6 Project Constraints in Projects

project constraints


Project constraints in project management is something that limits how a project can be done. The PMBOK Guide, a key resource for project managers, defines a constraint as a factor that can affect a project, program, or process.

For instance, when planning a building project in an area where earthquakes are common, the possibility of earthquakes is a constraint. It limits how the project can be planned.

Originally, Dr. Martin Barnes in 1969 identified three main constraints in project management: scope (what work needs to be done), time (deadlines), and cost (budget). These are known as the triple constraints. But over time, project managers have recognized more constraints. Some even suggest there could be as many as 19 different project constraints.

The PMBOK Guide now outlines six key constraints:


  1. Scope: What work the project is supposed to do, as agreed in the contract.
  2. Time/Schedule: The deadlines set by the client.
  3. Budget/Cost: The maximum amount of money available for the project.
  4. Quality: The standard of quality that the project’s outcome must meet.
  5. Resources: The availability of skilled workers needed for the project.
  6. Risks: Potential threats that could affect the project’s success.


These project constraints can all potentially cause problems for a project.



Project scope is a promise about what the project will deliver. It’s not a guess; it’s a list of specific things that the project must do to be considered successful. These things, called deliverables or milestones, need to be clear and agreed upon by everyone important to the project. For example, in building a house, the scope might say the project will include constructing two bedrooms, a kitchen, and a hall, but not doing interior design or flooring. The project manager needs to clearly say what will be done and what won’t, so everyone knows what to expect from the project.

For a project manager, understanding the project scope is really important for the project to succeed. This starts with making a project scope statement. This statement lays out what the project will include and what it won’t.


2.Time or Schedule

The time it takes to complete a project is very important for its success. As a project manager, you need to figure out how long the project will take. You should look at similar past projects to help you plan the schedule. You also need to think about things that could delay the project, like unexpected changes, risks, and unknowns. Then, decide how long the project will take and tell the people involved. Make sure to set deadlines for each part of the project. This helps you focus on important tasks and finish them on time.

But, if you don’t stick to the schedule, the project might get delayed. That’s why having a good project plan from the start is key for managing time well. Spend enough time planning at the beginning. This can help you avoid making lots of changes later and wasting time on things that aren’t needed.


3.Budget or Cost

Cost or budget is the money set aside for a project to get the results you want. For example, if a client has RM1,000,000.00 to make a website, as the project manager, you need to make sure the project doesn’t spend more than that. Staying within the budget is important, or else you’ll spend more money than planned.

Before you start the project, it’s really important to figure out how much things will cost as accurately as you can. This helps you set a budget that you can use to track how much you’re spending as the project goes on. To estimate costs, you can look at things like the current market prices, quotes from suppliers, and what similar projects cost in the past.



The quality of a project depends on how well the final result meets what was expected. As a project manager, your job is to make sure the project is of good quality because this makes clients happy.

Quality is linked to three main parts of a project: scope (what the project is supposed to do), cost (how much money is available), and time (how long it should take). If you change any of these, it can affect the project’s quality. For example, if you change the scope, it might take more time and money, which could lower the quality. Also, if you want better quality, it usually costs more and takes longer, and might even change the scope of the project. So, these four parts – quality, scope, cost, and time – are all connected.



Resources, like people, equipment, and facilities, are really important for a project to succeed and they affect the budget a lot. They impact every other part of the project, like quality, time, and cost. So, it’s the project manager’s job to use resources well to keep everything else running smoothly. If resources aren’t used right, the project might end up with lower quality, take longer, or cost more than planned.

Also, it’s important to make sure that everyone on the team is working efficiently, but not so much that they get too tired. Using a good resource management tool can help. It lets you put the right resources on the right projects, use them effectively, and make smart choices based on good information.


6. Risks

Risks are things that could happen and affect a project, either in a good or bad way. As a project manager, you need to think about these risks all the time and have plans ready to deal with them. This might mean thinking about different situations to find the best way to handle things, or having backup plans ready.

Risks can be positive or negative. For example, a positive risk could be using a new technology that might help finish the project faster. This is a risk because it’s new and untested, but it could have good results. A negative risk could be something like team members leaving the project because they’re too stressed. This would cause problems for the project. You should always have a plan for things like this.



Project constraints are the main limits of a project, like how long it takes, how much it costs, and what risks are involved. Knowing about these constraints is important because they impact how well the project does.  There are many ways we should manage the project constraints. In our upcoming blog section, we shall discuss the 10 ways to manage the project constraints.

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