“It’s $160/year. Okay for me to give them my new credit card number?” Nancy emailed me on Monday.
“Sure. You need it, right?” I responded reflexively.
“It’s how I send the WMV webinar files to clients, so yes,” she replied, referencing the product that was formerly called YouSendIt, now HighTail.
Now, the old me (the me that I was five years ago), wouldn’t have even asked the first question, let alone continued to ruminate on the spend. I would have quickly given my unflinching consent. “Gotta spend money to make money,” right? I would also have felt embarrassed to tell an employee that they should give a second thought to such a modest expense. “What if they think I’m too cheap,” I’d worry.
But the new me says there is nothing to be proud of in wasting resources.
I quickly called Nancy, and was happy to hear she had yet to put through the charge.
“Let me see if there is another way to get customers the files,” I said. “If I can’t come up with anything, you can renew. I’ll let you know tomorrow.”
Now, what YouSendIt does to facilitate file transfer is not to actually send the file through email, but rather uploads the file to its server and generates a link by which anyone can access it. It is this link that users send through email. After a certain number of days, the file is deleted from the YouSendIt servers. Nice and clean.
When I sat down in the AM to research an alternate solution, it took me literally about two minutes to come up with one. See the instructions I sent Nancy:
- Find the WMV file in the folder (folder view)
- Right click over the file and select “Share Dropbox link”
- In the bottom right corner of your screen you will see a notification that “The URL has been copied to your clipboard”
- Paste the URL into the email
- When the customer clicks on the link, they will be taken to the screen below which offers the option to download the file
“I actually like this way better,” Nancy said. “Now I don’t have to send two separate emails to the client — I can include the download link in the same email with the other reports.”
“Great,” I said. “And I love the fact that we are no longer paying twice (Dropbox and YouSendIt) for the same thing.”
Now, the above situation references in microcosm a dynamic that might save you thousands, or tens of thousands, in macrocosm. For example, I can specifically recall one CIO saying, “Yeah, I love HIE solutions — I have five of them!”
What my own experiences tell me, along with comments like the above, is that there is likely lots of fat to cut in any extensive operation, and to fight for an increase in your budget before trimming it is a disservice to your organization and your team. Remember, every dollar you get comes from somewhere, perhaps from direct patient care. Maybe a badly needed nursing position must go unfilled or a housekeeping slot must stay vacant. None of us want to think about how our lack of frugality can be at fault for such things.
So my advice, my request to you today is to go through your IT portfolio, go through your expenses and ask some simple questions of every line:
- Do we really need that?
- Is it possible we are already getting that functionality as part of another technology or package?
- Is it possible that there is a less expensive way to get the same product or service?
The enemy of such examinations? Apathy, lack of time, and the evil auto-renew. The only reason I had a chance to review the above spend is because Nancy’s credit card had expired. We got lucky, but don’t rely on such luck. Make sure every dollar is continually reviewed and justified. Only then can you walk into budget meetings and make a sound case for more money. Only then will you have the clear conscience of knowing that if they have to take away a dollar from some else for IT, you will have deserved it.