Constraints And Assumptions in Project Management
Constraints are limitations imposed on the project, such as the limitation of cost, schedule, or resources, and you have to work within the boundaries restricted by these constraints. All projects have constraints, which are defined and identified at the beginning of the project.
The PMBOK Guide recognizes six project constraints: scope, quality, schedule, budget, resource, and risk. Out of these six, scope, schedule, and budget are collectively known as the triple constraints.
A constraint can be of two types:
- Business Constraints
- Technical Constraints
Business constraints depend on the state of your organization; for example, time, budget, resource, etc.
Technical constraints limit your design choice. For example, let’s say you’re constructing a pipeline, and according to the design, your pipeline should be able to withstand a certain amount of pressure. This pressure limit is your technical constraint.
So now you know that every project has constraints; therefore, you must identify all your project constraints (such as any milestone, scope, budget, schedule, availability of resources, etc.), and develop your plan accordingly.
Constraints are outside of your control. They are imposed upon you by your client, organization, or by any government regulations.
There is an interesting fact about the constraints: If the constraints become false or are no longer valid, it is more likely that your project will benefit from it.
The following are a few instances of constraints:
- You must complete 25% of the work within the first 30 days.
- You have to work with the given resources.
- You will be given only two site engineers.
An assumption is a belief of what you assume to be true in the future. You make assumptions based on your knowledge, experience or the information available on hand. These are anticipated events or circumstances that are expected to occur during your project’s life cycle.
Assumptions are supposed to be true but do not necessarily end up being true; Sometimes, they may turn out to be false, which can affect your project significantly. They add risks to the project because they may or may not be true.
Suppose in our shopping example; you assumed that it would take one hour for you to reach the destination. What will happen if, due to traffic, you don’t reach the mall on time?
Your assumption is false, and your plan for shopping is endangered.
This can also happen to your project.
For example, you have assumed that some particular equipment will be made available to you whenever you need it. However, the equipment is not provided when the time comes.
Now, you are in a difficult situation.
Assumptions play an essential role in developing a risk management plan. Therefore, as a project manager, you must collect and identify as many assumptions as you can. It will assist you in developing a sound risk management plan.
The following are a few instances of assumptions:
- You will get all the resources required by you.
- During the rainy season, cheap labor will be available.
- All relevant stakeholders will come to the next meeting.
As you can see how important the assumptions and constraints are for your project. An assumption is anything you think to be true but there is no guarantee, and a constraint is a limitation on you and your project. Assumptions and constraints can be anything; they might be related to human resources, budget, time or any kind of functionally.
Assumptions need to be analyzed, and constraints need to be identified.
As a project manager, you must analyze how assumptions and constraints affect your project and what will happen if any assumption fails or any constraint gets resolved or turns out to be false. If you handle your project constraints and assumptions appropriately, it will help you deliver your project on time while meeting stakeholders’ expectations.