Project constraints affect the success or failure of a project directly. Project managers must be very cautious about monitoring and controlling project constraints throughout the project. What is the dictionary definition of project constraints? What are the 7 common project constraints? What is the effect of one project constraint on another project constraint?

project constraints definition

In this article, we have gone through project constraints definition and 7 common project constraints one-by-one.

Project Constraints Dictionary Definition

Project constraint means a limitation or restriction by dictionary definition. Project constraint is similar in project management as well. Projects have constraints and the project manager must manage these project constraints.

There are seven common project constraints. These project constraints are as following.

project constraints definition

Common Project Constraints #1: Cost

Cost is very important project constraint. At the beginning of the project, project sponsor will be stating his or her expectations from the project. And also, he or she can come with a project cost constraint. For instance, he can say that "You need to complete this project with a one million dollar budget". From this point onward, this one-million-dollar budget will be your project constraint, and you have to complete the project under this budget.

Common Project Constraints #2: Scope

Project scope defines what needs to be completed in a project, therefore it is a very important project constraint as well. For instance, if you are working in a software vendor, development of a e-commerce website can be a project scope. And, if the scope is "development of an end-to-end operating e-commerce retail website" this is an example of project scope constraint.

Common Project Constraints #3: Quality

Quality comes with cost. If there will be strict quality requirements in a project, this will affect the cost project constraint directly. For instance, if you are working in a construction project, the customer might expect the building to be resistant against 8.0 Richter earth quake. Construction of a more resistant building will cost higher for sure. And if more quality is a project constraint, you should be aligned with this constraint in the project.

project constraints definition

Common Project Constraints #4: Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is a key factor for a sustainable and long-running business in the market. All companies do business for their customers in the end. Because, they are the source of money and if you cannot satisfy your customers, you will not be able to stand against competition during time. Therefore, customer satisfaction is a crucial project constraint.

Common Project Constraints #5: Risk

Risks can be either positive or negative in a project. Project managers must enhance the opportunities of positive risks and reduce the threats of negative risks in a project. For instance, if there is a risk of losing a project team member, you should prepare a handover document for the activities of that team member is doing in the project. And if he leaves the project, or company, or in other words, if the risk occurs, you can use the handover documents to assign tasks to a new team member and reduce the impact of this risk. Risk is a very critical project constraint in project management.

Common Project Constraints #6: Resources

Many project managers think that only project team members are considered as project resources. However, tools, equipment, or material that will be used during the project are all project resources, and project constraints respectively. For instance, cement, bulldozer, or a scheduling software that will be used during the project are all project resources and project constraints respectively.

project constraints definition

Common Project Constraints #7: Time

Time is money! When starting a project, there will be deadlines that will be proposed by the project sponsor. For instance, project sponsor might state that "I want this project to be completed till end of next year". This will be your time constraint in the project

Now, let's see how project constraints affect each other.

Project Constraints: Effect of One Project Constraint on Another One

Generally, there is a trade-off between these project constraints. This means, if you improve positive aspects of a project constraint, this will bring a negative aspect on one of the other project constraints.

For example, in order to reduce the delivery duration of the project, or in order to deliver project earlier than scheduled time, you need to put extra resources to deliver the same amount of work in a shorter time. This means increasing cost or if you won’t put extra resources, you need to reduce your scope to deliver less work in a shorter timescale.

If you try to deliver more with same amount of resources but in a shorter timescale, this will cause to deliver your deliverables with faults, which means less quality. And this will also lead to a decrease in customer satisfaction in the end.

As you see, one impact on one constraint might affect all other constraints in the chain.

project constraints definition

Therefore, once you are trying to change one of the constraints in a project, you have to keep an eye on what will be the impact of this change on other constraints.

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project constraints definition