Change Management and Technology Solutions for Enterprise Performance

triple constraints of project management

Triple Constraints Of Project Management: How To Make Them Work For You In 2020!

Before we get started with a deeper level of understanding of the triple constraints of project management, we must first understand the definition of the terms. 

According to Wikipedia, the project management triangle (also called the triple constraint, dempster’s triangle, the iron triangle, and project triangle) is a model of the constraints of project management. 

While its origins are unclear, it has been used since at least the 1950s.

  • The quality of work is constrained by the project’s budget, deadlines, and scope (features). 
  • The project manager can trade between constraints. 
  • Changes in one constraint necessitate changes in others to compensate or quality will suffer.

To keep it simple, it operates within the boundaries of scopetime, and cost

project management triple constraints

Importance of Triple Constraints in Project Management

  1. Businesses can avoid unnecessary expenses. 
  2. Measure the project progress in real-time. 
  3. Businesses can easily avoid delayed completion of the project. 
  4. Proper visualization to measure the status of current activities. 
  5. Allocation of resources based on availability and demand.
  6. Identify and mitigate project risks before they become issues. 

What are the Triple Constraints of Project Management?

Triple constraints involve Scope Management, Time Management, and Cost Control. 

As each one is an interdependent change in one aspect affects the others. 

Scope ManagementThe project scope is the work required to output a project’s deliverable. Change happens, and project scope management includes the process to manage scope changes and make sure the project will still come in on time and within budget. The scope is often defined by a work breakdown structure, and changes should take place only through formal change control procedures.

Schedule Management: Scheduling in project management is the listing of activities, deliverables, and milestones within a project. A schedule also usually includes the planned start and finish date, duration, and resources assigned to each activity. Effective project scheduling is a critical component of successful time management.

Cost Control: Cost is one of the key performance indicators for projects. Involved in controlling costs are processes centered on planning, estimating, budgeting, financing, funding, and managing costs so that the project can be completed within the approved budget.

In addition to the above three constraints, there is one more parameter – Quality that factors into effective project management.

The desire for quality often determines the time, budget, and workforce required under the scope to complete the project efficiently.

Some Important Statistics

  1. According to the CHAOS report, 52% of the projects are either delivered late or run over the allocated – Chaos Report.
  2. Research shows that 82% of the projects fail due to bad scope management.
  3. Skipping manual or automated testing in project management leads to bad project outcomes.
  4. Using third party services or external resources to cut down costs often leads to challenges down the road. 

Why do projects fail?

Here is an interesting pictorial representation of why some projects fail. 

project management failure flowchart

How does it work in real-time?

This is how project management works with 3 constraints. 

Scope Management:

Project Managers play a significant role here in deciding:

  1. What work must be done (and not done) on a project?
  2. What budget is necessary to deliver the project on time and value.
  3. The stakeholders and workforce are necessary to be involved in the project. 

They also ensure that only the required project work is completed while avoiding scope creep. 

Project managers can change project scope through change orders as the situation demands. 

They make sure that the new scope can work cohesively within the budget and timeline of the project. 

Time Management: 

Time management usually deals with handling different tasks by teams and individuals involved in the project.

Cost Management:

Cost involves budget estimation and forecasting with proper resource allocation.

The below is some cost estimation methods: 

  • Understanding the historic data for comparison with the projected cost. 
  • Knowing the rate of costs for materials and labor by the unit to allocate the resource costs. 
  • Using a bottom-up approach to know the lowest to highest level work package estimation. 
  • Comparing with other important variables while drawing statistical relationships with the historic data. 
  • Using vendor bid rate calculations. 

How to handle the triple constraints to complete projects successfully?

extended version of triple constraints

Let’s take a closer look at why some projects fail and what can be done to make them successful.

The above image is an extended version of the triple constraints.

Here are the 6 ways to make it work for your projects.

  1. A Proper Budgeting For Cost Estimation & Expense Tracking

    According to a survey of program and project managers conducted by Software Advice, only 8% of projects were completed within their original budget while 20-50% of projects exceeded their allocated budget.

    It is important for project managers to properly manage their burn rate against their projected budget and timeline.

    Project Management software like Mavelink which has a “Margin Analysis” tool can help with this. 

  2. Track What Your Team is Doing Regularly

    If you do not closely track the project work and expenditure, there is a high chance your project will fail to deliver the intended results.

    You can use spreadsheets and pivot tables to create simple dashboards to help you measure your progress.

  3. Measure your Milestones and Deliverables

    Almost half of all software projects exceed their original deadlines or failed to complete within a stipulated time.

    This is because of poor work and time estimates and not factoring in dependencies and risks that could impact the project. 

    Some project management tools like 
    Jira can help you track project work down to the individual task level and link them to milestones to decrease the probability of missed deadlines.

  4. Visualize your Goals with Milestones and Tasks.

    Tired of looking at the numbers? 

     helps you visualize the team activities and the current status concerning project management goals in the vertical axis view.

    This helps you re-order tasks, adjust timelines, customize your views, and adjust your team member’s workloads. 

  5. Track Your Project Progress through Reporting

    The project life cycle is sometimes uncertain due to external and internal influences.

    To avoid project failure due to communication gaps, keeping all team members and stakeholders informed and updates relative to the triple constraints. 

    Project Management tools with reporting features allow you to share updates easily consistently.

    is one such tool that can help you accomplish this. 

  6. Resource Allocation Plays an Important Role in Successful Project Management

    Resource allocation helps prevent burnout. Project Managers will have to allocate resources efficiently to get things done effectively.

    Prioritizing based on availability and demand help lead the teams seamlessly. 

    is a software that can help you check the progress of each activity for the tasks assigned.

Project Management Constraints Examples - Download

Download the below triple constraints project management examples and try to apply them to your business.  


If you need to deliver your projects on time and budget, get in touch with us today for a project management consultancy


If one of the parameters among scope, time, and cost changes, it affects the others in the process of project management. 

Scope Management – most projects struggle to meet deadlines due to a lack of good scope definition and control.

Typically, scope, time, and cost make up the three main project constraints. Risk, effort, and quality make up the other three.

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