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(780) 434-2376


the bright leaf

An ongoing series of informational entries


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The “Iron Triangle”

Selecting the Right Engineering Company

When it comes to selecting the right engineering company for a particular project, the ultimate goal is typically the same for all clients; they want to feel confident that the job will be done well, on-time and on-budget. Simple, yes? Not always.


The ultimate success of any project is based on the same principal for the success of any relationship. Communication. A client must have an end goal, and the engineering company must ensure that they understand, from the outset, what the client requires and provide them a sufficiently detailed proposal that addresses their needs. Generally speaking, this proposal is what is referred to as the scope of work (SOW) of the project. It is the foundation of any project. Both parties must agree upon this.


Upon SOW agreement, the engineering company and the client will then establish the three prime factors that will govern the project’s success …. time, cost, and quality of work. These three items constitute, in engineering circles, what is known as the “Iron Triangle” (see below).

  1. Time: The agreed maximum date by which the project must be completed.
  2. Cost: The agreed maximum amount the customer is prepared to pay for the project.
  3. Quality: The expected level of competence to which the completed project will be judged.

This “Iron Triangle” has sometimes been referred to as the “Impossible Triangle”. Why?

Many have argued that only any 2 of these 3 factors can be successfully realized within the SOW of a project always at the expense of the third … “something’s got to give”. 


For example:

  1. If the job must be done in the shortest amount of time and yet at the highest level of quality, then the engineering company must devout all its resources (including overtime and added personnel) into the project and the customer should be prepared to pay the higher cost.
  2. If the job must be done in the shortest amount of time and yet the customer expects to pay the lowest possible price, then it is likely that many of the “due diligence” checks and re-checks may be minimized. The project’s overall quality level might be lower.
  3. Finally, if the customer expects the highest quality job to be done at a low cost, then the engineering company should be allowed to complete the project at its own pace (without overtime and added personnel) and not at the disruption of other jobs. It will take longer.
  4. Simply put, this is an “either-or” scenario. You cannot have it all.


The TOK Advantage


At Tree of Knowledge (TOK) Engineering, we recognized the dilemma described above but do not accept that the “either-or” scenario is the only option available. Along with being a highly-skilled engineering company, we are also practical and pragmatic. We recognize the business constraints our customers are under. Therefore we “tailorize” the SOW and its three factors. We do not compromise; we optimize. In doing so we ensure the most efficient, maximum blend is incorporated into any job proposal.


What are some of the key factors to consider in selecting the right engineering company?


  1. Diversity of Talent: TOK has mechanical, structural, civil, geotechnical & forensic engineers.
  2. Length of Experience: Our 8 engineers/specialists each have 10 years or more experience.
  3. Response Time: We are available on a 24/7 basis and can be on-site the next day if needed.
  4. Response Area: We are licensed to practice in Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan, and Ontario.


Selecting the right engineering company is critical to the success of any job. We hope you will consider TOK for your next project.​

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