3 new constraints affecting project managers

The traditional ‘triple threat’ constraints of scope, time and cost are burned into the brain of every project manager. Excelling at managing these three in tandem has always been an essential part of the role. However, there are some new constraints emerging on the block. Risk, resources and quality are increasingly having an impact on the viability and outcome of numerous projects. Here’s why you shouldn’t ignore them.


Even the mere mention of this can elevate the stress levels of some project managers. However, risk doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Gary Hamilton, Gareth Byatt and Jeff Hodgkinson of CIO all agree that ‘effective risk management underpins a successful project’. After all, in navigating the widely accepted constraints of scope, time and cost, there is not one area where risk will not be a factor. While clients generally do not want to hear about the different factors that could turn a project sour, approaching risk with foresight and planning will ultimately lead to a more relaxed client if something was to go wrong.

Hamilton, Byatt and Hodgkinson recommend a proactive approach. Combining continued discussions with a detailed risk analysis would cover all your bases and ensure you know exactly what to expect from the project. When you understand the challenges before they begin, they will not seem so difficult.

2. Resources

Sadly, no company has unlimited resources. As a project manager, you will always be constrained by what your employer has available. Where this becomes complicated is in ensuring that although you may have access to a vast array of resources, you still utilise the available resources as efficiently as possible. Those who go overboard on one project often forget to think long-term. An excessive use of resources now can often lead to a shortage later, and ultimately affect your employer’s perception of your ability to plan ahead.

Additionally, you may not always have access to what you need straightaway. Having a realistic approach to the resources you have, and strong justifications to support your requests for additional ones, is likely to ease the resource allocation process with the financial team. In addition to your project plan, a resource allocation plan can show you exactly what is being used where, as well as help you prepare for unexpected eventualities.

3. Quality

Although some would argue that quality could be incorporated under the traditional triple constraint of scope, an increasing demand for quality over quantity by many businesses makes it an important factor in its own right.  

Incorporating this into your project plan can be complicated, as a focus on quality generally requires additional contributions from cost and time constraints, as well as our added concern of resources. As always, it becomes a delicate balancing act to deliver the highest quality project without cost and/or time factors becoming prohibitive. Working towards achieving the project goals will help you find this balance. A focus on quality will likely stand you and the company in good stead with the consumer base and/or financial backers.

RMIT University’s online Graduate Diploma of Project Management will equip you with the knowledge and skills to be able to mitigate these new and emerging project constraints. Find out if this online program is right for you by speaking to one of our admissions managers on 1300 701 171.