I have a problem. I want the best cost, the fastest speed, and the top quality all at once. Reality teaches me that I can’t always have all three. Often, I need to choose. Some people say that you can have any two, but not all three. However, I try to find a balance among all three. I try to find the best trade-off in any given circumstance.
When I approach a project, I determine my goal, what is needed, when it is needed, and how much it will cost. Each becomes a moving part requiring management. That’s also where trade-offs occur.
Consider the budget process. I start by asking two questions: what funds do I have available and what funds should I spend? A business startup may have $1,000 to invest on a website. Expensive, original art work is not a possibility with this budget. The starting place involves stock images with original copy. With modern web tools they can get the website up and running in a few days at a low cost, but it won’t be the most impactful site. The budget required a trade-off: using low-cost tools and in-house skill for higher priced web design services.
Time is another important component. When a customer wants delivery on the first of the month and will cancel the order if not met; then, saving money or improving quality is a moot point. You must meet the time demand. However, when you have limited staff or budget; that could be difficult.
I was working with a ministry to launch a project. They needed a marketing specialist who was expensive. I suggested that they work out an arrangement with the expert to give him extra time to complete the work, but at a lower cost. The expert was able to use the job to fill open time over the next months. The time trade-off produced excellent quality at a lower cost.
In another example, I was working with a client who opened a new store location. They had messed up and not started the build out until late. This required spending more money on a contractor to get the place ready in time. It was an unfortunate trade-off.
When I needed to hire a house painter, I talked with several people. One was very expensive but his quality was masterful. However, I didn’t need masterful quality for the minor improvement I was after. Instead, I selected a competent painter at a lower price. The difference in the finished work was minimal. Had I restored an 1850 home, I would have hired the high cost expert.
Each project is different. Don’t let impatience make you spend more for faster delivery when it isn’t necessary. Spend more for quality when it counts, but understand when to cut back when it doesn’t. Consider each moving part, its relationship to the project, and know what you require in the end.
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