Cooper Fitch Dubai


October 9, 2018

The Iron Triangle

While there may be many ways by which you can explain why your project went wrong, presenting your problem using the Iron Triangle model will help you give a more comprehensive depiction of what went wrong.

The Iron Triangle
Cooper Fitch Dubai
Cooper Fitch Dubai
Cooper Fitch Dubai
Cooper Fitch Dubai

Let us imagine that you are heading to a very important meeting with the management team to review a project you are managing and the budget has been surpassed. While there may be many ways by which you can explain why your project went wrong, presenting your problem using the Iron Triangle model will help you give a more comprehensive depiction of what went wrong. For any project to be correctly managed, a balancing act between the key factors that constrain the overall project delivery is a must.

The Iron Triangle is also known as the flexibility matrix or triple constraint. The term “constraint” refers to the factors that need to be carefully considered during the delivery and planning of any project. These constraints include the Scope, Schedule and Cost. The scope is all about the total amount of work that is involved in delivering the project whereas the cost sums up the total fees required for the resources that are needed to deliver the project. The schedule refers to the time estimated or allocated to deliver the entire project. The term flexibility matrix has been coined as the relationship between the three factors and variables is dynamic and flexible where if one value changes, the other values are consequently affected.

Why is it important?

The Iron Triangle provides a framework that all team members can agree working by. These metrics or criteria will smoothly drive the project forward while allowing adjustments as needed when and if issues arise. Managing a project encompasses a series of trade-offs and compromises but working by this model will help the team realise what they are affecting when and if one factor of the project gets changed or affected.


The financial commitment of this project depends on many variables including the resources, materials and labour costs. Any outside sources no matter how trivial should be considered as a part of the project cost. While the former are fixed costs, the variable costs include the salaries or cost of paid to labour depending on their working hours, skills and productivity and this will be very important specifically when it comes to outsourcing.

Another important aspect is cost control as it works to manage the fluctuation of costs throughout the project.


The project scope deals with the specific requirements or tasks necessary to complete the project. The work scope can be managed manually or using a software to help track the different project scopes. It is also critical to prioritise the tasks that need to be worked on in order to fulfil your project scope. If you cannot control the scope of your work, neither your cost nor your schedule can be specified or identified clearly. Making sure to include pre-requisite and tasks that might be considered trivial is a must as it will make your model more inclusive.


The schedule is the estimated to be the amount of time allocated to complete the project. This schedule should be narrowed down to providing and identifying the time to produce and work on individual deliverables. The best way to manage your time correctly is by identifying all the required tasks to complete the project and an estimated time of how long each task will take. Keep yourself on track by regularly measuring the time you took to work on a certain task in comparison to the actual allocated duration. This will also help you get an idea about the pace at which you are working.

The Iron Triangle helps you manage your project. A very famous saying about project management dictates, “Speed, cost, quality. You can’t have all three, so choose only two.” However, using this model and correctly managing your time, cost and schedule will help you deliver the best quality of work you are capable of. The main challenge of managing a project is creating a balance between the three factors without affecting the overall quality of the final product. You will need to make tough choices and some changes. However, always remember to have your objectives in front of you to ensure that none of your changes will affect the overall outcome or goal of your project.


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