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Over the last decade, investments in new technologies have far outpaced the ability of organizations to fully implement them. Utility management is often unaware that up to 80 percent of the capabilities of existing business process applications remains underutilized or unimplemented. Despite making sizable investments of financial and personnel resources, many organizations believe the application of advanced technologies has failed to deliver an adequate return on investment.

Implementations of new technologies (servers, personal computers, workstations, storage devices, printers, and peripheral devices) have multiplied, increasing the cost and effort associated with the management and maintenance of complex technical infrastructures. New technologies pose training challenges for existing staff. Increased frequency of major software releases and shifts in technical platforms (client-server to thin-client) further exacerbate the situation.

While many organizations have continued to invest heavily in technology over the past several years, the reality of today's budgetary constraints necessitates a rethinking of how limited technology dollars should be spent. Finding ways to maximize the benefits of existing technology – before investing in more of it – must be a utility manager's goal.

Contrary to today's conventional wisdom, improving business operations does not have to involve acquiring or upgrading to new technology. Focused projects concentrating on optimizing business processes that leverage existing technology can deliver significant business benefit without the dramatic organizational impact or significant expense typically associated with the implementation of new technologies.

Additionally, projects that focus on simplifying technical infrastructures can deliver significant cost savings and reduce overall support requirements. Examples include efforts to consolidate servers, utilize storage area networks (SANs), and pool network appliances (peripherals).

Progressive utilities like the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) are finding ways to contain costs while maximizing business value and returns on their investment. This presentation provides simple yet practical lessons and “best-in-class” examples of how DWSD and other organizations are maximizing the benefits of their technology expenditures in this challenging economic environment.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-01-01

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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