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Fix business problems before computer systems
Computers add value because they help you remember, calculate or communicate. But there are some problems that constantly get in the way of achieving this value. Often the real challenge and real benefit is in fixing these problems, and not in the computer system itself.
Last week's newsletter showed how valuable use of computers boils down to remembering, calculating and communicating better, faster or cheaper than people.
But there are some prerequisites that must be met before you can gain this value.
These prerequisites are often not met. So often, nobody is responsible. Databases are full of junk. People don't understand the figures the computer outputs. Requests sent through the computer are not actioned. Different departments have different records, rules and communications.
You need to fix the underlying problems before you can gain value from computers.
People often think that putting in a computer system will fix problems like these. But the truth is that you have to fix these underlying human and business problems before you put in a computer system. Ironically, once you have fixed the problems, you may find that there is no real value in putting in a computer system, because the problems have gone away. Putting in a computer system before you have fixed these problems will make things worse because it hides the true nature of the problems.
Last week's newsletter had a list of things you need to check to make sure that claimed benefits are real. We also need to check whether business problems of understanding, structuring, simplification, responsibility and agreement need to be fixed before any value can be gained from a computer system. And then we need to check that there is still a value in the computer system once these problems have been fixed.Next: Align IT to people, not people to IT
Minimal IT: research, training, consultancy and software to reduce IT costs.