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Fast, Cheap or Good? Pick Two.

Fast, Cheap or Good? Pick Two.

So, you want custom software developed, and you need it fast, cheap and good? Sorry, you’re out of luck there.

Fast, Cheap or Good - The Iron Triangle in Project Management & App Development

“Fast, Cheap or Good? Pick Two.” is a maxim used in the project management world to reference the Iron Triangle.

  • “Fast” refers to time to deliver
  • “Cheap” refers to cost
  • “Good” refers to scope (features)

All three – time, cost and scope – can not be optimized without impacting quality. Pick the two that are most important and the third is where your team is able to be flexible.

In other words…

Fast & Cheap = Less Features

If you want a mobile app developed quick and cheap, it will lack features. In some cases, such as a mobile app prototype, this may be acceptable.

Fast & Good = Not Cheap

If you want a mobile app developed quickly and with a lot of features, it won’t be cheap.

Good & Cheap = Slow

If you want a feature-rich and cheap mobile app it won’t be done quickly. In fact, it may wind up so low on the priority list that it never gets done. Or, even more likely – you’ll have a tough time finding a vendor who can accommodate your request.

Modifying Your ‘Fast, Cheap, Good’ Choice Mid-Project

Fast, Good, Cheap - Pick 2The Iron Triangle also dictates that if your team needs to modify any one of the three factors during the project, then at least one of the other factors must be modified as well.

Here are examples of what you might want to modify mid-project:

  1. Fast -> you want to deliver sooner, or later
  2. Cheap -> you want to add to or take away from the budget
  3. Good -> you want to add more features

You can do so, but keep in mind:

  • If you want to speed up the time to delivery, be prepared to remove some features or increase your budget.
  • If you have a sudden need to reduce budget, expect to also reduce features or speed.
  • If you want to add more features, your app will take longer or cost more to develop.


“Fast, Cheap or Good?” – Ask your stakeholders

When discussing and planning a new mobile app development project, be sure to press the decision-makers with the “fast, cheap or good?” question.

Everyone starts out wanting all three, but knowing the true priority, if they could only have two, is very helpful when creating your design and development timeline and feature backlog.

During the planning phases, this can be used in combination with some of these other ways to help stakeholders prioritize features in custom app development.

Does your organization need a custom mobile app developed? Reach out to start the conversation with our team of app development specialists today!

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Sara @ Big Fish

Sara @ Big Fish

Sara MacQueen is the Founder and President of Big Fish - we turn revolutionary ideas into reality through custom software design and development. Sara was named one of "25 Mobile Women to Watch" and has been interviewed by local and national media for her expertise in mobile technology and business. When she's not working, Sara enjoys hiking and cooking meals from scratch with ingredients found at farmers markets.

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