Forget Price When Designing Solutions

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Imagine that the top executive of your organization came to you with a top priority project and a small budget. Okay, some of you do not have to imagine that…

You are given an objective. There is a measurable and defined result that must be achieved. You know what the goal is and now you must solve the problem.

At this point you can take one of two paths. The first path is to look at the budget and to start shopping for potential solutions that are equal to or less than that budget. This approach works best with problems that are easy to solve, but why would your top executive hand you such a project as a top priority? Easy projects are never top priorities. Easy projects are resolved too quickly to even retain a priority status.

The second path is to start designing the solution as if you had an unlimited budget to spend, but that you will be judged on how low you kept the cost of the solution. This is the approach that must be used. Not just when the project is difficult, but with every project no matter the difficulty level.

The first approach is motivated by consequences and fear. “Will I be under budget?”, “Am I spending too much?”, and other such questions are what you will ask when taking this first approach. When you design around price the results are an afterthought.

The second approach is motivated by results. “Will this solve the problem?”, “Is this the best price for this solution?”, and other such questions keep the project on track. You are still aware of the budget, but you are not letting it dictate the solution.

The second approach encourages you to deliver value. The second approach makes sure that the problem is going to be solved, and then lets an informed business decide if the budget is right. You may have to delete some desired options, or even pass on the solution entirely because you cannot afford it, but you know the solution will work no matter what.

Price is negotiable. Discounts can be asked for, and more money can be requested if you can justify it. You can only justify it by designing a solution that will work. But acquiring a working solution is the real goal and not being under budget.

A good IT professional understands this. A bad one just worries about the budget. Which one you are is determined not by how the project ends, but how you start it.

Always start with solving the problem as your top priority. This way someone will always find room in their budget for you.

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