RB Consulting, Inc.

Technology works best when it is focused on business solutions

How Do I Find An IT Solution?

This post starts a series to walk one through the questions we must answer in finding solutions for business problems. We will focus on IT solutions because so many challenges are best solved through automation. That is where software applications shine. However, there will be situations where your best solution is not found in IT. You will find a path to those other solutions when you answer the questions we explore.

Start Here

You can spend a lot of money on software consultants and solution providers. They may or may not guide you to the best solution. Therefore, this free list of questions may be the best investment of your time. It would be best to answer these questions, or at least be aware of them, as you research what works best for you.

Before continuing, note that the best solution requires investing time and money. A good consultant or provider can guide you, but they must learn how your business works. This is not a summary or overview but will be in-depth. Think of it as building a house. You do not simply say, “I want a house with X bedrooms and Y baths,” there is far more detail you provide. A good business solution is no less complicated. The details will help you find an IT solution that fits you like a custom-tailored suit.

My Checklist of Questions

Let’s start with those questions we need to ask. We will explore them in more depth in this and upcoming posts.

What Is The Problem You Want To Solve?

This question appears evident at first glance. However, it is often skipped over or not provided the thought it deserves. The challenge in answering this question is to solve a problem and not one of the symptoms. Think of a doctor that treats a fever instead of curing a disease. Unfortunately, that is often what we do in business, particularly in software. An excellent way to approach this is to return to your childhood and ask “why” until you reach the root desire. It is incredible how often this provides not only a better solution but also a far simpler implementation.

An Example Problem To Solve

I think an example works best for this aspect. We can start with a customer that wants to be able to copy data from one application to another. The goal is to open application A, do a sort of screen print of data and then be able to paste the data into application B. Awesome, now ask why. They want to paste because they have orders entered into one system and then need to put that data into a fulfillment system. This situation is not uncommon. Multiple systems and data need to flow from one to another.

Rethink Your Process

We have a few jumping-off points. However, we will focus on the back end. What happens with the fulfillment system? Why enter data in that? The answer is that the order is printed out and handed to the warehouse for pick and shipping. The shipping information is printed and sent to someone to enter into the fulfillment application. Then, they repeat the process with application A. Then, an order is marked fulfilled, and data is entered into system A to show it was shipped. We can see where there are duplicate entry points and the opportunity for data entry errors. Fortunately, it is not uncommon for us to see a system’s flaws when we walk through it step-by-step. While some organizations require printed forms and data, that is becoming rare. Instead, the case is often that “we always did it that way,” and the challenge is changing rather than a business need. However, you can find an IT solution with less cost than you think.

Find The Right Perspective

The example also provides an error in perspective. Too often, we focus on a single problem or pain point and fail to step back and analyze how we got there. In the above case, the problem is not getting data from system A to system B. Instead, it is getting data from a customer through shipping, invoicing, and fulfillment. Software projects can struggle due to a change in scope or focus. The original problem is shown to be insufficient once the project starts. That can lead to many challenges we can avoid by starting with a better handle on our final goal. Instead, we find an IT solution before knowing how to solve the problem correctly.

The First Question To Answer

Any successful journey has a starting point and a destination. Every project is the same way. We will improve our chances for success substantially by assessing where we are and where we want to go. Therefore, you must first answer, “What is the problem you want to solve?” There is no need to find an IT solution until you have that answer. While there are consultants that can help you refine your answer or answers, you will be hard-pressed to find the best resources or approach until you have a solid solution to start with. We are available to help you in your journey. However, you can often do yourself a huge favor by asking yourself, “why?” a few more times before you search for someone to solve your problem.

Improve Software Success

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Why Go Through A Request For Proposals

We have looked at various topics over the years and consulted on many more. However, it is worth revisiting the idea of a Request For Proposals (RFP) and what you should look for in this process. It is not a small or simple thing in most cases. Therefore, it should be entered in with the respect and expectations it deserves. The steps may seem tedious, but they are worth the investment. We will explore the pros and cons and convince …

Do You Have Resources To Support The Solution

Our question checklist focuses on getting our problem solved and crafting that solution. However, we also need to support the solution. We want to avoid many pitfalls; the most difficult one to recover from is a lack of foresight. This challenge comes from keeping our focus on the initial solution without considering its downstream and long-term impact.  Impact Of The Solution When we answer the other questions in our checklist, we examine how we might need to create or change …

Is This An Improvement In Your Current Solution? – Defining ROI

When defining ROI for a project, we must ensure that the changes we make are a step in the right direction. In some situations, adding a feature or even a new solution is a step backward. We can run into this when there is shiny new technology or some buzzword we hear and decide to embrace. These projects are more about “keeping up with the Joneses” than improving our bottom line. That may seem simple to avoid. However, it is …