by Scott Lewis
Maximizing your technology investment has always been one of those elusive goals of company owners and technology professionals. There are many factors that go into determining the success of a technology investment; such as executive buy in and sponsorship, the ability to overall influence change within the organization and ongoing training processes for employees just to name a few. All of this goes back to having a clear definition of what the overall strategy of the initiative is and the expected benefits to the organization.
Far too often the misconception is that a technology decision is best served, managed and controlled by the technology department. To some degree that is true when it comes to determining the overall deployment methodology, security measures, and backup processes. Though, the strategy around the decision, is a business decision, designed to solve a business problem not a technology problem. A big part of Winning Technologies business is to work with companies to get these projects moving again and often we see companies that have, in some cases, an unrealistic expectation around the abilities of their technology departments to successfully make business decisions and drive the projects to completion. The result of this is the project gets partially completed, the project actually falls further behind because as the project stalls the vendor issues upgrades, new versions, or platform changes that will again effect the strategy moving forward and it costs more to catch up than to keep up.
Influencing change within the organization is another important factor that directly plays into the overall success of technology initiatives. I was recently working with a company that owned a software package that has many positive influencing features and functionality to the company. However, within a key department, the head of that department refused to use the software. He was committed to the processes that were mostly manual because of his familiarity and from his perspective it was easier to do than the processes outlined by the software. The overall strategy of the company was to try to achieve a onetime data entry process that would reduce duplication, reduce errors, and improve data flow companywide. Due to them allowing a key area of their business to remain in a manual process automatically put the overall success of the initiative in jeopardy. The management of the company was not willing to influence change and accepted the manual processes even though it increased the overall burden on other departments and employees.
Ongoing employee training is going to be a key factor in the overall success of any technology project. There is some research that indicates that 70% of learning is through practice and repeated on the job work processes. The research also indicates that employees forget 70% of what they learned within 2 weeks of the training, and upwards of 87% within a month of the training. Ongoing training for employees is critical to the long term success and sustainability of technology projects especially those that include software. Software is an ongoing evolutionary process. New versions, new updates, and new features that require an internal process of training employees on how to use the software in order to take advantage of the dollars being spent on the software. There is also research that supports that ongoing training of employees’ raises moral and job satisfaction by more than 90%. Although, when I do technology auditing one area that is often overlooked or underutilized is training of employees.
Another often avoided, not really overlooked but, avoided area is the overall budget of the projects. Technology projects have a history of being chronically over budget based on the original estimates and factors used to propose the initial project. It is important that all parties maintain a constant open line of communication when it comes to the overall budget of technology projects. There are many factors that can affect a technology budget, the primary one being scope creep, or changes in the overall scope of the project. You know that famous saying “It would be nice IF …”, that saying has created more scope creep and budget variations then just about any other single saying. In order to control that make sure that on the front-end of the project you have clear, well defined expectations around the objectives and goals of the project. Other factors that could increase the cost of technology projects are changes in software licensing costs and hardware costs. These are typically “point-in-time” costs that can change with little or no notice. One of the big soft dollar costs can often be contributed to ego, yes ego. The lack of willingness of owners and technologist to recognize the need to bring in outside help to get the project completed successfully. The thought that we can do this in house without hiring some help has created more run on, unrealized expectations and high long term costs then most companies are willing to admit.
There are many reasons companies don’t maximize their technology investments and most of the time that results in additional investment because, areas of your business will feel underserved regardless of the solution or investment you already made. This typically starts a cascading effect of purchasing one software package after another, or repeated investment in hardware and then, that cycle becomes self-feeding and your costs continue to grow. Sometimes it is just good to stop, reevaluate, gather input from all areas of your business, redefine your strategy and then, move forward with a revamped strategy.
Scott Lewis is the President and CEO of Winning Technologies Group of Companies. The Winning Technologies Group of companies is an international technology management company. Scott has more than 30 years of experience in the technology industry, is a nationally recognized speaker on technology subjects such as Collocation, Security, CIO level Management, Data and Voice Communications and Best Practices related to the management of technology resources. Learn more about Winning Technologies at www.winningtech.com or call 877-379-8279.
Submitted 7 years 210 days ago