The high cost of hiring cheap

Fast, right, or cheap. Choose two.

A few years ago, a friend hired me to help build a data warehouse and a set of company wide reports from scratch. We knew each other from a previous project but her manager did not.

“You’re the most expensive of the 3 resources so I hope you’re worth it.” I didn’t understand why he chose to start our working relationship with that comment but whatever.

I was hired to build a set of sales reports and I delivered the solution ahead of schedule. That’s not to brag, but to say that I had built this model a few times before and I became efficient.

The other two resources were the typical chest beaters who tend to speak (very loudly) over other people, especially when their ideas were questioned. I’ve come to learn that being loud doesn’t mean they were correct.

Early warning signs

It’s possible that their frustration was because they were a month late with a set of material and inventory reports and they were falling further behind.

I’ve worked with these types of bad apples before. They usually spout technobabble in team meetings to confuse managers who are less familiar with the details. Sometimes, I’m privately asked to explain my objections by the very same consultants who were adamant that their solution was technically possible.

It turns out that these two resources in question didn’t know all that much about materials management and had trouble understand the concept of non-cumulative key figures, which were needed for the solution.

Adding complexity to the issue was a need to convert older routines to the newer transformation methodology.

The value of experience

Luckily, my friend knew that I had delivered similar reports for another project and she was in a position to make the call. “Hau, you’ve done this part before. Can you take a look at the issues and get us back on track?”

So I spent 8 hours on a Saturday to build the solution.

The following week, I shared the goods news with the manager. “Hey, I finished in 8 hours what the other guys couldn’t in 120 hours! What do you think?”

I was beaming. He was not enthused.

FYI, this was earlier in my consulting career so I had a few things to learn about professional communication. People do not like being told that they were wrong.

On paper, my resume was similar to the other two resources.

However, my friend and I had worked together for another manufacturing company and she trusted my expertise. That’s how I was hired and helped her to deliver a new reporting system for her company.

No one could vouch for the experience of the other two resources. From what I could gather, they were chosen because they were “cheaper”.