Project Management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques applied to project activities in order to meet the project requirements. Project management is a process that includes planning, putting the project plan into action, and measuring progress and performance.

Managing a project includes:

  • identifying your project's requirements;
  • writing down what everyone needs from the project.

What are the objectives for your project? When everyone understands the goal, it's much easier to keep them all on the right path. Make sure you set goal and the objectives that everyone agrees on to avoid team conflicts later on. Understanding and addressing the needs of everyone affected by the project means the end result of your project is far more likely to satisfy your stakeholders, and last but not least, as project manager you will also be balancing the many competing project constraints.

On any project, you will have a number of competing project constraints that are competing for your attention. They are cost, scope, quality, risk, resources and time.

  • Cost is budget approved for the project including all necessary expenses needed to deliver the project. Within organizations, project managers have to balance between not running out of money and not under spending because many projects receive funds or grants that have contract clauses with an "use it or lose it" approach to project funds. Poorly executed budget plans can result in a last minute rush to spend the allocated funds. For virtually all projects, cost is ultimately a limiting constraint; few projects can go over budget without eventually requiring a corrective action.
  • Scope is what the project is trying to achieve. It entails all the work involved in delivering the project outcomes and the processes used to produce them. It is the reason and the purpose of the project.
  • Quality is the standards and criteria to which the project's products must be delivered for them to perform effectively. First, the product must perform to provide the functionality expected, and to solve the problem, and deliver the benefit and value expected of it. It must also meet other performance requirements, or service levels, such as availability, reliability and maintainability, and have acceptable finish and polish. Quality on a project is controlled through quality assurance (QA) that is the process of evaluating overall project's performance on a regular basis to provide confidence that the project will satisfy the relevant quality standards.
  • Risk is defined by potential external events that will have a negative impact on your project if they occur. Risk refers to the combination of the probability the event will occur and the impact on the project if the event occurs. If the combination of the probability of the occurrence and the impact to the project is too high, you should identify the potential event as a risk and put a proactive plan in place to manage the risk.
  • Resources are required to carry out the project tasks. They can be people, equipment, facilities, funding, or anything else capable of definition (usually other than labor) required for the completion of a project activity.
  • Time is defined as the time to complete the project. Time is often the most frequent project oversight in developing projects. This is reflected in missed deadlines and incomplete deliverables. Proper control of the schedule requires the careful identification of tasks to be performed, an accurate estimation of their durations, the sequence in which they are going to be done, and how people and other resources are allocated. Any schedule should take into account vacations and holidays.

There are three key dimensions to a project:

  • cost or budget;
  • time;
  • quality;

and these have to be balanced to manage a project successfully.

In this triangle, each side represents one of the constraints (or related constraints) wherein any changes to any one side cause a change in the other sides. The best projects have a perfectly balanced triangle. Maintaining this balance is difficult because projects are prone to change. For example, if scope increases, cost and time may increase disproportionately. Alternatively, if the amount of money you have for your project decreases, you may be able to do as much, but your time may increase.

Figure 1           A schematic of the triple constraint triangle