How to manage the trade-offs between different quality and cost dimensions on projects

The cost dimension

Many years ago I saw a system performance specification of a “sub-second response time nationwide” for the notification to Head Office of staff absence transaction. This was a transaction where a three-minute response time would have been tolerable. The person specifying this performance level had no idea of the costs associated with meeting this request.

This event prompted me to develop a guide for executives that spelt out the cost implications of some of their unthought through performance demands.

In view of the current desire for sliders, I have converted these quality performance dimensions into a set of sliders. There is no mutual exclusivity, they merely show the trade-off between quality/performance and cost. The higher the quality standard, the higher the cost to supply and maintain. Simple.

The qualtiy dimension

These sliders are intended to give business management a mechanism to understand and control their systems costs. As systems are invisible in their nature there is an unconscious belief that their quality options are free. But if you want 24/7 availability, that comes with a cost. These sliders enable a discussion to be held as to the level of quality the business is willing to pay for.

Business management can use these sliders to determine how important each quality dimension is and, thereby, how much they wish to spend on each dimension. It is a very clear business cost/value trade-off.

The TOP guide “How to control your systems costs” – is provided as part of the TOP Project Governance Center of Expertise 

Topics: Value Delivery, Project Controls

Further Reading



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Revision History

First published: Simms, J. (Oct 2011) as "How To Determine Your Desired Quality Dimensions"

Updated: Chapman, A. (March 2020), Revisions and Corrections