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Paying more for poor quality never makes sense. Yet it happens more often than we’d like to think. Poor quality when it comes to your coffee lid may mean a stained garment. Poor quality in health care can mean your life. Somewhere in-between those extremes is your IT infrastructure. It may not mean your life (although it could mean your career) but it is definitely more significant than a coffee stain. High quality IT starts with good organization and a high level of skill. It also requires attention to detail. Something as simple as being neat and orderly can save precious time when diagnosing an issue or performing a significant roll-out.

On our website we liken a poorly maintained network to a poorly maintained swimming pool. You wouldn’t dare dip your toe in a murky pool so why would you entrust your precious data to a questionable network? Take for example a school district we started supporting a couple of years ago. A quick look at their network closets spoke volumes about how the network was being maintained. The administrators of the school district really only saw that their PC logged in the way it always had, not realizing the mess in the background. There were network IDFs installed in random locations without any thought or rationale. Equipment was stuffed on shelves without being properly secured. Cables were literally being supported by old telephone wires. It’s hard to imagine this was the infrastructure of a top New York school district.

Cables were literally being supported by old telephone wires.

Pay less for more

After closely evaluating what they were paying and even in spite of the state aid they were receiving, the school district found they could get support through our firm for much less money. Would paying less mean even worse quality? Absolutely not. Competition in business means vendors have to provide a better service at a better price in order to remain viable. But how can they do that? The trick is that in the service industry doing the job right the first time and then properly maintaining it actually requires less effort in the long run. It’s like a well-built engine that only needs service every 7500 miles. A poorly built engine spits oil after a few thousand miles. At the same time a well-built engine that’s worked on by a poor mechanic will never perform as well as it should and likely won’t last as long. Most of the time it will be sitting in the shop. However, a well built engine maintained by a master mechanic will run well for a long time without many unscheduled services. In the same way, an IT service provider that does quality work will operate more efficiently so they can charge lower prices while still being profitable. The customer ends up with a better product for less money.

Engineer working on servers in a newly wired server room.

Engineer working on servers in a newly wired server room.

Clean up takes time

The transformation doesn’t happen overnight. Often when we take on a customer we operate with a loss for a short period of time as we get their network cleaned up and operating at its peak performance. In some cases budget restraints mean having to run on older equipment that inherently requires more attention. Additionally, some projects like cabling remediation requires downtime and have to be scheduled with enough time. However, within the first year we are typically able to make some headway and getting things on the right track.

Moral of the story: Don’t pay more for poor quality.

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