If you’ve ever managed a project, creative or otherwise, you’ve probably experienced the truth in the saying: “Good, fast or cheap. Pick two.” This concept is so universal that it has a few different names – it’s known as the Project Management Triangle, Triple Constraint, or Iron Triangle.
It’s the idea that like any imperfect, human endeavor, projects must be performed and completed under three constraints: scope, time and cost. Let’s take a closer look at these constraints and how they relate to “good, fast, cheap” for design and marketing work:
SCOPE: The quality and features of the work. If you want the end result of your project to be “good,” you probably want it to be one (or more) of the following: compelling, eye-catching, unique, creative, powerful, comprehensive, effective, awesome, award winning, etc.
TIME: The amount of time in which you need the work to be completed. If you want the project completed “fast,” you might be working against a tight deadline or you might be really excited to get it completed so you can share it with the world.
COST: The amount of money you’re willing to spend on the work. If you want the project to be “cheap” or inexpensive, it’s probably because you don’t have a large budget for the project.
Like we mentioned above, each constraint represents a side of the Project Management Triangle, and one side of the triangle cannot be changed without affecting the others.
We use this concept to help us intentionally understand the biases and goals of a project before we take it on. Here is how each option breaks down with a design project:
Good + Fast = Not Cheap
Want your project to be high quality and completed quickly? There will be a reasonable cost. We’ll put other projects on hold (and maybe even work on it over the weekend) to finish your project quickly while also delivering something that exceeds your goals for quality.
Good + Cheap = Not Fast
If you want your project to be good and cheap, then it will not be completed quickly. In this case, our team will have more time to think through the project before beginning and we’ll be able to work on the project at a more deliberate pace. In general, we use this option for non-urgent projects that have lower budgets.
Cheap + Fast = Not Good
Do you need something cheap, fast? We’re not a good fit. Our project management philosophy is “Fast, good or cheap. Pick two, but we don’t do bad work.” 🙂
Part of what sets us apart from other creative agencies is that we really shine at Good + Fast. It’s because of our structure – we’re a boutique firm, so we can be nimble and do our work quickly without going through layers and layers of management, and we always keep it high-quality because that’s just who we are.