Tridenta on the Project Management “Iron Triangle”

Tridenta is a Dallas based IT consulting company who recently started a blog….and so far, it looks like they’ve started out on the right foot. I’ve been doing some work with Tridenta over the last few months so I may be a little biased so feel free to take a look at their blog and see for yourself.

They’ve posted quite a few “Tech Tips” this week for all the techies out there and have just recently posted an article titled “Life Outside the Iron Triangle“. The article discusses a topic near and dear to my heart…the ability to remain agile, or perhaps to avoid confusion with Agile Software Development, flexible.

The ‘Iron Triangle’ refers to the three boundaries in projects and described as:

Scope, Resources and Schedule. These boundaries are often referred to as triple constraint or the iron triangle. These boundaries have long dictated “classic” project management theory and practice.

In classic PM, projects are treated as distinct entities within the business. They have a scope, resources, schedule and are self-contained. The Project Manager must perform within these boundaries to deliver the expected results. Any decisions that require changing one of these boundaries must come from outside of the project. These decisions typically involve functional or executive management.

Looks like the ‘iron triangle’ is definitely something to worry about…..but can a project manager break out of the constrictions of this triangle? I’m not sure they can unless an organization rethinks their entire project management methodologies and processes to give PM’s more leeway in making decisions and allowing for a more agile approach to delivering project outcomes. According to the article:

I would argue that while the natural evolution of project management has created these paradigms to cut across the functional silos of large companies, this is not however the most agile way to organize projects for smaller organizations. While this model works for corporate giants in mature industries, it falls apart badly as you move to the opposite end of the PM agility spectrum—where speed is required and uncertainty abounds.

What would happen if you were freed from the complexity and constraint inherent in large organizations, would you still choose these distinct roles for your company?

Great question isn’t it? I’d like to see some organizations answer it by worrying less about processes and project methodologies and more about the project outcome.

[tags] Project Management, Projects, Agile, Project [/tags]

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