Solve it once – Duct tape gets expensive

Solve it Once
Solve it Once

I consider myself to be pretty handy around the house. I’ve built things, made furniture, and installed appliances with some decent success. Some of the things I don’t like to do are automotive work and plumbing.

Maybe I’m just better with wood, I just don’t get the satisfaction from those other activities. So when I do plumbing and automotive, my goal is to get it done rather than to enjoy it. This takes away a lot of motivation to do it right.

Unfortunately, I don’t always get it right. If a hose in my car is leaking, rather than taking the time to go to the automotive store and get a new one, I’m much more likely to do something like duct taping the leak to put the issue behind me.

As you may know, duct tape doesn’t last forever. I may end up doing it multiple times.

Duct taping business solutions

We see that in the business world a lot. An issue comes up. We do some investigation and find out that there is a duct tape solution, and a more solid, long-term solution. On a fairly consistent basis, the long-term solution is the much more expensive solution. It will take more time, more money, and more resources to solve it that way.

The duct tape solution is usually much cheaper. We can implement it with limited funds and it will take less time. Then we can get back to business.

The problem is, it may cause additional issues as a side effect. Or it may just resolve the issue temporarily. If you have to spend time, money, and resources multiple times to fix it, you may end up spending more on duct tape than on fixing it right the first time.

The cheapest approach is not always the best long term solution.

Find the root cause

Sometimes, we apply the duct tape solution unknowingly. We identify a problem and a solution seems obvious. For instance, imagine a situation where a software application continues to go down. Restarting the application and sometimes restarting the server that it runs on fixes the problem. Each time this happens, it brings down the application for five to fifteen minutes.

The restarts are seemingly inexpensive. It only takes an operator a few minutes to perform the action. However, since customers use this application, it affects customer satisfaction during these restarts.

When the manager of the application learned about the restarts, she started to ask what was causing the issue. Nobody knew. They just kept performing the restarts.

The manager asked the team to investigate the root cause of the issue. After three days of investigation, an analyst determined that to fix the application, it would take eighty hours.

Solve it once

The manager calculated the internal cost of the investigation and the fix to be about $12,000. She also made the determination that they risk losing sales every time they do a restart.

She determined that if they lost a sale every time they did the restart, the cost of the restarts would exceed the $12,000 cost within three months. Instead of continuing to restart the application every time there was a problem, she decided that it was a better long-term solution to fix the code in the application.

Conclusion

It is not always the case that solving the root cause is cheaper. But it is always worth doing the investigation to determine the true root cause. Comparing the cost of fixing the real problem or fixing the symptoms will give greater insight. You may find that to solve it once is cheaper than the duct tape.

How have you spent more on duct tape than to solve it once?

As always, I welcome your comments and criticisms.

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

Related Posts
The Decision Making Consultant
I’ve written at length about what makes a good consultant and why it’s so great to be a consultant.  One thing I’ve never addressed is a consultant’s decision making skills. Any ...
READ MORE
Everything I Need to Know About Networking I Learned from My High School Pals
Last weekend I spend three days in Lexington and Louisville, KY with two life-long friends.  Jon and Robb have been friends of mine since grade school.  We were good friends ...
READ MORE
3 Signs Your Consulting Firm will fail
One of the greatest fears anyone can have in their career is an impending layoff. It usually starts as a rumor. “Hey did you hear they’re planning layoffs?” There is always ...
READ MORE
The 3 Types of Consulting Approaches
If you mention to someone that you are a consultant, you tend to get a wide variety of responses. You can usually tell immediately whether the person has had a ...
READ MORE
Contrasting Middle-School Management Styles
Like millions of kids out there, my son is just winding down the school year.  He’s a good student but also a free spirit and sometimes goes beyond his limits ...
READ MORE
Letting Knowledge Walk out the Door…Willingly
It’s good to have a subject matter expert on your team.  A good SME is a resource that virtually every other member of your team can rely on for valuable ...
READ MORE
Befriending Your Enemies
Hate has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet – Maya Angelou I recently had the pleasure of seeing the movie Lincoln. I’ve always had ...
READ MORE
Wake Up and Be Alert at Work
We’ve all probably had a bad case of the Mondays.  Perhaps you’ve played too much over the weekend and weren’t ready to come back and get to work on Monday ...
READ MORE
How I Learned that Burning Bridges is A Career Limiting Move
When I was in high school, I had a job at a restaurant. At one point, being a mature 16-year old, I wanted to quit. I didn't just want to ...
READ MORE
Take Time to make time
I saw a great cartoon the other day. It was drawing of two cave men pushing a cart with square wheels. Another cave man is offering them round wheels to ...
READ MORE
The Decision Making Consultant
Everything I Need to Know About Networking I
3 Signs Your Consulting Firm will fail
The 3 Types of Consulting Approaches
Contrasting Middle-School Management Styles
Letting Knowledge Walk out the Door…Willingly
Befriending Your Enemies
Wake Up and Be Alert at Work
How I Learned that Burning Bridges is A
Do You Take Time to Save Time?