The Differences Between “Saving Money” and “Wise Investing”


As a provider of software and hardware solutions, we often are faced with competition whose main focus is to “save the customer money.”    There is no doubt times have been tough for a lot of businesses in the past few years.  Sales have contracted and lay-offs have put more stress on employees, who have to do more with less time and fewer resources.  The focus on saving money or simply not spending money has reverberated world-wide.  As a solutions provider we are very sensitive to the constraints of our customers’ budgets and focus on providing a lot of “bang for the buck”.

Our goal is to provide solutions that work well within the users’ environments.  This consists of:

  1. Providing the best solution, not the most “feature-rich” or the most expensive
  2. Selecting equipment that will work within the users’ environment, saving time and aggravation
  3. Offering a “Fast Start” program that helps them take advantage of their purchase as quickly as possible

Equipment choice:  A mistake many companies make in their desire to save money is to forget that anything that slows down an employee or causes them pain (physically or from frustration) costs the company hard dollars.  A good example is in the process of choosing a barcode terminal for a mobile application.  There is a wide range of features, ergonomics and prices when evaluating mobile barcode products.  Our focus is on recommending the mobile scanner that offers the best features at the best price:

  • Rugged enough to last for several years in the environment
  • Easy to use – keys large enough for ease of data entry; screen large enough to display the important information, pistol grip if a lot of scanning is required
  • Features that make it easy for a user to perform their required operations – such as battery charging or data upload

A recent experience is a good example of the difference between Saving Money and Losing Money:
Product:                Hand-held Mobile Barcode Terminal to be used in a Tool-Tracking Environment
Users:                   Construction Workers
Environment:        Outdoors and Warehouse – 8+ hour shifts

The customer was torn between a low-cost terminal and the one we recommended, which was about $300 more.  Compare:

                Low-cost                                                                                                              Our Solution                                      

Multiple 3.9’ drop to concrete                                                                    Multiple 4’ drops to concrete

Sealed against dust & water droplets                                                      Sealed against dust & water droplets

Small (2” wide x 5.9” long)                                                                            Mid-sized (3.3” wide x 7” long)

Small Screen size (2.2”)                                                                                 Mid-sized Screen size (3.5”)

Battery 3.2 Watt Hours (est. 8 hr life)                                                      Battery 3.7 Watt Hours (est. 12 hr life)

Note the differences in these two choices.  First, the lower-cost terminal is much smaller; the keys, screen, and overall size will make it difficult for someone with larger hands and fingers (the typical construction worker) to use.  Second, a smaller display means that important information won’t show all at once, requiring scrolling both sideways and up/down to see all the prompts and fields.  And third, the battery will run out more quickly.  Due to the ergonomic differences, the lower-cost terminal will result in tired hands and wrists, lost time and increased frustration.

Another practical consideration in a field environment is whether the mobile device will be easy to lose or steal.  The smaller the size the easier it is to put in a pocket and walk away or to misplace it.

By choosing a lower-cost solution, the company who focuses on saving money will lose money – loss of productivity, increased employee frustration and, in the extreme, loss of the hardware.  Isn’t it better to spend a little more and make a wise, long-term investment?