How To Plan A Better Project: Triple Constraint Theory

Every professional has experienced some sort of discomfort while planning projects for another person/company/event. Questions are typically asked:

1. How can I create a project like this on “X” budget?

2. Is the focus of this project too small for this budget?

3. Will this project have enough time for completion or will have to extend the project completion date?

Of course, questions like these will always be more in-depth but what Is typically required to answer these questions stays the same. In this article, you will learn about the “Triple Constraint Theory”. This concept will allow you, your company, and others plan a more effective project during the brainstorming phase before any other information is set in stone. It is always best to take a proactive solution for your project rather than answering these during the bulk of your project work.

We will now define the each of the major concepts.


Scope is a major factor in a project because it defines what we are planning on constructing, the type of event we want to run, or outlining the macro goals of the project. Without Scope, projects would be chaotic, and the entirety of the project would rarely see its completion. You can form a scope by brainstorming the following concepts:

1. What are my goals for this project?

2. What is the purpose of this project?

3. What will this project achieve?

4. Which parties are needed to be involved?

5. Who will be leading the project? How many different leaders are involved for each party?

These are just a few questions that can be taken into consideration before the project details are finalized. The importance of the scope should be taken seriously because any change directional change will affect the overall completion of the project greatly.


Which came first: the chicken or the egg? Cost and Timeframe is always debatable and it varies in importance between projects. Usually, Timeframe is typically the second concept to take into consideration while planning.

Timeframe is typically the moment a project starts its construction time and the amount of time it takes to see its completion. The importance of the timeframe varies depending on the importance of the project, and the sensitivity to its stakeholders. For instance, if you are planning on rebuilding a highway, you should have a solid time estimate on the highway’s completion. The concept of Timeframe should always be taken into consideration as soon as the idea for a project comes into existence.


Cost is considered the driving force that makes or breaks a project. If you have ever proposed a project to someone, a typical question that is asked is “how much will it cost?”. If you do not carefully assess the how much your project will cost and its benefits, the project will most likely be rejected.

Triple Constrain Theory

After explaining the three concepts of the Triple Constraint Theory, now we must understand what the theory actually is!

The Triple Constraint theory is the idea that you can only focus on two of the three areas without yield another area. The goal of the Triple Constraint rule is to complete the project while retaining its quality. Here is an example:

1. Your project has a big scope, but you want the project to be completed in a reasonable fashion. To do so, you must increase the total cost of your project by “X” amount to suffice both time, and scope.

2. Your project has a big scope with a small budget. In order to retain the quality measurement, you must extend the timeframe of the project.

3. You project has a short time frame, depending on your budget you can either increase the number of workers to fit the scope (if you have the financial capital), or sacrifice a portion of the scope to retain the quality, time, and cost of the project.

As you can see, the Triple constraint theory shows the fundamentals of forming a project. If you can take into consideration the three concepts of this theory, the next project you plan will end up flowing more smoothly than you originally intended.