The Iron Triangle of project management

by | 26 Oct. 2023

 6 min read

​If you have an interest in project management, you already know what the Iron Triangle is. This notion concern 3 fundamental concept in project management: cost, time and scope. It’s essential to understand what the Iron Triangle is, how to make it work for your company and how to use it.

Discover in this article the explanation of Visual Planning.

What the Iron Triangle is in project management? 

The Iron Triangle, also known as Triple Constraint, is an important tool in project management and more precisely in scheduling. Indeed, whatever the complexity of the project you’re working on, you must think it according to three constraints: scope, cost and time.

If you didn’t respect the Iron Triangle, you would face numerous difficulties through the end of the project. In the worst situation, you can fail your project.

You must define exactly what are the component of your Iron Triangle before your project begins. Indeed, this stage is essential for the success of your project.

If you don’t prepare your project by taking in account every element of this one, you may forget some tasks, some other will take much more time and at least, delay the progress of the project. In addition to this delay, you may have the necessity to allocate more resources to the project to didn’t be too late from the initial delivery schedule.

The scope, the cost and the time are the three main characteristics which will impact your project. As you can guess, the Iron Triangle is represented by a triangle who has in every top corner, one of the concepts.

The constraint of a project: scope, cost and time 

As you have read before, the Iron Triangle represents the three main constraints of a project. You also must know that every one of these three constraints are mutually dependent. Consequently, if you want to increase the efficiency of your cost, the scope and the time will be impacted.

Hereunder, the main information to hold about the three constraints:

The Scope:

To answer to the needs and the expectations of the client and the final users, your project must be at a certain level of quality. When a project has a high-quality level, this project must answer to the future needs of your client.

Indeed, your tool needs to be efficient and evolve over time. In addition, it also must take every characteristic of your project in account to be efficient.

The Cost:

To realise a project, the cost must be defined by your client. Attention, if your budget isn’t enough, your resources won’t be enough too.

It can create delay but also decrease the quality of your deliverable.

The Time:

It’s essential, before the beginning of your project, to identify the time to allow to his realisation. Obviously, that isn’t easy to estimate the length of a project. That’s why we recommend using a performant schedule software who can allow you to keep a flexibility in your margin.

This will give you the advantage to limit your delay.

How can you use the Iron Triangle for your project? 

There are 3 possibilities:

    • Low cost and cheap project risk to have a low quality. A lot of clients are looking for this type of project. However, this isn’t optimal. It’s essential to explain the risk of this method to your client.

    • A quick project with a high quality will have a high cost. You can make this choice, and it’s possible but you must take in advice something: the budget must be coherent to your need. Indeed, a high budget allows you to allocate many more human and material resources to the project!

    • A cheap project with high quality is possible, but it needs an important time to be achieved. To decrease the cost of your project, you can’t use every time the resources allocated to your project. They will be allocated in priority to your main project.

How to implement an Iron Triangle? 

It’s essential to use a performant project management method to implement an Iron Triangle. Agile Method, Vee Model or Waterfall Method will allow you to optimise your delay, your cost, or the quality of your project.

If you choose to use a Project Management Scheduling Software, it will be much easier to implement and respect the elements of your Iron Triangle. Get in touch with Visual Planning teams to provide to your company, a powerful Project Management Scheduling Software!

If you have any questions about Project Management Scheduling Software, feel free to contact us, we will help you to make the good choice.

Visual Planning is available on premise or in the cloud. Find out more about all Visual Planning features here, or read our case studies to understand how we are helping many companies to leverage their inner strengths.

Passionate about cooking and sports, Alican relies on his studies in Digital Marketing as well as his appetite for the digital world to create content and media to facilitate your research !

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