Trade-Off Triangle

Good project management deals with three factors: time, cost and performance.

software project management  Trade Off Triangle

Projects are successful if they are completed on time, within budget, and to performance requirements. In order to bring the many components of a large project into control there is a large toolkit of techniques, methodologies, and tools.

These techniques provide the tools for managing different components involved in a project: planning and scheduling, developing a product; managing financial and capital resources, and monitoring progress. However the success of a project will always rest on the abilities of a project manager and the team members.

In managing competing project requirements Project managers often talk of a triple constraint:

–Project scope

–Time and


Project quality is affected by balancing these three factors.

High quality projects deliver the required product or service within scope, on time and within budget.

The relationship among these factors is such that if any one of the three factors changes, at least one other factor must change.

Simply put: project success means completing all project deliverables on time, within budget, and to a level of quality that is acceptable to sponsors and stakeholders.

The project manager must keep the team’s attention focused on achieving these broad goals. Most people still want their projects to be on time, meet quality objectives, and not cost more than the budget. These form the classic time, quality, cost triangle.

In fact if you have an unlimited budget and unlimited time, project management becomes rather easy. For most people, however, time and money are critical and that is what makes project management so important today.

Project management is often summarized in a triangle. The three most important factors are time, cost and scope. These form the vertices with quality as a central theme.

software project management  Trade Off Triangle

  1. Projects must be delivered on time.
  2. Projects must be within cost
  3. Projects must be within scope
  4. Projects must meet customer quality requirements

More recently, this has given way to a project management diamond, with time, cost, scope and quality the four vertices and customer expectations as a central theme. No two customers’ expectations are the same so you must ask what their expectations are.

software project management  Trade Off Triangle

A project goes through four phases during its life:

  1. Project Definition: Defining the goals, objectives and critical success factors for the project
  2. Project Initiation: Everything that is needed to set-up the project before work can start
  3. Project Control: Ensuring that a project stays on track and taking appropriate action to ensure it does
  4. Project Closure: Disbanding of all the elements that were required to run the project
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