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Thursday, 25 January 2007 16:51

Constraints & Assumptions

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Constraints are factors that may limit the project management team’s options, whereas assumptions are factors that for planning purposes may be considered to be true, real, or certain. Understand the differences between constraints and assumptions, and be able to recognize examples of both. 

Constraints and assumptions are just that—the constraints of project management and the key assumptions that you make on your project. It allows latitude for every organization to have a different interpretation of what exactly a project is. Specifically, however, you should be most aware of “triple constraint”—project scope, time and cost.


The Triple Constraint is a project management principle that requires the balancing of three competing priorities - scope/quality, schedule/time and cost/resources - so that when a change is made to one; there must be a review of the other two priorities to determine if there is a potential impact. 


Like any human undertaking, projects need to be performed and delivered under certain constraints. Traditionally, these constraints have been listed as "scope," "time," and "cost". These are also referred to as the "Triple Constraint," where each side represents a constraint. One side of the triangle cannot be changed without affecting the others. A further refinement of the constraints separates product "quality" or "performance" from scope, and turns quality into a fourth constraint.

The time constraint refers to the amount of time available to complete a project. The cost constraint refers to the budgeted amount available for the project. The scope constraint refers to what must be done to produce the project's end result. These three constraints are often competing constraints: increased scope typically means increased time and increased cost, a tight time constraint could mean increased costs an reduced scope, and a tight budget could mean increased time and reduced scope.

The discipline of Project Management is about providing the tools and techniques that enable the project team (not just the project manager) to organize their work to meet these constraints.


Read 13691 times Last modified on Thursday, 10 December 2009 18:53

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