Understanding the Triangle: Project Management 101

The three fundamentals of project management to ensure success.

A Jedi would be nothing without knowledge of the force and likewise a project is only successful when the Project Manager has knowledge of the Golden Triangle.

The Golden Triangle (not to be mistaken with a Quality Street green triangle) ensures that a project is delivered on time, on budget and to the agreed quality.

Here is said triangle:

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “are you teaching me to suck eggs?”.
How often do we know what the right thing to do is, but we let other people tell us differently?

So, for those seasoned Project Managers out there, here’s a reminder of how to get it right. Feel reinvigorated and stand strong in your temple of KIS (keeping it simple)!

For those Project Managers that have never seen it drawn out in this way – be enlightened at how simple it can be.

The thing about the triangle is this… you CANNOT change one part of the triangle without impacting another side.

Let’s use an example of a house building project. Bob (house owner) starts a project with an extension in mind. His builder gives him a quote and says it will take him two months. Halfway through, Bob adds a hot tub to the scope of the house extension project. He wants this in the new decking, as part of the extension.

Bob also wants this included in the price originally given and delivered to the same time as greed before.

What do you think Bob’s builder says? Of course, Bob’s builder says on your bike Bob!

Bob’s builder will certainly say “no problem… I can do that for an additional x amount of £’s and will add another week to the project finish”. But that sounds reasonable right?

Bob’s builder might instead say “I can do that for you for the same cost and to the same time, but your high-quality decking material needs to be the cheaper stuff I can get from B&Q”.

Any project is the same. Equipped with the triangle, a Project Manager has the ability to deliver tasks to a high quality, cost-effectively and on time. Without it, you can only offer three kinds of service: good, cheap or fast.

By the way – there‘s nothing wrong with good, cheap or fast, as long as everyone knows that is what they are getting!

The good, cheap or fast may be the right outcome for the project, but by sticking to the triangle a Project Manager can easily communicate the impact of the ask so the stakeholder can make the right decision for the business.

​So, Bob may end up with that cheap decking, but he has a hot tub and an extension for the same price, delivered at the same time… and that was what was important to Bob. Bob’s builder did a good job because he told Bob straight, transparently and simply.

For more straight talking and information about outcome-based project services, please get in touch. ​

Posted almost 6 years ago
About the author:
Mark Pratt

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