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Fast, Cheap, Good: Pick Two


Fast, Cheap, Good: Project Triangle

Understanding the cost x quality x time priority of a process or project is very important both as a consumer and as a contractor or anyone who works on projects.

It really doesn’t matter what line of business you’re in from food service to construction – customers all want their product done well, fast and cheap.

The problem arises if your a contractor like me who like to do good work and use quality materials – that takes longer and usually costs more.

A client recently shared the Fast, Cheap, Good: Pick Two triangle theory with me and it instantly made sense and had me reliving really bad past client meetings.

Meetings such as having a client relate to me that they wanted their finish carpentry work performed to museum quality standards, on a time schedule with a penalty for me running over and oh yea could you please do it for a reduced rate because I’m so popular that I will send a boat load or referrals your way.

Let me translate:

They were saying that they wanted work that was fast, good and cheap. And if the work was fast, good, and cheap enough, the reward would be the offer of referrals. Really? Really?

If there is a voice in your head saying, run, run away fast. You’re right. The problem is that these people and their unrealistic ideas of how things work exist. I’ve met plenty and it never ceases to amaze me when I meet more.  Today when I run into these people that demand Fast, Cheap, Good work I explain to them that it’s is impossible to create work that is fast, cheap and good.   It just does not work that way.

Consider the project triangle for a minute:  Fast, Cheap, Good: Pick Two

Good + Fast = Expensive

Creating work that is both good and fast will never be cheap. Think about it, in order to create good work fast you need to clear your schedule and devote all of your time, effort and resources focusing on this project. That means other things will suffer and the likelihood of the project costing more, or running into over time is higher. Multi tasking can’t work here. We all know that when you multi-task something suffers.

Good + Cheap = Slow

Creating work that is both good cheap will result in a slow project. Sure we all can produce a great project cheap but you better be able to wait for it. When other paying clients call your going to jump to action to take care of them first. That’s reality and it is also what pouts food on the table.

Fast + Cheap = Poor Quality

Creating work that is both fast and cheap will result in a rushed, corner cutting, poor quality job. I see alot of this with low bid contractors. these contractors bid low and then “bang out” the job. Guess what the old adage holds true here . . . You get what you pay for.

You will end up with a project that on the surface may look acceptable but will later reveal itself in cut corners and materials or methods that were skipped or should not have been used.

I’d rather follow Henry Ford’s advice of “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.”

Fast, Cheap, Good: Pick Two !

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