A cheap item is one which is relatively low in price, especially compared to others like it. Cutting costs is usually one of the most important concerns for an organization, and when doing so, a big temptation is always to go with the cheapest option. This is often done under the guise of cost-effectiveness. However, by its very definition, cost-effectiveness does not necessarily mean choosing an item which costs the least. Rather, it is choosing that which generates value for the amount spent. In other words, if you use a large amount of money for something but you are still able to say it was worth it, then it is cost effective. However, another common pitfall is assuming that just because something has a large price tag attached to it, the most cost-conscious decision is to get it. This is wrong. You need to be able to compare price and quality and find the balance that works for you; this is the essence of cost-effectiveness. So, how do you ensure that a buy is cost-effective? There are a few elements you should consider when doing your evaluation:
Any product you buy must work. You should be able to rely on it to do what it is meant to do within the time it is expected to do it. Cheap items may fail to function due to missing specifications and faulty characteristics. For instance, a laptop with a faulty keyboard does not meet the functionality threshold, and buying it would not be advisable. On the other hand, expensive items likely exceed the specifications needed to complete the job. You should not get the very latest MacBook Pro if you only need a machine to type up word documents and reply to e-mails.
This is the ability of a product to maintain performance of the functions for which it was engineered over its lifetime. Cheap items are not durable in that they have a short lifespan. Every product has an allowable range of performance but cheap ones tend to wear and tear faster than the allowable range of actual performance. Inversely, outrageous spends in the name of durability are not wise.
This is the ability of a product to conform to stated or implied consumer needs. Whereas a quality product will always meet or exceed your expectations as the user, you cannot rely on cheap ones to do the same. The most probable reason is they are not subjected to the same rigorous processes that guarantee quality. Nonetheless, it is important to avoid making assumptions about quality based on brand names. Some brands are able to leverage their reputations to charge outrageous prices for their products, but there are always pocket-friendly, good caliber alternatives produced by smaller brands. Research and vigilance are necessary to avoid being overcharged.
This is the ability of a good or service to meet budgetary requirements. Items that cost a lot, desirable though they may be, are simply too expensive and acquiring them may lead you to use money that you do not have. Contrarily, cheap products appeal to that part of your mind that is worried about overspending. However, going with a product simply because it represents the lowest spend could be a very costly decision, forcing you to spend more in the future to correct its shortcomings.
All products require a certain level of repair or servicing in order to retain optimal performance. However, if you buy an item on the cheap, you may end up having to do more than your fair share of maintenance, which will drain you of your money, time and productivity. Consider also that taking home the costliest item may prove problematic as well since it may require specialized attention: think how you cannot just take a Ferrari to just any mechanic because he or she may not have the expertise to service it.
Clearly, cost-effectiveness is a balancing act that requires a lot of forethought and trade-off. However, understanding the different variables as they relate to you or your company’s needs will make the difference between making intelligent purchases and misusing your resources. Aside from saving you money, making cost-effective buys will also increase your efficiency, save you time and decrease your stress levels because you are safe in the knowledge that you have used your resources wisely and all your product needs are met.