Good/Cheap/Fast — pick two (and how NGOs can play the triangle like a pro)

Here are your choices. Your project can fall in the same area as any of the check marks. Image from InReach Solutions

Hacking the Project Management Triangle for NGOs and charities

How to deal with needing it to be faster

  • Be clear on what you want and try to avoid changes to your plans. Have you given it all enough thought before kicking off?
  • Know your absolute deadlines and work to those not artificial ones that create a false need to rush. Can the delivery move back?
  • Fail quickly. Doing a little and learning from that step saves time compared to doing a lot, making bigger mistakes and having to redo more.
  • What is the minimal viable product (MVP) you can build? What functionality do you absolutely have to have and what could be lost? Be ruthless.

How to deal with needing it to be cheaper

  • Plan as far ahead as you can and schedule work with a long lead time. Try to use this as bargaining chip.
  • Look at making a long term financial arrangement with your supplier (essentially economies of scale should make everything cheaper for you)
  • Try to find external funding from grant making bodies, funders you have a relationship with or crowdfunding with supporters to increase the project budget.
  • Have an honest conversation with your tech partner about the cheapest route to your goals (rather than just delivering your brief word for word, find out how they’d tackle this problem).

How to deal with needing it to be better

  • Invest heavily in planning. Get completely clear on why you’re working on this project in the first place and then break it down from there (the GSOT framework is a favourite of mine). Small uncertainties at the concept stage will make your project very messy during delivery and reduce the quality.
  • Be really clear with your developers why you’re doing this project so they know your aims too…
  • …then ask their advice. There can often be an easier way to do what you’ve outlined using systems you’re not familiar with. If you’re working with experts, then use them for their knowledge not just skills in delivery.

This changes everything: agile methodologies

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