Design & Development methodologies have now changed from heavily-documented to lightweight methodologies. It is very difficult to speculate about what new might come in future.
By Navneet K. Gaur
Automation or computerisation are not hot words any more, almost all the organizations these days are in the second phase of development, in context of Information technology. We stepped out of the generation of Mainframes and Server rooms, and started talking about cloud at least since half a decade. Every business, Micro to Corporate, is already on cloud or looking forward to that in the next few years. Design & Development methodologies have now changed from heavily-documented to lightweight methodologies. It is very difficult to speculate about what new might come in future.
If we seek the past, we know that whatever software development model we adopted, ended up in “Coding and Debugging”. Coding and Testing processes/tools have developed immensely in past few decades but we still deliver softwares with bugs. But one should not be amazed if I say that a software with lots of bugs is not a major reason for failure of a Software Solution. Most of the softwares fail during the planning phase itself (because of a various reasons), although we miss out on them at the initial stages and keep investing further.
We read through manuals and follow guidelines to build an effective system, but omit the few attributes that can actually change the graph to its mirror image. Evaluating a potential solution is impacted by poor research practices, lack of technological tools and absence of statistical data. Even an efficient research tool with the implementation of data analytics cannot provide you the much needed insights of your solution when you ignore such attributes. This results in a situation that pushes the organization to rethink and plan the solution again, costing even more money and vital time.
Lack of Understanding
Exposure to business domain is not enough to create a technical process, one should also know how to use technology in the most effective way. For instance, for sending or sharing documents, replacing a typewriter with a computer plus printer is not a solution, if you have to keep sending them using fax machine.
The team formulating a solution must have a vision of where the business will stand in the next five years and what technology will become cost effective in that duration. GPS was not an easy to access technology few years back, so if some system was developed during that time with an independent module for tracing cargos, it can simply get replaced with GPS based module without impacting other functionalities, resulting in limited or Zero impact on user experience.
Including someone who can help with human psychology for evaluating user’s expectations and behavioral changes is also an added advantage for big impact projects. We all saw how Facebook gradually included rating/review places to increase its user base, although this did not match with the initial intent of this social media application.
Tight timelines and budgets generally provide the designing solution with incomplete or inappropriate data that affects the entire evaluation process and results in off-track design of the solution. User’s behavioral data that should include users directly interacting with the system and users impacted by the system, is usually the biggest omission. A system that might cover 100% of organizational requirement but 50% of suitability to end user has a much higher chance of failure in comparison to a system that covers 50% of Organizational need and 100% of that of the end users.
What model should be used to project a life journey depends on adequate data which will be the master parameter of business and user’s behavior for generating performance evaluation matrices. Performance is not limited here to define system performance but also the performance of end to end business processes. Four parameters of raw data i.e. accurate, reliable, enough & relevant can really make a difference between a successful or failed system.
Designing a solution without a contingency plan is almost sure to fail. In the initial phases of designing, we discuss a lot about strategies and plans for the next few years. These are always the driving forces of the solution we frame. But, as we all know that not all the future plans are implemented as formulated at the initial stage, they might get upgraded or downgraded as per business state of affairs. Almost all the time, the solutions developed without a contingency plan in place, are not going to have the capability to handle upgrade or downgrade in business and end up becoming an elephant with low ROI.
Before designing & developing any solution, we should ask certain questions to our self. Deep understanding and conceptualization followed by well-structured contingency plan to face the impact of uncertain strategies, is the key for solution success. Initiating a solution with a telescopic view of future, does not work. Once a solution is implemented, it is necessary to timely follow up on the basis of predefined strategies. This helps to create a proper plan of action to map the future solutions.
In short, while evaluating solution design, you should measure product outcomes and expected consumer behavior. It must be a collaborated effort, Client points of view and Solution’s behavior on a dynamic business situation should include end user’s and impacted users input. Solution optimization happens at all developmental stages, methods and on applied tools too but gathering most of the data and information accurately at initial stage will increase effectiveness of the solution. In addition, this will allow you to setup valid KPIs that will get integrated with the business and management of the entire solution development journey. This way these KPIs will be a part of the system and not another document that needs to be filled-in from time to time.
Most of these activities continue for a considerable period of time to meet the statistical and technical criteria required for a solution to succeed. Results should outreach all the measurement systems giving concrete evidence for taking Strategic decisions. The strategic decision and project execution should run at same speed like wheels of the vehicles to see the mystic progression.
The author is senior project manager at Xavient Information Systems.