Saturday, June 27, 2009

Something's Gotta Give

The Time-Cost-Scope paradigm is simple and goes something like this:

In considering any kind of output (e.g., goods and services), there is an ideal equilibrium or balance among the inputs T, C, and S that results in the most efficient and effective way to achieve the desired output. If you alter any one of the three inputs, this changes the "weight" of the other two and creates an imbalance or disequilibrium.

For example, let's say it takes me one hour to do an in-depth edit of five pages of material for which I charge $35. If I rush through the material and complete my edit in a half hour, the quality suffers.

And this is exactly what happened with my online editing, freelance job. The rate of pay is $3.50 per article. So the only way I could make a reasonable per-hour wage was to race through articles, thus impacting the quality. This approach quickly becomes apparent to the copy chiefs, who scrupulously review and critique the work of the copy editors.

We occasionally need to consider how much our time is worth. It's hard to argue with the position that $7 an hour is better than zero. But is that hourly wage something that a self-respecting professional would accept?

As a friend and fellow editor put it, "Those folks are running a sweat shop!" I concurred, thanked my team leader for the opportunity, and told her that I was giving up the position.