Scope, Resources, and Time

Learn about the scope, resources, and time required to complete a project.

Triple constraint with respect to the project

Back in the Join Us! chapter, we considered the Triple Constraint with regards to hiring. Now, we’re going to use it in reference to your projects. If you want something good and fast, it’ll be expensive. If you want something good and cheap, it’ll be slow. If you want something fast and cheap, it’ll be of poor quality.

As a manager, you’ll have a finite number of engineers at any given time, and you will routinely find yourself juggling your ongoing projects with the need to forge ahead with the next great thing that you should be building.

When discussing upcoming projects, you may face conflicting opinions from different departments, including your own. These particular examples are taken to an extreme, and people are more pragmatic in reality. However, for the sake of discussion, we present the following opinions in the light of a hypothetical new project appearing on the horizon.

  • Commercial wants it now! Your salespeople find it difficult to pitch against your competitors because of a lack of features in your application. This next feature can’t come soon enough because their confidence in you is paramount to their success.

  • Product wants it all! Your product manager has a grand vision for the roadmap for the next year. The designs look beautiful and the offerings compelling, but you can see that it represents a huge amount of work. Probably too much work.

  • Engineering wants it right! Your engineers see this new roadmap as the key trigger to redesign a large part of the system. Building it around what already exists will introduce a lot of technical debt that will cause serious pain in the future, so they want to rewrite it all.

Three different opinions that are all equally valid. A healthy tension exists between them, so where do you begin the discussion?

Now, it goes without saying that you would not want to compromise on quality. I would argue that if you’re happy with shipping poor-quality software, you’re probably in the wrong job.

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