Cheap, Fast, and Good

People want an excellent product delivered quickly for a low price. But it often becomes a “you pick two” scenario.

  • If it’s good and fast, it won’t be cheap (i.e., luxury cars)
  • If it’s good and cheap, it won’t be fast (i.e., non-profit projects)
  • If it’s cheap and fast, it won’t be good (i.e., fast food)

Balancing the three-legged stool of resources (cheap), time (fast), and scope (good) is the foundation of project management.

  • Resources: The company cuts the budget, so you can’t hire more people
  • Time: The deadline moves forward, so you can’t push the launch date
  • Scope: You promise deliverables, so you can’t cut the scope

Under no circumstance are these equal. One or two are always more important than the third, so it’s best to negotiate the lesser point with stakeholders. What I’ve found: Adding resources rarely works (too difficult to get budget and ramp up new people), and time extensions are risky (can create a slippery slope of never delivering), so it’s best to cut scope (one fewer feature, a “good enough” quality, etc.)