A constraint is a significant limitation to the alternatives that can be considered by the project manager and the team in providing the solution to the business need. All projects have constraints, and it is important to identify these early, and to make everyone aware of them. Therefore, those that are known should be clearly identified in the Scope Statement. This statement should identify the high-level limits (boundaries) that cannot be crossed by the project team when providing the project's solution. It is important to make a distinction between a constraint and an objective. A constraint is a criteria which must be met. An objective is one that it is desirable to meet. We could look at the project budget, and define an objective. We might say that we are allocating $2.3 million dollars to building a network to support the 200x Olympics. As the project progresses, we might find that despite all the good intentions and efforts of all involved, the cost to provide the network will be $2.6 million. If we can go back to the customer, or back to management, and get the additional money, then $2.3 million is an objective, but it is not a constraint. However, if the provider and the customer sign a contract that states that the amount paid will not exceed $2.3 million, no matter what the cost to the provider, and the corporate management make it clear that there is nothing left in management reserves due to the world economic situation, the $2.3 million might be a constraint.
The team must hold to this budget, no matter what. The management and decisions made will be different in the two situations, even though in both cases no one wants the cost to exceed $2.3 million.
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What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.