Tech Status Quo

A few definitions:

Status Quo: the existing state of affairs regarding social or political issues; the way things are now; an existing state of affairs. The existing order of things; present customs, practices, and power relationships.

Oxymoron: a figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction; two words or phrases used together have, or seem to have, opposite meanings, e.g. almost exactly; freezer  burn; old news; only choice; living dead; and our addition to the list, Tech Status-Quo. In literature, these can be used to add dramatic effect, add irony, create a playful tone, or reveal a deeper meaning. When we hear it, it usually means ‘don’t make any changes.’

I’m sure you’ve heard the comments about how fast information technology (IT) is changing, the amount of data coming at us all day, the huge increase in demands for our attention, all as part of how technology has infested our lives! Frankly, these changes are amazing—think back to hand creating and writing payroll checks; getting up from the couch to change the TV channel; getting out of the car in the rain to open the garage door; buying a really long cord for the phone so you can walk away from the kitchen to take the call; the amazing number of things we do with our phones; we watched a Vulcan employee in a tower using a joy stick and laptop to operate a huge boulder crusher!

Back to our businesses: Staff and Owners can work from anywhere there’s an internet connection; as soon as I save a file to SharePoint, anyone on my team has access; electronic document signing, even ‘signature’ cards for the bank; electronic banking; laptops, tablets that go anywhere; huge screens that allow multiple documents to reduce the use of paper; beautiful printers without taking plans to the local printer; electronic take off’s; pull up ‘live’ reports through Power BI right on a cell phone; answer the business phone line from anywhere!; and dozens more.

We count on this technology to run our businesses. We expect new releases to be faster, more intuitive, have the extra column we want to see, and frankly, to look great, too! Then Techs suggest a replacement firewall with Geo filtering and security and we’re told the old one is still working. Yes, but it was built before many of the latest technology improvements, let alone security updates were available.

What about a laptop? We’ve seen the Bookkeeper or Controller struggling with a 4, 5, or 6 year old computer, slower than molasses, with stacks of invoices to process, and suggested a replacement. Not only would this poor person have a better day with less frustration, they would be more productive. And frankly, some of the tools you want this person to use don’t run well (if at all) on the older laptop. It’s not just the age of the shell, but the age and speed of the discs, the processor, the fan (they get loud!), and how much memory, to name a few.

How about software? It’s only been a few years since electronic field time collection hit our industry. With the new State labor rules, I can’t imagine how to track let alone prove what’s happening on our job sites and offices. Of course, with these new efficiencies come new levels of accountability for both parties. The amount of data we have to report to our clients, staff, vendors, and government agencies is mind blowing (is that an oxymoron?). Software integration tools and newer software offerings are so important. They’re written in the latest software ‘stacks’ and often require the latest platforms to run. This means that the internal systems and platforms cannot maintain a ‘status quo’ but have to be kept up-to-date.

Now let’s talk about people—that’s how all of this gets done! Our teams are also bogged down by the constant demands for their time and attention. Giving them the best tools and the software they need to get the job done is so important; but there’s more! Education!! Pay for some training, either with your team, or use outside resources; share short videos and articles so they stay up-to-date; arrange for them to attend webinars and in person events appropriate to their role at the company.
Last thought on people: let them make a mistake—yes, I know that seems odd, but the fear of a making a mistake may be enough that they won’t try the new software, the new phone system, or reporting tool. Be ready to invest dollars, time, and allow a few mistakes. None of us can afford to stay stagnant. You need current technology.  – CMW