Re: Schedule, Cost, & Quality: Pick Two

Subject: Re: Schedule, Cost, & Quality: Pick Two
From: "Tom Murrell" <tmurrell -at- columbus -dot- rr -dot- com>
To: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>, "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 12 Nov 1999 23:05:31 -0500

> Murrell, Thomas wrote in message:
>> Perhaps 20 years ago, a Project Manager I was working for told me that there
>> are three aspects of any project: Quality, Cost, Schedule. Then he said
>> something I have always considered profound. He said, "You can have any two
>> of these aspects on a project at a cost of the third aspect."
> ..
>> It seems to me that
>> producing quality documentation is the hardest thing to do these days.
> Plato, Andrew responded:
> Actually, you can have quality documentation quickly and cheaply. You're boss
> was wrong about the "pick two" stuff. The problem is not that you can only
> have two. To have all three you must have a writer who is exceptionally
> skilled, experienced and intelligent. Good writers can bang out top quality
> docs very quickly.

Murrell, Thomas responds:
Um, Andrew, I think you are making my point here. You are saying that if
you assign a quality writing resource you can have quality output. However,
you will also agree that this "exceptionally skilled, experienced, and
intelligent" writer better come in within budget.
> People wonder all the time why Hollywood keeps making stupid sitcoms about
> neurotic inner city losers or movies with extreme violence - well this crap
> sells and it is dirt cheap to produce. Let's face it, not every movie can have
> the laughs of the Cohen brothers, the profundidty of Kubrick and the style of
> Luc Besson.
> Well, tech writing is the same thing. Documentation sucks because sucky
> documentation sells and it is dirt cheap to produce. Why hire a $75.00 an
> consultant who can pound out a masterpeice in a month when you can hire a FOC
> kid for $15 an hour who can plink out the bare minimum in a 30 days. You don't
> have to be the presdient of STC to figure out that equation.

Murrell responding again:
Here you appear to be arguing against yourself (see earlier quoted section
and comments). If we assume that the $75/hour writer is the extremely
talented, experienced, and intelligent writer who would save us earlier, you
have just proven why that writer need never be hired. It isn't worth it to
the average MBA.
> When business people look at the matrix that goes into building a sucessful
> company, tech writing is way low on the list.
> Therefore, the issue is not how to beat more quality time out of your boss -
> is how to use the time you have to produce the highest quality possible.

Murrell commenting:
Actually, I would agree with you here. IMHO, it always comes down to the
integrity of the individual. The difference between a professional (that
is, a competent craftperson) and the average worker is the inability to be
satisfied with a "good enough" piece of work. I would argue that this
attitude is more important in improving quality than anything else. If I
work like the success of the enterprise is up to me, I produce a better
quality product than if I just do what is good enough. Ever has it been and
ever shall it be.

> This is the essence of capitalist systems and it has worked
> extremely well for over 2000 years.
> How's that for profundity.
> Andrew Plato
> "Luc Besson" in training

Final comment:
Andrew, I'm for capitalism--as we know it today--as enthusiastically as the
next person, but I think you went overboard with the 2000 year figure.
Modern economics isn't more than 400 years old. What we know as capitalist
systems are no older than that; maybe less. I can't remember when Adam
Smith wrote his seminal work.

However, Andrew, I find you as profound as ever. <g>

Tom Murrell

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