The Project Box: Beyond the Triple ConstraintAlan Zucker
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Traditionally, project managers are told to optimize scope subject to constraints on time, cost, and quality. This is embodied in the expression, “better, faster, cheaper—choose two.” The phrase has become a rhetorical distraction to effective project management. It presumes a magic bullet; if you can precisely balance the constraints you will be successful. In reality, the triple constraint poses a calculus problem that has no tangible solution.
The project box introduces a new and better paradigm for describing the interaction of time, cost, quality, and scope for many software projects—particularly Agile projects. The project box simplifies the calculus of managing the project constraints:
- Duration is set,
- Scope is time-boxed and negotiable,
- Quality is both time-boxed and imperfections are expected, and
- Cost is proportional to duration.
The project box represents a paradigm shift for managing software projects. It recognizes the primacy of time and reorients the other dimensions accordingly. To traditionalists, the project box provides a new worldview for managing time, scope, quality and cost. To Agilests, it provides a better representation of their principles and replaces the inverted triangle.