The Iron Triangle of project management (also known as the “PM triangle” or “triple constraint”) is comprised of three “sides”: budget, timeline, and scope.
Realistically, most projects (and retainers) will need to prioritize two and de-prioritize a third. For example, if something is fast (timeline) and cheap (budget), it may not be very comprehensive (scope).
Here’s a brief overview of what the Iron Triangle implies in an agency setting:
- Budget + timeline = Cheap and quick, but not comprehensive
- Timeline + scope = Quick and good, but expensive
- Budget + scope = Cheap and good, but slow
For you, knowing and using the Iron Triangle is vital—because you need to manage client expectations as a way to maximize profitability. During the sales process and your pre-kickoff survey, remind clients that they need to “pick 2” from the Iron Triangle. Agencies can’t afford to do work that’s fast, excellent, and cheap—employees will burn out, the agency will lose money, and quality will suffer.
Your clients may not like hearing that they can’t get fast AND good AND cheap. Focus on getting them to prioritize their top two—but if they continue to resist your expectations management, think carefully about whether to proceed. [Read more…]