Custom Application Development

Jan 5 2008   2:30AM GMT

Business Goals and Application Development

SJC SJC Profile: SJC

I am continually shocked by the constant writings I read that express (…as if it were a “New” requirement) the need for IT departments and developers to “…consider the needs of the business” — Duh!

To my way of thinking this is as basic as getting up in the morning.  There will always be something new (and improved) that the marketing gurus will be touting – and it probably won’t be inexpensive.  Determining the “savings” of the latest and greatest is tricky at best, and what about the “learning curve” before the “savings” can be realized?  How can one know until the time is spent?

In most companies one needs not look very far before coming upon areas of inefficiency.

  Take for example one of my favorites — check processing.  I’ve known companies both large and small where someone in the office grabs the checks – (in some case I’ve known as many as a few hundred checks) – takes them to a copier and makes copies of them prior to preparing them for deposit.  This is the way it has always been done, so after a while it has become a tradition.  If you’ve seen this, have you ever asked why it is being done…or what happens with the copies?  It could be some very interesting answers that you get — or even non-answers.  “We’ve always done it this way” I’d guess would be the most common one.

Now, with the prior example in mind, we have identified an area of the business which is certainly inefficient and perhaps even wasteful.  (What ever happened to the “paperless” office concept?)  One would have to know, however, whether eliminating waste (like a lot of costly copies and time to make them) fits into the business’s goals, as one would almost certainly figure they would.

Now “IF” this does in fact fit with the business goals, it is now time to look at the “business process” and answer definitively the question of why make the copies, and the questions which will inherently arise from the answers received.  Examining just one operation like this often reveals that the inefficient and inadequate procedures first seen are only the “tip of the iceberg”. 

The analysis is a must – and no question should go without answers.  Once the “business process” is reviewed, and the business goals are reviewed with the business process in mind — it is only then that the question of this blog “Custom Application Development: Buy, Build or Ignore?” can be addressed.

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