“Fast. Cheap. Good. Pick two.”
This is a summation of the Project Management Triangle, a framework for project scoping and resource allocation that has been in use since the 1950s, and has long been embraced by freelance software developers in particular.
The basic idea is that an emphasis on any one or two corners of the triangle requires constraints in the third. What we emphasize shows the world who we are and what we value. Project managers, hiring managers, and creative professionals must determine what areas are most important, and realize the value of compromise in some areas to achieve excellence in others.
If you are filling a role or scoping a project, or you want to make sure your clients understand your constraints and give you appropriate support, the Project Management Triangle is a useful model for negotiating fairly and setting appropriate expectations.
In any profession, it is useful to keep these rules in mind:
If you want work done at high quality, with a quick turnaround, it may be expensive.
Time is perhaps the most precious resource of all. The work that goes into completing complex projects on tight turnarounds doesn’t begin when you sign the contract – it requires years of study, experience, and preparation on the part of those who complete the assignment. Under such demands, you will need to work with the best, and you can expect them to charge what they’re worth.
If you want your work done quickly, and you have a tight budget, it may not be of top quality.
If you make harsh demands and don’t pay well, you may run the risk of being “penny wise and pound foolish,” or sacrificing big returns in the future for small savings now. You can offset this by shifting from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset. If you don’t have a lot of money, what other sorts of value can you offer talent to get them excited about your projects and build strong, ongoing relationships based on collective appreciation? To set the stage for great work, establish realistic expectations based on mutual respect.
If you want to build something of high quality at low cost, it may take a long time.
As Billie Holiday sings, “The difficult, I’ll do right now. The impossible may take a little while.” If you have high expectations and a low budget, your most crucial virtues are patience and persistence. Your success depends on building long-term relationships with passionate professionals who care about your project and have the expertise to get it done.
Every project is different. That’s why we use flexible mental models to determine how we can best accomplish our goals. For instance, under the “lean startup” framework, we would not gauge “fast,” “cheap,” or “good” in the same way as we would in a typical corporate setting. However, for most projects, the Project Management Triangle provides the most useful values system for determining the scope and setting expectations.
If you’re hiring skilled and qualified professionals for your project, or you’re an ambitious creative in search of the perfect challenge, contact Artisan Creative today. Leverage our decades of business experience to build relationships that lead to mutual flourishing.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the 464th issue of our a.blog.