Warren Puyarena, the information technology manager of Porter Keadle Moore, says the price of installing and maintaining a groupware system can be considerable: $1,200 for a basic Lotus Notes package, plus a per capita charge for the number of "seats"; $895 a year for updates; and $10,000 for a Notes server. (Those amounts are "in the ballpark," says Paul Labelle of Lotus public relations.) Then there is the cost of training. Finally, somebody has to set up and maintain all that information. "Technology replaces work for some people, but it usually adds work for others," says Puyarena. "There's no free lunch."

Just ask Keith Lamb. Lamb is another big fan of Lotus Notes, which he credits with helping improve communication and morale at his company. At the Lamb Group, a $3-million Chicago-based group of consulting and recruiting companies, groupware lets employees track the progress of projects throughout the company -- as well as their own progress in the company's incentive plan. But all this nifty automation isn't cheap: Lamb estimates that his overall technology budget for 1997 was about 6% of revenues. "Every time we get a new process we get more work," he says.