Thinking about IT projects as you would an “all you can eat” buffet

By Clinton Jones on August 22, 2012

IT projects (IT renewal projects in particular) can become a major catalyst for business process improvement, or position the business for great initiatives that drive lower costs, improve margins and maximize sales or service.

It is fair to say that with the passage of time, many organizations, particularly large ones see a proliferation of technology solutions to address business requirements. Some of these solutions were implemented by the business, others were implemented by IT.

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Photo by: Hotel Arthur [CC Attribution 2.0]

At some point in time, taking inventory of the systems in play, the relative complexity of the landscape and the cost of ownership, leads the business and IT to conclude that they need to consolidate, rationalize and possibly re-implement.

The last few weeks I have had the opportunity to interact with a number of existing Winshuttle customers to discuss their current implementations and planned implementations for expansion of their business process improvement initiatives. These are the common denominators identified with all of the organization:

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Just as with the all you can eat buffet, piling your plate with overly ambitious and large scale changes can ultimately lead to more macro failures of the initiative. Understand your teams’ limitations, the capabilities of the technologies and the palate of the business for change. Choosing a smaller plate of capability gives you a better chance for a successful completion. Choosing a larger plate invariably will lead to leaving some things de-scoped or curtailed.

Do a taste test before committing to a plateful

You may really like the idea of the soup, but a sampling may indicate that the soup is not so great and you would be better off with salad. Spending time on a Proof of Concept (POC) and proper evaluation can prevent hardship during and after an initiative, especially if you use a POC to prove what you believe will be the most challenging characteristics of your business process improvement initiatives. This has proven if the vendor(s) you are dealing with are new to you. Depending on the buffet, and the range of options available to you, this might be more confusing than clarifying. For example, one of the great benefits of a constrained technology stack is that you don’t get to choose any old approach to solving a particular business problem. You may have many choices presented to you, but that doesn’t mean you have to embrace everything that is offered.

Expand your palate

The most successful companies seem to be those that are prepared to consider a wide array of options when addressing business challenges. The options cover not only the types of technologies that are evaluated, but also the implementation methodology, and the business areas that are going to be tackled. It’s easy to consider Finance as a common denominator in terms of business areas that can easily enjoy business process optimization, but ignore sales and marketing, procurement or logistics. Rethinking the areas that are considered the lowest hanging fruit in the business in terms of opportunity for improvement could lead to great strides with your initiatives.

If you’re not a Thai Green Curry person, or don’t think you’re going to like curry, next time you’re at the buffet why not add a little taste to your buffet choice?

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