How a proper understanding can save months of implementation and many thousands of EURO0 years in business – before the change
Executives often ask (themselves) why business concept implementation takes so much longer than initially estimated in design phase and why the cost estimates are not even close to the reality (hint: rule of thumb to be on safe side – halve the benefits, double the costs and the implementation time. Then you should be fine)
In these days, basically, any business initiatives or ideas need some kind of support of IT tool or system in the background. Thus, at least certain degree of IT customization or integration is needed, if not the build-up of an entire system.
And that’s where often the miscalculation and wrong expectations begin. But not due to omitting the IT aspect of the project. But rather due to not fully understanding its complexity, impact it will eventually have on IT systems or their integration (very often this complexity is fully understood by the teams only in retrospective).
The gap between the expectations and IT development reality very often begins already in the design phase. That’s when project initiators (business side) have their business ideas, plans and assumptions (but not all of them fully communicated to IT teams). On the other side, supporting IT teams have their own understanding of the business initiative, and own (unspoken) assumptions about it. And quite often these understandings and assumptions are not the same.
Of course, after several joint workshops both sides (business and IT) genuinely think that matter is clear and mutual understanding was reached. But reality shows, that often it is not. Or at least not fully. Because two different worlds meet on these workshops and not necessary understand each other (though often may think they do…until they realize they don’t).
There may be several reasons why the misunderstandings occur (ultimately impacting the timeline and budget of the project).
Business teams may not fully communicate the entire scope they plan for or they do not share the significant details that eventually have a profound implication on IT stream. And sometimes information is just lost in the conversations. Or put it differently, that one bullet point or sentence in the business concept may mean great of a change for IT team. And sometimes, that important bullet point, that “was always meant”, is missing at all (only to be discovered during the implementation phase).
So, to avoid these unpleasant surprises it is crucial to understand what is important for IT teams. Only then one can correctly estimate complexity and effort needed to implement the project. And we do not talk about detailed functionalities here. But rather about understanding key IT blocks, integrations or potential implementation hurdles. Business teams need to properly understand what IT teams need to know, without getting lost in deep technical details. And to bridge it, one needs to have bit of both worlds.
But there is also good news.
By investing bit of extra time and effort in the beginning, it is possible to save lot of trouble, time and money afterwards. Often it is possible to cut out items not crucial for the success of the project and at the same time bring substantial simplification on IT side. Think, for example, that not all customer questions need to be captured by integrated IT systems in the initial phase but can be rather handled semi manually (until concept is confirmed and proper IT system support is rolled-out). Or whether that variety of products and schemes is really worth that money spent on IT development.
Often, it is a trade-off between having everything perfect and complex (as envisioned in the business proposition) and cutting out some of the requirements. The trick is to do it the way that minimizes business impact and at the same time it brings significant simplification in IT development.
Director at Aspiro