What are some sources of conflict a Project Manager (PM) must deal with?

Projects are unique and involve constraints regarding scope, budget, and deadlines. To accomplish these projects, project managers (PMs) must manage expectations from clients, team members, and various stakeholders (Meredith, Shafer and Mantel 2017, 3-4). Each of these different elements of a project can create conflicts that must be managed. For example, often client expectations can shift during a project, leading to issues where a final deliverable may fall short of a client’s expectations or the scope may change overtime as clients add additional parameters to the scope (Meredith, Shafer and Mantel 2017, 3). Deadlines may also be shifted forward, placing additional pressures on the financial and personnel budget resources. Team members may also have conflicts that arise from needing to balance priorities from their functional manager and the PM (Meredith, Shafer and Mantel 2017, 6). Due to the complexities within a project, these elements can create risks to the project that a PM will need to anticipate and overcome to effectively manage the trade-offs between scope, budget, and deadline (Meredith, Shafer and Mantel 2017, 3).

Trade-offs among the three prime objectives of project management

The three direct project goals of scope, budget, and deadline are all interdependent. As one element changes, adjustments often need to be made to the others to compensate. For example, if a client requires the deadline to be shifted up then additional budget costs may be incurred from things like the need for additional staff or priority deliveries. However, the budget could be unchanged if the scope of the final deliverable is reduced to accommodate the adjusted timeline. Similarly, if the budget is reduced, deadlines may need to be shifted back due to reduce staffing resources. Additions to the scope can create additional resource needs and work time as well. A PM must be able to manage the trade-offs between conflicting project goals by making timely decisions to ensure the final project deliverable is successful (Meredith, Shafer and Mantel 2017, 4-9).

Author: Logan Callen


Meredith, Jack R., Scott M. Shafer, and Samuel J. Mantel. 2017. Project Management: A Strategic Managerial Approach. 10th ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN-13: 9781119369097.

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