The Golden Triangle

There are various ways to describe the boundaries of a project. The simplest of these is ‘The Golden Triangle’ that includes four dimensions. These are used when determining both the limits of the project and the basic criteria for measuring the success of the project at its completion.

golden trianagle

The Golden Triangle clearly demonstrates the basic mathematical relationship between its parts: any increase in the content axis necessitates an increase in the schedule/cost axis. Alternatively, the content axis must be decreased. Otherwise, either the quality will suffer, or the triangle’s boundaries will break.

Another approach to describing the dimensions of a project argues that the Golden Triangle on its own does not describe all the dimensions necessary for the success of a project, and that the triangle should really be expanded to a hexagon which includes the dimensions of scope, time, budget, quality, risks, and customer satisfaction.

There is a notional variant of the Golden Triangle of project management. This variant can never truly be realized, yet is well-known and ill-famed for reflecting customer expectations, even though these expectations are unrealistic.


‘A Lot – Fast – Cheap – Good’ is a set of expectations that can never be achieved simultaneously. These expectations are the result of the customer’s (completely understandable) lack of understanding regarding the realistic efforts required to achieve the project’s goals, as well as lack of trust regarding the estimates presented at the project’s sale. Why is this? Well, most projects deviate—often quite significantly—from their original timetables, the resources assigned to them, the budget and even the content that was to be delivered within the project’s framework. Therefore, in order to create a solid basis for the project, it is important that its premise be ambitious but at the same time realistic, as well as fully understood and agreed to by the client.