1.2 Limitations

Scope is the expected outcome of a project (the unique result). The major challenges with the scope are:

  • What to do and deliver? It is difficult to say what to do because nobody knows the exact and complete requirements but only high level needs. In this situation you have to discover and define the scope in more detail.
  • What not to do? After a while everybody may have a dozen of ideas (scope creep) and then we have to say what is not worth to do.

Time: a project has a final deadline, and deadlines during the project (i.e. milestones). The major challenge with the time is:

  • When to deliver? Considering the available cost when we will be able to deliver the scope (unique result)? When we will be able to deliver the milestones?

Cost: the available and financed resources (people, buildings, tools) for a project. The major challenge with the cost is:

  • How much money do we need to deliver? Considering the available time and the currently available resources how much money do we need to deliver the scope (unique result)? How much money do we need to achieved milestones?


Figure 1.3: Project management triangle




 Figure 1.4: Project management triangle with details


Project management is about continuously balancing between the quality, time and cost constraints and finding the currently optimal distribution. If one of them is changing then it will have an impact on scope and and an other project constraints as well.


  • acquiring a Bsc degree (an imaginative and very simple example about a student recently graduated from high school)
    • “I would like to get a BSc degree in 4 years.” (unclear scope with exact time constraint)
    • “I don't know what kind of career I want” (unclear scope again)
    • “I was very good at chemistry, informatics, gymnastics and history in high school” (scope creep)
    • “Unfortunately, my parents cannot support my studies financially, but I have an own silent room at home, and I can use my parents' computer for studying informatics” (cost limitations with available resources)
    • The university in my hometown only offers history, foreign language and economical studies.
    • Starting from this background a potential scenario could be:
      • “I would like to learn informatics and chemistry (scope) because these are my favourite subjects in high school and there are several rewarding career opportunities in these fields. However, I have to move to an other city and pay rent or student hostel and food, and I should buy a notebook (costs). Therefore, I will have to go to work during evenings and weekends (time). Moreover, it is possible that I will not have an own silent room for learning (cost/resource). Considering these time and cost constraints I may not be able to learn informatics and chemistry in parallel therefore I may choose only one (scope has to be decreased because cost and time).”
  • developing a new data analysis software (an imaginative and very simplified situation)
    • ”Our customers want a new data analysis software framework that is much optimal and better than the previous one.” (unclear scope)
    • “Our directorate has already had negotiations with the customers and informally agreed on price X$” (fixed cost)
    • “Moreover, we have to complete the project in one year from now.” (fixed time)
    • Starting from this background a potential scenario could be:
      • Based on further discussions with our management, customers and the potential users, it has been turned out that almost everybody talk about different things (scope creep). Moreover, there are several contradictions in their opinions: e.g.  the manager would like to have a cheaper software in terms of disk space and memory while most of the users would like to have faster and easy to use software. (scope creep again).  Afterwards, we successfully resolve the contradictions and collect consistent and clear requirements about the needed software framework (scope). Moreover, with the help of the potential users we were able to convince our management and the customers' management that we need more time (2 years) and 10% more money (cost) than it was originally planned.