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The Triple Constraints of Your Mobile App: Time, Scope, and Budget

During initial conversations regarding mobile applications, it’s important to have a “dream big” moment, write out your wish list, shoot for the stars! If nothing were holding you back what would your application do? What would it look like? How would people feel when they used it? What types of business challenges would it solve? Some of the best ideas come out when there are no limits to stifle the possibilities.

Unfortunately, there is a reality that we all must snap back into to avoid getting carried outside of the realm of possibilities. The Triple Constraint does just that! It is a simple business tool used to keep your project in check.

The Triple Constraint, also known as the Project Management Triangle or the Iron Triangle, consists of three elements: time, scope, and budget. If you try to move or grow one side of the triangle without moving or growing the others, quality is compromised.

Lets take a look at the Triple Constraint for something small scale first. For example, perhaps you are at work and want a sandwich for lunch. What is your dream big moment?

“A deluxe peanut butter and jelly sandwich with natural peanut butter, blackberry jam, and sliced bananas, on whole wheat bread served Panini style (toasted and melted to perfection).”

Normally, you go home for lunch and this order is not a problem, but today you have to get back to the office within 30 minutes to make your upcoming meeting, which is not enough time with traffic to make the trip home (time constraint). So, with $6.00 in your pocket you head to the market down the street. Luckily, if you slice up the banana yourself, they have all of the fixings for your dream sandwich, so you place your order and head over to pay. The total comes to $6.59 – bummer (budget constraint)!! So, you take the banana off of the order and make it back to the office with 5 minutes to spare.

In this specific situation time and budget were set and the scope had to be altered in order for the quality of the “lunch project” to be maintained. Had you bought the banana, you would have been over budget, and had you gone home, you would have been late to your meeting (poor quality). However, with your $6.00 budget, 30-minute time frame and your willingness to compromise on the banana, you still had a delicious lunch – mission accomplished!

Building a mobile app is a bit more complex than a weekday lunch, but the same constraints apply.

  • Time: What is the deadline of your project?
  • Budget: What are you willing to pay to develop this solution?
  • Scope: What features and functionality need to be included?

Each of the constraints has related questions, intricacies, and trade-offs that play into the overall coordination and final outcome of the project. For example, to determine what we are developing (the scope) certain items must be identified, such as:

  • What features will be included in the app?
  • How will the application be branded?
  • Who is the audience?
  • Is the solution made for one type of device or several different platforms?
  • Will the application need to work without Internet?
  • How will the application be deployed?

It is a balancing act and the key to navigating it successfully is PRIORITIZATION. Figure out what is non-negotiable as opposed to what which features have a little wiggle room.

In the perfect “dream big” world your Project Management Triangle would look a little something like this…

Triple Constraints: Equilateral PerfectionThe exact time, scope, and budget you want. Equilateral perfection.

But, maybe you are committed to delivering a native virtual training application regardless of the price it costs to get it done.

Triple Constraints: Growing the ScopeGrowing the scope will mean you also need to grow your budget and time to maintain quality.

Or perhaps you are launching a new product in two weeks and need to create a marketing app stat – even if it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles you had hoped.

Triple Constraints: Making AdjustmentsIn order to deliver on time, you may have to limit your scope and be prepared to increase budget.

Another option that is often successful is compromising a bit on time to implement a phased development approach, spreading the scope and budget out over a longer period. There are many ways you can find balance by editing the solution to fit your particular circumstances while still creating a quality application.

Don’t stop dreaming. Dream big, reach for the stars, write your mobile application wish list! Then, revisit the Triple Constraints and be prepared to prioritize your time, scope, and budget.

Sydney Hill

Not to mention refreshing, positive and downright invigorating. Should we expect anything less from a personality that absolutely bubbles…

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