The Iron Triangle

Week 1: Initiation and Planning · Lesson 6 · 4 minutes

In this lesson, we cover all the forces project managers have to bear in mind as they plan: time, cost, and scope. We visualize these constraints with the not-actually-ominous Iron Triangle. Pythagoras would be proud.

The constraints you have to work within are as simple as three sides of a triangle: 


Time, Cost, and Scope are what determine how you design any project. You can also factor in some of issues in accomplishing your project: 


Risk, Resources, and Quality concern what the project you're going to produce is actually going to look like and who's going to contribute to it.

These are your map-posts your guide-rails, and your bear X-ing signs: everything you have to keep in mind in order to actually accomplish the project you're setting out to do.  

Tip: It's important to communicate changes not just to your team, but to sponsors and stakeholders. 

Go Deeper:

Trans-Alaska Pipeline wikipedia articleIt cost $8B to complete between 1974-77, which is $32B in today's money!

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