Technology changes very quickly in some areas, especially in computing. This can cause problems when there is a relatively long period between the drafting of an initial outline specification on which to seek funding and the time when funds are available and the institution is ready to order the goods. It may be possible to forward guess where the technology changes will take the specification of the desired equipment.
- In respect of computing, of course, there is a possibility that you will be able to obtain higher specification equipment at a lower unit cost. This situation may result in a slightly lower budget figure allocated to an exercise based on the expectation of a lower cost for the required or slightly higher product specification. After the procurement exercise has been completed, there may be surplus funds that may either have to be returned to the funding source or, if approved by the funding source, can be used to purchase additional goods or services.
- In research grant applications, there can be quite a delay from the application stage to grant award. In computing terms, this could mean that the application was for a Model C that has been superseded by models D and E by the time the award is made. Indeed, if a reasonably long delivery time is expected, it could be that the desire of the institution is to obtain Model G which is expected to be available by the anticipated delivery date. This, as you can see, can cause problems for both the Principal Investigator when preparing the original grant application [having to forward guess the industry] and for the grant award body [deciding whether to make an award for the product requested or one that takes account of the technology shift].
- The risk of technology change can also arise where, for example, a cutting edge department is being set up. This can take several years from initial concept to having the physical location, staff and equipment in place. During this time period, technology shift could make the facility out of date or even obsolete.
Dealing with technology shift will not be easy, however, it is important that the issue is considered when planning procurement involving equipment with a high technological design element.
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