Dennis Kennedy has been republishing some of his interesting pieces. To Tech or Not to Tech? is a smart piece on making decisions about technology. The article focuses on technology for lawyers, but the principles here are pretty solid for any "to buy or not to buy" questions.
Here's the Key.
You must choose technology on the basis of whether it helps you be who you are and do what you want better than the other alternatives that you are considering.
There are several consequences of this approach. First, my best technology choices will not be your best technology choices. Second, although you should listen to advice and recommendations, the final decision must be your decision. Third, this approach forces you to think of technology as both a tool and an investment.
I particularly like this sentiment. In the world of knowledge work, my toolbox is guaranteed to be different than yours. In fact, why should it be the same? Sure, we will share many common implements, but we each have our unique skills and preferred modes of operation. Shouldn't our toolsets give us the right capabilities?
Dennis goes on to say that the purchase should be thought of in terms of what it brings. "Does it help you implement a better system, or does it improve an existing system?" Can it help get business? Once you have business, will it help complete it sooner? Will it give you greater capacity to accept more business? Will the benefit of this improvement be offset by the cost (both in dollars and in time that could be spent actively seeking business)?
Dennis even wraps up the article with Twelve Tips, Observations and Recommendations. Good stuff.