Avoiding the Technology Trap

I’m just going to admit this up front, I am guilty of thinking I am making progress when I’m wasting time.

 I’m good with Excel—not an expert or a superstar, but savvy. However, when I get ready to build a complex spreadsheet, I tend to just jump into Excel and start cranking away. I’m building fancy formulas, putting in clever formatting and more. But, inevitably, I get to a point where I realize the worksheet isn’t solving the problem. It could be better and needs significant rework. So, I rip it apart and redo it—sometimes more than once. What I should do is plan out the effort and think through the ramifications before starting to “code.”

I know this. I really do. But, it is so satisfying to jump into Excel and start building. It’s comfortable and I feel like I am making progress. In reality I’m wasting my time and delaying my ultimate goal. Worse yet, sometimes the “sort of solves the problem” spreadsheet gets used anyway and takes on a life of its own.

When people start to implement software , they do the same thing. People generally seem to be in their comfort zone when creating a simple requirements document, looking at demos , selecting a vendor and then moving forward to implement a solution. There is a real feeling of accomplishment in completing these activities—enough so that people like to dive into them without really thinking through the full ramifications or full requirements of the business.

Unfortunately, this often leads to unanticipated and unwanted results, leading to creating spreadsheets as work-arounds that take on their own life, sometimes to the point that the operation is run more on spreadsheets than on the solution that was selected.

At Skipping Stone, we ‘ve seen organizations get to the end of a technology implementation, live with it for a while, create spreadsheet work-arounds and eventually rip it all out and start over. This is expensive, not to mention the disruptive impact on operations, and leads to many uncomfortable conversations with your boss and your boss’boss, etc. People lose their jobs over this and companies lose money because of this . This is the definition of pain. We call this the “technology trap.”

The good news is, the technology trap is completely avoidable.By properly managing the three dimensions of technology implementations—people, processes, and technology—you can avoid the technology trap. . .

. . . To read the entire White Paper click on this link here. . .


About the author: John Brown is a partner at Skipping Stone. He has over 25 years’ experience in the energy industry and leads the company’s Technology Services Practice. This practice includes leading Skipping Stone’s engagements with wholesale and retail marketers, utilities, generators, and energy technology providers.

Prior to joining Skipping Stone, Brown was a Director in PwC’s Risk Advisory Practice and a leader in the Commodity Trading Risk practice. He previously held leadership positions as the Vice President of Global Services at Allegro Development Corp. and chief

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