Over and over, people quote the iron triangle of project management – relating verbatim to the elements time, scope and cost from the wikipedia article or by the slightly less formal adage “Cheap, Fast, Good – pick any two”.
Surprise: It is not a triangle
Anyone who looks closely at the concept – or just reads the first paragraph on wikipedia – quickly realizes that the “triangle” has at least a fourth side: quality!
(But the term “devil’s quadrangle” has not yet found it‘s way into wikipedia)
And as handy as the tool “iron triangle” may seem in arguments, it really should be used with caution. Especially arguing about the quality constraint is very common in my experience. By relating to the “pick any two” adage people try to argue that “with the new time constraints we have to compromise on quality.“ And apart from the fact that “quick and dirty is very un-agile” this approach completely ignores the fact that compromising on quality usually does not get the job done more quickly but generates severe issues for the ensuing product.
The agile answer to this conundrum is to negotiate on scope instead of quality. That is what most sane people would do with tangible objects as well. I might go with a motorcycle (smaller scope) when developing a car isn’t feasible under existing time and budget constraints. But I definitely would not go with a car where “somewhere between 20 and 40 percent of the nuts and bolts are not tightened correctly” (less quality).
To me it seems much more rewarding to manage scope than to try to compromise on quality.
till next time