Don't Know
Image via Wikipedia

I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this question sometime in your life.

You know that moment in your day (or life) where you have the ability to do something but you stop to ask yourself ‘should I?’  Whether it be skipping school, buying the new iPhone or buying a new car…you might stop and ask yourself this simple question.  I can…but should I?

At least that’s what most rational people do.  They’ll weigh the pros and cons of their action and determine what risks are involved.  If the risk is low enough and the benefits high enough, that action is usually taken. Sounds simple doesn’t it?

I can, but should I?

Such a simple question.

But its one that can do so much for you if you just stop to ask it.

Imagine yourself as CEO of a small business and you need to hire an VP of IT.

I know many people who would take the stance that since the economy is bad, they can probably find someone cheap.  So…they tell their HR team and/or executive recruiter to go out and find someone with 20 years experience as a CIO or VP of IT with experience managing 30 to 50 people and budgets of $5 million and higher.  Oh…and you don’t want to pay more than $100K in salary even though you were paying the last IT VP twice that.

Now…the economy and the job market does suck…but that doesn’t give you the right to try to underpay someone.  If you, as CEO, need someone with the above experience, you find the best person out there and pay them what they need, adjusted for your market & budget of course.  Of course, if your budget dictates a $100K salary, then you probably need to rethink the experience level of your new VP of IT.

As CEO, you can underpay someone…but should you? Sure you might be able to find someone willing to take the job in this bad economy at a low-ball offer, but will that person really be happy in the long run?  Will they stay with you once the economy rebounds? Doubtful.   Hiring during a recession and/or bad economy doesn’t change the fact that you still need treat people right.

Let’s look at another scenario:

Imagine yourself as Director of IT  for a large company.  You need SharePoint developers for an extremely important project.  You have a few bids from consulting companies and have been able to get a pretty good rate of $125 an hour for these developers.  Not bad…especially given that these developers are full-time employees of a local consulting company that you’ve worked with before and have been extremely impressed with.

Just before you sign the contract with this company, you get a call from another vendor offering sharepoint developers for $75 per hour.  These developers would be brought in from the Phililipines and work on-sight full-time.  What a steal right?  You ask around and most people are on the fence about this consulting company. They do OK work but aren’t great.

But…you have the opportunity to save $50 an hour for your developers.  That’s a savings of $400 per day over an 8 hour day.  Consider that you’re going to need 10 developers, that’s $4000 per day you can save.  Heck of a deal right?   Maybe…maybe not.  If this new vendor does the work in the same amount of time at the same quality level, then yes…it is a deal.

What should you do?  You can save that money…but should you?

Do you opt for the new company and the savings? Do you go back to the company you had planned to sign a contract with and ask for a fee reduction?   Do you sign with the original company at the original rate?  Sure…you can save a ton of money per hour…but are you sure the lower cost company can do the work?  Do they compare with the higher priced company that you already trust?  Will you really save money on this deal or will the ‘cheaper’ vendor take twice as long to complete the project?

We’ve all got to answer these types of questions every day. Its part of doing business and is one of the things that gets me excited about these types of jobs…making decisions, determining risks and moving forward.   Take a few seconds to ask yourself in these situations…I can, but should i?

It only takes a few seconds…

It doesn’t take long to ask yourself this simple question.

The next time you want to buy something new….ask yourself the simple question of “I can, but should I?”.

The next time you want to send that scathing email to your employee…ask yourself “I can, but should I?”

The next time you tell your HR team to find a developer for you and tell them to ‘get them cheap because they economy is bad’…ask yourself “I can, but should I?”

You’ll never make the perfect decision every time and you have to make the decision…but just take a second to ask yourself “I can…but should I?”.