Better – Faster – Cheaper

I was on a phone call recently when a key staff member at a client organization asked me a question.

He said that in most projects, you have to choose between outcomes that are better, faster, or cheaper. You have to pick two, typically you can’t have all three at one time. Then he asked me, for an AMS selection, what would be the appropriate similar words to use?

(There are people that might challenge the notion that all three are not possible, but hey, this is his question.)

So at the time I was completely stumped. I fumbled a bit, talked about finding the right fit with an AMS partner. But I didn’t really answer the question, and I was embarrassed at that. But my brain just sees embarrassment as a stimulus to fix a problem. So I started mulling.

And I think the variables, if I limit them to three are: Custom, Complex, and Cheap.

A custom solution fully meets your needs. You can get someone to build you a custom solution, but if you want it cheap, then it can’t be very complex. It will have core functionality, but not a lot of additional components that you get in a more mature offering. If you want all those bells and whistles, then it is unlikely to be cheap.

There are AMS developers that do a great job of offering a very complex solution (a lot of modules, a lot of functionality in each module) at a good price, but there is only so much you can customize it. Typically these are Software-as-a-Solution options. You can probably configure it, but to keep the price down, you won’t be modifying code.

And finally if someone implements for you an AMS that has a lot of detailed functionality and is also highly customized to your needs, then it’s not going to be cheap. Either they will modify the code, or they will have spent a lot of time and invested a lot of money in making the code highly configurable.

Other variables to consider might be whether the software is based on newer technology, or how easy it is to maintain. But for clarity, I wanted to limit to three variables.

And I have seen some systems that might have some elements of all three of custom, complex, and cheap, but those have some genius designers and are the exception rather than the rule.

Do you agree? What three variables would you choose?

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