Project Example: The Triple Constraint

My goal with the project example is to create a scenario that is similar to those faced in real projects. I find, too often, that textbook examples overly simplify scenarios to the point that the answer is so obvious that when faced with a real world example the less experienced project manager cannot distill the issue.

Mark is a project manager for Custom BoatBuilders, Inc. Bill manages the custom building of boats for private consumers. Consumers contract with Custom BoatBuilders (CBB) to build custom watercraft for personal use. Mark reports to Steven who is the Client Relationship Manager. Steven’s responsibility is to work directly with the customer and secure a contract for the building of a custom boat. After a new customer contract is signed, Steven involves Bill to execute on the project.

Steven presents Mark with the parameters of the project. Bill & Matilda Gotrocks want a new power boat delivered by Spring 2009 so they can have their new boat at their country club when the boat slips open for the season. Bill has put down a deposit of $10,000 on his boat and has signed a contract dated July 1, 2008, for a not-to-exceed price of $100,000. Steven explains to Mark that based on current production his project will be allocated the standard 10 resources in varying disciplines from the boat-building department that are generally allocated to projects of this size. Raw materials will be available through the procurement department.

From this Mark knows his constraints for the project:

Budget: $100,000

Scope: New powerboat

Timeline: Spring 2009

Project Goal: Deliver scope on-time and within budget (the universal goal of virtually all projects)

The experienced project manager will read this and see that there are many gaps and much more information that is needed to manage this project successfully, but we will get to that later.

For now, let’s focus on the triple constraint and how its components can be used as levers. Rarely in a project will you see a set of triple constraints that can be met as-is. Often one of the constraints is seemingly out of line with delivering a successful project.

For this example, let’s say the powerboat that the Gotrocks’ commissioned has a standard delivery time frame of 12-months. Based on the contract signing date of July 1, 2008, this would imply a standard delivery date of July 1, 2009. But the Gotrocks’ want this in Spring 2009 (“Spring” as a delivery date is another problem that will be covered separately). Clearly we already have a problem. Or do we?

Mark’s responsibility as project manager is to manage the triple constraints to both satisfy the customer of the project (Bill and Matilda Gotrocks) as well as protect the profitability of his company (CBB). At this very preliminary stage Mark should be presenting several options to his boss on how to deliver the the new boat on-time and within budget.

How can Mark deliver the boat on-time within budget?

Problem: Mark needs to shorten the production time line (time constraint) to meet the customer deadline.

To resolve the problem, Mark needs to consider possible adjustments to the other two constraints (Budget and Scope)

Possible Budget adjustments (Sometimes referred to as Levers)

  • hire more resources to work on the project at one time (in excess of the 10 planned for)
  • pay resources to work overtime (keep in mind this may eat into the raw materials budget)

The implication here is that you may spend more to get the desired result (shorter timeline). That is the heart behind the relationship in the triple constraint. To shorten the side of the triangle that represents time you have to increase the side that represents budget.

Possible Scope Adjustments (Levers)

  • Offer to build a less complex boat (building all those fancy options adds more time & budget to the schedule
  • Offer an alternate scope that may still satisfy the customer requirement (in this example, it might be a boat this is stock built and not custom built)

This is a very rudimentary example, but serves to demonstrate that for each of the triple constraints, budget, scope, time, the other two constraints can be modified, adjusted, or changed to accommodate the impact created by the other constraints. It is up to the project manager to see the possibilities in the triple constraint and bring these alternate solutions to the client.

If you are thinking ahead or thinking about your personal experiences and have questions like, “Well aren’t there a maximum number of resources that can work on a boat at one time,” or “that customer is never going to accept the ‘cutting corners’ of a less complex boat” you are exactly correct. This is just the beginning.

We’ve identified the triple constraints and seen how they work as levers that are continually bound to each other. But to truly manage a project is an art as much as it is a science. In this writer’s opinion it is actually more art than science. Mark will have to use his knowledge in his field, his negotiation and communication skills and work through the cascade of new questions that arise with each adjustment of the triple constraint.

Advertisements

16 Responses to Project Example: The Triple Constraint

  1. Very good facts, Many thanks!

  2. Brittney says:

    This design is steller! You definitely know how to keep a reader entertained.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own
    blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Excellent job. I really loved what you had
    to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!

  3. Sonia says:

    Hi! I could have sworn I’ve visited this blog before but after browsing through many of
    the posts I realized it’s new to me. Regardless, I’m
    certainly happy I stumbled upon it and I’ll be book-marking it
    and checking back often!

  4. Kristen says:

    You actually explained this superbly!

  5. It is pretty important to focus or concentrate in a proven marketing
    formula and work all you can on that. Below are some reasons why you should hire a
    professional internet marketing company for your business.
    It is advisable to concentrate on one or at
    most two products per website.

  6. If you desire to take a good deal from this article then you have to apply these methods to your won blog.

  7. web site says:

    Another grant is the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent SMART grant which is
    for deserving students with a 3. The IRS will surely track you down, and
    when selecting repayments lowered, financial fatigue
    is eased. A few debt management program of the many sites that offer this service for those that need
    to reduce their financial obligation to zero? Atop performing debt settlement company for debtnegotiation then I have an outstanding balance on my
    Chase Freedom Rewards Credit Card of $417. V Lavallee, 26 Misc.

  8. You need to take part in a contest for one of the most useful blogs on the net.

    I most certainly will highly recommend this web site!

  9. Truly tons of awesome data!

  10. anchor says:

    Everybody knows that getting an auto loan after bankruptcy, there are
    still a little wary about offering carloans consolidation loans for bad credit for people
    with bad credit.

  11. Tumor Bone says:

    Many thanks, Valuable stuff!

  12. Hello! I could have sworn I’ve been to this blog before but
    after checking through some of the post I realized it’s
    new to me. Anyways, I’m definitely glad I found it and I’ll be bookmarking and checking
    back often!

  13. I do not know whether it’s just me or if perhaps everybody
    else experiencing issues with your blog. It appears as if
    some of the written text on your posts are running off
    the screen. Can somebody else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to
    them as well? This could be a issue with my internet browser because I’ve had this happen
    before. Kudos

  14. I know this website offers quality dependent articles and extra stuff,
    is there any other website which gives these kinds of stuff
    in quality?

  15. Applying ice to swollen areas and taking anti-inflammatory
    medications may relieve some of the pain. Flat feet have various degrees of arch degradation when the body’s weight is on them.
    Ill-fitting shoes may also cause pain because they tend to
    squeeze the foot, causing the pressure inside the increase.

  16. El género musical se volvió a poner de moda con películas como Al otro lado de la cama (2002) de Emilio Martínez Lázaro, que también firmó Las 13 rosas (2007) con Alcaíne, y que formaba parte de esa corriente cinematográfica que retomaba la Guerra Civil y el Franquismo, a la que también se apuntaron José Luis Cuerda y Hans Burman en Los girasoles ciegos (2008).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: