Is project management ‘just’ about triple constraints?

February 5, 2018


For time immemorial, project management meant the ability to manage scope, time, and cost. Globally, books and discussions highlighted the so-called ‘triple constraint triangle’ in project management. Another dimension – the quality was added as a circle around this triangle.
That brings us to a vital question.

Is project management just about these triple constraints?
For us to answer this question adequately well, we need to review the world of projects as it exists today compared to what it was a couple of decades back.

Infrastructure projects were relatively simple compared to what we now observe. Architectural design is pushing the limits of man’s creativity. Check out the construction happening in the Middle East.

Engineering across industries has taken innovation to a different level today. A case in point here is digital and 3D printing. Software development has never been more sophisticated and stylish along with the force of mobile apps, artificial intelligence, robotics, machine learning, and others. Amidst all these, projects in the social and environmental sectors highlight an entirely different perspective of projects today.

The list goes on.
Now, has the world of projects changed phenomenally?
The answer is ‘yes.’
Has the world of project management changed drastically?
The answer is ‘significantly, yes.’
Do the triple constraints still exist?
Again, the answer is ‘yes.’
Are the triple constraints the end of project management?
The answer is a vociferous ‘no.’

The reasons are easy to seek if one looks at the life around us. The nature of projects about two decades back was more or less stable. Changes if any were minimal. Organizations could spend more time understanding what their projects needed to deliver.

Customers were equally willing to wait for a couple of years before a car manufacturer decided to offer options for car colors!
Let us review today’s business world.

It is not just the established business houses, but the rise of start-ups that has intensified the corporate world. Newer technologies have made products and services advance at an unimaginable pace. Customers too have been spoilt for choice coupled with their search for ‘instant gratification.’

What do these mean for today’s project managers?
Very simple – scope, time, and cost are hygiene factors! Project managers have no choice, but to take care of them. They need to deliver something beyond the triple project constraints.
You may be wondering what these could be.

Today’s project management is about understanding and delivering value!
Customers are no longer buying products and services; instead, they are buying ‘freedom,’ ‘pleasure,’ ‘comfort,’ ‘self-expression,’ ‘rarity,’ ‘compliance,’ ‘adventure,’ ‘well-being,’ and many more. For your reference, research has shown that there are over thirty dimensions of value – reasons for customers to buy products and services.

One of the dimensions of value is spiritual growth!
The above dimensions boil down to meticulously planning and delivery of benefits and not just the triple constraints.
In addition to the above, the challenges of dealing with diverse stakeholders with their idiosyncrasies could take a toll on a project manager.

Today’s project managers are expected to go beyond the scope, time, and cost and review the business needs and value that customers expect of them; incorporate these parameters as part of their project planning and execution.

With so many dimensions to address, it is not hard to fathom today’s project management challenges beyond the triple constraint.

How do project managers wade through such a complex project management canvas and still deliver customer value successfully day-in and day-out?

TouchBase® is designed to cater to different industries along with varying complexity scenarios so that project managers could swim through their project management journey with relative ease.
Review TouchBase® today to be delighted!

Srikanth PV


Srikanth PV comes with two decades of global corporate and consulting background across industries with diverse roles including Strategy, Leadership, and Management. Currently, Srikanth is Head, PPM Content Management at Kytes focused on content management strategy aimed to empower customers create and enhance value through its flagship digital solution - Kytes PSA. Srikanth is also a former member of the Board of Directors of PMI Bangalore Chapter.