Time – Cost – Quality

Having just had a conversation with someone who wants a business plan writing by the end of Wednesday (I’m writing this on a Monday lunchtime) suitable to pitch for millions of pounds from investors, they then wanted to pay a pittance for it. They expect to make a decision by tomorrow morning (Tuesday), so ONE day to research and write a business plan? With that timeframe it is not possible to reset expectations of other clients that they may have to wait a little longer for their work to be completed, let alone do a job that I would put my name to.

The rationale for the low fee was that they had already had a business plan written that didn’t deliver to their requirements. Now this is something that I see on a regular basis. Firms have opted for a PeoplePerHour or Fiverr freelancer based in India or the Philippines who has quoted a very low fee to write a business plan and then they are disappointed with the results. I have rewritten quite a few such plans – and each time the client wants to pay less than they did originally as they “have spent the budget”.

Now there are questions here: what is the value of the investment in the business plan to the company going forwards? If the company is pitching for millions of pounds, then is it realistic to only want to pay <£500 for a detailed business plan? If the company is pitching for that level of money why are they not already VAT registered so that they don’t baulk at a price with VAT on top?

In the Time – Cost – Quality triangle then it is true that if comprising then only two of the three can be achieved. If you have a limited budget (cost) and need a quick turnaround (time) then the quality will suffer. If you have more time available then the quality can improve. If you have a healthy budget (healthy enough for other work to be postponed) and a quick turnaround then quality is more likely, but if the budget is not enough for other work to be postponed, your work will be done at the end of the day in a minimal amount of time and therefore the quality may very well suffer.

Be fair to those who you employ as consultants, but more importantly be fair to your business. Buy cheap buy twice has a lot of truth in it, and the two cheap purchases add up to more than a decent purchase in the first place. We also all know that the convenience store charges more than the supermarket as it saves travel time. So if you want your business to succeed and save your own time, consider the Time – Quality – Cost triangle and if you do need to compromise should it be quality that suffers, really? What does that say about you and your company objectives for the future?