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Startups – Understand project constraints

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Planning your project will involve making a series of assumptions and a consideration of the constraints facing your project. Understanding these factors will help you plan a project that is of the right size and has the appropriate objectives.

The assumptions you might make about a project normally involve things such as:

Scope (scale)

How big is the project? Where does it fit into what your startup is doing? Roughly how much money is likely to be available?

People

Who can I get to help deliver this project?

Physical resources

What equipment and meeting space, for example, will be available?

None of this information has to be 100 per cent (or even 90 per cent) accurate at the outset. Nevertheless, understanding the assumptions around a project is an important first step – even if at this stage there are more questions than answers!

The Project Triangle

A useful way of looking at the constraints faced by projects is known as the ‘project triangle’. This model describes three main things to consider for any project:

Time

How much of it do you have to complete your project?

Cost

What is the available budget?

Quality (or specification)

Are you aiming to deliver something fairly basic, or more of ‘Rolls Royce’ model?

With any project you will face a series of decisions about whereabouts in the triangle you position your project. For example, let’s say you are asked to design your company’s website over a weekend at short notice, and given only a limited budget, you are unlikely to be able to deliver the best results. So the costs and time used will be low, but so will the quality. If you are given more time, the results will be better; if you have more time and bigger budget, they will be better still.

Another dimension often added to this diagram is people. For any given amount of time and money, the greater the skill and motivation of the people involved, the better the results will be. Looked at this way, the triangle becomes a pyramid, with the project manager leading his or her team upward to achieve the best possible results within a given schedule and budget.

Small wonder: For your project, try listing the following in priority order – speed, quality and low cost.

Hardcore Entrepreneur | Capricious Writer | Founder Guy at Switch Idea + Exam Juice + Mottled Services + Startcup