Technology Transition in (Progressive) Organizations

It seems like every week I hear of another progressive organization making a large, organization-wide transition to newer technology. The feedback I have received from folks enduring these transitions tend to be these moves are frustrating, time consuming and costly. So, I have been thinking a lot about how these organizations can make this transition more easily without undermining their progressive values.

I think that these things are important as I see an increasing number of organizations spend obscene amounts of resources and money on technology transition – only to see the implementation fail.

At a time where our progressive organizations are under attack, it is hardly something that we can stand to waste resources on. This is especially the case when one considers that most of our organizations are mainly services organizations of information workers and organizers.

This is a starting list if issues I have kept track of from various conversations over the years. I will try to expand on them later.

In-house capacity

The outsourcing of development has two implications for small to medium sized progressive organizations. One: loss of in house technical knowledge resulting in costs for every change requested. Two: loss of knowledge about how technology is used in house to connect that with the direction of technological development/adoption.

The politics of consultants

Incompatible politics of major consultant firms and progressive organizations. Hiring Deloitte to develop your technological solutions while we fight employers and governments that do the same is a bizarre contradiction that many progressive organizations face.

Managing changes

Managing transition before, during and after the adoption of that technology. Who and how that is managed whether it is through corporate “Change Management” or more inclusive and non-consultant driven processes is important to success of the adoption and implementation of that technology.

Limitations of limitless choice

Software and hardware choices seem limitless, but the options examined by the process tend to purposely exclude some progressive options. This is likely because of monopolies providing full suit Software as a Service (SAAS) products. However, limiting choice in software and hardware purchasing to monopolies comes with an inflated price for servicing.

Unclear needs assessments

The difference between needs, wants and advertised capabilities are not clearly defined or costed.

Political economy of technology

Political Economic analysis of technology is not included in the decision making process. Technology transition is too often seen as an apolitical process like payroll. The reason for this disconnect is likely because the application of the political economy of technology has not been clearly explained and/or is not understood. Real world examples are needed.

Better but not good

The different between “better” and “good” technology is obscured through the transition process. Users and managers are usually so frustrated with the current technology that any increase in use/function/efficiency is enough to gain praise. However, better is not the same as good and one cannot expect users to know the difference if they have not spent time looking at options.


Security is not taken seriously in a holistic way that is easy to explain. Without examining all aspects of security including the real world adoption of security by the users and the IT system administrators it is likely to fail. An example is the use of high-end encryption protocols, but without enforcing an effective password policy. A second example is a complex and over-the-top password policy where people cannot remember their passwords and end up writing their passwords everywhere so they remember them.

Redundant development

Many organizations are looking for the same or very similar things, but are all paying for their development. The adoption of open source or centralization of code and processes in progressive organizations is lagging far behind the corporate world.

The cloud and the Cloud(TM)

Misunderstanding the difference between in-house server services and the proprietary “Cloud” means that many services that should be managed in-house are exported to the proprietary cloud. Companies that sell Software as a Service (SAAS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) spend large sums on sales presentations, shiny pamphlets and expert sales representatives that wine and dine IT departments. Adopting SAAS in the wrong areas can lead to increased costs, loss of control and security issues. While some services are better in the cloud, it is wrong to assume that all services can be done more cheaply or better through renting access.