Many enterprise organizations are operating on systems that were created decades ago. They know they need to update, but it’s just not that simple:
Lingering memories of over budget or poorly planned technology migrations make updating seem more daunting than it should be, and the result is employees languishing in the doldrums.
All of us have witnessed technologies fail in the workplace. Convoluted screen share or conferencing tools, bizarre ordering or inventory software, or just plain old, uncool technology that is frustrating to use.
How many of us have simply used our cell phones rather than deal with the jumble of wires in the middle of the conference table?
What if a significant portion of your workforce is obligated to use unusable tech to complete critical pieces of their tasks? They’re not going to be excited about interacting with it, and a negative attitude makes for subpar performance.
Too often the budgets and processes for IT infrastructure are not aligned to the business objectives and employee needs. Just because the IT department knows a system well doesn’t mean that the teams who use it daily like it or understand it.How does this get solved?
Who has already solved the issue that you’re trying to solve?
How do our competitors navigate around this problem?
Identify the Problem – Not the Tech
Rather than devising a solution based on technology, determine what the business issues are (e.g. “we need to reduce inventory shrink in the warehouse”).
By starting with the problem, the steps to solve it are not bound. It doesn’t matter if you’re an Android, Windows or iOS shop if the technology selected doesn’t meet the needs of the business case you’re trying to solve.
Watch and Learn
No matter how a technology is devised and built, the daily users will find a way to uncover unexpected use cases, issues, and workarounds.
If you rely solely on who does the development you will miss out on vital intelligence.
Go watch the daily users of the current system that needs to be replaced. There are likely an equal number of items that need to removed as need to be updated.
Also – is there an IT support resource? Ask that team. They will give you invaluable intelligence on end user needs.
Based on the in-field observation you’ll be well set to list the functional and nonfunctional components of the application. Since the system should be considered dynamic, plan for future phases and include only the minimum needed to solve the issues at hand.
Nice-to-haves are just that. Keep the solution as simple as possible.
Select the Tech
Now that all your needs are identified, you can move on to selecting what tech platform to use. Things to consider include the following:
- Off the shelf vs. Proprietary
- Long term product life (don’t select end of life systems)
Cost is last for a reason. You don’t want to select technology that you’ll be stuck with or don’t fully understand. No need to save in the short term only to pay more down the road.
Whether working with internal or external partners be sure to consider the competency of the team with product platform selected. You will need dedicated resources who are free of other responsibilities in order to get the new system ready to deploy as soon as needed. Does your organization have any kind of legal or security approvals required? You’ll want to plan on involving those teams as soon as possible. Failure to do adds days, weeks, or even months to a project.
Build the Right Culture
Create a culture based on supporting the solution. No matter how well thought out or executed, no solution will work if your organization doesn’t put its resources behind it. This means finding and creating champions at every level from executive to daily user. Allow everyone the ability to have input during the appropriate phase of the project and provide plenty of support after launch.
Arguably one of the best benefits of developing a technical solution is that nothing is set in stone. As your organization uncovers hidden benefits and issues, you can plan on updating the technology in phases as your team evolves in its usage.
At the end of the day if you take these considered steps in devising your solution, you will end up in a much better state with a product that your users will find to be efficient and effective.