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Project Management Triangle Explained

Updated on August 21, 2016

Creating a project management triangle is a crucial part of every management system that must be properly executed in order to successfully run and launch any project. The steps of project management are explained to every student in his or her university life. Unfortunately, this is something that everyone ignores and I am no exception. The majority of us tend to follow the “go with the flow” rule, which is, make the steps as you go along in the development phase of the project cycle. This is a very unprofessional approach, pushing the management into a web of confusion and frustration.

The first company that I worked for, urged us to follow the project management life cycle, but unfortunately, us employees, were not in a habit of following project management practices and adopted the “go with the flow” rule. But thanks to my project manager I was able to get first hands experience on why having a plan is important.

The most important technique that should be used for every project management is the Iron Triangle. Depending on the complexity and size of the project other tools and planning process might come in but it is not necessary to use all of them. I will be taking about the project management triangle in detail, explaining the benefits of this approach and problems faced if a project manager fails in careful planning and execution.

Time, Cost and Quality

Whenever, you start a new project, there are 2 things which you must take into consideration first and these are, how much time will it take and how much will this cost. Quality is something, which you would have to keep along side the development phase. This is one of the important steps in the project management cycle, submitting a quality final product leads to a good impression. But it is important to understand that quality is usually depended on time and cost. So, properly managing time and cost would automatically lead to achieving a high quality end product.

The project management triangle below, sums up most of everything but I will be explaining each of this in detail.

Time Management:

In time management you have to analyze how much time will it take to complete the project or if you have broken it down into separate tasks, then how much time will it take to complete a particular task.

Breaking a project into different tasks is a good approach, since work load can be divided among employees. No one is over burdened and this results in faster work completion.

In order to provide a good estimate, you should take in view the following points before submitting the deadline to your client.

1. Resources required to complete the task
2. The number of employees needed to carry out the task
3. Skills of employees
4. Project requirements

By keeping in mind these points, you would be better able to provide an estimate of how long will it take to complete this project keeping in view the cost and quality.



You might probably know about this but if a project takes, lets say, about 10 days to complete, for example, then you should tell your client the project will be ready in 15 days. Who knows, what bumps you might face during project development, so it is best to give yourself extra time to complete the work, otherwise, the client will be breathing down your neck. Another upside of this is, you might be able to hand over the work a couple of days before the deadline and this will result in a long-term relationship with your client due to quick work done.

Cost Management:

Budget is a very important factor and don’t be surprised when you are asked to provide a quality work at a low price. Many people are not comfortable paying a high price unless they are convinced and satisfied why they should be empting their pockets.

When developing a project plan, the cost usually depends on the type of project the client is looking to develop. For example, a small project, which might not prove difficult to develop, will not cost a lot, as compared to a large project which involves a lot of complex functionality, time and resources needed by employees to complete it.

So, cost management usually includes:

1. Labor cost
2. Cost of resources
3. Project complexity

Once you have made an outline and provided the estimated budget, you need to complete the project within the plan provided. Steps need to be taken to make sure that the total cost does not exceed the approved budget.

A good idea is to set up a cost control system, which will monitor the status of the project every now and then, managing the cost based on the budget outline.

Quality Management:

Quality management is a very important thing. There are several factors that determine the changes in project during the development life cycle, which usually result in project quality failure and these are:

  1. Internal Failures: Miscommunication amongst employees and failing to understand project requirement often leads to scraping and additional work. This would result in delay, which would lead to pressurized work, damaging the quality.
  2. External Failures: Additional requirements provided by the client after handing the project over or delay in project development if the proper resources are not available to continue work. Delay in work usually results in no time extension, resulting in poor final delivery if quality is comprised, which in turn leads to customer loss.
  3. Poor Planning: Poor planning usually leads to rework, extra time, increase in estimated budget and in the end poor product delivery.

So, the last step in the project management triangle is quality, which is highly affected by project time and cost.

The project management triangle is one of the well known and most used mechanisms. A good project manager will make sure that everything runs smoothly and is able to handle changes based on factors affecting the project development life cycle. A change in any one of the constraints usually effects one or both.


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