Question of Morality?

A few weeks ago, a CFO that recently joined his company called us up asking to quote Microsoft Dynamics NAV to them. This company had gone through a couple of management changes, got sold to another company, and then resold again to a group of private investors. Needless to say, none of the current employees have been there very long.


It just so happens that the CFO had used Navision before and loves it very much. He had gotten several quotes from different solution centers which were all about the same price.  In the end, for whatever reasons, we were able to win the deal.


By this point, the budget was approved for the amount specified on the quote. When we place the order with Microsoft, to our surprise, the company had purchased Dynamics GP back in the 90’s that no one knew about. This meant that we were able to receive credit from Microsoft and apply the credit to the cost of the software. The amount of the credit was 50% of our total software deal. So this is a significant amount and would cut into our profit for this deal.


At this point, two scenarios quickly came into my mind:

1.       Keep my mouth shut and fulfill the amount as specified on the original quote. Basically we would be able to book the difference as pure profit.

2.       Tell the customer of the credit from Microsoft and apply the credit to their quote


This basically came down to whether or not we should pocket the money or be honest and give the customer the credit they deserve.


It took me some time to decide what to do. The choice was hard but it was a decision that I would expect myself to make and the people we work with to make. It’s the way we’re brought up. Its’ way we build trust. It’s making the world a more pleasant place to live: I was to give the credit to the customer from the software purchase.


Before making the phone call to inform our new customer the good news, another thought came to my mind; was this good news for the CFO? I could only imagine the questions he would face if we invoice him for something that was significantly different than the amount specified on the quote:


“Why didn’t you do your due diligence and realize that the company had purchased GP before?”

“Why didn’t you know that you could’ve applied the credit the company had in GP?”

“What other things the board hired you to do are not done properly?”

“How can you propose such a budget if you don’t have the grasp on the proper information?”

“How can the company trust your decision making ability in the future?”


Would I be the person that will cause his loss of credibility with the CEO and the board and ultimately his job? Or was I just thinking too much?


 I picked up the phone and delivered the whole story about the Microsoft credit to him privately. As I expected, there was no congratulatory remarks or a word thanking us for our honesty. He listened intently, paused for a few seconds, and then said, “Hmm… We bought the software that long ago and they still recognized it? Go ahead and send us the invoice then.”


From his paused, I can sense that for a few seconds, millions of thoughts went through his mind as well. What were his thoughts? God only knows, because I wasn’t going to ask him.


In the end, there was no right or wrong. It could be right or wrong depending on how you look at the situation and who you are. I did what I thought was the right decision; it was information that I would’ve liked to receive if our roles were switched. I would not like it very much if I found out this information on my own at a later date.


I guess that’s why we were able to win the deal.

Comment List
  • I would have suggested talking to your MS rep first and see if you had any wiggle room on your margin.

    Otherwise do to other than what you did wouldn't have garnered any trust with the client.  I would have said, however, something to the effect of: "Once I realized that you had the software that it wasn't right to overcharge you."  It's also a good time to re-visit some of the things you left off the original plan to save dollars.

    If the CFO your personal friend?  If not then you might have learned that he won't thank you in words.  Perhaps he doesn't thank at all.  If he is a friend and he didn't thank you then make him pay for drinks the next time, and the time after and the time after. :-)

  • Very interesting for sure, i too would love to hear the CFO's thoughts ... did it actually increase credibility ? would be interesting ...

  • Well I'm normally very open and usually doesn't hold back my talk when something is on my mind. Sometimes that upsets a lot of people (including Niels Nybo - if you read his last comment on my blog).

    But I would sure ask the CFO next time I would met him, if there was something on my mind. I would love to hear his answer.

  • Well, I wasn't looking for pats in the back when I made this post... (Although it does feel good.  =))

    Suppose because of this news, the CFO loss his credibility and ends up losing his job. What good came out of that in the CFO's mind?

  • Good job Alex!


  • Well, I know what I did was the right thing in my point of view.

    Yes, we all grew up with stories of good things happen to honest people. But unless the situation really happens to you, you wouldn't know how you would react.

    Situations like this kind of reminds me of JRR's Lord of the Rings. Everyone said they would be fair and just if they own the One Ring, but once they have it, they become corrupt...

  • This guy goes to a Lawyer and asks for some legal advise. The lawyer says he will need a retainer of $100. The client pulls out his wallet, and from a bunch of hundreds, pulls out a brand new C note.

    The Lawyer answers his question.

    After the client leaves, the lawyer checks the $100, and realizes that it is stuck to a second $100, so in fact he got $200.

    This leaves the lawyer with a major dilemma...

    Should he tell his partner or not. Wink

    personally I can not see any question here. I would not even hesitate to tell the client immediately what we found. I am not sure why you would consider not telling them. Keep in mind that one day they will probably find out anyway, and they you will be in very deep problems.

    For me honesty is the only way in this industry. YOU WILL GET Caught eventually if you cheat a client.

    Yes you 110% did the right thing.

  • Hi Alex,

    I think that you sure did the right thing here. No doubt. I have actually been in a similar situation before, and I had the same experience. NO THANK YOU! But still I would do it again, even though it would mean that I would make less money. Because in the end for me it was more a matter of a partnership (when I was in the partner-end Wink).