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This is a critique on an article written by Ngwenyama et al., (2005). In this article the authors argues out the possibility of using the learning curve to maximize IT productivity. Specifically they examine a decision analysis model for timing software upgrades. The articles is quite relevant at this age of constant upgrading of software which has drawn many IT managers into dilemma as they are other factors to be considered if an upgrading is accomplished too early; for instance there are likelihood that productivity may not be achieved and losses in investment are likely to be incurred from early upgrading of software. In contrast if the upgrading is done too late then there is a likelihood that a firm will likely lose on the productivity meant to be gained from latest upgrades. With this in mind the authors in their article set out to offer an approach that will help to make the correct timing for the implementation of the upgrades so as to maximize on the productivity gains. The article critique will carefully examine the learning curve, which the authors have presented, as the theoretical basis for their mathematical model.
This section forms the main part of this paper. This section bring into light the characteristic of the article by Nywenyama et al., (2005) in order to ascertain whether it is a good research paper and fit for reference within the scientific community. The article is predicative in nature as it seeks to predict the correct timing for upgrading to be appropriately to be effected.
Claim of the problem
The problem which Nywenyama et al. (2005) have given a proposal approach solution is a dilemma issue which arises when a vendor releases an updated version of a software. Making the decision on when to upgrade a version of software being used within a firm has been noted to be an elusive task; as IT managers are drawn into making decision which seems to be resulting to contradicting results. It is generally agreed that upgrading of software will make a system work more effectively but care should be taken not to upgrade software over short periods of time (Ahtiala, 2006, 202; Argote 1990, 920).
When software are upgraded too often over short periods of time firm ends up losing up benefits of which they ought to have accrued from the software. Arguing from the business point of view, the existence of a firm is maintained by profitability made through the activities the organizational activities. If there is frequent upgrading carried out over short periods of time then there is a likelihood that the firm will miss out on the full productivity of a given version. Upgrading to a newer version if not carefully done will deny a firm from the benefits of an existing technology system (Brynjolfsson and Hitt 1996, 123; Cooley, Greenwood, Yorukoglu 1997, 460).
Nywenyama et al. (2005) have argued that IT managers are forced to implement upgrading of their technologies by the software vendors. They claim that this, at times, is done by cutting off technical support for the current technology system. The vendors are said to claim that the newer version will increase the productivity of the firm but the authors resist this claim. The authors argue that there is a likelihood of a firm losing competitive advantage gained from its current state of technology. It has also been noted that the initial implementation and upgrading of a software system is one of the largest single investment that IT managers engage themselves in (Dardan, Busch, Sward, 2006, 688; Dorroh, Gulledge, Womer 1986, 205).
If an upgrading of the system is such that it will involve an overhaul of the whole system then it may be quite costly to a firm to undertake. This will even become more costly if the implementation is carried out on short intervals. Therefore, in as much as there are possibilities of productivity being gained from upgrading a system if it is implemented too early there are possibilities that it will equally be costly (Hall and Howell, 1985; Jovanovic 1997).
Upgrading software will lead to incurrence of extra costs such purchase of the actual software, the cost of implementing the upgrade such as training and the cost of lost productivity which comes about from the shifting to a new upgrade system.
Correct timing on the time when upgrading is to be carried out is a big dilemma to IT manager which Nywenyama et al., proposes to solve by using the learning curve. It has been shown that if upgrading is carried to soon there are costs which are likely to be incurred as well as some losses but again if the upgrading is carried out after an unnecessarily long period then a firm may lose out on benefits which come with upgrades. Having identified the claim of the problem which needs to be solved, attention is now turned to examining the warrant on which the claim is argued (Hornstein and Krusell 1996, 209; Ko, and Osei-Bryson, 2004a).
The warrant on which the claim is argued
It has been argued above that there is a need for the correct timing to be carried out when there is a wish for upgrading to be carried out. Then authors laid a warrant arguing that either too early or too late upgrading of software will lead to losses being incurred. What come out clearly and needed to be determined is how early is too early and how late is too late. The authors have put it across that either of them will lead to a loss and hence the need to develop a model which will assist in predicting the correct timing for an upgrading to be carried out (Loveman 1994, 85; Pananiswami and Bishop 1991).
The backing up for the above warrant
The authors in this article have raised the following the following inferences which assert their warrant. The inferences are as follows; early upgrading leads to incurring of costs which have been listed as training costs, time loss as it takes time for the employees to adapt to the new upgrades, possibilities of loss of competitive advantages of a firm which would have been gained from the older version of software (Rittter and Schooler 2002, 8602; Weil 1992, 307).
Backing up of the claim
Though software upgrades, in most cases, operate in the same way as the old version there are instances that training of employees will be required in order to implement new versions. The training is an added cost to a firm. It is also clear that after training on how to use a new version it is human nature that it will take some time to adapt to the new versions. The time taken for the training exercise and adapting time by the employees amounts to substantial loss time. If upgrading is carried out frequently then the implication is that there will be constant wastage of time by the firm employees. Apart from wasting time resulting from early upgrading, firms which upgrade their software are at the same level thus if there are some competitive advantages that a firm had gained then such advantages are likely to be lost. Frequent upgrading of software leads to loss of initial investment made on software.
On the other hand there are losses which are likely to be incurred if a firm engages in upgrading after a long time. A firm is likely to lose the benefits which come with new upgrades and if the upgrading is done after a long time then a firm might be left behind as far as competition in the market is concern; new versions of software are meant to increase the productivity of the production in a firm. Delays in implementing a new version after long period of time will mean that the firm adapting to new process in the market which other firms have already learnt. This leads to firm lagging behind in the market. The claim of a need to identify the correct timing for upgrading of is based upon the above warrant. The next section examines the backing up upon which the warrant is argued (Hansen 2004, 457).