THE TRUE COST OF A CHEAP QUOTE

I shouldn't say this, but I don't care about sales. What I do care about, passionately, is delivery.

My goal is for every software project to be just as we lay it out in our proposals and during the discovery workshop phase – transformative, liberating, exciting, intense and highly rewarding.

There's an element of magic that happens in software delivery. There’s no secret sauce, it quite simply takes commitment, transparency, depth and enthusiasm, from both the client and vendor.

Lately, I’ve noticed a pattern emerging. Every now and then a prospective client goes with a competitor during the bid phase with the lure of ‘too good to be true’ quotes or a flashy act to win the work.
 
This decision will eventually bite you, and it bites hard. While the vendor cops some of it, the client will bear the brunt of it, because it is, after all your digital transformation. It’s very serious stuff.

I spent many years working client side before joining Kiandra and seen first-hand when a cheap option is not your best option. And it’s important to be aware of how you could get stiffed on your software, so I’ve put together a list of common tactics: 

Lowballing

You think you've found a great deal and getting multiple quotes has paid off. The cheapest is naturally appealing. No matter the due diligence you’ve done you often can't detect this up front.

Lowballing is purposeful. The strategy here is to hit you with sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars of change requests during delivery. The vendor has you over a barrel, because if you don't pay them, you don't get the outcome you need.

Vague discovery workshop

How can you get an accurate quote if you don't properly uncover what it is that you need? In the case of off-the-shelf products being adapted for your company, an in-depth discovery isn’t always needed. But with custom dev or a CMS implementation it absolutely is.

All that it takes is a well-planned intensive day or two when facilitated right. At the end of that time, if you don’t feel like it was intense, chances are the vendor hasn’t hit the spot. This vagueness results in cut corners and chargeable extras.

Undisclosed offshoring

Delivery starts, and so do out of hours phone calls and teleconferences, running around in circles, excessive requirements gathering and an end product that just doesn't have the polish something developed locally has.
Outside of this, the overall experience for you and your colleagues is exhausting, and the product often lacks tailoring to its audience. Offshoring should always be disclosed upfront so a decent contingency can be added by the client.

Undisclosed resourcing

If you don't know who’s on your vendor team, it’s difficult to understand your money to feature value conversion. I’ve been on client side 2 hour teleconferences with more than 10 participants from large global vendors all sitting in with their microphones muted, not participating at all but all charging to the project.

You should know what resources you’re getting, and you should be able to feel their presence during the project. This is what good resource management looks like. It also means you get support from all disciplines needed to hit the mark at key points throughout delivery.

Bad estimation

This is so very common unfortunately. Unqualified people without broad enough experience estimate in isolation without factoring in the needs of other team members to complete features. Wrong estimates lead to cut corners and paid change requests to achieve the desired outcome.

Basic solution description

This opens the door for a vendor to say statements like “it wasn’t communicated to us that this needed to be so complex”, or “we didn't understand there was integration”. When you read a proposal you should get a warm feeling that both you and your vendor have nailed it.

A proposal is something crafted together, and it should describe and picture the deliverable to the level that you’ve conveyed to the vendor, in the quality you’re expecting the final product to have.

The worst casualty of any of these tactics is your reputation and career, and also your employer as they often have to find the cash to cover the gap. In a previous life I’ve had to go to a steering committee to ask for more money – it's horrible and embarrassing – and it taught me a valuable lesson to ask for and deliver full transparency on every project.

Save yourself from falling prey to any of the above tactics by asking whoever you’re getting your quote from, some deeper questions to ensure you the outcomes you seek for the budget you have.

It's important to make sure that you are going to achieve your business outcomes, speak to the team at Kiandra for more help.