As a child, I remember going door to door on Halloween with my UNICEF Box to collect money to help children around the world. I've been following with great interest this  Inner City Press news report of an apparent  whistleblower report claiming that UNICEF has apparently decided to migrate from Lotus Domino to Microsoft Exchange at a cost of approximately 6 million dollars. I must admit that I find this alarming when I do not see a financial or operational benefit to UNICEF for the cost of switching platforms, (I would say the same if they were an Exchange shop and were thinking of switching to Domino.)

There's been a lot of discussion in the Notes community about what people think is going on and the logic of the decision-making. An interesting summary also appears here. I won't try to second-guess the reasons -- I'll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.

Two things are clear to me:
1) I do not have any facts about the matter
2) There's probably more to this decision than is readily apparent.

How can UNICEF get greater value from their current investment in IBM Lotus Notes/Domino?

At the end of the day, migration decisions are about value. Someone, somewhere at UNICEF, must believe that the UNICEF will get greater value from migrating to a new platform than from staying with the present platform. In talking with some colleagues at ICA, we got to thinking about how  UNICEF might obtain greater value from their current infrastructure - value that would more than justify any investment.  Since UNICEF has already upgraded their Domino infrastructure to Notes 8, they already have in place a proven system to messaging, collaboration, and distributed applications. And, with version 8.51,  things are going to get even better. Domino 8 already offers the IT side of the house many features that will lower operating costs, save disk space and admin time, etc.. So what could UNICEF DO to get greater value from their current investment in Lotus Notes/Domino? To me, the answer is simple: equip their people with the skills and tools to use the power of Lotus Notes  (the system they already have in place) to help end users - the people on the front lines - to become more productive, to get more done with less, and to reclaim time spent each day.

People around the world are achieving extraordinary things using David Allen's “Getting Things Done®” (“GTD®”) methodology - it's a way of thinking about your work that clarifies the outcome and the steps to get there. It's the smartest investment I think of to help people become more productive. Best of all, GTD is a thought process - that means it can be implemented using any tools, from paper to web, to Lotus Notes, to Microsoft Outlook. And, there are thriving communities of GTD enthusiasts for each.

For people that use Lotus Notes, eProductivity™ is a proven application that makes implementing GTD in IBM Lotus Notes, easy. People around the world are reclaiming up to 30 minutes each day simply by using eProductivity and Lotus Notes to get things done. That's a half day a week of reclaimed productivity - per Lotus Notes user. What could you do with 1/2 a day of found time each week? Now, consider that you are UNICEF and you have 30,000 employees and that you have the potential to recover 30,000 half-days of time each week? What would that be worth?

The advantages I see are many: Small investment. No new servers to buy and license, and no rip-and-replace of the infrastructure. No admin training.

GTD can be implemented using the tools (e.g. Notes) that the end-users are already familiar with using the built-in features of the Notes Client that's already on the desktop. If they want to go further and deploy eProductivity, that's easy to do.

Thanks to the Lotus Notes template and replication architecture - unmatched by any other platform I'm aware of, applications like eProductivity can be deployed to 30 people or 30,000 people with a single command at the Domino Server console. Or, end-users can deploy it themselves. Either way, it's a quick process, thanks to the power of Notes & Domino.

I have no idea if the ideas in this post will ever get past the 8 readers of this blog, but I feel compelled to blog anyway. At a time when organizations are looking to cut costs to save money and are trying to do more with less, it is surprising to me that any organization would spend 6 million dollars to migrate to another platform unless they had a very compelling business-case for the switch - one that would assure them of extraordinary value. For organizations that use Notes (and for those that are contemplating migrating to something else) a small investment in people and process will go a very long way.

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