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Is Switching to the Cloud About Escaping Responsibility?

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Business productivity is supposed to increase when organizations move essential functions to the cloud. But what business process issues do such changes imply?

As an example, check out this news story about a government email upgrade. It comes from a county on the outskirts of Baltimore:

Over the weekend, nearly 6,000 county employees had their email inboxes upgraded from a service dating back to the 1980s up to the modern day.

County Executive Laura Neuman said the shift to Google’s Mail service is a tremendous upgrade, and will ultimately increase efficiency and decrease overall costs.

Business Process Issues: City Council Meeting

© Flickr user MoBikeFed

This is the standard line whenever anyone is updating any system, whether it’s a switch to Google or some other provider. Newer tools will be faster, better, and cheaper.

But instead of discussing the benefits of the new provider, check out what the article has to say about the old system:

Neuman said she gets hundreds of emails a day, and using the county’s previous mail servers, experienced lag when doing basic operations such as opening or deleting emails. Multiply that lag across the 5,700 employees that use the county’s email servers, and it’s a frightening amount of time wasted, she said.

“If you can imagine, 5,700 people all struggling with the same issue, day after day,” she said.

The county had previously contracted computer programmers trained in a technologically ancient language to ensure the aging servers could still operate.

Business Process Issues: Old Technology

© Flickr user Pargon

First of all: the quoted source in this story gets “hundreds of emails a day.” Let’s conservatively estimate that at 150 messages, with the time merely to read them at 30 seconds. That means she’s spending more than a hour every day just looking at email!

Of course, overflowing email inboxes are quite common. But why does it occur to us to upgrade a system rather than ask why we’re dealing with so much information to begin with?

Second: Hiring experts in an “ancient language?” While this decision was apparently made before Ms. Neuman took office, it seems highly questionable. Surely, there is a better way forward than maintaining a system classified as archaic.

Ultimately, making a business process change should not allow us to quietly shirk responsibility. Someone in this county government completely ignored obvious productivity improvements for decades. While we’re making things better, we need to ask why they got so bad in the first place.

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Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter is a workflow and productivity expert. He is a nationally known speaker on topics related to personal productivity, corporate efficiency and employee engagement. Robby is the founder of AccelaWork, a company which provides speakers and consultants to a wide variety of organizations, including Fortune 500 companies, regional non-profits, small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Robby has written numerous articles for national magazines and has over one hundred published pieces. He is also the author of several books, including Failure: The Secret to Success. He has also been interviewed by international news outlets including the Wall Street Journal. Robby’s newest book is The Battle For Your Email Inbox.
Robby Slaughter


This is a headline for an anti-announcement.
Robby Slaughter
Robby Slaughter

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