The Quality Triangle is a project management tool which highlights the relationship between Quality, Time, and Cost. Its purpose is to manage expectations when it comes to setting objectives for project timelines, resources, and the level of impact desired. In the realm of process improvement, the desired outcome – High Quality – is a known factor, while time and cost are projections. In a purely theoretical model, the Quality Triangle demonstrates that two factors will have preferred outcomes at the expense of the third.
High Quality + Low Cost = Slow
High Quality + Quick = Expensive
Quick + Low Cost = Poor Quality
Since the quality objective is known, the variability of time and cost can be mitigated with the use of controls set in place at project initiation. These controls can be used as objectives to reassess the status of the project at various points. Without controls, consequently, the relationship between a quick turnaround time that’s achieved cheaply results in poor quality. With a known objective, the time and cost, if controlled, would yield the desired effect.
Once a process failure has been identified and/or a process improvement project has been envisioned, the use of the Quality Triangle should be one of the first steps. The Quality Triangle can serve as a vital tool in the planning stage of the PDCA (Plan, Do, Check, Act) cycle. It is a bellwether for the success and expectations of a process improvement project.