Project managers are pivotal to any organisation as they have the knowledge and expertise to oversee the latter’s many endeavours and ensure its success. From the planning and execution phase to handling team members and ensuring things go right, project managers oversee everything from start to finish.
This is no simple feat, as every project involves a balancing act between its three main constraints: time, scope, and cost. Besides undertaking PMP virtual training, there is another way to get a good understanding of these constraints: by visualising them using the project management triangle.
Read on as we get into the brass tacks of the project management triangle and tips on making the most of it.
Understanding the Project Management Triangle
The project management triangle or iron triangle represents the three constraints that every project must abide by and highlights how changing one variable in this three-way equation cannot occur without making tradeoffs. In other words, paying more attention to one area or constraint leads to worse results in the other two. For instance, if you prioritise time and want to get a project completed as quickly as possible, you need to go over budget to get the necessary extra resources and face the risk of potentially producing something with less than the expected quality.
Keeping these constraints in check requires project managers to have in-depth knowledge about each of them, along with good leadership and communication skills, so they can better monitor the variables and make the changes necessary to consistently maintain the correct project workflow.
There is more to the project management triangle besides the fact that their constraints are related, and these are the two relationship types that neither project managers nor their clients can alter these relationships under any circumstance. These are:
A project’s scope is directly proportional to time and cost, which implies that an increase in specifications or scope will require an increase in time and cost to complete. An example is when a client requests to add a new feature to the project, prompting project managers to request more manpower/resources and time to implement.
2. Time and cost
These two variables share an inversely proportional relationship, which can be observed when, let us say, a project gets its budget reduced, which almost always means its deadline will be extended. Conversely, suppose a project is behind schedule and its timeline cannot be extended. In that case, the budget must be increased to get the extra resources necessary to complete the deliverables on time.
Tips To Effectively Use The Project Management Triangle
There is no quick and easy way to manage time, cost, and scope simultaneously. The only proven way to ensure a project’s success is to follow a flexible approach, adjust accordingly when needed, and provide some leeway on at least one of the three constraints. The following are some tips to maintain equilibrium when managing projects with the help of the iron triangle.
1. Establish a thorough project plan
Proper planning beyond prevents poor performance in any project by providing a clear outline for the execution and control stage and making sure each team member has a defined role from start to finish. Keep the following best practices in mind to make sure your project plan is solid.
– Upon determining all the project goals, consult with team members and perform a risk assessment to predict the potential challenges that may come up during the execution stage. This requires getting a good estimate of the scope, time, and budget to be allocated for each task in the project.
– Establish well-defined success metrics for all relevant aspects of the project, such as productivity and efficiency, client satisfaction, and more, to avoid confusion.
– Keep clients in the loop regarding the agreed-upon objectives to keep change requests to a minimum while the project is underway.
2. Build cross-functional teams
These teams are composed of professionals with distinct expertise and knowledge of the basic principles of project management, which they bring to the table to achieve a common goal. Building cross-functional teams ensures everyone is assigned to roles where they can use their talents effectively, ensuring consistent peak performance. In addition, many reports claim that these teams are more effective at implementing problem-solving approaches that lead to more favourable outcomes. The fundamental steps to build your own cross-functional team include:
– Determine the key skill sets that your project needs and prioritise getting members whose diverse skills align with your needs so they can be assigned to multiple roles throughout the project.
– Create a team charter that includes the team’s purpose, objectives, and responsibilities to clearly outline the important specifications for team operations.
3. Determine accurate estimates
Precise time and cost estimates are what secures a project’s scope. This is because, in many cases, making incorrect estimates in these factors can compromise the scope, resulting in the project’s failure and other severe consequences. As such, be meticulous in the estimation process and account for all tasks and resources involved while having some leeway should new changes arise.
Implementing a project management triangle contributes to the smooth sailing of any project since it can serve as a framework that your thoughts can latch onto and ensures a clear understanding of the limitations you are working with. By knowing what is and what isn’t part of the project, one can avoid scope creep and the serious setbacks that come with it.
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