This will be a short post on selecting solutions to problems. There are three basic rules that come in three parts. The three basic rules are
- Make sure you understand the problem you’re solving.
- Do some research before purchasing the solution.
- Purchase a solution, not a technology.
Understanding the Problem
Problems rarely appear fully developed. They take time to grow and get your attention. This is what fiction authors call foreshadowing. That rattle in your muffler today is your trip to the mechanic tomorrow. The problem might have only gotten your attention today and chances are you can backtrace it somewhat and come up with some logical reasons it occurred when, where, why and how it did.
This brings us to Part 1: Fix the reasons for the problem when you fix the problem itself. Unless you fix the reasons the same problem will show up again, if not in the same place then elsewhere. Also, by fixing the reasons the problem occurred you’ll probably be applying preventive medicine to other parts of your business.
Do Some Research
Now that you understand the problem make sure the solution under question is a solution to the problem, not satellite issues. Can this solution directly and unquestionably affect the problem? Doesn’t matter what else it can do, can it solve the problem you need to solve?
Let’s say it can. Great. How easily? How quickly? How much effort is involved? Does the solution require maintenance? If it does, the solution is just another problem waiting to happen.
Now we’re at Part 2: The solution must easily and unquestionably match the problem. This is “The Punishment must fit the Crime” writ large. You don’t want to purchase a problem so do some research to insure that the solution is a solution to your problem and one you have high confidence will be successful. Without those two you’re wasting your money and time.
It’s the Solution, Silly
Say you’ve found a solution that you have strong confidence will work and directly addresses your problem. But you have to go to a new operating system to implement it. Or you have to implement a new CMS, or DBMS, or …
This is where “purchasing a problem” often happens. Transition time costs and I’ve yet to see a transition that goes as smoothly as everybody says it will. The bright spot in this dark scenario comes from rule 1; Understand the problem.
Often understanding the reasons the problem occurred will guide and direct you when the best solutions require technology changes. Will the technology changes required to solve the problem also prevent this one and others from occuring? Lots of others or only a few?
This is Part 3: Technology is not a solution, a Solution is a solution. Technology can be very impressive and is rarely worth the cost unless it solves present and future problems without causing problems.
There are some simple rules to finding solutions to business problems:
- Understand the problem so you select a solution that addresses the reasons the problem occurred.
- Make sure the solution you’re considering solves the problem without causing other problems.
- Technology (as opposed to process) based solutions must solve many existing and possible problems to validate their total cost (in time, transition, etc).
PS) you can read a sister piece to this at Three Rules for Providing Expected Solutions