Project Triangle: Fast, Good or Cheap

The dreaded Project Triangle; something that I’ve been aware of, but recently found out that some folks have never heard of it. The project triangle is a graphical representation of the constraints that surround a project. These are cost, time and features/scope. It’s a useful way to discuss how “having it all” sometimes isn’t as realistic as we all might want it to be. I’ve heard the “I want it yesterday, with tons of bells and whistles, and oh yeah, I have a very tight budget.” Don’t we all?

You can pick two: good, fast, or cheap. To help facilitate this conversation with your client, ask them the questions. Is their scope constrained, timeline fixed or is their budget slim? They get to choose two of these, and the one that’s left is the factor that has to give. Most often, the wallet and the timeline are the two factors that are at play, so keeping the project on time and under budget is the top priority. But what happens when they request a little extra here or a little extra there while you’re at it? Well, that’s when this fabulous triangle is broken and the inevitable happens, an inferior project is delivered late and over budget – no one is happy in this situation.

Having all three of these isn’t feasible. It dilutes the quality of your work and the reputation you’ve worked so hard to have. Make sure to pick two, and only two, while keeping your clients’ expectations reasonable and you should have a good base for a successful project and a happy client.