My first BIG IT job was working for Andersen Consulting in
Northbrook, IL as a Network Administrator.
The facility at Northbrook was huge; 6 five-story adjacent office
buildings housing over 1,500 people who were responsible for managing the
global corporation. The server room was
over 2,500 square feet, and housed over 100 physical servers and networking
When Andersen Consulting had a problem, they basically asked
“Who do we make the check for to get this fixed?” If a server was starting to get slow, we
bought a replacement. If the share was
running out of disk space, we added a storage array. We rarely asked why, we just implemented new
Money bought solutions because Andersen Consulting was
highly organized with policies and procedures which applied to practically
everything. The rules were followed
closely and with a minimum of purchase procedures to follow, anything was
procured to solve the slightest problem.
Years later, I am making a pitch to a client using some
antiquated paper-heavy procedures. The
solution is to save money by no longer making paper copies but converting
documents to an electronic format, allow web-based access to this information
which will be stored in a database.
Information would be logged in a consistent format, reports on project
time and money would be instant, and save hours per day over the current
Management was excited about the prospects at first. The devil of course was in one word. “Consistent.”
The current procedures (yes, plural), were not only inconsistent between
themselves, but each project had not-so-subtle procedural differences which
compounded the inconsistency further.
After about 2 months of facilitating a committee of
management, project managers and assistants to create procedure standards, we
finally had the finished product. It was
met with little support. Implementation
was halting but gained more ground over time.
Some project teams didn’t trust the new system and did double-entry,
making for a rather poor ROI.
We pressed on with more training classes and a dogged
determination to get this to work and ultimately did. In fact, most people looking at the system
today use it as a standard by which competitive commercial solutions are
measured by. We can now account for a
reduction in paper reproduction costs by nearly 5/6ths
and over 50%
reduction in hours spent on project documentation.
These statistics aren’t the whole story. If the company had consistent procedures in
place already, not only would they have seen savings earlier on, the costs of
adapting that to a technology solution would have been much less.