When it’s Time to Quit

by Lorne Mitchell on 26/08/2010

This is the first of a new series of “Thursday Thoughts”.  Please do sign up for future editions by completing the form on the THURSDAY THOUGHTS? tab above and I will send you an email in the future every Thursday to stimulate your thoughts!

Having spent a few weeks struggling to master a state-of-the-art Web 2.0 marketing package costing me several hundred dollars in monthly service fees, I decided, this week, to stop the subscription, clear the decks and start again.

In the high-tech world, times like this are both scary and exciting.  You press the “delete button in the sky” and all the work you have put into the old system is gone.  This is particularly true with cloud-based applications – where you have not only put time into configuring – but much the more valuable time of actually learning the system.

The good news is that in the past 24 hours I have managed to re-create a much better integration with my existing website and blog than I ever managed to achieve with the old system – at about a tenth of the ongoing monthly expenses!

The buzz in the past few years might well be right concerning Cloud Services, Software as a Service, Platform as a Service, On Demand etc. etc. as being the next big thing.  But some things don’t change.  INTEGRATION is absolutely key to creating a smooth flow of work between the various application stacks in any company.  This is where the workarounds and exceptions and “knowledge of how things work” becomes the expensive items in any organisation – whether in the Business or IT.

The corageous pioneers of this new cloud-based world will make many mistakes in the early days when choosing which platforms and applications should (or should not run) their companies.  It smacks of the pre-ERP world where integrators made a lot of money from bonding “best of breed” packages.  It was only because of the high costs and failure of many of these projects did  the big ERP vendors like SAP and Oracle make the move to mop up by presenting pre-integrated suites of applications.

From my experience, in the early days of developing anything new, you have to keep it REALLY SIMPLE, find applications that are already well integrated with other things you use.  So often we are taken down a blind alley because some hype or salesman has schmoozed us about all the exciting features in XYZ application – many of which we will never use – however competent we become.

In the past 36 hours I have re-taught myself that when things are simply not going right, it is often a big relief to “call it quits”.  I was pleased that I could at least extract the latest data sets of customers and products that I had on the old system and make an elegant withdrawal from the complexity, confusion and cost that it had given me.  It strikes me that a lot of politicians and civil-servants must be thinking the same about whatever their particular problem is at the moment.

Finally, I always think that the basis of a good decision is whether, 24 hours later, you regret making the change or not.  I am glad to say that today I am very happy with my choice of simplifying and getting back to basics.  Interested to any of your thoughts or stories that support (or counter) this, the First Thursday Thought!

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