Last modified on 25 July 2014, at 12:14

Development Cooperation Handbook/Designing and Executing Projects/The Project Triangle

Development Cooperation in Action: steps and tools



Project management is leading a team that delivers all project expected outputs within the agreed timelines and budgets.

The project management triangle

The main challenge of project management is to ensure that a project is delivered within defined constraints. One can visualize project constrains through the model called the The project triangle: time, cost, and scope. If one adjusts any one of these elements, the other two are affected. For example, if we adjust the project plan to shorten the schedule, we might increase costs and decrease scope. Many internal and external factors (like sponsors, beneficiaries, implementing team ability, hostility of those who feel that project success is against their interest, , etc.) will intervene to influence the extent of these three variables: time, cost, and scope.

The project triangle: seeing projects in terms of time, cost, and scope

The project triangle is interrelationship of time, money, and scope.

If you adjust any one of these elements, the other two are affected. For example, if you adjust the project plan to shorten the schedule, you might increase costs and decrease scope.

Project management gets most interesting when you have to balance the time, cost, and scope constraints of your projects—"balance" as on a high wire.

Scope, Time and Cost, are the three essential elements of any project. To succeed as a project manager, you'll have to know quite a bit about how all three of these constraints apply to your projects. You need a tool to help manage them. If you adjust any one side of the triangle, the other two sides are affected.

As you adjust resources, your schedule changes. For example, if you have a number of resource overallocations (overallocation: The result of assigning more tasks to a resource than the resource can accomplish in the working time available.) and you level (leveling: Resolving resource conflicts or overallocations by delaying or splitting certain task) the schedule might now include split tasks and delays that extend the finish date.

but you cannot have the three together!

In Project Execution and control phase of project management we can adopt a more complex matrix of balance that includes the element of quality: CSSQ is the acronym for a project’s linked quadruple constraints Cost, Scope, Schedule, and Quality.

The Project Management Triangle

See The 9 topic areas of project management knowledge

  • Integration
  • Scope
  • Time
  • Cost
  • Quality
  • Human Resources
  • Communication
  • Risk
  • Procurement


See alsoEdit