While most of us don’t consider ourselves cheap, we do look for value. Let’s be honest, lower prices are just more attractive, but quality matters.
One of our local liquor stores offers five-cent sales, where you buy one bottle and get the second for just five cents. It sounds really good and you can buy a range of wines, not simply the discount brands. I recently talked to a wine buyer who had previously worked at that store. He told me that the sales looked great but were carefully branded bottles of whatever wine makers had left over and couldn’t sell. It looked like a steal and the wines looked great, but you weren’t getting the best.
Many of us net great deals on sites like LivingSocial, WagJag and Groupon. But have you ever noticed that not every store or service provider lists there? If they’re truly great, they may have no need to offer a deal to a huge audience.
When we know a product really well, we usually think we can judge the quality. But there is a certain bias we get when we’ve always purchased the same brand. Called “brand loyalty,” it engages a part of our brain that tells us that to change now reflects on our prior decisions. We’re actually pretty resistant to change, unless we get a compelling argument.
So are we really opting for quality in all our purchase decisions? Do we actually know the trade-off between price and quality?
For major purchases, most of us consult sites like CNET.com and others to try to get this information, but sometimes we might come to the wrong decision because of entrenched beliefs and assumptions we no longer question.
A recent article by Juli Clover of MacRumors.com claimed that Macs are actually less expensive than PCs over time, citing IBM’s recent implementation as evidence. No one doubts the quality of a Mac, and all my artist friends wouldn’t go any other way. But when we get into the Apple store, the sticker price usually gives us pause.
Many companies have standardized on PCs because of the purported lower TCO. But this article said that in an evaluation by IBM, their newly acquired Macs took less setup and management effort. There are half the support calls from Mac users because of the self-help tools available. IBM found that savings were $273-543 per Mac compared to a PC over a four-year lifespan. That might not sound like much, but given the number they buy, it adds up to a lot.
A study done many years ago demonstrated that when you put in all the costs of mainframes, UNIX boxes and Wintel hardware (hardware, support, software, people, environmentals), mainframes were cheaper based on what they could produce. Howard Rubin’s recent research on the economics of computing continues to back up this assertion.
Mainframes work well and fast, aren’t subject to security breaches in the same way as any other hardware and just a few people can manage thousands of applications on a single box. As you consider that you should be looking at quality and reliability while you account for cost, you might want to add this to the next RFI you put out when you buy software.
Has the vendor been managing the product for years, with quick response to problems, few bugs and upgrades on a regular basis, keeping up with your demands? You need to know this.
Look beyond the price when comparing solutions. Weigh the quality and reliability. It could just elevate you to hero status as your colleagues enjoy better, more reliable software that supports them throughout their careers.