The IT project barriers and how to deal with them

In the information era where we live in a connected society with mobile devices, cloud, big data and internet of things, efficient information management projects are still a challenge to implement and manage. They should be simple but that is not the reality.

Have you wondered why in this era where everyone and everything is connected, so many companies are still managed with excel when we all know that it does not allow tracking in time nor team work and information is lost in e-mails and file folders?
 
The reason is that excel has a lot of limitations but one very powerful feature: it gives autonomy!
With excel anyone can build lists of clients, products or orders, do calculations and extract and visualize information in graphs or pie-charts. With this ability lots of business start and grow. And, a very important thing, business managers can adapt the excel to their needs. 

But then the typical situation is: as business grow, more people have to work together and that is when the problem get obvious: the excel-managed-business inefficiencies kill service quality and damage business growth.


So business typically start the process to specify an IT project: define the information that has to be managed, the processing workflows and hire an IT company that builds a POC and implements the solution. If everything is well managed, solutions are delivered using agile methodologies, training is given and, with more or less effort, excel is replaced. It should be as simple as this, right? But it isn't...
There are a couple of barriers that have to be tackled to stay compatitive and with satisfied costumers!

The specification of information forms and workflow is a hard task because managers are focused in the business and don't have the time/skills/patience to specify in detail what everyone does.
Another challenge is that, as we know, change is a constant and while in excel the managers had liberty to change, that is more difficult when a collaborative system has been implemented to answer to the original specification. The problem is that in the fast pace of business in the digital era, you either move and adapt or die!
These difficulties, that keep business from having information systems exactly has they need, are barriers that must be removed or, at least, minimized.
Let's reflect on this: when businesses where managed on paper and excel, they had all the flexibility. But nowadays, that is not enough. Why? Because a few years ago they were managed locally at a smaller scale so paper and excel did their job. 
That is not enough now, as the information processing volume and speed that business have today, and the response times that a company has to give to its clients in the digital era are not compatible with inefficiencies. Added to that, some companies are geographically distributed.
Having a workflow that allows team collaboration and tracking is vital. Teams must work together to be efficient and collaborate to deliver quality services. Business managers need information data to understand and adapt to the reality.
So how do we move on?
The approach we defend is to give more power to the business managers and implement solutions quicker.
IT solutions must have the flexibility of excel to build lists of clients, products or orders on-the-fly but also workflows and dashboards with status indicators. And they MUST be adaptable by business managers.
Of course complex operations will need IT intervention and consultancy. BUT even those must be quick. Complex processes should be divided into simpler sub-processes managed independently that together build the complete solution.
We have been using this approach and in all our projects clients start using the solution in 1 to 2 weeks after project starts and with the skills to adapt it to their needs. One of the vital principles is that any solution is open to use information from existing systems and can serve information to other solutions that already exist or will be defined in the future. With no additional costs.
Breaking down IT barriers requires different methodologies and tools. Business owners must have flexibility and consultancy must help them to achieve that. IT solutions must be designed to cope with constant change.
Two simple questions: can you change a product form instantly, for example add a "product owner"? If so, everything still works without calling your IT team? Or add an additional person to an approval process or simplify it on the fly? 
If not, you should!.. 

Let's talk!
Filipe Clérigo
CTO and Partner
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