What is the Project Management Triple Constraint Theory?

Adriana Girdler

Everything you need to know about the triple constraint theory for a successful project The triple constraint theory might sound like a complex topic if …

Everything you need to know about the triple constraint theory for a successful project

The triple constraint theory might sound like a complex topic if you’re hearing about it for the first time… But it really is pretty straightforward.

Understanding the Triple Constraint Theory

The triple constraint theory is also known as the project management triangle. It’s based on three core elements:

  • Scope
  • Time
  • Budget

These three elements all depend on each other. Any change made to one of these constraints has an effect on the other two.

If you want to make changes to your project timing, then it might shift your scope and budget. So, this is something you need to consider when making changes to any of these three aspects of your project.

It’s important for you to understand each of these constraints individually so that you understand how they could be impacted throughout your project.

Constraint: Time

The constraint of time is pretty straightforward – it’s how long your project is going to take, or the duration of your project.

How long is it going to take to complete all the aspects necessary for the scope of your project? That’s the question you need to ask and answer here.

It’s critical here to understand the timeline of your high-level milestones and even the detailed tasks involved in your project.

Your time becomes very important because it sets an expectation of when you’ll be handing over your project deliverables.

More about the constraints and their impacts

If you’re a project manager or if you’re thinking about going into project management, this theory is one of the basics that you need to understand. I wanted to make sure you’ve really got a full grasp of it, so I created a video that goes into this in a little more detail.

Head over to YouTube with me so we can finish this conversation!

If you want more step-by-step guides on all things project management, check out my SLAY Project Management online course where I take you through all the steps of successfully managing a project – including documentation – from start to close. You’ll get every template you will need, along with detailed video instructions on how to use them.


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Adriana Girdler is a project manager, productivity specialist, entrepreneur, professional speaker, facilitator, visioning wizard, and author. As President of CornerStone Dynamics, Adriana is one of Canada’s prominent business productivity and project management specialists—helping both individuals and businesses do what they do, only better. She is a certified master black belt lean six sigma with over 20 years’ experience improving how companies work.

She also holds both PMP (project management professional) and CET (certified engineering technologist) designations. She’s a Tedx speaker, as well as a HuffPost and Thrive Global contributor. She has been interviewed on Global, CBC, CTV, CHCH, 680News Radio, Newstalk 1010, Sirius XM and published in the Globe and Mail and numerous industry magazines. WANT ADRIANA'S FREE ONLINE TRAINING? In 45 min, learn Adriana's 5 project management secrets she use on EVERY project. Sign up for the Free Webinar here: THE FAB FIVE FUNDAMENTALS OF PROJECT MANAGEMENT

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