Time-Cost-Quality Tradeoff Modeling based on Resource Allocation

Read this article. The paper presents an optimization model that enables managers to effectively evaluate trade-offs related to time, cost, and other competing priorities. Pay particular attention to Section 6 as it provides an illustrated example of building a home.


Project time-cost-quality tradeoff is a complex nonlinear optimization problem that is easily understood in concepts but seldom solved in practices. All construction managers and engineers are eagerly searching for feasible methods to solve it. Base on breakdown structures of construction project and discussion of time-cost-quality relationship of construction activities, an advanced PTCQTP Model is developed in this paper to search for optimal resource utilization arrangement that results in minimizing project time within a certain budget while maximizing construction quality. Construction resources comprise labors, materials, equipment, and administration. Each construction resource varies in quality, cost, and productivity which eventually determine construction time. A genetic algorithm is integrated into the PTCQTP model to solve this complex nonlinear program problem. Arrangement of resource utilizations is visualized in graphics that helps construction managers make tradeoff decisions better.

An application example of a three-story house construction is introduced to illustrate the implementation of the PTCQTP model and demonstrate its advantages in optimizing tradeoff of construction time, cost, and quality. The example provides useful three-dimensional and two-dimensional visual relationships among project time, cost, and quality and resource utilization planning which enable construction managers and engineers to make a winning decision in fiercely construction competition. The computational time-cost-quality curves in visual three-dimensional graphics from the case study prove traditional cost-time assumptions reasonable and also prove this time-cost-quality tradeoff model sophisticated.

Future studies are to assume more sophisticated relationships among the cost, time, and quality of different project resources, test more project cases needed, and find out other more efficient optimal algorithms.