I believe that a promise is made every time someone hires my team to do a job. It is a promise that we will do everything we can to help that customer meet their requirements and achieve sustainable success. Sustainable success is key and this is more challenging than it should be.
I will sum up the challenge as “Incongruous Agenda Syndrome” (IAS). That is a shout out to my colleague Pete Welcher, who is famous (well, internally at least) for cataloging social behaviors in IT as syndromes.
Anyway, IAS occurs when there is more emphasis on sales quotas, milestones, etc. than there is on the actual use case. I often get engaged on projects where everyone in the room seems more focused on getting a bill of materials (BoM) nailed down than they are on understanding the problem they need to solve or the use case they want to “enable”.
That isn’t to say folks don’t spend any time talking about requirements. They do. It just seems to me that they don’t spend enough time focused on understanding the actual business needs and use cases. Typically, the questions asked and topics discussed find inspiration from the capabilities of a product rather than the needs of the use case.
In my world view, this is a problem. I believe that it is a recipe for long term failure when an IT project focuses on the technology more than on understanding and addressing the actual business needs. You must start with the use case, which will vary based on your environment and most likely be as diverse as your organization. In clinical environments, you have to start with the patient. In customer contact center environments, you have to understand how your customers communicate and collaborate with your business today. In your standard enterprise, you have to understand the needs of your end users, how they interface with each other and what they need to be productive.
At the Collaboration Partner Summit Cisco spent time talking about how a “people-centric” approach to designing a solution is critical to the success of all parties involved in a project. I wholeheartedly agree. The goal is to create a solution that is flexible and can adapt to dynamically changing workflows. The whole “Anytime, Anywhere, Any Device” communication mantra. A tall order, but definitely the right idea.
I know this isn’t exactly a new message. I mean, Cisco coined the term the “human network” a while ago. Nonetheless I am very pleased to hear the “People-Centric” message be repeated and hope that eventually those of us on the front lines of technology will accept that the path to sustainable success is through your people, not your technology.