when things change – a client suddenly wants to add a new feature, for example – that your scope, time and budget go awry. But, if you manage change well, your triangle’s constraints are more likely to stay within satisfactory parameters.

Managing change well starts with creating a clear and actionable change management plan, then following it when change requests are made. A solid change management plan should include several elements to address the following:

  • Change management roles. Who is and is not authorized to receive change requests and evaluate them for approval or rejection? Who will be involved in the execution of approved change requests? Who should be involved in adjusting project constraints (scope, duration, and cost) to accommodate approved changes?
  • Limits. Record constraints that are out of bounds when it comes to adapting to change. Record constraints that can be more flexibly adjusted to respond to change.
    Process for approving or rejecting change requests. How will change requests be submitted, evaluated, approved or rejected?
  • Change request timeout settings. How quickly should change requests be assessed, approved, rejected, or implemented? When is it too late for change requests to be considered?
  • The change in the communication process. How will approved change requests be logged and executed? How will team members who are not authorized to manage the change communicate around the change?
  • Change management tools. What tools will be used to ensure only necessary changes are made, manage the change request process, create transparency around changes, enable collaboration around approved changes, and track changes?

5. Associate a management methodology with your priority constraints

There are many project management methodologies to consider, but some are more commonly used than others. Waterfall, Agile and Lean are three highly tested and proven methodologies in project management. Each is better at handling some constraints than others. Matching your methodology to your project priorities can help ensure ease of management of constraints.

Here’s a more detailed look at each common project management methodology and the constraints they best help manage:


This methodology is linear with clearly planned project steps that must be completed in the same order in which they are recorded. Since the phases are set, adjustments to their duration and scope are very difficult to manage because a single change will likely affect the entire project. This methodology is best for projects where scope and time are rigid, but there is some flexibility around cost.


This methodology is best suited for projects that require constant adaptations to deliver the most relevant value to the end user. Scrum is an example of Agile methodology. In Scrum, the goal is defined. However, products, solutions and deliverables are allowed to evolve based on new information. Agile is suitable for projects that require iterative product development or flexible scope. Speed ​​is a strength of this methodology while predictable costs are not as likely.


Lean helps project management teams reduce waste, especially in cost and scope, while focusing on customer value. The project is traced from start to finish, then thoroughly analyzed to reduce waste, such as employee downtime and unnecessary processes. The execution team is instructed to intervene only if the client requests it. The Lean methodology is suitable for projects that are likely to have little risk or scope changes and where cost is a priority.

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