What do you mean your software works? My solution still doesn’t!

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I’ve recently had a strange experience in our business: TIME. Time to ponder on the lessons of nearly 20 years in the Software/IT industry. One of those lessons is, “It takes more than great software to solve a problem.” Now there are a lot of great companies out there whose slogans, whose very names, might contradict this idea, but in almost 20 years I don’t think I’ve seen a single problem facing an IT Manager that has been solved by software alone. It hasn’t been done; it can’t be done (at least not yet), because no matter how well you line up the ‘1s’ and ‘0s’, it takes more than great software to make a great solution.

Experience has taught me that an IT problem or need is only resolved when several elements come together to form a single well thought out solution. Over the course of my career I’ve noticed some common elements present in most great solutions. These are:

  • A great plan
  • Outstanding people
  • Excellent training
  • Superb software
  • A well-prepared and maintained environment

Yes, software is an element of a great solution, but it’s only one and if any one element isn’t adequate the entire solution is put in jeopardy. Here’s a brief description of each element taken from my experience.

First of all, the entire solution hinges on a great plan. Without a plan you can’t identify the people, the training, or the software you need to resolve the problem. You might not even be able to describe the problem. That is the first step; identify the problem. Examine the resources available for resolving the problem and which additional resources you’ll need. If software is part of the solution, figure out how it will work with the rest of your environment and how you will ensure it meets the requirements while not introducing new unexpected problems.

No plan is worth the electrons required to record it if you don’t have outstanding people prepared to work on each step from planning to implementation and through ongoing maintenance. Having the right people in the right positions doing the right things can be the difference between success and endless frustration. However, rarely do all the right people come with all the right knowledge all the time. Therefore it is important to have excellent training in place to educate and edify your outstanding people so that they may be in a position to take full advantage of your new great solution. This training should allow the people implementing and maintaining the solution to perform their daily tasks efficiently, identify when problems exist, and know how to address issues as they arise.

Skipping software for a moment, it is absolutely critical that the environment you introduce your solution into be well-prepared for the solution and fully maintained after the solution is implemented. Without that careful preparation, it doesn’t matter how great your plan was, how outstanding or well-trained your people are, or how wonderful your software (or mine) is, the solution is likely to fail. This happens every day in every size of company, whether through neglect, oversight, over-work, over-capacity, or other unforeseen circumstance, having an environment that doesn’t meet minimum requirements causes more IT solutions to fail than anything else I’ve come across, and there’s only so much outstanding people and superb software can do to mitigate this shortcoming.

Finally, superb software is the machine that brings the solution together and gets the work done. Just as with a mechanical machine, there are limits, there are requirements and prerequisites, but the machine can bring great benefits if operated correctly. I’m very grateful to work for 1E. We’ve created some really superb software already and continue to look for more ways to make IT more efficient, and I’m happy to say I work for more than a software company. I work for a company that takes pride in providing the best of every element of an IT Solution.

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