Free can be Mighty Expensive

by | Nov 22, 2021

I was chatting with a friend the other day. He’s a freelance propeller head who has spent the last twenty years or so as a kind of technology handyman. Over the years most of his clients have been of the sort who have been muddling along with older technology and then decide to make simple upgrades. Not the strategic digital transformations that are all the rage these days, but seat-of-the-pants stuff. Someone in the office talked with a friend who mentioned a new device or application that they’re using and the next day they have a conversation with whoever’s in charge that goes something like:

“We should start using [fill in the blank with whatever tech is hot at that moment].”


“A friend of mine said their company started using it and it’s really cool.”

“What does it do.”

“I dunno. Something about collaboration and productivity. He showed it to me and it looks simple.”

“What does it cost.”

“Not much. Besides, our old way is old and this is new.”

“Is it hard to install?”

“It’s practically plug-and-play. We can install it ourselves.”

“Okay. You take care of it.”

The Costs Are Coming

I know a lot of you are shaking your heads right now. You’ve heard the same story. A do-it-yourself simple tech upgrade starts off well, but next thing you know the bugbear of integrating new with old rears its ugly head and out comes the duct tape and rubber bands. The person that wears the office’s technology hat figures out a way to make something work and keep it going until one day it doesn’t. That’s what keeps my friend busy.

He mentioned his latest client, a regional home improvement company, that recently adopted a new mobile application for writing job estimates. It’s a super slick wizard-type application that walks the sales rep/project manager through every step of the process with the customer. Every dimension and option of the remodel has an input. There are visualizations of the final product based on the customer’s choices, and when a final decision is made, a total cost and schedule is immediately available.

Problem is, the fancy new front-end application and devices needed a lot of work to connect with their dusty old back-office systems. And now my friend is hard at work trying to untangle years of DIY to make sure things work as advertised.

Free is expensive

He said it’s funny how expensive “free” can end up being in the long run. He knows my business and, like us, has encountered plenty of organizations that decided file transfer was a simple enough task that the company could get by with whatever free or cheap options were out there. It all works well until it doesn’t, and then “free” leads to hiring an expensive technology handyman who cleans up the mess and then installs the tool you should have used to start out with. In the case of managed file transfers, it can seem tantalizingly simple on the surface. A technology DIYer can brush off their Python skills to send files from a shared folder to the bank’s SFTP server — or whatever destination is required. And then they can muddle with Task Scheduler or Cron to set up a simple schedule.  No problem!

Until it is a problem.  Sally from HR calls and asks, “Where are my files?”  Ben in accounting keeps messaging, “Did my files go through?”  And the dreaded call comes in late one Friday night that “something didn’t work and we need to figure out what happened now.

On top of that, the fact that there is something to transfer files automatically means that more people are asking to use it (I refer to this as the “pickup truck effect.” As soon as you purchase a pickup truck, everyone comes out of the woodwork to ask if you can help them move something that they can’t fit in their car). Soon, the simple use case becomes a deluge of new requirements.  “Can you handle file names based upon certain dates?”   “Can you move PDF files over here, but CSV files over there?”  “Can you transfer files to this this other system with a completely different protocol?”   “Can you transfer files on the last day of every month except holidays and months ending in ‘R’?”

Before long, this simple DIY project balloons into a time-consuming, headache-inducing maintenance nightmare.  Without intending to, this simple project has become a full time endeavor in and of itself.  Instead of helping with other high value business technology issues and opportunities, the company’s technology DIYer (or IT department, for bigger companies) has to become a subject matter expert in file transfer, building layer upon layer of special cases in their DIY scripts to cover the growing requirements.  What a colossal waste of time and money, not to mention the opportunity cost!

A Better Choice

If we rewind to the beginning of the technology need, and use our informed decision making process, we can see an obvious choice: look for a feature complete, reliable, well supported commercial solution to solve these problems.  Budgets are always a problem, though, so you must be able to identify one that has the appropriate cost to benefit ratio, that is value.  

When considering the need to transfer files between systems in a secure, automated, managed fashion, the choice again is simple:  Diplomat MFT.  With the highest ranking Managed File Transfer product at the best price on the market, Diplomat MFT offers an Enterprise class solution at SMB prices.  Take a look at our solution capabilities and price, and consider all those hours you will get back to work on “real” business problems, rather than wasting time on file transfer script development and maintenance.

Diplomat MFT provides the best value for secure, automated file transfer.  Try it for free to see for yourself, then save yourself the costs and headaches by investing in Diplomat MFT.

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