Balancing the triple constraints triangle
For balancing triple constraints triangle, let’s look back to the Project Manager Knowledge Areas section above where we discussed various aspects of project management that a project manager has to deal with all the time. We saw scope, time, cost and resources were painted in green indicating that these four areas can be managed in Microsoft Project. These four areas are most important in project management because any problem in any other area impacts either scope, time, cost or resources. This makes triple constraints triangle as shown in the figure very important. A PMP® Aspirant should also understand this concepts in depth.
It is very important for a project manager to balance the triangle i.e. create a balance among scope, time and cost to deliver a quality product. Quality in the middle is an indication that it is not negotiable while scope, time and cost on sides indicate that we need to negotiate them to balance the triangle.
Various situations in a project arising time to time like a risk getting materialized, vendor delaying a deliverables or a change request may have impact on cost, time or scope. In such situations we need to analyze the impact and negotiate other sides to balance the triangle so that we can deliver the product or service as promised.
A scheduler such as Microsoft Project come very handy in keeping the triangle in shape. It is an excellent platform to analyze impact and negotiate other sides. In MS Project, we can define complete scope as Work Breakdown Structure (WBS), enter all our estimates for each WBS item, assign all our resources and manage dependencies among activities. This way we get control on the scope, timelines and cost.
We get the real benefit when we track the project. If we add some scope, it helps us to workout additional time & cost required. If any activity get delayed, it will show us the impact on all dependent tasks & on end date and give us a platform to take corrective actions in terms of adding resources (cost) or reducing scope to finish in time. If we have a constraint on cost side, it will help to us tuning time or scope to manage within budget. Basically it helps us to measure variance, identify cause of the variance, work out the right corrective actions and also track if corrective actions are really effective.
Suppose our customer sends a change request that adds an additional deliverable in the scope. Until we analyze the impact and balance it by adding more resources (cost) or adding some time or both, we may not be able to deliver a quality product. Microsoft project gives us a platform to add the additional work in the scope and see if we can manage it with existing resource by adding time or we need to add resources because adding time is not acceptable to the customer.