Today is tax day in the United States, and millions of citizens in this nation are either expecting a return or will be paying their share. Note that I did not say “fair share”, because our tax system is so complicated that probably everyone is getting ripped off in some manner and we still will not have the right amount of funding for the programs that actually benefit us the most.
But enough about government and politics, and onto IT and how it ties into tax day. On tax day everyone seems to focus on the dollars. Dollars are great to have, especially in surplus, but dollars are merely valuable. Dollars can be exchanged for other things of value. Products and services can be acquired with enough dollars, and thus the real value of a dollar is not the dollar itself but what it can acquire for you and your company.
Time on the other hand is finite. You only have so much of it, and to make matters even worse you do not know how much time you actually have. The average life expectancy may be increasing, but that does not mean that you have time to waste. Time can never be exchanged for something else of value. Time can only be spent, and in fact it must be spent for it decreases steadily with every moment. Your time is a rapidly depleting resource that vanishes given enough time (ironically).
This is why planning your IT infrastructure’s future is more important than what your IT infrastructure is going to cost you and your organization. Yet how often is a project delayed or cancelled because the price is “too high?” Or the claim of “we just cannot afford that” is made? The answer is “Too often.”
Spent a month bickering over the price? You may have saved some of those valuable dollars, but you have lost that time forever. You probably could have made all of that money that you supposedly saved back by deploying the solution 30 days earlier, but the time that you spent saving that money is never going to be gained back. You lose even more if after a month you do not acquire a solution at all. In that case 30 days are gone with nothing to show for it. This happened to me occasionally when I was the customer, and it revealed that my upfront research of what a complete solution was going to cost was never considered before the V.P. or executive in charge of the project decided to pursue the solution. What a waste!
I design IT solutions and I price them out. Clients always tell me “Well I am going to have to shop around. I want to make sure that I am getting the lowest price possible.” Why? So that you can take comfort in knowing that a few dollars more are still in your pocket? The system of selling IT solutions has evolved to the point that you will not find a dramatically lower price for the same items unless the first sales person that you were dealing with was scamming you to begin with.
Do not spend your time getting comparison pricing. Instead spend your time researching your vendors and talking to their customers. Spend your time researching different technologies and manufacturers. Spend your time on understanding what technology your business actually needs to solve its problems and increase its profitability with. After you have done all of that research and have acquired enough knowledge to make a decision with, then spend the money on acquiring and deploying those solutions instead of wasting your time in pursuing the lowest price. Your research will have told you what a fair price for a solution will be, and you will know whether or not the quote is fair when you see it*.
Great IT professionals do not waste dollars, but they also do not waste time in trying to save a few dollars either. Great IT professionals make dollars, and one way that they do that is by saving time – the most precious of resources.
*Note: Often a client looks at a quote that I put together and says “That price seems really high.” At this point I know that either the client is playing a game with my sales rep to get a lower price, or the client has not done their research. My company could not stay in business if it did not apply a fair margin to an already discounted price, and the same is true of our reputable competitors. In the age of the Internet and social media no vendor is going to stay in business for very long if they are overcharging. Save your time by spending it upfront on researching your vendor’s reputation before asking them for a quote. That way you will know if the price is really high to begin with. Plus you will not need to play games with the vendor when the pricing appears, and thus waste more time.