Ethical Dilemma: Balancing Speed, Cost, and Quality

In this modern economic era of tight budgets, cutbacks, and shortfalls in both budgets and staffs, most organizations are pressured to “do more with less”. Customers and executive sponsors push projects to complete earlier and cheaper, with less budget funding, but with the same scope and quality. Rapid Application Development (RAD) and Agile and Extreme development methods are pushed. The problem, as always, is with the balance of the triple constraint (this time, with the added factor of quality).

There is also a trade-off between the short-term benefits of quality (and of projects themselves, for that matter), and their long-term strategic benefits to the corporation.

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These economic and strategic forces often result in executives pressuring PMs to take shortcuts in IT projects. While such shortcuts may seem attractive, they usually have highly adverse consequences to the company in both the short term and the long term. One example, of many, is that poor quality could be publicized and have adverse consequences for the company.

These pressures from executives, and the related economic pressures, are project risks, and the risks often manifest themselves as quality issues.

Now answer these questions:

a) If faced with increasing pressure to get a project done ahead of time, what steps should a project manager take if he feels this will jeopardize project quality?

b) Suppose that rather than time, the pressure is to do more with less, that is to accomplish the same scope with staff cuts and budget cuts. Does that change your answer? That is, what steps should a PM take if he feels this will jeopardize project quality?

c) In addition to the effects that a rushed project might have on project quality, what kind of short-term and long-term effects might it have on project team members?

d) What kind of short-term and long-term effects might it have on the organization or corporation itself?

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