The project triangle is an approach to project management that views key characteristics of a project as sides of a triangle to help personnel balance the demands and limitations of a project. Usually the three key characteristics are some combination of cost, timing, and scope. As each parameter shifts, the other sides must move as well to accommodate it and keep the triangle in balance. Project managers can use this tool in a variety of ways.
One way to look at the project triangle is to pick the most important characteristic and make it fixed, requiring adjustments to the other two sides to keep the triangle in balance. For example, a project may have a two month deadline, making time the most important consideration. This may require extending more resources to get things done in time, or cutting down the scope to meet that goal. The fixed side of the triangle must always be considered when adjusting project plans.
Other project managers may pick the two most important sides of the project triangle and focus on them. For example, the desire might be to keep the project below a certain price and of a certain scope, with timing being less important. This may result in a lower quality end product because of the cost constraints. Projects might also have a large scope and a specific time frame, allowing more flexibility with cost to get the best project done within the time limits.
In addition to being useful in business, the project management triangle can be helpful for other things, like planning out home remodeling. Homeowners can sit down and decide what is most important to them; completing a specific set of remodeling goals, being able to move into a home by a certain date, or keeping costs down. With this information in hand, they can make informed decisions with the project triangle to help them stay on task and meet goals.
It is possible to pick other parameters for the triangle, not just the three mentioned above. A project manager may brainstorm before a project starts to think about goals and constraints and select the three most important aspects, with a focus on aspects that will impact each other, like a demand for quality standards and a limitation on available resources. He can use this information to create a specific project triangle to help him control the project effectively throughout the process.