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Andrew S. Baker (ASB)

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Why Your New Technology Purchase Might Disappoint

Technology continues to provide many benefits for individuals and businesses, and our increasing dependence upon it is a testament to its overall usefulness.  Each day, many, many people make a good living from designing and deploying business solutions which are based on some technology.

That said, many businesses fail to derive the value they could otherwise obtain from their technology investments.  There are five (5) principle reasons why this occurs, which I will attempt to cover in a series of articles.

Reason #1: Inadequate Planning

Despite all the books and articles that have been written on this topic, this problem is far more common that you might believe.  Unless you’ve had the great fortune of working in the most disciplined of organizations, you will have seen quite a few instances of this within your first few years of managing or deploying technology solutions.

Even simple projects require a great deal of preparation before “real activity” takes place.  This is true of software development as well as hardware implementation.  This is true whether the work is being done in-house or is 100% outsourced.  The more people involved, the greater the need for planning.

Skimping on the planning is a sure-fire recipe to long-term disaster.  Sure, your application or solution might work for a while, but it is likely to require more maintenance, more support, and provide less value over its lifespan than one in which proper planning has taken place.   And, if the cost of implementing it was high, good luck in trying to get it replaced or remediated before it has become obsolete.

It is very well known within Information Technology circles that “temporary” or “stop gap” solutions are the most permanent.  If you wonder why your IT department is so loathe to deploy something that you think “will only be kept until we can get the proper budget for a better solution,” then it is because of this fact.

I have been responsible for deploying solutions that were only supposed to be in place for weeks or months that lasted until an organization has been acquired or outsourced.  And, worse yet, I have inherited far more such stop-gap solutions that were years old when they became my responsibility.

No matter how brilliant and innovate your engineers or developers, if you do not give them enough time to plan, they will inevitably produce a solution that does what you said you wanted at the time, but is largely inflexible to grow with your needs over time, and sucks up both time and money over the long run.

Some of my most successful projects were those where about 20-30% of the total project time was used for planning.  (Oh the pitfalls we avoided by verbalizing and documenting the architecture and deployment approach!)

That time is not being “wasted” just because you don’t see anything being built.  Considering how long some of these solutions are expected to last, what’s another week or two of good planning, if it saves money down the road?

And, if you’re so concerned about wasted time, consider streamlining your procurement and project approval processes, as most of them contains a ridiculous amount of wasted time.

Next time:  Reason #2: Unrealistic Expectations

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Posted: Monday, January 31, 2011 8:00 PM by Logik!

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About Logik!

Andrew S. Baker aka ASB aka Logik!

Andrew S. Baker is a business-savvy, hands-on IT leader with expertise in mentoring people, mitigating risk, and integrating technology to drive innovation and maximize business results. He creates competitive advantage for organizations through effective IT leadership: implementation of processes and controls, and architecture of robust business solutions.

Mr. Baker has successfully led a number of high-performance technology teams in designing, deploying and maintaining secure, cost-effective computing environments for well-known companies, including Warner Music Group, The Princeton Review, Bear Stearns, About.com, and Lewco Securities.

For over a decade, Andrew has exhibited thought leadership on technology and business topics via mailing lists, technical forums, blogs, and professional networking groups, along with contributions to podcasts, webinars, and over 20 technical/business magazine articles. He also serves on several boards and committees for non-profit organizations, and within the Seventh-day Adventist church.

His personal interests include Astronomy, Basketball, Bible Study, Chess, Comics, Computers, Family Life Ministries, Reading, Strategy/Role Playing games, and Professional Networking...

A summary of Andrew's current résumé is available here, and he can be reached on a variety of social and professional networks, including LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.