We’ve all heard the expression “you can’t have your cake and eat it too”.  It’s similar to the project management concept of the time-cost-quality-triangle; the three factors of time, cost, and quality are interlinked, and that changing one must affect the others.

Cake slice


Therefore, changing any one of the variables will have a impact on the two other factors. Many people have taken this as gospel, and a rule to live by in purchasing decisions.

But wait, is that really true?

Will any reduction in cost automatically lead to a reduction in quality or a blowout in project time?
This is supported by the wisdom “you get what you pay for” - a slogan proudly endorsed and favoured by premium brands throughout in the world.
Thriftiness must be futile.

If any reduction in cost leads to an inferior product or service, then somebody better tell the hundreds of price comparison websites and apps which are now more popular than ever.  Should Businesses, Governments, and Consumers all stop wasting their time trying to shop around for a better deal? Will they be left bitterly disappointed, and have to settle for poor-quality products and services?

There are numerous examples which disprove the Time Cost Quality Triangle and its underlying beliefs.

Examples include:

  • Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs)

MVNOs are telco providers who can offer a discounted price from the major Phone networks but still offer the same network quality, and reliability from providers who charge double or even triple the price for the same service.

MVNOs can do this by not owning network infrastructure but instead buying access to the network through mobile network operators. This allows them to keep the cost down, without having to compromise on quality or time.

  • The Transition To Email from Mail

It wasn’t that long ago when companies still sent snail mail to their entire customer database for all correspondence. Looking back now, it’s almost hard to believe. Once businesses transitioned from mail to email, it led to a significant reduction in both expenses, and delivery time by over a hundredfold from its hugely inefficient, time-consuming, and costly paper-based predecessor.

  • Tuesday Cheap Movie Tickets

Same new release movies, same theatre.  Half the regular price.

  • Bulk Purchase Discounts

Bulk Purchase discounts offer significant cost savings for purchasing products or services in bulk. The purchaser receives the exact identical products and services, however also receive a large discount for making a large quantity purchase.


The Many Factors of Procurement Decision Making

When it comes to procurement decision-making, there are many complex factors which need to be taken into account in regards to getting the best price, maintaining high-quality, and keeping the project timelines acceptable.

The Time Cost Quality Triangle, though widely accepted , is not always accurate, and it is possible to improve one factor without having to sacrifice any of the others.  At Hacen, we prefer a more considered view “the cheapest option is not always the best option” although there are plenty of times when it can be, allowing you to have your cake and eat it too!

Time to mothball the TCQ Triangle