New technology – having the latest and greatest toy or gadget is the way to go, right? Well, not if it doesn’t solve your need or real desire. If it doesn’t solve something, then it will just collect dust over time and frustrate you that you wasted so much money on it just to hang clothes on it or have it take up space.
So, what is the best way to decide what technology to buy?
Stay true to the methodology.
The process should drive the project, not the technology. Right now, somewhere… there is a wife buying her husband some cool new tool to entice him to do a job around the house that can be done a number of different ways with a number of different materials. I know this has worked for my wife with me, but in the long run, it didn’t really motivate me beyond the initial task at hand… and now we have lots of tools collecting dust.
No amount of cool software will replace good sound fundamentals when it comes to creating repeatable processes that can be taken to the masses in an organization and help take it to the next level. For example, there are nice requirements management tools out there, but if a customer or a project team has no clue how to capture requirements and can’t follow a process to get from requirements definition to actually develop a solution, then the project will fail no matter what requirements capture method or methodology is used.
PMI and PMP promoters would say this is where like-mindedness and common dialogue helps an organization create those repeatable processes and helps keep all project managers in an organization traveling down a similar path. It allows the organization to put the same face on each project, remain consistent and create the same type of customer experience for each customer and for returning customers…and thus, likely creating greater customer satisfaction.
I don’t disagree with that statement, though I also don’t think it is the only way to get there. Experienced project managers bring invaluable knowledge to the table and can also easily adapt to sound project management methodology and principles.
Enough about that though…I’m heading down the wrong path again. What I’m trying to say here is that when managing a project, know the following:
- What does the end solution need to accomplish?
This will help the team determine the best technology to use to accomplish the end goal.
- What information needs to be captured and presented?
This will enable the project manager to utilize the best software or technology to deliver information in a timely and understandable manner.
When I was the Sr. Project Manager at Rockwell Collins, I was required to present larger, more visible projects to a Technology Council comprised of leaders within the organization. The goal of the council was to help ensure that the proper technology was being used for the solution because many customers pushed for a particular technical solution that may not be in the best interest of the project or the corporation (these were internal projects for internal business units, for the most part).
By presenting a high-level view of the project and a proposed solution to the council, we could jointly decide on these larger projects what the proper solution should be. We had a good process in place, which allowed us to utilize the best technology for each project. Process first, technology second.
Summary / Call for Input
If the proper process and practices are in place and skilled resources – such as an experienced project manager and skilled project team members – are leading the effort, then the technology is almost an afterthought. If you allow technology to drive the solution, then the possibility of delivering a solution to the customer that does not fully meet their needs is infinitely higher thus increasing the likelihood of customer dissatisfaction overall.
Bypass these problems by creating a logical process to evaluate problems and proposed solutions, put that process on a regular schedule, and follow the plan.
What about our readers? What are your thoughts and experiences with this issue? Have you had clients that want the shiny new technology enough to create projects that didn’t really solve the need that actually needed solving? What is your process for deciding what technology to buy? Please share and discuss.