Build In Value Blog

Which Came First, The Project or The Solution?

By Rand Manasse

 

There is always a new technology available with the promise to make our business more efficient and more profitable.

Chicken and the Egg

Which was first, the project or the solution?

 

In other words what was first, the technology or the idea? The chicken or the egg? In my previous blog I wrote about the technology decision is all about making a business decision first and then adding the technology to make it work.  That helps us know that the answer to our question is the project!

 

I will let someone else answer the chicken and egg question.

 

When a Good Idea is Doomed for Failure

 

It is tempting to allow a project idea to be sparked by the discovery of new technology. Technology vendors reach out to business leaders with new opportunities leading from the discovery of new technologies. There is always something new in the market that promises to solve our problems while making our business better and this discovery can prompt a new business project.

 

Technology vendors will present their out-of-the-box solutions as the next best solution to solve the world’s problems. They will then work with you to learn about your business and will present a solution that fits your company needs. They are truly interested in making business better, but their driving force is to grow their own company. It is a secondary goal to grow the business of their clients.

 

New technology should excite your team’s vision of what could be!  It should fit into the company’s Hedgehog Concept of doing one thing and doing it well.

 

How Great Companies Approach Projects and Technology

 

No matter how a project idea occurs there needs to be a purpose established. This purpose is at the intersection of the three considerations or circles where your Hedgehog concept resides.  Here is the definition of the Hedgehog concept:

 

1.     What you are passionate about?

2.     What you can best at?

3.     What drives your economic engine?

 

Every project should be approached through the scope of the Hedgehog Concept. Once your company has built momentum on its flywheel you want to keep going. You want to do things that keep the flywheel spinning while making it go faster and faster over time.

 

Each project should have a purpose. This purpose should drive the technology decisions. When a project has purpose and goals the technology needed becomes clear. You will now be able to see what exactly is needed to stay within your Hedgehog Concept.

 

When you have purpose you can approach the technology vendors and discuss solutions. They will likely push back to show you how you can change to fit their solution. Do not give in. If there is a solution that fits your purpose and criteria then great, move ahead with it.

 

If a solution cannot be found a custom mix may be necessary. In this instance you can use multiple solutions to create something unique for your specific business.

 

When dealing with technology projects it isn’t important what comes first, the solution or the project. What is important is how you setup the project and how you will achieve its purpose and the goals.

 

Focus on these items and not on the technology and your business and the project will have the best chance of success.

 

As always, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think. If you need help in building value into your business, please contact me at 914.741.5200 or rmanasse@referencesystems.com.

 

To your success!

 

Rand

Business Decisions Involving Technology Is NOT About The Technology

Computer Rude Goldberg contaption

by Rand Manasse

How often have we heard that the new system is a failure?

 

Just recently United Airlines had to shut down flights for the better part of a day because the “system” did not work.  The common lament is that the system does not work and is jeopardizing our relationships with customers, vendors or partners. Which system were they referring to?  The technology or operational system?

 

Businesses face problems because they treat change involving new technology differently than they treat the decisions they have to make with other processes.  


Jim Collins, author of “Good to Great”, stated it very well in that the question is not “What is the role of technology in building great companies?” Rather, the real question is “How do those who build great organizations think differently about technology?

 

The difference between the two questions is subtle but the response can make the difference between technology that is implemented on time, on budget and successfully or the alternative. To apply this underlying principle when making technology decisions just forget that this decision has anything to do with technology. As absurd as this sounds; technology is something we fear because many of us lack the necessary knowledge to evaluate technology and how it will interact with our business. This fear is a basic human emotion regarding change.  But do not fear because as a business leader we do not fear business decisions!

 

The decision that involves technology is a decision to solve a business need.  First, define the business need and then develop the processes to solve the need.  Remember to forget about the technology!  When the solution has been defined then ask the question “How can we improve the process?”.  Sometimes the answer will be as simple as a non-technological process improvement.  Other times the solution will be to implement that new whiz bang technology. 

 

Having the technology follow the business process will make the technology fit the business, not the other way around.  This process almost always guarantees success.

 

A simplified example would be a need to transport a product from New York to California. If you make the technology decision first you might use a "MACK" truck to solve the problem.  When you evaluate the business process then apply the technology you find that a smaller cargo van will suffice. Two different solutions solve the same problem but one works well and the other solution is costly and probably will not be ready on time.

 

Some basic rules to follow when working with technology decisions:

 

1.     Be open to change, but approach everything as a business decision and not a technology decision. You do not need to know everything about every new technology.

 

2.     You also do not need to yield control of the decision making process to a technology expert at your company.

 

3.     Focus on your established business processes and goals. These will guide you through new technology opportunities.

 

4.     Change and technology are good when they fit the business goals.

 

5.     In the end it’s simply a business decision, not a technology decision.

 

As always, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think. If you need help in building value into your business, please contact me at 877.341.5200 or rmanasse@referencesystems.com.

 

To your success!

 

Rand

 

Image Credit: Phil Manker

 

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