One of the things I like really like about my job is that I spend a lot of time out of my office, visiting clients. Conference calls and web meetings are fine, but nothing communicates like a face-to-face interaction. When you go to someone’s office you simply understand the situation better.
One of the telling things I often run into in this physical inspection is something I call Cap-X bloat. Many organizations are fine when it comes to buying things, but they often don’t have the time to implement them. In worst case scenarios, you’ll see piles of unopened gear stacked all over the place in the IT area.
At this point, you’re probably thinking “Really, Captain Obvious? We shouldn’t buy stuff we don’t implement. Who knew? Thank God you wrote this blog.”
Bear with me a second. I see an awful lot of this. And maybe, despite your best efforts, there’s still more than a little of it in your own organization. If it’s so obviously wrong, why is it so hard to stop? Allow me a little root cause analysis here.
Top 3 reasons why we buy stuff and then fail to get it implemented:
- The vendor is lying to you. The vendor wants to sell you the product and you operate on a limited budget. Most vendors will downplay installation and operating costs. Many will pretend those items are of no concern whatsoever, telling you that the product practically installs itself. They want your budget going to the product, not the effort to make it valuable in their organization.
- You’re lying to yourself. Internal teams will often want to deploy new technologies themselves. The deployment is no problem, you say. Bob will do it. Bob is super smart and loves new technologies. Really, what was Bob doing last week? Did he leave the office at 3pm every day and catch a quick 9 holes on the way home? Or is he already stretched wafer thin over way too much work? I’m guessing it’s the latter and Bob will never get around to the new thing.
- Your organization’s corporate culture hates the IT group. Every time you try to buy something that requires professional services to install or, God forbid, actual headcount to operate it, the powers that be simply cross off those elements. They approve the capital but red line the work to bring the product to value. This forces the IT staff into a purgatory of working continuous overtime while never effectively using any of the items they’ve purchased. Diabolical.
OK, now that I’ve had my fun, how about some suggestions:
- Create awareness that time to value is an imperative for any purchase. Every purchase needs a timeframe for implementation and specific criteria defining its value.
- Get your best estimate on what it will take in terms of manpower assessments to bring the product to value in your environment.
- Allocate the resources. Internal resources are fine as long as they actually have the time assigned. There’s nothing wrong with bringing in outside help to handle day-to-day issues while your staff works on the new stuff.
- Be disciplined. Don’t let them redline the things you need to be successful. In for a penny, in for a pound. Better to not buy it at all than to buy it and leave it on the shelf.