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How to Successfully Balance the Project Management Triangle

A project manager has to deal with many concerns simultaneously for project success.

The Project Management Triangle is associated with three major factors that affect the results of a project.

Three Points Of A Project Management Triangle Include:

  • Cost
  • Scope
  • Time

These Three Constraints Are Interrelated. Let’s See How:

Let’s say your client asks you to expand the scope of a current project you are working on. Now, when the scope will expand, the time taken to complete the project as well as the cost incurred will also change. That is why the interdependence between these three factors makes them a project management triangle.

Creating a balance among these three constraints becomes very important for a project manager in order to deliver a quality product.

If we look at the following picture, you can see that quality is placed in the middle of the triangle while time, cost and scope are placed at the ends. It indicates that quality is a factor that cannot be compromised with or negotiated with, whereas time, cost and scope are negotiable or subject to change.

Why Is it Important to Manage This Project Management Triangle in a balanced way?

The three constraints of project management software have to be kept in mind from the very beginning of a project. Taking care of these helps the project managers adapt to the changing requirements of a project without affecting cost and the time taken.

This triangle of project management finds its reference in Agile methodology.

An agile methodology is an approach to project management which is based on the basic belief that changes are bound to occur in the way of software development or project completion. Any unforeseen situation during the project lifecycle can demand changes and adapting to these changes successfully ensures project success.

While the traditional methods of project management which are not flexible and do not adopt changes can result in failed projects.

When you are prepared to manage any unforeseen changes, the final output of a product is not jeopardized.

Let us have a detailed understanding of the project management triangle and how changes in any one of its constraints can affect the entire project.

Terms related to the project management triangle:


By scope, we mean all the work that has to be completed and all the services that have to be provided in a project. The entire spectrum of tasks is involved in it.

Now, an addition in the scope i.e. the amount of work would mean an extension of time required as well as the money spent on a project. Also, an addition to the functionalities would also require more resources which you might not have thought about at the time of planning.

 The hiring of more resources for this project puts the project manager in a tight spot as the expenses as well as the development process lengthens up.

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Time is one of the vertices of a project management triangle and plays a major role in deciding the success and failure of projects. Generally, at the beginning of a project, clients ask the question- how much time it will take to complete the project and what would be the exact cost?

Now, answering this question can be a little difficult for a project manager. A proper estimation of all other factors (resources, the type of project, potential bottlenecks etc.) becomes important to calculate time.


Cost is of paramount importance and if gone beyond the estimation can lead to a serious failure of a project.

Generally, cost is calculated for clients using the following formula

Service hours(h) * Rate per hour($ )= cost($)

Change requests or requests to add functionality can severely affect the cost of a project.

How to Strike a Balance in the Project Management Triangle?

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Here are the approaches that project managers can use to strike a balance between the constraints of a project management solution.

Use a Project Management Software

A project management solution becomes a medium to make better time estimations, better cost estimations as well as defining the scope becomes easier.

Let’s understand in some detail.

Basically, project management solutions like BrightWork, ProofHub, Asana, Wrike etc. become a central place where you can plan, collaborate, discuss and get reports on your projects. Your entire team can contribute to project progress and give useful input without even the need to call meetings every time.

How a project management tool helps in balancing the PM triangle.

  • It helps in planning your projects in a visual way using tools like a Gantt chart. You can keep all the project tasks against a timeline and see how much time each task will take. When all tasks are laid out in a timeline form, you can very well decide the resources required and the budget needed. Once clear on these parameters, you can communicate the same to the clients and also keep them in loop to maintain transparency.
  • Apart from this, you can see bottlenecks or problem areas of your project while the project is in progress. All your tasks can be placed in the form of a board and you can see your tasks moving through various stages in real-time. This helps you ensure that you are not running behind the decided timeline so that the project does not get overdue.
  • The readymade templates of project management software can help you plan your projects quickly without the need to start from scratch.
  • Collaboration becomes effortless and clarity on roles and responsibilities is maintained. 
  • You can make changes in the schedule easily on a Gantt chart and everyone will be updated.
  • Managers can get clear visibility into the workload of individual team members and make appropriate decisions.


Effective planning, clear visibility into the processes, the ability to make adjustments on the go can act as the hallmarks of maintaining a stable relationship among different constraints of project management.

Communication is yet another important factor that lets your projects not slip out of hands. When an effortless and effective communication is maintained among team members and managers at all times, the efficiency increases manifold and projects can be completed successfully within decided time frame and budget.

Project Success: 7 Steps for Building Projects that Deliver Results

Project success is achievable—but you need the right mindset and tools to make it happen.

Whether your project is big or small, the guide below will help you create a project plan, define your goals, learn to communicate with your team and find the right tools for success.

1. Plan for Project Success

Creating a project plan is the first step in achieving project success—it also saves on resources, time, and effort.

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A project plan is a document that can be used for internal and external purposes—it outlines the scope, deadlines, budgets, and approximate resources required for a project.

Write the project plan before implementation begins—this will give your team direction to achieve their goals.

For inspiration, look at the project template below. It outlines how a construction company will be building a new development, with details about the phases of the project.

Source: Venngage

Note how the plan includes an overview of the project, statistics about open floor plans, and their methodology for working out their chosen layouts.

It also outlines goals and objectives for the project, along with deadlines, thus ensuring that everyone involved—team members and clients—are on the same wavelength.

Your project plan can also include an executive summary where you share information about your company, and how you relate to the project.

A risk plan is a good inclusion—you don’t need to include too many details but let your client know what could go wrong and how you would handle it.

2. Goal Setting for Project Success

The success of a project depends on goal-setting—more nuanced and relevant goals help you deliver results that will please clients.

Use the SMART goal-setting system to plan out the direction of your project:

  • Specific: Project goals should be specific—build X number of properties, or generate X amount of revenue—so teams can aim for something concrete.
  • Measurable: When you create specific goals, it becomes easier to measure the success or failure of a project—and to determine what needs improvement.
  • Attainable: Clients want to go big with their goals—and it can be tempting to go along with them. But if your goals are too ambitious, you will fail to achieve them. Worse, you could stretch your team too far and fail to complete the project by the deadline.
  • Relevant: The goals you set need to be relevant to the vision of your project and the abilities of your team. That is what will make the goals achievable.
  • Timely: Creating timelines for your project’s goals ensures success. Give your team enough time to complete elements of the operation so you can deliver results to your client on time.

With your core goals in place, you will be able to plan out your project and give your clients a realistic idea of what will be completed and by when.

3. Mind Maps for Effective Project Management

A mind map is an excellent tool for achieving project success—especially during the planning stage when you are outlining the goals.

Use a mind map to generate and narrow down ideas—this is a process that can be conducted within the project team as well as with relevant stakeholders.

Look at this strategy mind map for a design-based project—it defines the process for developing a new service and uses a numbered system identifying the steps involved.

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Source: Venngage

The key to creating a mind map is to settle on one core idea from which you can expand your strategy.

Visualizing the idea makes it easier to examine—you use multiple faculties to study the concept, which generates more critical thinking.

When designing a mind map, use a few colors to code the divisions in ideas, processes, or project steps. This will make absorbing the concept easier for everyone involved.

When presenting the project plan and mind map to external stakeholders, brand it with your logo and brand colors to make your business stand out.

4. Enlist Project Managers

Companies would do well to hire project managers if they want to deliver successful projects.

There are certain aspects of project execution that can be handled in-house, but project management requires specialized skills.

Successful project managers have excellent leadership skills, which are required no matter the size of the project.

As overseers of the operation, they direct the team forward without pushing anyone to do too much, and keep track of deadlines.

Managers also have strong communication skills—they speak with team members, suppliers, brokers, stakeholders, and clients.

Projects have many hands on deck—and everyone has their specific demands. Negotiating peace between the departments is a specialized skill that not everyone has.

In-house staff members have the qualities outlined above, but they also have their day jobs. Expecting them to take on project management as an addition would be unfair.

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That is why companies should hire a project manager for the task.

5. Agile Project Planning

The agile approach to project success prioritizes people and collaboration, while also acknowledging the importance of software.

Project agility includes these tenets:

  • Creating a motivational environment for project teams
  • Encouraging innovation and autonomy
  • Delivering customer satisfaction using project tools
  • Adaptability to changes
  • Team collaboration
  • Regular communication
  • Measuring success and failure

Agile project management is focused on delivering excellent results, as well as on building sustainable environments that are long-lasting.

Use the same guidelines across multiple projects and years—improving along the way, depending on what teams have learned—to achieve a high standard of results.

This method also mitigates a lot of the risks that come with project planning—changing goals and supplies are built into the system.

More importantly, the agile system helps create autonomous teams who innovate, experiment and learn, thus making them efficient and happy.

6. Communication is Key for Project Success

There are numerous moving parts in projects, so prioritize communication to achieve project success.

Create a workflow and feedback plan—outline tools or services teams need to use, as you can see in the example below.

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Source: Venngage

Remember that communication can’t be one-way only—if you aren’t listening to team members or employees, you won’t know why they are struggling with tasks.

Be open to feedback by using team chat tools like Chanty, Slack, or Skype. If training is required, build time into your project plan for this process.

While communication is necessary, too many meetings can get disruptive—set a meeting schedule that everyone can plan their day around.

7. Tools for Project Success

The right tools and software make it easier to achieve project success—they improve workflow by sharing instant notifications for any developments.

Use a tool like JIRA to manage projects and Trello for task management. With social distancing still in place, use remote work tools like Proofhub or Basecamp.

These tools help to collaborate and keep track of resources, budgets, and project progression.

They also have provisions to set deadlines so you can improve productivity. More importantly, this software helps to avoid overlaps in tasks, missed deadlines, and gaps in communication.

Key Takeaways: Project Success is Achievable

We have outlined seven essential steps for achieving project success, no matter the size of the operation at hand.

To recap, here are the key takeaways from the above guide:

  • Create a project plan for success
  • Set your project goals
  • Use mind mapping to strategize
  • Invest in project managers
  • Be agile in your project management
  • Keep communication lines open
  • Invest in the right tools

With the above steps, you have the wherewithal to build a project that delivers results to your clients.

Project Management Risk Strategies to ensure Balance

After six plus months of working from home, many remote workers are starting to feel like there’s no delineation between the office and what used to be the solitude of their comfy home.

Dining rooms, dens and otherwise open home spaces have been filled with desks, chairs, filing cabinets, monitors and sundry office accoutrement. The “work” side of the scale has tipped heavily, in some cases catapulting the contents of the “Life” scale off the other side. This imbalance is largely contributed to:

  1. An inordinate time spent working – It’s far too easy to rise early and belly straight up to the proverbial desk. Work, which used to require a commute is now merely steps away. Congratulations, you’ve inadvertently extended the your workday relative to the duration of your commute minus the time it took to walk to your home “office.”
  2. Improper Diet and meal regimen – As the new “office” is conveniently located adjacent to a large refrigeration unit, meals can be prepared quickly and consumed right at your desk! No need to go out to lunch, now, eh?
  3. Multiple family members battling for “office” and air space. In some cases, Mom and Dad are both working from home, in addition and children with “flex” schedules are running laps through your “new office.”
  4. The physical presence of the “office” in your home. The Note pads, sticky notes and white boards reserved for the “away from home office” now adorn two and three rooms of the house and serve as continual reminders of the multitude of projects, tasks and work that remains to be done.
  5. Guilt – While arriving home used to designate a temporary aside from the “work-a-day” schedule, Home is now work and vice versa. Yes, you’ve arrived in a Bizzaro type universe. Items that would have otherwise plagued the back of uour subconscious mind now linger as the forefront.

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But, Alas! Project Management Risk strategies to the rescue! If there’s one thing we learned from our trusty PMBOKs, it was that there are multiple strategies for addressing Risks of any variety. These shall be addressed in turn, here.

  1. An abundance of time is spent working – Strategy Mitigate.
    There are multiple ways to reduce the possibility of this risk occurring and its relative impact. Create a work schedule! Set a target time to begin and end your work-day. Instead of heading straight for the home office desk in the morning, take a walk, lift weights or make yourself a healthy breakfast. This will ensure that your morning
  2. Improper Diet and meal regimen – Strategies, Transfer and Mitigate.
    Many folks are choosing companies that deliver pre-made meals directly to your door. While this will aid in better nutrition, it won’t help you get away more. Reduce the risk of eating at your home office desk by designating a lunch time, blocking it on your calendar and eating either away from home or at a location other than your home office desk.
  3. Multiple family members battling for “office” and air space
    Accept and Mitigate. This is an unfortunate fact of co-location. Physical and air space will be crowded with passers-by and concurrent conference calls, but there are multiple mitigation strategies. Discuss your daily schedule with folks in the house at the outset of the day. This allows all to understand what sort of day your headed into and sets expectations appropriately.
  4. The physical presence of the “office” in your home – Accept and Mitigate
    In order to accomplish our daily tasks, we need office
  5. Guilt – Accept and Mitigate
    However difficult to put into practice, we need to Accept the fact that we’re in a new situation and adopt the min-set that life does truly exist outside work. This is difficult to do, however when numbers one through four (outlined above) are staring us straight in the face. Here are a few Mitigation strategies for reducing Guilt. Make a list of daily work-related activities you’d like to accomplish. Rank them in order of importance and check them off when completed. Do not work items in parallel unless necessary. At the end of your work-day ,you’ll have an accomplishment list to reference. Lingering items can and should be ranked on the following day’s list.

Adoption and consistent use of these Risk management strategies will greatly assist with balancing your work-life scale.

Benefits Realisation Management? It’s easy if you do it SMART

Undertaking projects and programs needs to bring about benefits. This is to ensure that return on investment is achieved.

This has led savvy organisations to start focusing on benefits realisation. Benefits realisation management is a process that is undertaken to get ready for and manage planned benefits through change. The fundamental reason for doing this is that it is possible to maximise the benefits that are realised. Taking a more structured approach to this helps to achieve it. However, many organisations do not focus effectively on benefits realisation, if indeed they invest any energy into it at all. This is a problem given that the competitive environment for most businesses is intensifying, and that working towards achieving real benefits can ensure that the organisation is focused on the right activities. It is also relevant given that many projects fail and do not deliver the desired benefits.

What are benefits?

Before exploring benefits realisation management in further depth, it is helpful to clarify what I mean when I talk about “benefits”. Benefits should be quantifiable and possible to measure. It is useful to make the required benefits SMART to ensure this. This means making them specific, measurable, agreed, realistic and time bound. Often, benefits will have either a monetary or resource value that is tangible that can be assigned to them. They should also be considered to be positive by one or more stakeholders. Benefits of undertaking projects usually fall into one of the following categories: increase revenues; lower costs; comply with a legal requirement; continue to deliver business as usual; or provide a tangible contribution to a business imperative. Benefits realisation management helps by turning business goals into measurable benefits that can actually be tracked.

Why work towards benefits realisation management?

As mentioned above, benefits realisation management is important from the perspective that it helps maximise the quantifiable benefits that can be achieved for the organisation. Failing to undertake benefits realisation management is costly and means that there is a strong chance that projects are not delivering all that they could for the organisation. Research carried out by the PMI in its Pulse of the Profession report on the Strategic Impact of Projects in 2016 showed that 83% of organisations are immature with regard to benefits realisation. The study also identified that organisations with low benefits realisation maturity waste $166 billion per $1billion. What is more, 44% of businesses did not forecast the return on investment of projects either “always” or “often”. The chances that these organisations are not maximising project benefits are very high.

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Benefits realisation management is especially useful from the perspective of being able to make a good business case for the change in the first place, and in making sound business decisions on it. It enables projects to be more closely tied to business performance, and projects are more clearly linked to organisational strategic objectives. In general, this helps to drive a culture of performance in the business. Benefits realisation management is also highly beneficial in terms of making better decisions on how to invest time, resources and money within the firm. The information on the benefits realised can be shared with employees throughout the organisation, which is good for morale.

Benefits realisation management needs to be driven from the top of the organisation. It should be integrated into the process of strategic planning, to ensure that undertaking any particular initiative will definitely bring about quantifiable benefits that are worthwhile for the business. The focus needs to shift somewhat from outputs and deliverables, more towards benefits and value. Project managers have responsibility for driving this shift, and business leaders for ensuring that the approach is integrated within the strategic goal from the very outset.

The Process of Benefits Realisation Management

Benefits realisation management is not a one-off event. It is something that is ongoing throughout the project or program management. Once benefits are identified, a plan for achieving each must be created. This includes prioritising different benefits and seeing if they are actually achievable. It considers the inputs that will be needed to achieve them in terms of time and resources, including money. For example, in some cases the cost of achieving it may simply be too great to make it worthwhile. This information needs to be fed back into the strategic decision-making process, and decisions reconsidered. The project management plan dovetails with the benefits realisation process, since all projects should guide the delivering of benefits. The benefits realisation management plan ideally will also include monitoring of progress towards benefits realisation to ensure the project or program stays on track. Some benefits may be delivered faster than others, with some realised before the entirety of the project is complete. Another step is working to ensure the benefits can be sustained in the longer term.

Some organisations appoint a benefits champion to be accountable for the process throughout the project to ensure it gets followed through. This does not need to be an additional headcount. It can be a team member within the project team. Such a person can create a register of benefits and monitor the metrics to track benefit realisation for the project or program. They can also lead on engaging stakeholders in this area, finding ways to get people engaged who need to be but perhaps aren’t. Skills for such a role include good relationship building and interpersonal capabilities as well as effective communication.


Benefits realisation management helps both the strategy and the project to start with the end in mind, through aligning benefits with strategy. Having quantifiable, SMART benefits to work towards ensures that the business can achieve the desired return on investment of the project. Failing to pay attention to benefits is likely to be costly and unproductive. A benefits champion can be helpful in keeping track of benefits, monitoring progress towards achieving them and engaging stakeholders with the project or program.

To-Be or Not-To-Be AGILE!

If you are one of the ones that face this unusual predicament when embarking on a new project to figure out if you can deliver

all the way using Agile or to go complete Waterfall (Predictive), this article might help you get some headwinds.

I have been managing and executing projects of various scales for the past 17 years and frankly the project management landscape has evolved so much during this time with various new Agile methodologies emerging helping us all make efficient use of resources and time. However, with so much choice it has also made it equally difficult to understand which project management life cycle to use when in order to get the most optimized results. Thankfully for us, PMI has identified four different distinct project management life cycles and with guidelines on which one to use when.

The following sections will review the four different project management life cycles, their advantages and when to use them with an example inspired from food.

Project Management Life Cycles

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Predictive project life cycle takes advantage of things that are known and proven over time and hence help reduce uncertainty and manage overall cost.

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  • Requirements are fixed.
  • An activity is performed only once for the entire project.
  • Single delivery at the end.
  • Effective in managing cost.

Example: Packaged Food

Packaged food process goes through a very predictive life cycle wherein the product, their recipes and ingredients are fixed which go through a standardized conveyor belt predefined process that is expected to yield the same output for each food packet with the same recipe. The entire process is designed for cost efficiency.


Iterative project life cycle allows for feedback on partially completed or unfinished work to adjust for a desired outcome at the end.

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  • Requirements are dynamic.
  • Activities are repeated until correct.
  • Single delivery at the end.
  • Effective in getting the desired outcome.

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Example: Developing a new food recipe

The food research and development (R&D) process that is working towards building a new recipe falls under this bucket. In the process a combination of new ingredients and different quantities are tested several times before the final optimum recipe is discovered. The entire process is designed to help discover that optimum recipe at the end.


Incremental project life cycle provides finished deliverable that the customer may be able to use immediately.

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  • Requirements are dynamic.
  • Activities are performed once for a given increment.
  • Frequent smaller deliverables.
  • Effective in speed.

Example: Restaurant Food

The restaurant process falls under this bucket wherein a customer could potentially order any dish from the menu which needs to be served in the next few mins on the table. The order is prepared only after its been placed and the chef would use a predefined restaurant recipe to prepare the dish.


Agile project life cycle leverages both the aspects of iterative and incremental characteristics. In this approach teams iterate over the product by getting periodic feedback from the end user. Also, teams prioritize the most valuable changes first providing an immediate return on investment.

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  • Requirements are dynamic.
  • Activities are repeated until correct.
  • Frequent smaller deliverables.
  • Effective in getting customer value via frequent deliveries and feedback.

Example: Home Cooked Meal

This one is my favorite, for a home cooked meal no two requests are the same as it could be a Pizza one day and Pasta the other or you might be cooking for a completely new cuisine altogether. Everything is variable for each home cooked meal you prepare, from your number of guests to ingredients and recipes that are influenced by the cuisines and prior knowledge or experience on them all with a singular goal to prepare that most delicious meal for the entire family.


In my experience, most projects fluctuate between Predictive and Agile life cycles primarily due to the nature of all the complexities that go into delivering that final finished outcome for a specific industry, sector or type of product. There are also times when you could have a largely Predictive project with components of other life cycles within it. For instance, drug manufacturing could use Iterative cycle life for R&D portion however overall still be Predictive as it requires funding process in the beginning and FDA approval at the end which are more linear in nature.

Personally, I don’t think there’s a single best life cycle, they all have their pros/cons and there’s a time and place for its most effective use. However, I sincerely hope this article was able to at least help solve that predicament we started with, which is to-be or not-to-be Agile for your next project.