Redefining the Product Trade-Off Triangle: Better, Faster, Cheaper

Redefining the Product Trade-Off Triangle: Better, Faster, Cheaper

Regardless of what field you’re in, you’ve probably seen this project management trial graphic:

The general idea is that you can only pick two of these things at any time:

  • Quality
  • Speed
  • Cost

In this concept of project management, either you get a product that’s good and fast, or fast and cheap, or good and cheap. But you can’t ever have all three at the same time. 

If we hold all things equal, in order to make a project or process better, you’ll have to sacrifice speed or cost . If you want to get your product out faster, you’ll have to sacrifice quality or cost. And if you want to make the product more cheaply, you’ll have to sacrifice quality or speed. It’s like a constant game where only two points of the triangle can be present at any time. 

But the key to this view of the model is the assumption that all else is equal. In this view of the project management triangle, everything you do to influence the output is just a brute force attempt to switch from one side of the triangle to another. Over the long term, managing a project in this manner is unsustainable. In the end, you’ll get an end-product that’s either too expensive, too late, or just plain crap. 

At Tangible Intelligence, we think this oversimplification of the project management triangle misstates the reality of what businesses go through. Instead of trying to navigate the triangle, we aim to redefine it. 

Changing the Game: The Value and Cost Quadrant

In order to redefine the project management triangle, we have to consider changing the process. This in turn involves incorporating a new element into the project. In essence, we believe you have to change the rules to establish a new baseline that is faster, cheaper, and better than the previous baseline – without sacrificing any of them entirely for any other.

Of course, changing the rules means taking a lot of factors into account. The combination of factors needed to change the game will depend on your business, and be specific not just to your industry, but to your employees, products and/or services, previous project processes, and more.

Let’s use the example of a business that has to make decisions based on data from a number of sources. In this scenario, your two meaningful factors are the speed it takes you to make a decision and your record of making the right decision. 

For this business, the project management triangle instead becomes a value and cost quadrant:

Here, you have to consider the value of time in your market. How much time do you have to make the decision and take subsequent action before it starts to materially impact your business’s performance?

Then you have to consider the cost of an error. How much of a setback will it be when you make a mistake? How much will it cost you in terms of lost business or even fees or fines?

Let’s take a look at each quadrant and specific examples of what they could mean for your business:

High Cost of Error - Low Value of Time

This example is typical for capital expenditure decisions, where you have long-term planning in mind. So you’ve got plenty of time to make a decision (the time has low value), but the cost of making a wrong decision could be devastating. In this situation, you’ll need to triple check everything.

Low Cost of Error - High Value of Time

We might call this quadrant “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. A situation that typifies this example is search engine optimization (SEO). It may not cost you much in terms of actual money to miss your SEO targets, but the time you spend on it is very valuable. The best process for this situation is to enable your results to learn and adapt automatically through feedback loops, rather than spending hours and hours manually poring over data as it comes in.  

Low Cost of Error - Low Value of Time

This is the quadrant that we might call “Easy Street”. Making a bad decision won’t cost you much monetarily and the time you spend on it won’t be lost, either. One example would be the coffee served in the break room. Or a temporary price change on slow selling inventory.

High Cost of Error - High Value of Time

In this quadrant, you may consider yourself to be caught between a rock and a hard place. One situation you may be in here is credit or loan applications. You need to be able to translate different types of data from different sources coming to you in different formats. Not only does it need to be done fast, but it needs to be done perfectly. 

This last quadrant is the one where we think there’s the most room for finding a game changer. Which is why we’ve developed

Getting Near-Perfect Data Accuracy is our new, state of the art data extractor that gets near-perfect extraction results universally. Our AI converts text from any document into structured data. 

  • No-code AI-driven platform: anyone on your team can train your own AI agents so you can start processing documents on day one
  • Intelligent document processing that goes beyond optical character recognition (OCR): unlike OCR that only reads and recognizes characters, understands the meaning they have to your organization
  • Human-in-the-loop: works with you to combine your understanding of context and attention to detail with its efficiency and speed. Together you’ll process documents faster and with greater accuracy than you thought possible.
  • Split documents and minimize context shifting: instead of asking each person on your team to enter data from every field on a document, make each of them responsible for a specific field or type of field on every document so they can work together even faster

With, you’re not just getting AI, you’re getting state of the art AI.

The tool was designed from the ground up to fit into any data extraction process and deliver value from day one. It can be hosted or implemented on a private cloud. 

If you’re looking to change the game from wondering how to balance quality vs time vs expense, get in touch today for a free demo.

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