Balancing Triple Constraints using MS Project 2010

-- Vivek Prakash

Triple Constraints Triangle_0

Managing a project is complex as the various aspects of the project have to progress in synchronous manner for the successful completion.

A Project Manager has to integrate 8 aspects of any project i.e. synchronize scope, time, cost, resources, communication, quality, risk and procurement during the lifecycle from initiation to closure. Failing to do so means inappropriate communication, inefficient use of resources, scope creep, delay, cost overrun and what to say about quality of product and customer experience.

Out of these 8 areas 4 are the core of the project management—scope, time, cost and resources. Cost and resources are tightly coupled as cost is used to procure resources only. Basically if a project manager is able to manager scope, time and cost in an integrated manner without compromising quality, the project is in control. Therefore balancing the triple constraints triangle is most important.

A scheduler come very handy in keeping the triangle in shape. All Enterprise Project Management (EPM)…

…Tool come with a scheduler either it is Primavera, Clarity, HP’s PPM Center or Microsoft Project or any other. Microsoft has taken a modular approach by keeping Project Professional client separate from Project Server and client can be used without server integration. This is a great advantage as complete EPM is very expensive. This has made Microsoft Project as one of the most popular project scheduling tool.

In MS Project, you can define complete scope as Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), enter all your estimates for each WBS item, assign all your resources and manage dependencies among activities. This way you get control on the scope, timelines and complete cost. You can see when your people are unallocated or when they are over allocated and you can level them.

You get the real benefit when you track the project. If you add some scope, it helps you to workout additional time & cost required. If any activity get delayed, it will show you the impact on all dependent tasks & on end date and give you a platform to take corrective actions in terms of adding resources (cost) or reducing scope or using project float to finish in time. If you have a constraint on cost side, it will help to you tune time or scope to manage within budget. Basically it helps you to measure variance, identify cause of the variance, work out the right corrective actions and also track if corrective actions are really effective. It makes the communication effective and easy allowing you to customize views and generating visual reports to report the project status and impact on scope, time and cost.

As MS Project cost you some bucks and many people may not able to effort it. There are various open source alternatives available like Open Project, Gantt Project, Dot Project and many others. They all normally do basic stuff like scoping, timeline and costing quite good however when it comes to manage various situations, optimization, resource leveling & reporting, MS Project is leap ahead.