Anybody who’s ever started a business or managed a project wants it all. They want it to be good, cheap and fast.

But you can’t always get what you want. You have to pick any two.

The fact is every project or business is constrained by three elements: time, cost and quality. Every organization has to work within a strict budget and time frame without compromising on quality. This is the classic project management triple constraint of good, cheap, fast.

All three elements are dependent on each other. Sometimes you have to adjust one of the elements for the others.

Say you’re working on a product launch with a strict deadline. If you are striving for higher quality and don’t have time, you will have to increase your budget for the project. Similarly, if you are on a limited budget, you might have to compromise on quality.

The trick is to strike a balance between the three. Learn more about this triple constraint with Harappa’s Executing Solutions course that’ll provide an insight into the Good, Cheap, Fast rule. It will equip you with tools and frameworks to get things done in this rapidly-changing world.

Let’s explore the constraint of project management in detail with the four ‘Whats’ Framework.

What Is The Project Management Triangle?

Any business strategy should consider four important factors—Scope, Quality, Time and Cost. These are the Four ‘Whats’ that define what you’re trying to achieve with your goals and objectives. The quality triangle or the project management triangle is a visual representation of the triple constraint where the quality of a product or service is restricted by the scope, time, and cost of the project.

Any good strategy for action will describe the process undertaken by your team to prioritize tasks, set a budget, classify roles and responsibilities, and execute solutions. Let’s take a closer look at each of these Four ‘Whats’ to understand the triple constraint of project management.

  1. Scope

How broad are your goals? Defining your goals is the first step in planning a business strategy. This is where you determine the scale of what you want to achieve. For instance, if you’re tasked with designing an ad campaign, you have to consider the target market, media platforms, press kit and influencer marketing.

  1. Quality

Every team will have its quality standards. For instance, teams that are involved in the development and sales of premium products and services will have to adhere to higher quality standards. One of the tasks in this step could be listing out product specifications and guidelines that must be followed by everyone for consistency.

  1. Time

The time determines all the due dates and deadlines for each task in the strategy. Remember to keep the bigger picture in mind when you’re dealing with individual tasks. A set time frame will help you complete your tasks as scheduled. For instance, if you have a 30-day window, you can create a roadmap of which tasks need to be completed when so that you’re ready with the final output in 30 days.

  1. Cost

Cost is the most important aspect of your strategic plan. Creating a budget and sticking to it is often difficult because unexpected setbacks have the potential of derailing your plan. But if you have a working budget in place, you’ll be prudent and will be able to plan your tasks more effectively.

The challenge here is the successful implementation of each step without compromising on any other. Often, the constraint of project management is that it will be easy to check two boxes but not all three. You want something that is high quality, time-efficient and cost-effective.

But, often, it is expensive to produce a high-quality product in a limited amount of time. If you produce something cheaply and quickly, quality may be compromised. An effective project management strategy will require you to stick to your original plan with minimal changes or alterations.

The Good Cheap Fast Rule can help you manage the project management triple constraint by striking a balance between what you want and how you want to achieve it. If you hire a third-party vendor to improve quality for certain tasks, you can use that time to work on other areas.

Harappa Education’s Executing Solutions course explores the project management triangle and other key frameworks such as the BLAST Approach to tackle a crisis. You’ll learn how to step up to the task and take responsibility for your actions. Go ahead and equip yourself with the skills to evaluate a problem and devise useful strategies to reach efficient solutions.


Explore topics such as the FMEA AnalysisAction Plan & How to Make a Project Work Plan from our Harappa Diaries blog section and develop your skills.

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