Project Management

Rescue Me! Understanding Triple Constraint Problems

Michael is an executive with operations, technology, consulting, process reengineering, and business development experience. Specialties include process design, process innovation, process re-engineering, technology consulting, project rescue, operational turnaround and vendor management.

Sooner or later, every project manager has a project that gets into trouble or inherits a project that needs to be rescued. If you work for a company, this may come from another person leaving. If you work for a vendor or as a consultant or contractor, the troubled project may be inherited from a recently “departed” peer, a competing vendor or even from the client.

I mention these because it’s almost always important to understand how the project got into trouble in the first place. I can’t stress enough that you do not want to get mired down in what’s already happened. But as the saying goes. “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”

What constitutes a troubled project? The answer is truly in the eyes of the sponsor, but as project managers we need to measure objectively and then decide how to use those facts in our go-forward plans. Since most people reading this are probably project managers, I’ll put everything in the context of the triple constraint.

Triple Constraint: Schedule
Falling behind schedule is probably the most common cause for a project to be considered in trouble. How does a project get behind schedule? “One day at a time” is one answer that seems cute, but says much more than those five words seem to convey at first. Here are a few of the more common reasons for schedule …

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