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How do you handle (budget, monitor, program manage) the non-stop technology race

When many of us grew up, it was the arms' race or the space race. Today it's the technology race. It seems that every day the technology we bought or leased is no longer cutting edge; in many cases it is irrelevant. Or, because the technology isn't up to snuff, be it latest greatest or more likely it isn't fully implemented or properly implemented, our companies suffer and so do our bottom lines. An interesting article in the May CFO magazine "Seed Trap" talks about this phenomenon targeting obviously financial type systems. But the issue is just about finance systems; its about all systems. The anthesis to issue is when is or at what point is the latest and greatest technology enough; is that incremental increase in power, speed, functionality worth the cost? Especially if our employees are not taking advantage of the systems currently in place. How do you, the executive weigh these factors and find the right mix of functionality, cost, training and productivity?

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Topic Expert
Keith Perry
Title: Consulting CFO and Business Operations A..
Company: Growth Accelerator
(Consulting CFO and Business Operations Advisor, Growth Accelerator) |

Wayne,

Was that rhetorical? ;-)

More seriously, IMHO there are two sides to this issue, and we actually had several cases in grad school that touched on it.

The first; it is a back-to-basics question. Do the proper ROI, and take into account short lifespans, training and retraining, termination of related / necessary systems, etc. One of the "gotchas", that these days arises frequently, is that even if you have a positive ROI today ("I'm going to build out web services integration!"), that may be built into next years project making today's investment wasteful (although not negating the ROI).

The Second; it's a variation on the innovators dilemma. With your systems and processes already built, re-engineering can simply appear to have a negative ROI, even if it leaves you vulnerable to failure in the end. For that you need to look beyond ROI at long-term competitive strategy and ignore the short stuff (mostly).

KP

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