Don’t let your government be a bad HOA meeting
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend my first Home Owners Association meeting.
I’m sad to report that the condo complex in question is in horrible shape and is in desperate need of repairs. The entire property needs completely new plumbing, new roofs and much more. The best case scenario is an investor will buy the entire property, bulldoze it and build something new.
Many of the homeowners, however, have lived here for over 20 years and have no intention of moving. So the thought of selling to an investor is abhorrent to them. They’d rather stay put. Even though the place is in horrible shape and need of major repairs, they don’t want to pay for those repairs. So their plumber is at the property every week making small repairs. It’s like he’s putting “BandAids on barbed wire.” This immediately reminded me of where I got that visual: an older article I read about Colorado Springs’ IT department.
Colorado Springs awarded a $1.25 million contract in June 2012 to replace their aging systems and databases. The project was supposed to be completed in June 2015 and the city ended up spending $787,474.62 before they abandoned the contract this year.
In 2011, Colorado Springs awarded a $1.3 million contract for data management that was set to be completed in August 2014. Again, Colorado Springs spent $1,053,679 before abandoning that project as well.
Colorado Springs now plans to spend $1.1 million this year in network components, design and storage and backup, but have yet to issue the requests for proposal.
The article featured Jeff Beauprez, who owns two IT companies, Colorado Networks and eVanics, that specialize in technology architecture. He said that technology infrastructure is expensive and always changes and there should be a continual investment, not a redesign of the whole system every year.
A key problem in the industry is that “techies” typically want to install new technology without fully understanding the work that the business, in this case the city, is trying to accomplish, he said. An architect finds out what type of business needs exist and then brings in technology to get the work done.
“If they are cobbling hardware together to avoid a failure – I use the term Band-Aids and barbed wire,” he [Beauprez] said, “If you are just trying to fix what is broken that is not a good long-term strategy.”
We have found that sometimes local governments act like the homeowners at the HOA meeting – They don’t want to move or change to a new system. They know that where they are isn’t perfect, but instead of investing the time and resources to get it up to snuff, they’d rather put small Band-Aids on the situation to hold them over until the next week’s problem.
We’ve seen too many governments spend too much money on land, license and financial management software that doesn’t work. Much like repairing leaks instead of the larger disintegrating infrastructure, the fix simply won’t hold.
We know that it’s a risk to switch to a new vendor, to use a new software. But sometimes you just have to accept that the old system isn’t working, and it’s time to try something new.