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Better, Faster, and Cheaper Expand / Collapse
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Posted Saturday, May 3, 2014 11:02 AM
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Better, Faster, and Cheaper

Andy
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Post #1567279
Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 5:06 AM
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I'd always been of the impression that the "faster" portion of the saying was more focused on time-elapsed, in the context of how "soon" you may have the completed product, effort, project, etc. Therefore, the laptop from your example is surely a better & cheaper laptop, but was not available for purchase until 5 years after the one to which you're comparing it. Better, faster (in the context of relative performance), and cheaper IS the norm for computers. laptops, and smartphones, as advances in technology inevitably lead to such.

In the same vein, a "superstar" may be able to provide a solution that's faster and better than an "average" team. The "superstar" may cost more per a productive hour (in the short term) than an "average" person providing the same/similar solution at a lower cost in twice the time. When "time is money," managers may opt to go to the superstar for a solution. When "cost savings" are the focus, or a solution may not be needed immediately, the lower-priority projects may be pushed to the "average" team. I prefer a balanced approach, as the "average" tech may become a superstar with time and experience, and the current "superstar" can best focus their time and effort on critical projects.
Post #1567472
Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 6:19 AM
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Faster, Cheaper, Better -- Perhaps you can get all three but I have found that when dealing with my customers I need to have a tool to communicate the cost of a feature. Yes you can bring in a superstar at a higher rate for a shorter period of time but there are costs associated with recruiting and placing the superstar. Also, when it comes down to faster or cheaper -- most project leads do not address the necessary rework and remediation to be done when going for faster or cheaper.

Project architects and leads need to address the cost of each feature so the customer can at least be aware of the cost they are incurring with each additional feature (bells and whistles). When the cost of additional features exceeds the costs of all the previous features, customers tend to reject the new features.
Post #1567483
Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 6:28 AM
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I'll throw in with Jonathan here in that the "Fast" aspect has to do with the concept-to-production timeline, not so much the performance aspect of whatever it is.

The point of this saying - though admittedly the shorthand version states it inelegantly - is the three elements are interrelated and optimizing them for any project involves making decisions and accepting certain trade-offs between them. Changing any one will affect the other two to some degree or another. The effects may be negligible, significant but acceptable or simply unacceptable for that project, but the effects are there.


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Just my $0.02 from over here in the cheap seats of the peanut gallery - please adjust for inflation and/or your local currency.
Post #1567484
Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 6:53 AM
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lshanahan, I know I pushed the example by using "fast" the way I did But are you really, really sure that the triangle is always true?

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Post #1567488
Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 6:56 AM
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The triangle is a reliable indicator of how projects go. The counter example isn't perfection, it is a project out of control - delayed, late and of poor quality.
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Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 6:59 AM


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... what I’m challenging you to do is to avoid reducing conversations to “pick two” when sometimes the right person with the right idea might well be able to see a way to achieve all three.

I think "sometimes" is the key word in that statement. There may be a very limited number of edge-cases where all three have been achieved. But I wouldn't go changing any rule based on edge-cases.

We should try to keep an open mind towards the possibility of achieving all three, without fooling ourselves into thinking it is always going to work that way.

"Pick two" becomes more than just a myth, perpetuated by those who don't want to do work, when it is backed by decades of common experience, amongst a large number of project managers from all over the world.
Post #1567491
Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 7:03 AM
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We should try to keep an open mind towards the possibility of achieving all three, without fooling ourselves into thinking it is always going to work that way.


Nicely said!


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Post #1567492
Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 7:07 AM
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Dave, I hear you on the PM's, yet PM's are just as fallible as the rest of us. How many use/repeat that phrase just because? Which is perhaps doing a disservice to PM's - I know a lot of good ones.

The problem (or greatness) of the phrase is the mental image of the triangle. The triangle can turn dogma into physics. See - I made this side longer, see how it changes the triangle?



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Post #1567493
Posted Monday, May 5, 2014 7:12 AM
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Yeah, the laptop example was not the best.

Anyway, the point of the triangle (if there is one) is an easy to remember example to show that the 3 factors are "related".

Of course you can get all 3. You just need to have a loose enough requirement for all 3 relative to the difficulty of the task/project.

But what happens when we are planning out your project and you say "any way you can finish it sooner?", or "can it also do this", or "can you put a faster processor in it (a measure of 'good' ...), or "that's outside our budget, get it done for 5k less". The point is that to get more of one, you need to sacrifice one of the other two (usually money or time). That is usually true enough, and even when its not is useful to keep people from pushing unrealistic demands on a project team.

The falsehood of the example is really in the assumption that you'll get even two of those satisfied. Too many projects come in slower and more expensive and still don't deliver quality.

Anyway, it kind of reminds me of a dialogue quote from the film "Idiocracy"


"Every time they asked me to Lead, Follow, or Get out of the way, I got out of the way"

"You're not meant to choose that. The statement is meant to shame you into leading or at LEAST following"


The triangle reminds me of that. No one is ever meant to sacrifice on good. Reminding them of the relationship is meant to get you more money or at least more time to finish.
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