Project Management Trade-offs

Scope, Cost, Time

Following up on our lecture from 7/11, here is a great article on the three parts of the Project Management Trade-offs.


Our last lecture addressed an important project management, and that is the fact that we are often faced with a certain constraint in our project that we are unable to change.  A prime example of this is the time constraint in our projects this quarter.  We have a deadline of August 15th for completion of our event and this cannot be changed.  Therefore the only parts of the triangle that we have control over are the scope and the cost.


The article I have attached has some great suggestions for how to optimize Time, Scope, and Cost.


For our project we have to be sensitive to not only time, but cost as well because any expenses we incur will go against the money we actually raise for our charity.  With that in mind we must figure out what we can reasonably do for our event that fits the timeframe we have, which is not negotiable, and is low cost, so that we actually raise money.


Some examples for optimizing your time, provided by the article are:

  • Shorten the durations of tasks (usually a reflection of reduced scope or increased/more efficient resources).
  • Overlap tasks so that they can be worked on simultaneously.
  • Remove tasks to meet the finish date (usually a reflection of reduced scope).
  • Assign additional resources.
  • Decrease the amount of work assigned (usually a reflection of reduced scope or more efficient resources).


In a compressed timeframe, like we have for this project, being efficient is essential.  In order to be efficient we need to know what resources we need, what tasks need to be accomplished, what we want our end result to look like, and the timetable for everything.  In class, we discussed the Work Breakdown Structure as one of the best way of figuring out all of this.


The WBS helps evaluate time, cost, and scope, along with helping to helping to organize the resources you already have.  One of the first things our group did, after we came up with some initial event ideas, was to determine what we needed to put on the event.  We divided the resources into 2 categories, what we could provide through our own connections and what we needed help with from our charity.  Then we evaluated the experiences and interests of our group members, in order to establish rules. Finally, we established a rough schedule of when things need to be accomplished and what those deliverables were.


I would love to know what others thought about how the three aspects of project management applied to their own projects and what strategies people have come up with so far.

2 thoughts on “Project Management Trade-offs

  1. For my team, time and scope have been the most important aspects to evaluate for our project. To ensure that we can execute all of our events during the designated time frame, we wanted to be as conservative and realistic as possible about what actual events we could commit to. In order to do this, we have positioned our main objective as providing a service to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. In a sense, focusing on providing a service and how this will benefit the organization has eliminated the cost variable for our current campaign. This has given us more opportunity to objectively plan out the elements (micro events that will raise funds and create awareness) that will be impacted by time and scope. Of course no plan is perfect, but it has been a good starting point for the team to achieve our goals prior to the final class presentation. I completely agree with the suggested examples above on time optimization. Thank you for highlighting this discussion from the last lecture, it’s important for all of the teams to take PM trade offs into consideration before taking a deep dive into one’s project (s).

  2. Very interesting article and post, thank you. The idea of the “stuck side” was not something that I had heard or read about in the past, but I have clearly experienced the concept at my current workplace. I think one thing we struggle with in my department is the fixed side of the triangle can change quite frequently and with little warning from executive management. We typically have an estimated budget for a project, but I would not necessarily called it “stuck” or “fixed” really. Depending on the executive view of the project, going over budget to successfully complete the project or meet deadlines might be perfectly acceptable. The opposite happens frequently as well however, where deadlines are pushed back or the project scope is changed for some reason or another, sometimes because the other sides of the triangle all of a sudden have additional weight and importance to them. I feel we need to do a better job setting, and keeping or changing the project charter, the importance of each side of the triangle. The idea that quality is the center of the triangle as discussed in the article is a one that I think gets lost in our projects at times. In our postmortem or review of completed projects we have areas for scope, budget, and deadlines to be ‘graded against’ but nothing that measures quality of what was completed.
    I wonder if others in the class have a focus or review of the quality of projects during or after completion?

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