Buying new software won’t save you money

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Most of the stories about what organisations are doing on digital transformation tend to get published in the form of case studies, and most of those case studies are written and published by vendors of either technology products or services.

That’s fine, but I do tend to get slightly grumpy with them as they focus so much on the purchase of the technology and what it might deliver in terms of better and cheaper services. “Council X to save £300m by investing in the Norpita customer experience platform” – that sort of thing.

Partly the issue is the jumping ahead nature – none of those savings have been realised yet, no software implemented, no services redesigned. All that’s happened is that a purchase order has been approved.

But mostly, it’s because it leaves the impression that the technology is the panacea, that buying the tools delivers the outcomes. Also that this is a quick process, which it isn’t.

First, implementing new systems is hard and takes much longer than anybody cares to admit. Second, the real benefits can only come when radically redesigning the way a service runs, and that takes even longer – particularly as you’ll likely need several stabs at it. Thirdly, those much trumpeted savings? Don’t forget where they are coming from, which is mostly what the organisation spends on people. That means restructures, which will mean more time, and more pain.

This isn’t a reason not to do this stuff – of course not! But sometimes it’s easy to get stuck into the mindset that if we just buy this thing, everything will be ok. You might need to buy that thing to ensure everything’s ok, but you’ll also have a do a load of other stuff, which the case studies never seem to mention.


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Photo by Taduuda on Unsplash