The Iron Triangle of project management represents the constraints that might affect the project. Scope, budget, and schedule are the three project constraints that project managers must work with. Any modifications to one of the factors will affect the others. To achieve a successful project outcome, a project manager maintains the balance and manages the changing trade-offs between these three constraints. 

Strategies for Dealing With Project Constraints

Here are some strategies project managers can employ when dealing with different project constraints.

Fixed Cost

When a client requests a set price quote before approving the start of a project but is flexible about the deliverables and the timeline. Project managers can:

  • Prioritize tasks according to the customer to meet short-term budget constraints.
  • Short sprint releases, like 1 to 2 weeks, will help rein in costs. 
  • Keep an eye on the burn rate and velocity, as they are the primary cost indicators.

Fixed Time

When a client requests delivery by a specific date and is flexible regarding scope and cost. Project managers can:

  • Work strictly in the order of business value to increase the number of completed user stories in a given sprint. 
  • Maintain sprint duration – The project will have a set number of sprints to not delay the completion date.

Fixed Scope

When a customer requests a fixed list of deliverables and is flexible with the cost and delivery time, it is sometimes referred to as "heavy agile." To guarantee accurate scope definition during Sprint 0, project managers should concentrate on backlog estimation and definition.

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Fixed Cost and Scope

When a customer requests a fixed pricing estimate for a fixed amount of deliverables. The delivery deadline, in this case, is adjustable. Project managers can:

  • During Sprint 0, adjust the estimated risk to account for unforeseen delays in the project quote.
  • Update the delivery date when required.

Fixed Cost and Time

When a consumer requests a fixed-price quote by a specific deadline, the exact scope for delivery is flexible, along with the fixed time and fixed cost points. Project managers can make the estimate to the customer as clear as possible by calculating the overall price as cost per sprint.

Fixed Time and Scope

Where the client requests a particular set of deliverables by a specific date. The overall cost is adjustable in this case. Along with it, the points in defined time and fixed scope;

  • During Sprint 0, assign work to sprints in advance to establish the timeline for scope delivery.
  • Add extra sprints to the timeline to account for unanticipated flaws or technical difficulties
  • If necessary, increase the team size by at least three to four sprints before the project's completion to ensure the scope is finished on time.

Fixed Cost, Scope and Time

When the client does not allow for project flexibility, project managers should:

  • Cancel it since this is not an agile project. 
  • Use PRINCE2 or another waterfall methodology to conduct it, but they also have a high chance of failing.

Iron Triangle – Traditional Project Management vs. Agile

The iron triangle might have a fixed scope of requirements under the traditional method. Therefore, project managers should be flexible with the resources, cost, and schedule to guarantee the project can be delivered within the fixed scope. 

In Agile, the schedule and resources are fixed, so when things do not go as planned, project managers compromise with scope to ensure the highest priority items in the product backlog get delivered to maximize the value generated by the project. 

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Why Would You Implement the Iron Triangle?

Project managers can benefit from using the Iron Triangle of Project Management since it can help when them when they need to:

Evaluate Trade-offs

The Iron Triangle can assist managers in weighing the trade-offs and making correct decisions when any constraint in the triangle needs to be adjusted. The Iron Triangle can be utilized as a tool to aid in selecting the best course of action for the project.

Communicate With Stakeholders

It is a great visual technique to show stakeholders the opportunities or restrictions of the project.

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Conclusion

To make decisions regarding the iron triangle of project management, project managers must comprehensively understand the context and nuances of the constraints so that the product's quality satisfies every project's objectives. The PGP in Project Management will provide an in-depth understanding of the strategy and management of projects and programs, complexity, quality and risk management, PMO implementation and customer-centric digital transformation, and Scrum and Agile skills. Sign-up now!

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Simplilearn is one of the world’s leading providers of online training for Digital Marketing, Cloud Computing, Project Management, Data Science, IT, Software Development, and many other emerging technologies.

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  • *According to Simplilearn survey conducted and subject to terms & conditions with Ernst & Young LLP (EY) as Process Advisors