Faster, Cheaper, Better – yes, you can have them all!

Faster, Cheaper, Better – yes you can have them all! Recently there has been more than a few articles flying around that state for a product or service you have three fundamental options: Fast, Good and Cheap, but you can ever only choose two?


When I first saw this I thought, yep that’s about right. But when this label started to get slapped onto every manner of product and service something didn’t quite feel right.

In fact, in today’s world with the availability of agile and iterative tools and services it is not fait accompli. Not only can you have all three attributes, you should be striving for Faster, Cheaper and Better! A mantra that continues to drive our business and is often demanded of us.

Project Management Triangle(Image Source)

This is how it goes, you have the above three attributes of a product or service of which you can only ever choose either:

  • Fast & Cheap, but not Good.
  • Fast & Good, but not Cheap.
  • Cheap & Good, but not Fast.

So where did this come from? Its origins are in the project management triangle (left). A project manager’s tool used for purpose of defining and measuring a project goal. In short it’s a planning tool to determine what the end product will look like. Yet, it now seems to be used by any incumbent in any industry which is being upset by disruption.

In a recent article posted in “Fast, Good or Cheap. Pick Three?” it was argued that by applying an Agile and Lean process for product development you can in fact have all three. A statement that anyone who has worked in the SaaS industry knows to be true!

With the development of new agile, lean and iterative methodologies with a focus on solving a specific set of problems, not only can you improve the process of product or service delivery, but can do it while reducing the cost, time, and delivering a better outcome.Fast Good Better 1

In an article that was written back in 2007 by Jacob Neilson, “Fast, Cheap, and Good: Yes, You Can Have It All” (Neilson Norman Group) pointed out that in usability research, Fast and Cheap often yields the best results and more importantly delivers the insights fast so you are still able to do something about it.

A recent article by Business Insider Australia highlighted how the “Membership-based delivery services are beginning to disrupt the $600 billion-a-year grocery industry.” . The article goes on to point out that “Membership grocery services help secure consumers as repeat customers and allow companies to lower individual shipping fees on every order. Shipping fees are typically a big barrier to grocery delivery because orders must be delivered fast to guarantee freshness.” (last accessed 7th May 2015).

You only need to look at services like (online market place for education and courses) to realise that not only can you have Fast, Cheap and Good; you often get Fast, Cheap and so much Better. I have been astounded at the quality of some of these courses and often question why some of these experts are able to deliver course work better than is available from our universities.

In our own business at GroupQuality we have adopted both agile and iterative methods of market research product and service delivery. We strive to do it Faster, Cheaper and Better. This is the goal that drives innovation in our own value chain, and is a goal that is causing a great deal of disruption in many industries including our own.

The fact is that there are many who do not like change. But the truth is, disruption is here to stay. To all those naysayers who still think you can’t achieve Cheap, Fast and Good, keep thinking this way, and watch those innovative companies embrace the “impossible” by delivering products and services which deliver on all three.

To check some other agile market research options:

is the Research Director at GroupQuality: Agile Qualitative & Quantitative Market Research Software & Services.

Feedback, Insights and Knowledge. Faster, Easier and For Less.

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