A colleague of mine showed me the diagram below several years ago – I now know it as the Iron Triangle. 

The Project Management Triangle (called also the Triple Constraint, Iron Triangle and “Project Triangle”) is a model of the constraints of project management. … The quality of work is constrained by the project’s budget, deadlines and scope (features). Wikipedia

It is like a pie with 3 pieces. When you have a decision to make regarding choosing a supplier to provide a service or develop a product for your organisation and you are unsure as to which proposal / quote you should accept, the diagram below will clearly enlighten you as to the best choice. It is extremely simple.

You can choose only two of the three pieces at any time. Let’s look at the options:

You choose GOOD and CHEAP

This means you want your service or product developed with a high quality (GOOD), AND you want it done CHEAP. You won’t have it completed within a timeframe that you would like as you cannot have the 3rd piece which is FAST (time). The result of this choice is that your product will not be available in the market in a timely manner to provide a return to you, or the result of the service delivery will not be available for use to provide any of the desired benefits in the time you would like – in short, you will be waiting a long time to get results, and you risk losing opportunities.

You choose FAST and CHEAP

This means you want your product developed or service delivered within the time frame that you would like (FAST), AND you want it done CHEAP. The result of this choice is that you will get your product out to market or your service completed, and within the time frame but it won’t have the quality (GOOD) that is needed to achieve successful results – in short, you may not have a successful return on investment as the quality in the product or service is lacking.

You choose GOOD and FAST

This means you want a GOOD quality product or service AND completed FAST within the time frame that you would like. However, it won’t be done CHEAP! The result of this choice is that you will have your product out in the marketplace providing a timely return on investment and, taking advantage of opportunities, or, for service delivery, access to results of the service delivery completed with high quality, enabling empowered decisions.

You get what you pay for! 

Which 2 pieces of the pie will you choose for your next project?

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