How Can I Make Better Business Decisions?
We all have needs. Seeking products and services to fill those needs can be a tricky task. Grab your notepad because it’s story time and wisdom is going to be disclosed!
Buying A Vacuum Analogy
I recently was in the market for a vacuum. Rather than go to a warehouse store and buy the latest coupon offering, I actually went to a vacuum dealer to get something that would meet my needs. Specifically I have carpet, wood and tile and I wanted a vacuum that could work on all 3 surfaces. The conversation started with a demo of how most vacuums just roll over stains and lack the ability to offer a deep clean. Being OCD, he peaked my interested. He proceeded to demonstrate a vacuum that steamed the tile grout and the difference was incredible. Not only did it offer the ability to clean grout, the vacuum head was adjustable allowing for reaching those hard to get places such as under the bed. I was sold. It was a perfect vacuum for that deep clean.
The salesman only knew the information I presented and reacted to my behavior of seeing the pristine grout. Only when I got home with my new purchase did I realized I probably should have defined my needs a little better. Let me start with size, my house is approximately 2,000 square feet. A 1000 sq. feet is wood. Carpet covers the remaining 900 sq. feet and only is a small bathroom and laundry room tile. I have items under my beds to leverage storage space as best possible. My day to day behavior is to spot vacuum. Multiple times a week I will pull out the vacuum and hit the spot where I’ve dropped baby powder on the floor or dirt has been tromped in from outside. I have never steam cleaned my grout after living in the home 5+ years, nor had my carpets clean. A deep clean where I move furniture, scrub walls, or wash windows occurs once a year yet I just bought the latest and greatest.
1. Don’t Buy In A Vacuum
How often does the decision maker in your organization ink a deal offering the perfect software, yet they don’t know the day-to-day needs of the business? Did they make the decision in a vacuum? Or how often does the application promise it provides ‘x’, ‘y’ and ‘z’ but the fine print is overlooked? All too often is the contract defined at the 50,000 foot level and it is the disregarded details that are the sticking point. Now what?
Whether your title refers to you as a business analyst, solution engineer, or subject matter expert, it is your job to know the detailed requirements and define the solution. The current environment of organizations is as challenging as it has ever been and the next five years will be no different. Striving to increase revenue, reduce costs and deliver while maintaining value will remain constant. An individual or organization cannot continue to do business in the same manner and expect to remain relevant. Consumers and organizations are demanding more.
2. Rethink Possibilities
I. Define Alternatives
When a problem presents itself, step out of the box and brainstorm different ways a solution can be implemented. A key component to defining alternatives is remaining open to discovering new ideas, gaining a deeper understanding as to what is possible, and remaining flexible. If you aren’t aware of the system capabilities, take the opportunity to learn the application. Often in the discovery of features or functions, ideas will present themselves that otherwise would not be a consideration.
II. Evaluate Alternatives
To be able to effectively assess the alternatives, it is imperative that criteria be defined so each alternative can be evaluated objectively. Identifying the advantages and constraints of each alternative must be understood before determining the direction to proceed. The intent is to resolve the issue at present, not to create more or add complexity. Taking the time to perform a risk analysis of the alternatives will ensure the direction forward will lead to a resolution.
III. Determine the Best Alternative and Move Forward
The worst thing that can occur when an issue presents itself is “analysis paralysis” meaning to do nothing. As you have completed the discovery process and evaluated the options, it is important to remember an alternative won’t be risk free or perfect. Maybe a hybrid solution is necessary. Leveraging the evaluation of the alternatives is key to making the best decision that will propel the solution forward.
What is sold is rarely representative of the reality of the needed solution. Rethinking possibilities by discovering, evaluating and moving forward with an alternative will allow organization to deliver value. By stepping out of the box and being flexible to new ways of solving problems, organizations will exceed the expectation. No solution is problem free and the ability to execute and deliver will set an organization apart and meet the demands in this challenge market.