Digital Project Management – The Iron Triangle

No not the front lady garden of a certain minor bothering UK PM,  but in fact a very useful tool used by another for of PM, project managers. The Iron Triangle is a project management model used to highlight the constraints of project management – Cost, Time and Quality.

The Iron Triangle

The Iron Triangle


Managing this Iron Triangle, according to Aisling McMahon from Strata 3 Digital Design, is the key to successful project management.  One side of the triangle, one of the constraints, cannot be altered without affecting the others. Therefore it is imperative that the ultimate goal of the project, taking all of these factors into account, is agreed upon before the project begins.

Before setting forth on any digital project, it is absolutely vital to  discuss the ‘product scope’ which is the end result, with the client and/or stakeholders. Once the product scope has been determined and agreed with the client, the PM must then determine the ‘project scope’ which describes all of the work needed to fulfill the clients desired goal, the budget for the project, the resources needed, the deliverables to be supplied and the time to completion. The importance of this ‘scope statement’ cannot be underestimated. This is the projects constitution.

But as we all know, sometimes the real word differs sharply from the theory. Clients change their mind, budgets get chopped, delivery dates move.  Keeping all of these balls in the air while keeping the project on time, on budget and without sacrificing quality, in order to meet the invariably changing demands of the client are the daily bread and butter of a successful digital project manager.

Software solutions such as Basecamp can aid the digital project management process. Basecamp is on online collaborative tool designed to keep projects on track and enables the PM to track the project in real time, assign tasks and milestones, obtain sign-off on the tasks and most importantly ensure that all communication, agreements and files are stored in one easily accessible location

However, software doesn’t provide all of the solutions. It is often unavoidable that the constraints not to be out of balance at the beginning of a project and even get more out of balance as the project proceeds. Successful projects must accept and embrace significant changes in the scope as the project proceeds. The reality is that the PM must allow for changes in the triangle, this making it ‘elastic’. This may be hard to accept as it allows for uncertainty, but overall, flexibility and the ability to adapt quickly to change is the key to a digital projects success.


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