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An IT Manager making the case against new technology

The tools Your staff use are outdated and inefficient. Your reports don’t reflect what is actually going on. Software vendors tell you they have the answer to all your problems.

This sounds great, but it can be expensive. Almost every year a major company nearly goes bankrupt because of runaway costs in implementing a software system.

 

Too often, a technology is picked before there is a firm understanding of what is needed.

Operation issue or technology problem?

Daily I am asked to put tablets ( or any other new technology)  in the hands of everyone. I ask why? Generally I am not given a reason like “We have this problem, and this is a solution” Generally the answer is something like: “they will make us more efficient.”

It makes sense to look for a technical solution as opposed to an operational issue, as technical solutions generally are sexy. Who doesn’t want the latest gadget, shiny new object? As an IT Manager certainly having new technology around makes my job more enjoyable, more fun. I get to use the latest and greatest tech, be on the bleeding edge of products. The problem is, if they are used as a crutch, then the technology becomes more of a pain then its worth.

This pain comes from not understanding how your business does things. If you don’t have a firm understanding as to how your business processes work, and the issues they have, new technology will do one of two things. It will force you to adopt new standards you are not ready for, or perhaps a worse fate it will make your bad processes much more efficient.

“We loose money on every sale, but we make up for it in volume”

It is hard to perform an in-depth look at business processes and determine where their weak spots are. Thankfully, there are some tools that all help you with this. You will find in going through these exercises what you have is good enough, and how you are using it is causing the problem.

 

Reduce steps

By reducing the number of steps something needs to take, the more efficient the whole process becomes. However, efficiency needs to be counter acted with effectiveness. How many people need to approve a $1000 PO? If its none, while super efficient, however anyone can over order anything. There is where it looses effectiveness. If it is 10 it isn’t very efficient, but is effective in letting everyone know what is being requested. There is a balancing act that needs to be struck, and it varies for every organization, and every situation.

 

Why? 

At 3 years old, you have this question mastered. However once you get into the business world, you forget to ask it. SImply asking why do we do this? provokes thought and often times you will be surprised at what the answer is. In my experience, the answers are generally “we have always done it that way” or “Because everyone else does”.

 

What could go wrong?

Everything needs to be thought through. In the tablet example, some questions come to mind:

  • Do you have wireless everywhere?
  • Do you have regulations like PCI or HIPPA to deal with?
  • What happens if one gets Stolen?
  • How will you ensure people are working and not playing games?
  • What about charging?
  • What happens if a device looses power during the day?
  • How are replacements going to work if it gets broken?
  • How will you ensure everyone has the correct applications?

Finally your ready for a decision

If the costs, and items needed for implementation don’t scare you off, and still can fit into a successful ROI, then your ready for the POC

 

By making sure the processes are figured out, the overall costs associated with the projects will be significantly reduced.

If the time is taken up front, then the implementation will go faster.

 

What have you been trying to find a technical solution to that really doesn’t’ need one?

Cheers,

Kraig.

2 comments

  1. Aaryaman

    Kraig,
    Great post! I am a college student working towards an undergraduate degree in information systems, and I am often told that 70% of IT projects fail because businesses fit the solution to the technology rather than the technology to the solution. It’s great to know that some of the lessons my professors have been teaching apply in the real world as well.

    Cheers,
    Aaryaman

  2. Kraig

    Aaryan, I would say that number is accurate, if not a bit low.

    Good luck with the rest of your college, feel free to ask any questions if you get stuck and need some advice.

    Cheers,
    Kraig.

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