How much does “good” cost?

Recently, Ben Minson stated that “Good Enough” Really Isn’t. It’s an interesting post, and I wanted to expand on the comment I left on his blog.

Ben suggests that:

If I find myself thinking “It’s good enough” on a regular basis, I—and my users—am probably not getting all that’s possible out of my work

Before I go any further, perhaps we need to clarify what “good enough” means?

My fear is that many people take “good enough” to mean, “yeah, I’m done with that and it’ll have to be good enough”. If that is the case then yes, you are selling your users, and yourself, short. However there is a perfectly valid scenario around which the phrase “good enough” could, and should, be used.

There is a classic business situation that drives the use of the phrase, it is one with which we are all familiar and which will never ever change, and that is the age old issue of high quality deliverables versus cost of delivery. It is sometimes stated in terms of Return On Investment but the bottom line is that, at a certain point, regardless of your deliverable, there comes a point where the amount you are spending on something has reached the maximum value you can expect to gain.

Finding the balance of that will, without doubt, mean that you disappoint some users. The Pareto principle is typically offered as a rule of thumb at this point (wrongly as it happens) with the presumption that “good enough” means meeting the needs of 80% of your audience, knowing that 20% will not be as well served. The reality probably that 20% of your documentation will be used but that’s for another blog post.

Ultimately whilst we would all love to provide better information, both in quantity and quality, projects have deadlines, budgets have limits and it is there we find the true definition of “good enough”. It’s up to us, as professionals, to make the most of these situations so that when we say something is “good enough”, we mean exactly that.