Monday, November 18, 2013

How Bad Does it have to Get?

When was the last time you called the doctor?  Were you barely breathing, having trouble talking, did you have aches and pains?  We know we need regular check-ups and we sometimes actually get the appointments made and actually make the appointment.  Then there are the emergency appointments.  Those do not get missed as often, but only once we realize they are actual emergencies.


After all even if you do take the time to take your temperature and it is higher than normal, how bad does it actually have to be, what impact on your life is significant enough for you to contact a doctor or go to the emergency room?

Budgets are tight all over.  Not that budgets have ever been unlimited, but in recent years the allocation has been challenging at best.  This translates into postponed and scaled back decisions that ultimately can cost more in the long run.  If the impact was only cost, then that might be so bad.  After all money grows on trees, right? 

What happens if the impact is more than just money?  What happens if the regular maintenance or checkups are postponed?  How bad does it have to get before you call for help?

Bert Lance believed that he could save Uncle Sam billions if he can get the government to adopt a simple motto: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." He explains: "That's the trouble with government: Fixing things that aren't broken and not fixing things that are broken."

How do you tell if something is broken and needs fixing or if you are fixing something that is not broken?

An example is using older computer equipment well past its designed lifespan.  It is working after all, why not keep using it?  Never mind security updates, never mind ever increasing maintenance costs, never mind the impact that dependence on a single-point-of-failure would have on operations.  When that piece of equipment goes down, what is the productivity and financial impact to the company when employees cannot perform their duties? 

Hint – The impact is big and has long term implications.

I have had a Return on Investment (ROI) conversations with a company CFO in the past about replacing some older workstations.  He would debate the expense giving the current budget, which was never robust to begin with.  They were on a break-fix model.  As it turns out the new equipment would easily be free based on the return.  The slow speed in which the existing equipment started and took to load programs and to process information was painfully slow.  A new workstation would be so much faster increasing employee productivity that it would pay for itself in labor/time savings.

What about other more complex equipment like servers or network infrastructure?  The security risks alone should be justification, but then I am not the one writing the check.  On the other hand given that data breaches are more easily prevented than remediated, who should make it a priority?  A post breach situation will always be more, a lot more.

So when is it time to contact your doctor? 
When is it time to contact your trusted advisor to get help with the relationship between your employees and your equipment?  How bad does it have to get before you address the issues that increase costs and ruin productivity and operational efficiencies? 

What about your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution?  How do you tell if it is too old and past its prime?  Good question.  After all you are still processing orders, you still have the customers you always had, your suppliers like doing business with you, there is no competition for your services, you are still making a profit, well, you hope that is the case.

Things change.

Failure to keep up almost always ends up costing more.  The quick catch up needed when you can no longer process what you used to.  The scrambling to find the needed resources when you have equipment errors and you are so far behind there are no fixes available and the only solution is to rush through an upgrade instead of planning and implementing the changes on a schedule that is manageable. 

Sometimes this happens when a vendor says they are no longer supporting your release.  They will still take your maintenance payments and fix any known errors or should I say errors that have known solutions.  Sometimes it is just coincidence, but this seems to happen often.  Companies ignore the out-of-date warnings and then they have problems with real impact.  They go into a panic mode and want to know what they should do.  What can they do? 

It is like the tires on your car. 
You drive around and really do not think about them much until one day you realize that it took way too long to stop or that turn went a bit wide.  Then it occurs to you.  Your tires have become worn or bald while you were concerned with everything else that you have to deal with and the thought occurs to you that you are taking your life in your hands.  It is at this point you make getting new tires a priority. 

The tires did not just go bad in one day.  It happened a little at a time.  You still need tires, you just do not need the worn out ones.  They just cannot meet your needs now.  Did your needs change?  Probably not, but tires wear out and you do not always drive the same route.  Sometimes you need to be prepared when the weather changes for the worse.

What impact does using older technology have on business when we live in an environment of constant flux?  We would like to know what you think.  What impact has ignoring up-keep had on your operations?

Contact Dolvin Consulting today to see how we can help.


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