Beyond The Iron Triangle: Year Zero


By Andrea Caccamese


Damiano Bragantini



Success in Project Management has been traditionally associated with the ability of the Project Manager to deliver in scope, time, cost and quality. The “iron triangle” is a very popular metaphor pointing out that the Project Manager is asked to reach a reasonable trade-off among various concurrent, heterogeneous and visible constraints.

At the same time, “soft skills” for the Project Manager have been traditionally identified as a set of cross-cutting skills that should complement the core job of establishing and maintaining reasonable trade-offs among the elements of the iron  triangle. This paper postulates that this is not enough.

The Project Manager is challenged by constraints other than the “measureable” scope, cost, time and quality. Individuals need motivation, but the available motivational space is not infinite. Ground rules for behaviour and communication should be established, but the performing organization could influence and limit the choices. Lastly, individuals should be facilitated in exploiting their own prominent assertive or holistic attitudes, but the nature of the project and the context at-large may be in contrast.

There is more than the “iron triangle”: there is a “soft pyramid”, a metaphor for concurrent constraints related to the “internal satisfaction” of the individuals working in the project.

To be successful, the Project Manager should also reach a reasonable trade-off among various concurrent heterogeneous factors that constitute the “soft pyramid”: this is much more than “making usage of soft skills in Project Management”, and should be made explicit in Project Management best practices.

Few extensions to PMBOK® are proposed in the HR knowledge area, and practical suggestions are provided for the “year zero” of this new awareness.


To read entire paper (click here)

Editor’s note:  Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 2012 PMI Global Congress in Marseilles, France and included in the congress Proceedings.  It is republished here with the permission of the authors. 

About the Authors

flag-italypmwj17-dec2013-caccamese-IMAGE1 CACCAMESEAndrea Caccamese


Andrea Caccamese is an Electronic Engineer with more than 30 years of work experience in Information Technology and in Management Consulting for  Banking, Finance, Insurance, Oil, Manufacturing, Defense, Software Development and Hardware Manufacturing sectors. Currently he is an independent Project Management Consultant and Trainer. Mr. Caccamese has gained extensive experience in Program and Project Management, working for or with large organizations or Customers from Banking, Finance, Insurance and Manufacturing, being the leader of several relevant Programs and Projects.

Andrea Caccamese is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from Project Management Institute (PMI). He is also a certified PRINCE2 Practitioner and ITIL V3 Foundation Certified. He has been actively involved with  Project Management Institute (PMI) in the development of the standard for OPM3 (Organizational Project Management Maturity Model) Second Edition as a Sub-Team Leader, as a final Exposure Draft Reviewer and Contributor of PMBOK Fourth Edition, and as an Internal reviewer and final Exposure Draft Reviewer of PMBOK Fifth Edition. He has also been actively involved and is still involved with the local PMI Northern Italy Chapter, where he has been a contributor to some research projects. Mr. Caccamese is a frequent contributor and speaker at various Project Management events and is co-author of the preparatory text book for PMP Certification examination “Professione Project Manager”, and co-author of the text “Il ruolo del Project Manager”.   Andrea Caccamese can be reached at [email protected]

flag-italydamiano-bragantiniDamiano Bragantini


Damiano Bragantini is a Civil Engineer with more 15 years of experience in Civil Infrastructure and Information Technology experience. Currently he is working with Agsm Group, an important Italian utility in generation, distribution and supply of electricity and gas. Mr. Bragantini is also a recognized teacher at the University of Liverpool (UK) where he teaches in project management MSc.

Mr. Bragantini is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) from the Project Management Institute (PMI). He has been also actively involved with Project Management Institute (PMI) as a final Exposure Draft Reviewer for Project Cost Estimating Standard and Practice Standard for Earned Value and as internal reviewer of PMBOK Fifth Edition. Mr.Bragantini has also been actively involved and is still involved with the local PMI Northern Italy Chapter, where he has been a contributor to some projects. Damiano Bragantini can be contacted at [email protected].