Big-Bang Projects

Tight budget? Hit the ground running in 2007 with these fast-payback, high-impact projects.

Spurred by stretched-out budgets, IT managers want to get the most business bang for their IT buck. That means delivering bottom-line impact and business value as quickly as possible.

“Speed is competitive advantage” in 2007, says Rich Penkoski, a partner at Deloitte Consulting LLP in Atlanta. “It’s very easy to lose organizational interest in programs that take extended periods of time. The market doesn’t stand still. Competitors don’t stand still.”


The 252 respondents to Computerworld’s quarterly Vital Signs trends survey said data management, anti-virus protection, e-mail/groupware, voice-over-IP (VoIP) and storage-area network projects yield the fastest payback. The technologies that respondents said produce the most visible payback were ERP, e-mail, Web services, data management, business intelligence, and wireless and mobile systems.


Top five technologies that yield the fastest payback:

1. Data management/business analytics

2. Antivirus protection

3. E-mail/groupware

4. Voice-over-IP

5. Storage-area networks

Source: Computerworld's quarterly Vital Signs survey, 252 respondents


Top five technologies that yield the most visible payback:

1. ERP

2. E-mail/groupware

3. Web services

4. Data management/business analytics

5. Wireless/mobile

Source: Computerworld's quarterly Vital Signs survey, 252 respondents

Many CIOs have seen these quick-fire results firsthand. They offer the following advice for getting big-bang projects queued up and done right and describe how they measured success.


The Hickory, N.C., municipal government was tired of its old phone service. IT Director Jeff Brittain wanted to bring 21st century technology to city hall, which serves a community of 40,000 residents. He also wanted a system that was more manageable and offered better features for users. Knowing that there is steep competition in the telecommunications market, Brittain expected to get a good deal.

At the time, the city paid a monthly fee for phone service using its vendor’s equipment. “We didn’t own anything. We had to call them to make a change. They had full control of everything, and we were just a customer,” Brittain explains.

By capitalizing on the city’s existing infrastructure and vendor relationships, Brittain was able to implement a VoIP system in about six months, and he expects to recoup the city’s $165,000 investment in three years.

First, the city divided the request-for-proposals process into hardware and service bids. Brittain first invited a dozen hardware vendors to a group meeting where all prospective bidders could ask questions and hear the same answers. “That way, it was fair across the board,” he says.

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