There’s a new buzzword in town, and Accenture are all over it. It’s the signal for all of us to get up to speed before that embarrassing moment in that board meeting when someone asks: “what do you think about zero-budget based approaches?”.

So, what do you think about zero-budget based approaches? 98% of you may currently be nonplussed, and that’s fine; we will address that. If you have the same response after this article, then that could be a problem.

The zero-budget based approach refers to someone in finance assigning an arbitrary budget for the following year to a business area, or the head of an area assuming the budget that should be allocated. The budget starts at zero. Then the budget is allocated and assigned as each sub-business area justifies why they require x amount for an activity, event or piece of technology.

Often viewed negatively as a cost-cutting approach to budgeting, it actually represents a larger and more important opportunity to start from scratch. It forces teams and managers to continually ask the question ‘why?’; Why is this important? Why do I need this? Why do we still do things in this way?

A significant issue for many companies is legacy technology or technological debt, accumulated through mergers past, poor choices, forgotten software or high turnover (everyone wants to prove their worth by bringing in a new technology). Strangely, it’s an issue that elicits an astounding amount of complacency across the industry and becomes the convenient excuse for leaving the status quo unchallenged.

I understand, getting rid of legacy technology isn’t as easy as clicking your fingers and switching to an alternative. However, just imagine what would be possible if you were able to change the conversation around technology.

From: “We would like to run an engagement campaign with our tier 2 clients on our website, but x legacy system won’t allow us to push live fund data onto our website via an automated feed. So, let’s just insert a .jpg of a fund comparison matrix with links to all the fund pages in a row next to it, it’s basically the same experience. The client knows to click through to the fund page and download the factsheet. That counts as engagement – they clicked.”

To: “We would like to run an engagement campaign with our tier 2 clients on our website but x legacy system won’t allow us to push live fund data onto our website via an automated feed or even offer dynamic content. If we don’t offer interactivity, then that particular sub-set of client won’t even bother clicking around the page. We need to get ahead of our competitors and give those key clients the opportunity to compare our funds in real-time across a range of filters and then record and cookie the last three funds they look at. This allows us to offer them a personalised experience, designed to engage them over and over again across a range of channels not restricting us to our website. If x legacy software is incapable of that functionality then I think it’s time we consider if it’s still fit for purpose both in terms of our current and, within reason, future requirements.”

By factoring in technology in tandem with your plans for the following year you are able to understand if you have the tools necessary to achieve the activities that you have outlined. Also, by creating the habit of assessing your technology alongside your actual needs over time, you remove the excuse and blocker that is legacy technology.

That may seem overly simplistic, and it deliberately was for the purposes of this article, but the main point is stop seeing legacy technology as an unsurmountable problem. Take it back to zero. Think what you could alternatively invest in, or be capable of, if you weren’t wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds on technology that at the very least doesn’t even make life easier. At the other end, making that change could empower you to offer clients the experience that they are demanding.