Prior to the holidays I wrote a blog post discussing how you can help your internet marketing firm help you (“The Theory Of Constraints“). Remember, the vast majority of projects fail – particularly in the technology field – so it’s important to be diligent in doing everything we can to improve the chances of success.
The Triple Constraints: A Quick Review
Picture a triangle. Now remember that all projects have three core components that can each be visualized as a side of the triangle: scope (the work to be completed), cost, and time to accomplish the work.
The job of the project manager is to ensure that the triangle stays in balance. If the scope increases, so does the cost and time. If the time to completion is compressed, the scope and, possibly, cost compress.
The idea is that a defined amount of work will take a certain amount time given a certain amount of resources. If the triangle gets out of balance the project will fail along one of the sides of the triangle.
For example, let’s say features (scope) are added but the time line and budget remain the same. In this case, the project will fail on one of the triple constraints. This is an important foundational concept in project management that may be useful for you to be familiar with.
Prioritizing Project Constraints
One of the ways that the triple constraints can be utilized in your project to increase the chances of success is by prioritizing. Though all projects have constraints, not all constraints are equal between projects. Project A may have a specific time frame that’s crucially important. But the budget of Project A could possibly some flexibility. Project B, on the other hand, may require a certain set of features (scope) but the deadline is adaptable.
The three basic classifications that are generally used when prioritizing constraints are “inflexible”, “adaptable”, and “may concede.” Inflexible indicates that this is the most critical and must be constrained. Adaptable is negotiable but should be optimized as much as possible. May concede indicates an area in which trade-offs can be made in order to manage the inflexible constraint or optimize the adaptable.
A simple way of clearly identifying the priority of the triple constraints with your project manager is to use a simple chart.
- On the left column of a spreadsheet or chart list the triple constraints: time, cost, scope.
- On the row at top list the three classifications: inflexible, adaptable, and may concede.
- Now look closely at each constraint and put a check mark in the appropriate classification column. No cheating – only one classification for each constraint!
If you do this exercise with your project manager at the beginning of your internet marketing project, you will enable him/her to do a much better job of planning, executing, and managing your project. This, in turn, will greatly increase the odds of a successful project. So go ahead – try it!