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4 Areas to Consider for Project Success

Have you ever heard of the Iron Triangle?

It sounds like some type of endurance challenge or a region in some far-flung place, doesn’t it?

If you’re a project manager, you’re very familiar with it.

You may have also heard it referred to as the Triple Constraints:  it’s Cost, Scope, and Time.  In other words, the fundamental elements of a project.

As a project manager, you’re constantly maintaining (or trying to maintain) a balance of these.  Because If one moves, the other two will shift.

There’s a saying – “You can have it fast.  You can have it good.  You can have it cheap.  Pick two.”

But as a PM, even if you can keep these three somewhat balanced – there’s more you need to consider to ensure your project is successful.

For me, once I have my arms around my constraints, I then go through these:

  • Review past performance: I go over my notes from our post-project reviews/post-mortems – paying careful attention to what worked and didn’t work in recent projects.
  • Lay out the project plan: I draft my project plan with tasks, resources, milestones, and dates – knowing tweaking and adjustments begin once I get it in front of the team.
  • Create my risk plan: Next, I review the entire project flow and identify risks, their level of impact, and a mitigation plan should they arise.  At this stage, some of the milestones identified in the project plan may become go/no-go gates depending on associated risks.
  • Create the communication plan: I then define how and when I will be communicating throughout the project, how to confirm information understanding/agreement, and how to gather updates.  My goal here is always timely transparency across the team.

Once all of these areas are ready – then I feel prepared to get the project moving.

These may seem like the most basic activities of a project.  If I were to lay out the full PMI version, there would be even more.

But I frequently see projects launch without much time invested in even the basic constraints.  It’s like the PM version of Ready-Shoot-Aim.  It’s painful to watch – and even more painful if you somehow get sucked in.


There is no such thing as a perfect project (in action).  There are always new lessons to be learned – but at least I have a chance to avoid repeating past problems when I address these areas too.

When you’re getting ready to launch a project, what are those critical things you address before you get started?  I’d love to hear your comments.

Here are some additional thoughts from other project managers:

The 5 Most Important Project Management Skills & How to Get Them

3 Important Things that Define Your Project

What’s the Most Important Job of a Project Manager