The project triangle

“You can have it good, fast, or cheap. Pick two.”

Engineers have been saying this to project managers for decades.

In slightly different terms, every project balances a “triangle” of time, money, and scope — you can’t change one without affecting at least one of the others. The project manager’s job is to keep the whole triangle from falling apart.

How? First, when a problem comes up, locate it on the project triangle — is it about time (schedule), money (budget), or scope? Second, figure out which sides of the triangle you can change and which are “fixed” in place. Third, adjust what you can to fix the problem and optimize the project. Fourth, finish the project and celebrate!

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