Unicorns are beautiful creatures. Many stories and legends have been written about them, going back to the Greeks 2,000 years ago.
But, unicorns don’t exist in our world, so people who chase after them are said to be wasting their time.
There will come a time when your client will ask for work to be done good, fast, and cheap. But that doesn’t exist in our world either.
Your agency’s success … and even your success as an Account Manager … will depend on your ability to stop your client from chasing after that unicorn.
Quality, Speed, and Cost are the Pillars of Every Project
One common way to look at project management is to use the three-legged stool analogy.
Quality, speed, and cost represent each leg of the stool. The three legs must remain equal or the stool becomes wobbly and may even fall over.
Typically each of these three factors are clearly defined at the beginning of every project. The team has set the quality, speed, and cost to be in harmony.
The stool’s legs are all equal.
But sometimes something changes along the way.
The client needs the project delivered earlier for an event that was just added.
Or the creative concept is going to require more budget to produce.
And of course, the client’s expectation is that nothing else will change.
No more budget.
No changes to the deliverables.
So the request turns to delivering good, fast, and cheap. And suddenly, the stool is falling over.
And there’s a unicorn in the room.
Understanding the Options
When it comes to good, fast, and cheap in the real world, you can only deliver on two of these at one time.
Good and Fast
Your client can have good work that is done quickly, but it won’t be cheap. In fact, it will cost more, oftentimes incurring rush charges.
Good and Cheap
She can have quality work that is cheap, but it will not happen quickly. It takes time to do good work and if your client is willing to wait for it, the cost will not be inflated with rush charges.
Fast and Cheap
Your client can have the work done quickly at a less expensive cost, but she will be sacrificing the quality.
Good, Fast, and Cheap
Nope. It’s not gonna happen. Now she’s chasing a unicorn.
How to Address the Unicorn in the Room
When you do find yourself being asked to deliver good, fast, and cheap, it’s important to address it directly with your client as soon as possible.
1. Make Sure the Team Can Deliver
If you discuss the three options with your client, but your team cannot deliver on one or more of the options, you will be setting the agency up for failure. And you’ll have to have a very uncomfortable conversation with her later to explain that the problem you thought was solved is still a problem.
So if possible, check with the team first to see what’s doable. Then you can present the best options to solve the problem.
If you don’t have a chance to check with the team before you’re presented with the good, fast, and cheap request, be sure to let the client know that you’ll need to check with the team to see what’s doable. Establish the expectation up front for the follow-up conversation to discuss the options.
2. Explain the Need to Pick Two
There’s no way around it, you’re going to have to explain the good, fast, and cheap options to your client. Help her to understand the three-legged stool and that good, fast, and cheap makes a wobbly stool.
The three simply cannot co-exist. And she will have to select the two most important options.
Just be sure you don’t skip step one so you can talk about which of the options are realistic given the specific situation.
3. Help Your Client Select the Two Most Important Ones
Once your client understands the good, fast, and cheap concept, help guide her to select the best scenario for her situation, and that the agency can deliver on.
This will reset the expectations for all involved. And set the project on a successful path.
Good, fast, and cheap really is a myth. But it doesn’t stop clients from requesting it. Now that you understand it, you can help your client understand so she won’t keep chasing the unicorn.
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