The Triangle of Requirements

March 18, 2009
The Triangle of Requirements

The Triangle of Requirements - A single star represents your project. You can move a star around the gradients to balance your needs, sacrificing one for the other two.

“You can get something good, cheap, or fast. Pick two.”

I’ve heard it many times, but what is it about? I’ve found that it comes down to planning. I come across this “principal” whenever I’m trying to rush a prototype or speed along a vendor. If I want a fast job done right, I’m either going to have to pay up to get extra resources on the job, or I’m going to have to wait for the assigned resources to do their due diligence for me. I don’t want a machinist to rush through my drawing only to miss a critical dimension or misunderstand a callout. My rushed order then becomes a significant delay.

So what can you do to balance this best? By planning ahead, keeping a constant eye on the critical path items that control the minimum schedule, we can improve our schedule, reduce our costs, and create the best quality. We can have the optimum resources available when we need them most – we can line up inexpensive resources to perform menial tasks and skilled, costly resources do only what they are best at. We can order long lead-time items well ahead so there’s no need to pay extra to rush the order. We can identify any high-risk unknowns and attack those first so later tasks are more predictable, more likely to stay on schedule.

I’ve also seen this quote, on the desk of an overworked secretary, “Your lack of planning does not justify my emergency.” It’s easy to get caught up in the firedrill of the day or the long list of design tweaks that need to be in the next prototype. However, it’s a good idea to lift your head and take a look at the project from the high-level perspective to help prevent rounding a bend only to find another emergency.


One comment

  1. The Scope, Time, Cost trade-off has been a topic of much discussion lately. One interesting note is that while everyone agrees on the basic principle, there can be some real disagreement on what is possible–on what the points are and where your star will lie.

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