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Mr 1% Spend
“When we arrived, the staff knew we were a triage team called in to determine whether they should receive emergency surgery and a chance at life or a shot of morphine and a painless journey to oblivion.”
MBAs are wonderful things. They educate you in Mergers and Acquisitions, Finance, Remedial Accounting and a whole lot of other stuff. Sadly, they don’t teach you the two most critical theories in business, maybe because it would put all those revenue-generating MBA programmes out of business.
When we last left Mr 1% Spend, he was asking some tough finance and tech accountability questions of bemused Sydney business manager “George” and his increasingly exasperated cohorts. Today, the story reaches its climax as the author questions whether spending $15,000 to upgrade Microsoft Office is the most intelligent use of company funds.
He coughed, spluttered, back-pedalled and delivered amazing excuses: Credit this, debit that, liability something else, below the EBIT line over there, management fees somewhere else, intercompany loans and so on. I could see George starting to waver so I asked a very simple question to by-pass the jargon and drivel and get us back to the point of the discussion:
Are your technology suppliers and support providers advising you according to your best interests, or theirs?
I often get accused of bashing Microsoft and Oracle. In the interests of balance, here’s my message to Apple: If you want to go after enterprise business, make it a priority. Don’t toss it out there if it’s something you only plan to pursue in between hacky sack sessions and iPhone love-ins.
There are way too many people out there in business bullshitting to themselves, their staff and their customers. The simple truth is that if you run your business like its amateur hour, no matter how much you want to fool yourself and your customers into thinking that you’re smart and good at what you do, eventually you will stumble and the truth will out.
How often have you come across an idea that sounds really great, but, when it comes to the actual execution, it just doesn’t fly? These often involve the deployment of technology solutions dreamed up by non-technical people. Take the idea of putting an RFID chip in a passport...
How do you justify the price of $120 per copy of Windows 7 Home Premium in China against the price of around $300 in Australia without saying rich countries are subsidising the cost of Windows in poor countries?
I don't profess to know how things work in your business, but one situation I've come across in almost every place I've worked is that the ICT team don't actually own the equipment for which they are accountable.
Good sales staff are worth their weight in gold. Mediocre sales staff are a dime a dozen. But the worst sales staff don't just phone it in, they get someone else to do it. Mr 1% Spend has had enough.
In his first post, The cheque is in the mail, I'll respect you in the morning and your email system will generate a 125% ROI in ten months, Mr 1% Spend explored the idea that Return on Investment (ROI) is a concept manipulated by marketers in order to produce unmissable investment propositions. Here he expands on this topic with an example of this technique and how it will leave you, the customer, completely dissatisfied.
ROI is a bunch of numbers invented by the marketing guys and then given substance by creating a scenario to support the desired end result. Most of us know this as spin or, more bluntly, bullshit.
The next time you get a proposal from a sales rep that quotes your spend as an “investment”, kick ’em in the butt and throw them out of your office. If they can’t pay you the courtesy of telling you the truth by calling it a “spend” or an “expense” or something that smells a lot less like bullshit, then you don’t want to do business with them.
Mr 1% Spend had an encounter with the CEO of Petulance Corporation recently. It was illuminating. "The silence on the end of the phone was deafening. For any of you who have kids, it was that silent pause you get between saying no to whatever it is your toddler wants and the instant that the tears and screaming starts. Then the screaming started.”
The moment you stop moving forward you become a fossil, a creature that couldn't get out of the mud and died there to give clues to future generations of what not to do. The same applies to business. You have to constantly change otherwise your competitors will eat your lunch.
It's about spending money, other people's money, to deliver technology solutions. It's also about getting that spend down to 1% of gross revenues and still delivering what the business needs.