Time, Cost, Quality. These are three very important considerations when providing or requesting a service. When taking on a new project, you need to consider three things:

  1. The time it will take to complete
  2. What the cost will be
  3. The quality of the work produced

In an ideal world, a project would be completed quickly, at a low cost AND to the highest quality. The reality of the matter is, you cannot tick all three boxes for one project, it is only possible to adequately tick two.

Time, Cost and Quality may also be known as Fast, Cheap and Good, and many other names of similar effect. Use the words that serve you best in getting to grips with this concept.

The Time, Cost, Quality Equations

This is a very simple concept that is sometimes hard to put into practice, both when dealing with businesses or implementing in your own business. But here are the basics:

Time + Cost = The job can be completed quickly and for a low cost, but the quality may suffer

Quality + Time = The job will be completed to a very high standard, and quickly but it will cost more

Cost + Quality = Reasonably priced, great quality work, but it will take longer to complete


Let’s rephrase that into something a little easier…

Fast + Cheap = it won’t be Good

Good + Fast = it won’t be Cheap

Cheap + Good = it won’t be Fast

Time (Fast)

Every project and piece of work undertaken will require time to complete. Before you ask for a quote on a project, it is important to understand the real, and realistic deadline for your requirements. You also need to understand the amount of time that this may take to complete. You do not need to map out an exact time frame, down to the very last second. But you will still need to know the approximate length of time that the task will take, and if there is an external deadline which needs to be met.

Once you know the amount of time the project may take, you can look how it fits in with your timelines, or other deadlines and when the task may be able to be completed. Only then, can you establish a realistic and accurate deadline, and how that aligns with the next two aspects, if you need the timeline compressed, or if it can be extended.


Cost (Cheap)

You will need to get an indication of costs for the job. Make sure that you ask the appropriate questions to ensure all parties involved understand the full scope of the job before agreeing a price.

Take into consideration the time it will take to complete the job, the tools and materials needed, and the desired deadline. All of these aspects will make up the end cost of the project. There may be an express service available to clients, which will enable resources to be expedited to deliver on a required deadline, however this will usually come at a cost for those resources.


Quality (Good)

Quality is often the most important consideration, but is sometimes completely overlooked, or not discussed at all. The quality of the delivered work will affect your ongoing relationship with the delivered project, both positively and negatively. This may ultimately impact your reputation in some cases. Do not commit to a rushed deadline if you don’t think the work will be completed to an acceptable level of quality.

You may end up feeling wildly disappointed if the end result is an inferior either compared to your expectations, or to what you may have received elsewhere, regardless of the fact that is was cheap and delivered quickly.


The Time, Cost, Quality equations are vital to consider with each project you undertake. Can you maintain your quality standards when you are relying on cheap and fast turnarounds? Can you afford high quality, fast solutions? Or do you need to think about adjusting your timeframes to be realistic when you need quality at affordable prices? Recognise your priorities, and then…


Ask yourself, which are the two you value most?


Disclaimer: There may be exceptions to this rule, but in my opinion, generally there will be large amounts of personal favours being paid back for this to occur.


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