Triple Constraints, Definition of Project Management

by Ashvini on May 24, 2011 · 12 comments

in General

Importance of Project Management in entrepreneurship

Project management is an important discipline in almost all industries. Not only project management helps to deliver project on time but also helps in cost management, risk management and many other things. Though it is easy to get burdened by so big terms I mentioned before, project management is very simple and is about delivering within the planned parameters.

As per Wikipedia here is the definition of project management

Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, securing and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives.

This is the most succinct definition of project management. Project management is the art and science of delivering on your predefined goals and plans.

Many times I have seen entrepreneurs and their mentors focusing only on social media, advertising, networking while they fail to realize that biggest challenge to them is to deliver things as promised to customer.

The moment you start thinking about an idea and about taking it off from the ground, the first thing that comes to mind is how do you execute your plan. There are so many areas that have to be addressed. The major factors are cost, time and scope. These are the constraints around which all new ventures and projects are built. Let us see how.

Triple Constraint No 1 -> Cost:

Cost is an important component in any venture. If you are starting on your own, probably it is one of the most important thing that you have to worry about. You are probably using your own money to fund your venture and it is important that you don’t stretch more than what you have got.

In my previous project ( which was an online store) , I was just bankrupted by hidden costs. I never thought that these hidden expenses would cause my plans and budgets to go haywire. Even though I planned well on the cost side, still I had tremendous difficulty managing costs .

The bigger the project, the higher the cost. That means that if you have a world conquering idea, you “might” need world conquering money in most of the cases. Whatever be your business( even a home based business), there is a cost factor. A better cost management will help you to budget your venture properly.

Triple Constraint Number Two – Time:

There is a saying “Time is money”. Time is a commodity that slips from our hand every moment. For a project , time is a parameter that we need to race against. Time is also called as deadline in project terminology. Timelines are often broken up into various milestones.

Triple Constraint Number Three -> Scope:

This is the parameter where most of the projects fail. We decide that we want to win over a locality with our product. As our project gets started and takes shape, we get more confident.

Subsequently, we target more of the market and we add more features to our products. Hence, scope of the project ( features, services, product lines etc) keeps increasing. It is called as a “scope creep”. Too much of scope creep is troublesome for the project.

In a football game.there is a goal post through which you have to shoot the ball. You are fairly confident that you can make it.

Then someone decides “Oh that is not the goal post we were looking for” and just changes the position in the nick of time. You have shot the ball correctly but it misses the post. Kind of frustrating isn’t it. Ever changing demands and scope from various people involved in the project( you , your family, your customers, your partners )  means that you will find it difficult launch the product or that it is launched with many faults.

So I hope you know by now what are the triple constraints of a project

As many people “God is everywhere” . So are these three parameters. Your project may be size of a single NASA project or just a small online store project, these three factors if not handled well can drive it to the ground.

Triple Constraint

Relationship between three constraints

If you see, there is a relationship between these three parameters, like three sides of a triangle. If you increase one side, an other side needs to expand as well. That means if scope of a project is increased, either cost or time is increased (within the physical constraints) ( that you cannot work more than 24 hours in a day or that you do not have infinite money). If you want to decrease the cost, you need  to decrease the time on project or reduce the scope ( features or span ) and vice versa.

Let me give you an example you are familiar with .

Case 1:

If you want to start an e-commerce store, the best way is to first know three things



  1. Features of store
  2. Time to get up and  running
  3. Cost of developing the store

You might have a fair idea of the above three, however, during the implementation either you or your client decides to add a new feature.  Because of this addition we either hire a new developer ( more cost) or ask someone from team to work on it( more time).

Here you either have to increase time or the cost to match up the project scope.

Case 2:

You realize that you should wait for Christmas to launch your product, which the deadline for delivery is extended. If you don’t want to add the cost,  you can use your team to develop additional features( scope increase) for your product..

So scope and time are adjusted keeping the cost same.

Case 3:

You have received external funding for the project. You have more money to spend now. So you can either increase the scope ( by adding more features or delay the launch because you can keep your team longer with you.

I hope these three cases have made it amply clear how triple constant work in relation to each other.


If you want to really read a good book on project management PMBOK guide is excellent resource.

Project Management Books) . Please note that this is an affiliate link ( that means I earn money when you buy using this link.

About The Author


Edward Villanueva December 28, 2012 at 12:31 pm

Project management has emerged as a crucial factor that determines the success of an organization. Whether it is a question of facing an economic crisis or generating large turnover, it plays a pivotal role in the growth of a firm.
Read more at Buzzle:

Veronica Cervera November 15, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Well explained. Now I really find very few online entrepreneurs who practice project management. It’s either that they’re deem it’s not necessary or they are just not aware. Project management has to be in place even for the smallest of businesses. The benefits are huge. And as you mentioned, it’s not really that hard to implement.

Don Kim June 1, 2011 at 8:07 am

As a former entrepreneur and small business owner now working as a program/project manager, I can confirm your conviction of the importance having a good understanding of project management. Looking back, if I had known about the techniques of managing projects like I do now, I could have saved myself lots of problems and issues I ran into when starting my businesses and would have employed better planning and risk management. Excellent post!

Ashvini Kumar Saxena June 2, 2011 at 11:18 am

Hi Don,
Thank you for commenting on my blog post.

It is just great that an experienced person like you has agreed with things I have told. Project management is the most neglected part of any entrepreneurial venture. I have seen people who are in startups only talk about social media, marketing, acquiring customers etc. leaving delivery to the sidelines. It is really detrimental to project if they don’t consider this aspect.

Hope to see you again.

Nishant Soni May 29, 2011 at 12:51 pm

A really nice post put up Ashvini.

I would really relate to you with the “Scope” part. Because i’ve always learnt there are 2 ways you can have your business succeed.
A. Sell something which is in demand or required by people.
B. Create a need before you present your product to the audience.

Thanks for the nice post.

Ashvini Kumar Saxena May 30, 2011 at 11:29 am

Hi Nishant,

Welcome to my blog and thanks for your comments. Yes scope is important project of project management in any venture. It was nice to share your experience with me.

Hope to see you again.

Best regards,

Aswani May 26, 2011 at 11:16 am

This is just brilliant piece of well explained information. Time, Cost and Scope, there has to be proper balance among each of these constraints to get things going smooth and fine. Failure to understand or work any of these constraints may prove to be fatal for any business.

Adam Paudyal May 25, 2011 at 11:15 am

Some awesome insights here Ash.

So very true – many people do not focus on the tasks that brings them to their goals faster.

What I do is create a schedule to make sure that I focus on 20% of the things that brings in 80% of the results. Not an easy schedule to keep but trying to stick to it religiously (O:

Later on man!

Ashvini Kumar Saxena May 25, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Hi Adam,
In project management too , 20% of tasks normally take 80% of the time. They are called as critical tasks . Hence it is a great idea to spend more time on them. You have said it well.

Best regards,

Daniel M. Wood May 25, 2011 at 10:52 am

Great article!
Managing costs is what I have seen most entrepreneurs fail at.
They have brilliant ideas, they are willing to invest the time and they work efficiently and hard until the project is completed, then they realize because of their lack of cost control they will need to sell three times as much product as they had initally counted on. Frantically they rush to make changes, they all of a sudden need to expand their market.

Price goes up even more, the target market gets confused and you get into a bad spiral.

By making thorough cost plans before you go out into business you will be able to handle the problems that might arise. It just takes focus and a calculation of every dollar spent.

Ashvini Kumar Saxena May 25, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Hi Daniel,

Cost control is a very important aspect of overall project management. Costs can spiral so fast that managers would not what to do. It is a great idea to plan ahead cost, time and scope to make sure that project ( or venture completes on time ).

Thanks for your insights.

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