Fast, Good, Cheap. Pick two.

The next time you are considering going with the cheaper (cheapest?) bid on a project, consider this story.

A long, long time ago (several months ago), Sherpa! Web Studios was invited to bid on a user-interface project. The prospect had developed a powerful, but complex scheduling system for its user-base. The front-end was not easy-to-use or attractive. The prospect had an entire team of back-end developers, but they had no front-end design capabilities or experience. They sought web design and development companies like Sherpa to help them with this project.

Ultimately, the prospect went with the cheaper, one-man contractor.

Three months later, the prospect contacted Sherpa! again asking if we could take over the project.

The problems they had with the cheaper, one-person show were what we hear often:

  • The contractor was “flaky”. Having worked in the web business for over 13 years, I understand and sometimes even embrace this flakiness. And I have to — flakiness is very prevalent in the web industry, especially with front-end designers. A large non-web corporation doesn’t necessarily expect this or understand how to handle it.
  • The contractor was late. Every project has surprises. Dealing with those surprises takes experience on how to best handle them, but also how to avoid them in the first place. Often, a skill-set specific contractor doesn’t possess those experiences or project management skills to deal with the situations, or a larger team to help out when necessary.
  • The contractor’s bid was inaccurate. Estimating an effort, and thus pricing, is also a skill wrought from experience. When you hire someone who lacks project estimating experience, the end result is lose-lose for all involved. Not only is one person going away taking it on the chin, but the project’s schedule can’t be reliably estimated either.

What stories do you have of when your business hired the cheaper, one-man contractor?

David Felfoldi

David Felfoldi

David Felfoldi is a digital marketing strategist for SHERPA Global. Over the past 15 years, David has guided the digital strategy behind notable organizations such as ADP, Spanx, Racetrac, Gables, and the National Center of Civil and Human Rights. When not tinkering with technology or musing on marketing David enjoys running and cycling adventures across the globe.

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