The “Three-Legged Stool” Now Has a Fourth Leg

-written by Tom Mayberry, Dataram Storage Blog Team Member

If you talk long enough to any development or project manager, they will eventually tell you about the “three-legged stool” or some other similar metaphor. The three legs of the stool refer to the three basic parameters that are available to them for controlling their projects. These are Schedule, Functionality and Cost.

The trick is to find the optimal “length” of each of these legs without allowing the stool to tip over. For example, the schedule for a project can usually be brought in by increasing the cost. That is, adding equipment and people to a project at the right time and place will shorten time-to-market. Similarly, reducing the functionality of a product will also allow it to be brought to market sooner.

The first challenge for a project manager is to determine how far to manipulate any one parameter. Remove too much functionality and you don’t have a product worth shipping; add too much and you’ll risk missing your market window. The second challenge is to determine when the altering of one parameter stops affecting the others. After a while, adding additional resources will no longer enable a project to complete sooner…in fact it may actually cause it to become later. Any miscalculation could affect the balance of our stool, resulting in a less than optimal project plan.

With many of today’s products, project managers must now pay special attention to a fourth project parameter: Quality. For these products, it does no good to bring a product to market on schedule, within required costs and with the required functionality, if the quality is poor. This is especially true with most Storage products. Loss or corruption of data or loss of availability is not acceptable. Quality is the fourth leg of our stool.

So, my suggestion is to not let product quality be an afterthought. Do not make it a property of secondary importance. Manage it as you would the other three primary project parameters. After all, if the quality leg is too short, all your stool will do is wobble.

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