If there’s one thing we’ve all learned about projects both personally and professionally, it’s that “Good, Fast and Cheap” have an impact one way or the other on the outcome of a project or purchase. We all know this, but we seem to forget this when push comes to shove. I think about this often as our teams are sometimes pushed to try and supply all three. These are usually the projects that falter in expectations from one angle or another to someone. We can’t be all three and be successful as a team, as a company or deliver great customer service. The typical premise behind this vicious triangle is:

  • Cheap and Good – Won’t be Fast
  • Cheap and Fast – Won’t be Good
  • Fast and Good – Won’t be Cheap

The normal response to Good, Fast, Cheap is picking two. I say pick the order and stick to it. There is always one that stands out the most and drives a buying decision. Then one falls slightly short in second place, and then third place just gets thrown out the window. Know the order of importance because they all play a role. Buyer and vendor need to know and agree on the importance.

This is really simple if you think about it, but we make it difficult. Let’s use the restaurant business as an example. Fast Food, of course, is fast due to the drive-thru, then in second place is price and in third place is generally quality of the food. No special experience in fast food. Moving up to the walk-in restaurant, price wins over fast since you have to stop and sit down to eat. Then you have the wonderful full service, high-end restaurant, landing food and service quality first, a slower pace to experience and allow the quality of the food in second, and of course, a higher premium price.

In our daily world of AV and Technology, our projects are generally one of the last in the door and when the rest of the trades have fallen behind, schedules compressed, change orders still happening and the end deadline not changing, we are pushed to still perform and meet deadlines. Good, Fast and Cheap suddenly change and they are fighting each other to win. In reality, no one wins, from technicians to the clients, to the budget.

I truly applaud project managers out there that eloquently set expectations for their clients. Communicate clearly all obstacles that will change the end result where, when and how the impact will happen. And it does happen. Projects have twists and turns. For those bully’s pushing your teams beyond expectations and reality on the order of Cheap, Good, Fast, shame on you. Communicate better with everyone involved and let the teams be successful. We have all been on the giving and receiving end of such pressure.

Let’s all agree that we need to step back and, whether on the receiving or giving end of a project, know, understand and follow the order of importance, and especially realize the price we all pay if we change those expectations before the project is completed. Which one needs to win? Not all three can win. Simple. Did you set clear expectations?

Special thanks to our teams who have gone above and beyond when expectations change on the fly. We appreciate all your hard work. Remember, quality should win!