For Chuck Yeager and other legendary test pilots, success—or failure—required paying scrupulous attention to many factors affecting their flights at high altitudes. Ignore the basic laws of aerodynamics, Tom Wolfe writes in The Right Stuff, and a plane would “start tumbling end over end like a brick…” Failure was guaranteed—and so, unfortunately, was death.
When it comes to paying attention to important constraints, your team’s performance is no different. While Yeager and his fellow pilots battled g-forces and thin air, your team struggles with three important constraints in every project—time, scope and budget.
Each team must face the fact: It’s difficult to optimize all three factors at the same time. If you try to save time and money, for example, you’ll probably sacrifice the project’s scope. If you decide to expand the project’s scope, the required time and money will change, too. Rather than fight against the triple constraint, understand the implications of it.
It’s the team’s responsibility to set expectations upfront with stakeholders about the impact of project changes. Don’t forget to incorporate a method of evaluation to ensure the team is meeting these constraints.
- Set clear objectives with sponsors on the order of importance for making decisions
- Minimize time, money and scope risks with frequent communication among stakeholders
- Implement short-duration iterations
- Don’t confuse scope and quality – it’s never subject to negotiation
- Work with sponsors at the outset to determine their flexibility with each constraint