The Business-Technology Weave

Apr 12 2010   1:16PM GMT

False Solutions Part V: Out with the New, In with the Old

David Scott David Scott Profile: David Scott


So, what ultimately happened with XYZ’s appraisal system?  XYZ Corporation eventually threw out the new system, and went back to the old.  A fresh set of eyes looked at the appraisal process and saw an opportunity for cost cutting.  The vendor and their associated product were simply removed from the environment – saving training costs, upgrade costs, support costs, and eliminating wasted time.  Managers were held accountable by their supervisors for timely and correct submission of appraisals, and those supervisors were held accountable, and so on up the line.  In other words, this corporation put the push where it belonged – in the general areas of discipline and accountability.


Here too is an important understanding:  IT people often don’t want to appear as a “block” to initiatives, and can remain mum on ideas that they see as unwise.  Business must recognize this and foster an open dialog on needs and solutions in sponsoring a civil debate on what is best for the organization all around.  A well-defined business-implementation team (BIT) is a great forum.  Leaders’ responsibility – Business and IT – will be to weigh what they hear during feedback in making decisions.  At the same time, IT must maintain solid credibility so that their counsel on the business end of “solutions” is weighed and considered with proper weight and focus by Business. 


One important concept that IT can expose is what the false solution does to economy of scale.  Any time you remove specific business from common resources and supports, such as wide serving networks, common end-user apps such as e-mail and wordprocessing, you chip away at an economy of scale because almost always there is a parallel deployment of a “specialized” resource, asset, application, platform, etc.  You now build a new area of overhead and recurring cost.  Be very wary in these circumstances.  Before you bring in the “new,” examine the “old” and its supposed deficiencies very carefully.


Keep in mind that the phenomenon of the False Solution is very real.  You may have experienced it in full, or perhaps to some lesser degree.  Consider that often times you may achieve a strange parity: a “solution” that works, but is no more efficient or enabling than what preceded it.  In those circumstances you live with the squander of resources in simply delivering something different.  The organization may yet suffer a poor return going forward, as stakeholders in a new system make erroneous or wasted effort in trying to squeeze out advantages that are simply not there.  In all cases, remember the adage to “measure twice, cut once.”  Take very careful measure of needs, “solutions,” and vendors so as to create proper definitions and deliveries.


Let’s next examine the XYZ case to see where people frequently go wrong, and the red flags to look for.  There are always red flags to indicate that you may be embarking on a False Solution.

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