I've modified the old fashioned saying of you 'only get what you pay for' to the title of the blog (adding an 'at most'). It's really relevant whether you're considering an LMS, ePortfolio system, eLearning content or a latte. The principle is that if you cut costs past the recommended amounts you generally get something that's not up to the job. The reason why I've added 'at most' here is that sometimes you pay top-dollar but don't get top-dollar goods and/or services for it. In the world of coffee if you go to an All-Press selling coffee shop you expect a decent flat white eh? But having the good beans on its own isn't enough.
So let's get to the elearning world and work where I'm more comfortable (although I have a feeling hot beverages may find their way back in here at some point). If you're working with an elearning partner (like Kineo!) and you know the quality and the service you're getting there's a pretty good case for listening to their advice around elearning services and what it's going to cost. For example, recently a client was looking to add a second site and potentially a third etc. They gave me the details and I worked up a proposal for them based on both my knowledge of the client and their needs. (and yes, the client makes a difference once you get to know them :) Of course, they didn't want to pay for a large Moccachino with a twist, but they definitely wanted the best drink on the market and served by the finest barrista. They simply asked could we do the same but cheaper.
Instead of a shot of expresso in your milky drink, try it with half or three-quarters. Try using a bit of instant mixed in. Try using out of date milk. In fact try varying pretty much anything away from what the barrista knows is the right way to make coffee and you'll end up with a bad drink. Same sort of thing is true in the learning technologies world. A good provider will make sure you are quoted for the right type of support services you need; that means things like training and configuration are included in your proposal - that means you pay for them if you want a system that's satisfying at the end. If there are options or recommendations you don't have to take them for sure, and I think a good proposal can have an element of taking lower options (like dropping from a gold-level support to silver or reducing from a designer theme to a simpler branded theme), but there comes a point that saving money is a bad investment.
My wife is awesome and I've learned a lot about (lots of things including) coffee from her. If she orders a coffee and it's rubbish she simply doesn't drink it and never goes back to where she got it from. If vendors of elearning work the same way that means they're not going to serve you up rubbish whatever you pay for it. For Kineo that means we simply won't do 'bad' elearning or learning technologies by design. Yes, there are some 'cheap' ways to make SCORM stuff, yes there are some 'cheap' hosting partners out there - but remember if we serve up one of those and it sucks - that's a customer we've lost and our reputation goes with it. From a consumer perspective you have to expect that quality, but you also have to listen to the experts if you want to have a drink you'll happily come back for more of.
If you're thinking of buying coffee my advice would be to spend what is required on it and form loyal partnerships with those places that serve it right. You can work out what to do when it comes to elearning yourself.