Good, Cheap, Fast. Choose Two.

This is a fundamental concept to understand. One of my first videos was on this concept. It is simple, but powerful.

If it’s good and cheap, it won’t be fast.

If something is good and you don’t spend much money on it it, the odds are whomever is building it, isn’t going to build it fast. That is because if you have someone who knows how to build something well, they are in demand from other organizations to build the same kinds of things. They are almost always going to prioritize the thing that is paying them more -- because they have to.

This is especially true in SaaS development because these systems are large, complex, and time consuming to build, and anyone who is worth their salt is in demand to build these kinds of systems right now.

If it’s good and fast, it won’t be cheap.

For exactly the same reason as the previous item, if something is done well and done quickly, it is going to cost more. You have a set amount of time it will take to build the system. The only way to decrease the amount of time is to decrease the functionality of the system in one way or another. So if you build it well, it costs more time, and to fit more hours into less days requires more people or longer days. Both of these increase your cost.

If it’s fast and it’s cheap, it won’t be good.

Think you’re getting a deal? One company is offering you something for a lot less than the others, so why not right? Let’s break it down one more time. It will take a set amount of time, with some variance but not that much, for any company to build the system. One company is cheaper and faster, that means they are using less expensive people and more of them. There is a bottom in pricing in this industry, no matter where you go in the world. Development is a worldwide business, so people in countries that have a lower cost of living that really know what they’re doing still know what they can charge, and it isn’t $10/hr.

So think about this, if there is a minimum rate for good developers, it will take a certain amount of time to do a project within a slim variance, and you have set number of features and thus time required. Then if someone is offering a cheaper price and to do something fast, they are either cutting time somewhere or don’t know what they’re doing. Unless they specifically show you that they have done the thing in the past, they almost certainly don’t know what they’re doing and you are going to have to start over.

This applies to all types of teams

What people don’t think about when they think about this rule is that this applies no matter what kind of team you’re working on. A SaaS project ALWAYS takes a certain amount of time, no matter who does it. Often times, more experienced, and thus more expensive people are faster. But the project still takes a certain amount of hours. So, if you have a team you put together, an agency, or your good friend Bill Gates doing this for you, if they are cutting or you think they are cutting you a deal these principles STILL APPLY.

So remember, if someone is going to ‘cut you a deal’ and you value time or quality of your product, know what you’re getting into. Caveat emptor (buyer beware)!

Last updated