How to Successfully Overcome the Iron Triangle of Project Management?

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Every project is fraught with constraints during both analysis and implementation of projects. It is the job of the managers to deal with these and resolve issues constantly. Effective resolution is important for timely completions otherwise it may pose a big challenge for the companies. So what are the main challenges that make the life of management difficult from time to time? Three factors namely- COST, TIME, and SCOPE together constitute The Iron Triangle of Project Management! The aim of the managers is to ensure the delivery of the projects to these triple constraints as per client specifications signifying the QUALITY.
So here's a look at all these factors separately for a better understanding and ways to troubleshoot them as well.

Analyzing the Three Main Constraints

  • A. COST: have you estimated the cost of the project you have undertaken? It is the job of the organization and the associated project manager to calculate this as the first step before actually beginning the process. The perfect but it is the one that ensures that both implementation and the development of project will occur below a definite cost. Naturally, sometime it becomes difficult to maintain this…requiring additional resource allocations. The result, your organization is burdened with an additional expenditure as the penalty!
  • B. TIME/SCHEDULE: activities related to projects may take long or short timeframes based upon specific scopes. Naturally, various factors determine how long an undertaking will take for completion. This includes the skill of the people doing it, their numbers, associated experience, complexity of the task, and other aspects as well. One thing is certain…time is an uncontrollable factor! However, an inability to meet deadlines has an adverse effect on the reputation of the company. Studies show that the main reason preventing the timely completion of project is scarcity of resources.
  • C. SCOPE: what is going to be the outcome of this project that you are undertaking? It consists of deliverables list, which project teams need to address. Successful managers understand this thoroughly and know exactly how to manage the scope as well as any changes related to it that may come up at any time during the process. Most crucial are the changes that affect the cost and time of such undertakings.

The Importance of QUALITY

Even if it is not a part of the defined Triangle, one cannot deny the crucial impact of QUALITY on the overall project management and the ultimate delivery of results. Managers rightly believe that quality of the result has a direct connection with the overall costs associated with it. After all, it's quite difficult to achieve the desired success through the use of substandard resources.

Different Project Management Stages

Successful project management in general involves six stages related to the Life Cycle, these are:

  • 1. Defining the Project: What are the factors and objectives associated with it that will have an impact on the overall success?
  • 2. Initiating the Project: What is the planning and resources related to it? It is important to define these at the very beginning.
  • 3. Planning the Project: Have you outlined the plan based upon which your project will be executed? This stage involves the application of the triangle with assessment regarding Cost, Scope, and Time.
  • 4. Execution of Project: This stage involves the actual work, which ultimately leads to the desired project outcome.
  • 5. Control & Monitoring: Smooth running of operations depends upon undertaking necessary measures to ensure the same.
  • 6. Project Closure: It involves deliverables acceptance and resource discontinuation after the successful project run completes.

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How Managers Overcome Project Constraints?

Do you know what the best time is to overcome the challenges posed by ‘The Iron Triangle’…right at its execution stage! It is possible to add just the associated constraints quite successfully and project managers need only to take the initiative. The important thing is to strike the right balance between these so as not to compromise with the desired results in any way. Strict supervision and control is crucial. Managers need to ensure that the stakeholders do not change project scope midway besides maintaining strict limits for both human and financial resources. So what roles do the managers play during the project? They are the people on the hot seat constantly striving to complete the assignment in spite of the restraints placed by the associated limitations of TIME, SCOPE, COST, and QUALITY requirements. To overcome these constant challenges managers work by,

  • Defining the project & task assigning to team members
  • Building teamwork & obtaining key resources
  • Setting objectives & supervising the completion
  • Keeping stakeholders informed regarding project progress
  • Carefully monitor & assess project risks

Important Skills for a Project Manager

One cannot emphasize enough the role of project managers in dealing effectively with the dreaded Iron Triangle and help the team attain success in various endeavors they undertake. They work as the friend, philosopher, and the guide for the whole team while ensuring that the relationship with the stakeholders remains smooth at every stage all through to completion. Naturally, in order to meet the expectations of the team, of the company, and the stakeholders, they need to possess certain skill sets that help them to resolve the challenges posed at every turn. These are Leadership, Negotiation, Control, Planning, Problem Solving Ability, People Management, Conflict Resolution, Effective Communication, and Time Management.

The Essence of Iron Triangle of Project Management

Often times, the company management tends to define any project in terms of the Iron Triangle. The job of the successful professional is to strike the perfect balance between the associated triple constraints so as not to compromise the outcome or the overall quality of the endeavor. Naturally, nowadays numerous techniques and tools are available in the hands of the management and the team members to tackle the problems successfully as and when they happen. However, it remains upon the good sense and the skill of the managers to use these at an appropriate time to ensure the best results without any quality compromise.

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