Triple constraints of project management – A Must read concept for PMP

Triple constraints in project management is also known as Project Management Triangle or Iron Triangle. This is another important and fundamental topic in project management.

Let us start from the basics.

What Is Constraint?

A project constraint is a factor that limits the execution of the project.  For example cost constraints limit the budget on a project.

Traditionally project managers were primarily looking at only three constraints. They are Scope, time and cost constraints.

When changes occur in the project, project manager assess the changes for the impacts in the project from these triple constraints perspective.

Triple constraints also referred as Iron triangle or project management triangle.

If you are not familiar with the PMP fundamental terminology, please read through my recent blog post on7 Important Project Management Terms Every PMP Aspirant Must Know“.

Triple Constraints Of Project Management

Triple Constraints - Project Management Triangle

When there is a change in one of these triple constraints, it impacts the other two constraints. This fact is referred as triple constraints in the project management.

For instance

  1. If the scope of a project changes, then most likely it impacts time (duration of the project) and cost.
  2. When the time or duration of a project changes, then most likely the scope and cost of the project also changes.
  3. If the cost of a project changes, then scope and time are most likely change.

When one of these triple constraints are changes, if other two constraints are not taken care, then obviously it impacts the “quality” of the project.

As and when the changes occur in any of the triple constraints of the project management, the project manager simply should not accept every change.

Instead the project manager needs to direct all the changes through perform integrated change control process to assess the impact of the triple constraints of the project management and accordingly decide whether to accept or reject the change.

Just in case, if you have not read, here is the link to my recent blog post on the key differences between work performance data Vs work performance information Vs work performance reports.

Triple Constraints In Project Management Is No More Valid

Does it mean that only these triple constraints suffice for the project manager to successfully complete the project?

The simple answer is “NO”.

No matter what, the project manager has to manage all the six project constraints for successful closure of the project.

The SIX Constraints of Project Management

Six Constraints of Project Management

Any time there is a change in your project, you need to manage all six project management constraints. Otherwise the project is going to be risky.

Here are the 6 constraints of project management.

  • Scope Constraints – Need to manage the scope of work you do for the project
  • Time Constraints – Project will have to be with in the specified time duration.
  • Cost Constraints – Project will always have to be within the project budget
  • Resource Constraints – human resources and other materials required to complete the work
  • Risk Constraints – If you don’t deal with the risks, any unexpected things may impact the project negatively.
  • Quality Constraints – Project needs to fulfill all the requirements, expected from the project.


As a final point, in the olden days, the project managers use to consider only triple constraints, which are scope, time and cost.

However, only considering the triple constraints are not good enough in today’s practice of project management.

Project manager have to consider all the six constraints namely scope, time, cost, resources, risks, and quality to manage the project successfully.

2 Responses to “Triple constraints of project management – A Must read concept for PMP”
  1. PM nerd August 18, 2017
    • Ravi August 20, 2017

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