Fast, Good and Cheap

Juggle

Time Cost Scope

As a project manager I’ve always preached the common wisdom of the Triple Constraint – you have to find the optimum balacing point of Scope (what the customer wants), Time (when the customer is expecting the results to be available to him) and Cost (exactly how expensive is this little trip going to be). Most text books will confirm this relationship and make a big issue of it.

But I’ve been accepting the words a little bit mindlessly. I haven’t searched for a deeper meaning or alternative reasoning – it is intuitively obvious to me. At my previous employer in the software systems development world we talked about this dictum as ‘Performance, Cost, Schedule’ but it felt so similar I didn’t bother to modify my textbooks.

So when I recently stumbled across an article at Ooga Labs calling it Fast, Good and Cheap it felt like a blinding glimpse of the obvious to me. New words, a new approach. The author says quote “I’ve heard people tell me “We can build product fast, good or cheap. You can’t have all three. Pick two.” I believe this is a corrosive mindset, used by bureaucrats to justify mediocrity” endquote. Some very good links off his blog and a few worthwhile comments too.

This observation is so true. My experience when I consult with customers are that they always justify their lack of planning by pointing to the impossibility of the balancing act. Its futile! they cry.

But when you look at products like Google (p.s. have you seen Buzz!) they seem to move very fast, they have nice solid products that are good and works as advertised, and how much cheaper than free do you want it? Personally, I think the driving force of a company that runs projects as an important part of their business strategy, should always find time to balance their products on the 3-way scale:
Did we do it before the others;
Is it something people admire;
Can they afford it.

So now … how does the Toyota recall fit into this picture? Comments?


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