Don’t Be Penny-Wise and Computer Foolish from Robert Green
Our good friend, Robert Green, recently published an article about making wise business decisions about budgeting. Written for Cadalyst Magazine, the article “Don’t Be Penny-Wise and Computer Foolish” talks about how aging technology can end up wasting huge amounts of employee time. With budgets getting tighter each year and businesses expected to produce more with less, is it wise to pull the budgets in on your technology? Maybe not. Robert discusses a real-life example:
To illustrate the folly of keeping an old “boat anchor” computer in service, I’ll present the true story of “Jim” — a client I’ve worked with in recent years. Jim is a structural engineer who does a lot of analysis work on very large concrete and metal truss building structures. He runs a variety of CAD and calculation programs to model static and seismic loads, and all are memory-hungry, data-intensive applications.
Every other day or so, Jim needs to run major analytical calculations on his old dual-core machine that features a whopping 6 GB of RAM. When faced with larger file sizes, this clunker often locks up, and Jim has to start over. In any given week, Jim loses at least five hours of processing time because of these types of problems. Not only are these delays very frustrating for Jim, they also hamper the progress of other personnel who need Jim’s results to proceed with their work, and they ultimately lead to increased project turnaround times and even missed deadlines.
Now here’s where it gets interesting:
Jim is a very highly compensated engineer ($110,000 per year) whose billable rate approaches $80 per hour. This means that every week, Jim is losing $400 in productivity (five hours at $80 per hour) due to lockups. If Jim works 48 weeks per year, this number jumps to an astounding $19,200 in lost productivity per year, or $57,600 over the three-year life of a computer.
Currently Jim cusses a lot, works weekends, and just isn’t a happy camper in general. So Jim is disgruntled — and his company is losing $19,200 each year — because his management team believes that a new $6,000 workstation is way too expensive.
Does this strike you as penny-wise and computer-foolish?
Robert Green has provided CAD management consulting, programming, training and technical writing services for clients throughout the United States, Canada and Europe since 1991. A mechanical engineer by training, Robert has used AutoCAD, MicroStation, SDRC, Calma and Inventor software systems in a variety of engineering environments since 1985. Robert’s expertise in CAD management has been acquired via real world experience as the “alpha CAD user” everywhere he’s worked. Over time he came to enjoy the technological and training challenges associated with CAD management and now trains CAD managers via public speaking. Robert is well known for his insightful articles in Cadalyst magazine and his book Expert CAD Management: The Complete Guide (published by Sybex). When not writing Robert heads his own consulting practice, The Robert Green Consulting Group, based in Atlanta.