Triple Constraint: Which Constraint is King 

“Triple Constraint: Which Constraint is King” was the topic for the 12th hangout of the Sensible Project Manager Hangout Community. In this community of project managers and others who enjoy discussing project management topics, we have a weekly hangout which is hosted via Google+ Hangout. These hangouts are held each Friday at 9:00am pacific time. Up to 10 people can join the hangout and those not making it to the hangout can view the conversation via Hangouts “On-Air”.

During the hangout we discussed the project management triple constraint to try to identify which of the constraints is the most important. During the hangout, Mark read a previous post written by the SensiblePM called The Three Headed King and the Triple Constraint. This story highlights the concept of the triple constraint and how scope, cost, and schedule need to be balanced during a project or quality suffers. 

During the balance of the hangout the following questions were addressed.

  • Can there really be a King? Is there one constraint that is more important than another?
    • In general there isn’t really a king, the important thing is to keep balance.
    • For a specific project or organization, there could be a king constraint. It is important to understand which constraint is most important for that project or organization.
  • How is quality affected by the balancing of the three constraints?
    • If we don’t keep a balance between the constraints quality will be impacted.
  • What do we do to help manage the balance and the battle between the constraints?
    • Educate management and the organization about the theory of triple constraint.
    • Find out from the sponsor which constraint they think is king.
      • Document that decision in the charter, scope and/or project plan.
    • Have a clear change management process in place.
      • Make sure everyone understands the impact of each change.
    • Have a good quality assurance plan.
  • Does an agile approach have to play by the same rules, or is this just a waterfall problem?
    • Yes the constraints are still there in an agile project, agile just manages change in a different way.

Leave a comment in this post if you agree with the concepts discussed in the hangout or just add your thoughts to extend the conversation.

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