How speed and quality affect the cost of an IT project

A photograph of a man looking thoughtfully at a laptop

When looking at IT project options, clients may ask, "Can I have a great, fast result for cheap?"

According to project management experts, the answer is "no." If clients want a quality project completed quickly, the price must match the expertise, materials, and time utilized.

So why is that? Why can't projects be fast, good, and cheap?

For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped clients utilize effective IT strategies, complete IT projects, and match with quality IT technology that meets their business needs.

By reading this article, you will learn about aspects of IT projects and how they affect the price.


Defining "speed" and "quality" in an IT project

Speed and quality are the main factors determining your IT project's price.

Speed can be defined as "how quickly you want your project completed." The smaller the completion window, the more IT experts are needed to complete the project.

Of course, the project deadline must also be realistic. For example, "I need to replace and reprogram all the office computers by tomorrow afternoon" is an impossible request regardless of the number of IT experts on hand.

Quality can be defined as "how well the IT solution meets your needs and the expertise required to complete the project." This is reflected in the materials or technology used and the technicians' experience.

For example, when you need a new laptop, your IT expert will recommend machines that can accommodate your daily tasks. It will be a business-grade device, which costs more than a consumer-grade laptop.

However, if you purchase a consumer-grade laptop, it will be unable to connect to your business network and likely will not have the computing power needed for office tasks.

It may be a nice laptop for personal use, but it is not equipped to meet your business needs or address your business goals. Therefore, it was not a quality IT solution. A quality IT solution meets your business needs and is compatible with your existing system.


"Good, fast, or cheap: Pick two"

According to project management experts, the more speed or quality you need within your IT project, the price must increase, not decrease. But conversely, the speed and quality will also decrease if you choose to lower the cost.

We have illustrated this in the following images.

First, we see that the quality and speed of the project are balanced with the price.

A seesaw illustration with quality, speed, and price all showing equal sizes and balanced.

However, if we increase the importance of speed, we notice the price also increases to match it.

An illustration with "Quality" and "Speed" at one end of a seesaw, and "Price" at the other end. Speed is shown much larger, and Price has also increased in size to maintain balance.

In an actual IT project, this would reflect the additional technicians and hours needed to complete the project within a smaller timeline.

More hands are required to complete a project more quickly, and technical projects require experienced technicians. As a result, the project's cost increases to pay more experts and cover more hours.

We can also explain the quality-speed-price triangle using a Venn diagram.

A Venn diagram. Three circles are marked "Quality," "Speed," and "Cheap."

As illustrated in the diagram, clients can expect a higher price if they want an IT project completed as quickly as possible using the highest-quality technology.

However, the project will be completed slowly if they want a considerably lower price while maintaining quality. Therefore, the client has chosen to forgo speed in exchange for a lower price.

We can see a similar inversion if the client wants the project completed quickly but cheaply. Instead of having technology that will meet their business needs, the client chooses lower-quality technology. This tech may be glitchy or ill-matched to the goal it's supposed to accomplish.

However, the client cannot choose high-quality technology, a short deadline, and a cheap budget. Unfortunately, this is impossible.

"Cheap" vs. Affordable IT projects

Quality IT providers can help you find a project price that fits your budget, is affordable, and meets your needs.

Perhaps, instead of buying the most expensive laptop on the market, you buy a more affordable laptop that can still perform the required tasks and connect to your business network.

Or, maybe, you decide you're comfortable with the project being completed within an agreed timeline or on a slower path to save money.

Either way, you are guaranteed an investment that improves your technology, meets your business needs, and is completed within an appropriate timeframe.

However, finding a "cheap" project usually means cutting corners in ways that typically cost more money over time.

For example, a client may choose to purchase older software because it's less expensive than the newer editions.

However, if this software is deemed End of Support, it is no longer supported by the manufacturer and can pose a significant security risk. It may also be ill-suited to accomplish the necessary tasks or incompatible with your system.

If the software is too buggy, slow, or poses too much risk, it will need regular maintenance or replacement. Unfortunately, in many situations, trying to fix ill-suited technology will cost a significant amount of time and money.

Even after all the time and finances dedicated to fixing poorly matched technology, it may never work reliably or accomplish the required tasks. In the end, replacing it with technology that will meet company needs and expectations is often more affordable.

Next steps for planning your IT project

Budgeting and planning for an IT project can feel daunting. It's important to consider the quality of the technology you want and how quickly you need the project completed. These two factors will determine the price of the investment.

A quality IT provider can help you select excellent materials and a realistic timeline to meet your needs and budget. However, a quality IT provider will never recommend cutting corners for a "cheap" solution.

Cheap solutions are often ill-matched to your needs or existing IT system. Over time, attempting to fix cheap solutions usually costs more time, stress, and money than a compatible solution.

If you're considering an upcoming IT project, talk to your IT provider or internal IT team and review your IT roadmap. This document will outline upcoming projects, upgrades, goals, and budgets.

If you've never created an IT roadmap, talk to your IT provider or team to get one started. It's an essential piece of IT strategy for your business. It is a service red flag if your IT provider refuses to create or update your roadmap.

For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has served hundreds of satisfied clients in the greater Chicago area.

If you are looking for a new IT provider, schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see how WEBIT Services can help.

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