Determining whether or not a technology initiative should be pursued is a dilemma that most companies constantly struggle with. Just because we can apply technology to something doesn’t mean we should always do it even if we can afford it or it’s easy to implement. Thus, we must establish some basis for determining which projects to pursue or not to pursue.
At Ei Dynamics, we get inquiries all of the time from companies looking to automate various types of processes. The first thing my sales team and I do is to determine if what the prospect is trying to do makes sense and if we should even continue a dialogue or end the discussion sooner than later. This may sound a little unorthodox for a company that’s trying to sell a product, but our time is just as valuable as anyone’s. The last thing we want to do is spend our valuable, limited time chasing down opportunities that are not right for us, and, even more importantly, that won’t bring value to our customer.
For example, a company recently reached out looking for a solution that could monitor their inventory data and send email alerts to their purchasing manager when certain items dropped below a specified level. So far so good … this type of functionality is directly in our wheelhouse and something we’ve done for dozens of companies. However, after a little discovery, we determined that they were a very small company with a limited budget and used QuickBooks. Even though we have a solution that could easily meet all of their criteria, it was not a good fit. QuickBooks was the first red flag, but the most important sign was that the alert they wanted to automate wasn’t going to really save them much time or money given the amount of effort they currently put into manually handling the process.
So, the magic question is, when should we and when should we not use technology to solve our problems? Obviously, there is no definitive right or wrong answer here, but I have three simple rules that I generally follow to make a determination if we should pursue a technology project that I think you might benefit from as well.
As Easy as 1, 2, 3
Here are three simple rules I use to determine if we should apply technology to solve a problem:
1) Cost vs Benefit — Do the benefits of implementing a technical solution exceed the costs, or do we at least recoup our costs within a reasonable time frame? For example, let’s say it would take 40 hours of consulting at $150 per hour to automate a specific task that takes a person paid $50 per hour approximately 30 minutes once a month to complete. Mathematically our consultant fees are three times as much as our employee costs, thus, our effective break-even point is 120 man hours. At this rate, given the task is only performed once a month, it would take 40 years to break even on this project.
For me, personally, this would more than likely not be a project that I would spend my time, energy or money to fix. Additionally, if you were a client of mine I would probably discourage you as well from pursuing this project.
2) Is it better than what we do now? — There are thousands of software programs out there that allow us to automate and computerize a variety of different tasks, but is this enough of a reason to change or switch how we do things now? Should we drop our pen and paper for a word processor simply because we can? After all, paper and pencil are readily available, easy to use, very instantaneous and, of course, a proven solution invented by the ancient Chinese in the 2nd century BC. In fact, we’ve all experienced that moment when someone calls and we don’t have time to wait for Outlook or our contact management program to boot up and load just to jot down a few notes. So what do most of us still do? We reach over for that pen and scratch paper and write it down and then record in our computerized system later if it is necessary. Sometimes simple and “old” is not always bad.
Here’s another example where old sometimes works better than new. In our house, we still have an old phone with a chord that sticks into the wall. We mainly have it because if there is an emergency and the power goes off we can still make calls. Ironically, it’s also the only phone in the house that anyone can find and that consistently works. It’s always in the same place and never moves, because it is physically tethered to the phone cord. Alternately, all the other high-tech cordless phones are hidden under sofa cushions, left on obscure tables throughout the house and are seldom available or handy when we need them. And if we do happen to find one, half the time it’s lost its charge and won’t work.
Technology is awesome and can make a lot of things easier and quicker to accomplish, but it is not always the best or right answer for every problem. Technological solutions should be implemented when they make sense and make things better.
3) Is it simple? — Simple is not always better, but on the other hand, if something is too complicated, the benefits may not outweigh the complexity of the system. Generally, I weigh in on the side of simple is better. My experience is that the more complicated something is, the more likely it is going to fail. Users will get frustrated if it’s not intuitive and easy to use, IT will not be able to support it if it is too complicated, and, ultimately, if it takes a rocket scientist to build, deploy and maintain, chances are it’s going to fail, because it will cost too much money (remember item #1 cost vs benefit) to support or it will simply not get used.
For instance, if you’ve worked with any major ERP system, you understand how complicated they can get. They
have so many features and functions and modules built into them that if you are not a trained consultant and even if you are a trained consultant, the magnitude of these systems can make even the best of us dizzy. However, companies implement ERP systems, because the benefits typically outweigh the costs (and complexity). But do these systems really need to be that complicated at least from a user interface perspective? For example, Quickbooks is actually a pretty complex and sophisticated system, but the user interface is so simple and intuitive that almost anyone can figure it out in a very short amount of time. Simple is generally a good thing, don’t fall into the mindset that if something is simple it must not be sophisticated or powerful enough to solve our problem…simple is
Till den populära biltvätt kjol stil är mer självklart, men också mer populärt upp, är den vänstra en modell klädd i en kjol tvätt reklamfilmer barn, inte USA?
Fortsatte tills tiden, biltvätt kjolar är en kvinna som var i strömmen. Men senare förändringen med tiden, säger adjö till mode scenen. Denna enda produkt är mer som tre år finns det tecken på en pånyttfödelse, från de många designer märke vinter showen har tvätt kjol design, vare sig det är knä eller fotled längd, vanligt eller tryckta, en mängd olika kombinationer av läder eller satin, etc Balklänning