The Good Fast Cheap Conundrum

The Good Fast Cheap Conundrum

IT Services are like most things.  You can get good support fast, but it usually won’t be cheap.  Fast and cheap solutions are usually not good.  Cheap good solutions are frequently not fast.  See the diagram above.  I call this the good, fast, cheap conundrum.

A prospect called us this week that was referred to us by a client of ours.  The referral came from someone they trust, so it carried a lot of weight.  They have an urgent project that they need an IT partner to execute on.  It’s critical to their business.  There are other pieces in motion, and if this IT project isn’t done in a timely fashion, it will slow them down and cost them money.

Fast, Fast, Fast

When we met with the client to discuss the project on a very short timeline the message seemed simple.  Speed.  This project has a strict deadline, and it must be done.  They have some staffing issues that made this difficult with the time left and needed a vendor with ready manpower to bail them out.

So, we went fast.  I cleared some time with my engineer first thing the next day to meet with them and understand the project.  They were adamant they needed a quote the same day.  We executed on that and got them a same day quote.  They said they would have an answer fast.

Cheap, Cheap, Cheap

We heard from them the next day, but not with a project approval so we could start working for them.  They came back asking for a discount.  We weren’t the cheapest bid.  Our labor cost was higher than some of the competition. 

Our statement of work included some time for unboxing of the hardware they were ordering and cleanup after installation.  Apparently, they thought the hourly rate we were charging was too high for that kind of work.

They also searched out every item on our quote and found a couple of things that they could buy cheaper online.  Where speed was the priority, now price was the most important factor.

Good, Good, Good

We were transparent with them.  The pricing we were offering wasn’t the best possible deal on the internet.  In fact, our normal distribution channels would allow us to get them a much better deal then what we quoted.  The catch is that they couldn’t ship as quickly.  To meet their short timelines, we had to go with other distributors that had product ready to ship immediately.  Those guys were more expensive but would meet their timelines.  We gave them the option of a cheaper price on a longer timeline, and they rejected it.

There are a ton of tiny IT shops that are essentially 1 or 2 guys in a van.  Some of them are smart.  However, an outfit that small raises concerns when you’re tackling a large project with a lot of moving parts.  i.t.NOW has the resources and staff to be able to guarantee our work and get it done right and on time.  All those resources and redundancy have a cost.  We’re not typically as cheap as those tiny shops for labor.  We are better, and you can count on us.

Availability also matters.  To be able to do this project on the timeline requested by the client we would have to make some alternations to our existing project schedule to squeeze them in.  Our project engineers are typically booked out a couple of months in advance.  This client is essentially asking to skip the line, and then also asking for a discount.  I found myself asking, “wait, why should we do that?”.  In my experience the best shops usually have a line.  If the provider you’re talking to has nothing else going on, shouldn’t that be a concern?

Value, Value, Value

i.t.NOW is about delivering value to the client.  We’re about keeping our promises.  We’re about hitting our deadlines.  It’s really a matter of having pride in what we do.

Are we always the cheapest?  No.  If that’s the only concern, there are plenty of tiny IT shops that can be the cheapest.  We want to be the best.  If you want to hire the best, give us a call today.