The question about the solution impact should be in your mind throughout the planning process. It is an essential part of the “why” of the entire project. There is a reward, benefit, or transformation (or all of the above) you expect from this project. That is measured by the impact it has on you or your business. Therefore, the answer to this question is a factor in the cost-benefit calculations needed to craft a solution that fits you perfectly.
Solution Impact Is Not Fuzzy, Nor Assumed
I have found many situations with a fuzzy view of how a solution will benefit the users. General business needs can get rolled into the solution impact and result in a widespread effect. That is a good start. However, we will make decisions based on costs, benefits, timing, resources, and many other aspects. Our choices will not be well-informed if we fail to define the solution impact in detail. For example, “improve our ability to send timely invoices” is too vague. We need to dig deeper into the benefits we expect from that. There are many ways invoices impact our business and customers, and those need to be considered. Here are a few aspects that factor into the value of our solution.
- Cost of Printing/Mailing
- Time Required to Generate Invoices (elapsed and resource time)
- Quality and Detail of Invoices
- Bulk or Grouped Invoices For Multiple orders
A good example of solution impact:
- Lower material cost by 5%
- Reduce resource time by 10%
- Cut elapsed time by 5%
- Allow for reduced errors that drop phone support time by 5%
Hard Numbers Over General Benefits
The above example is good because it gives us a solution impact we can place in a formal. We have a total impact number that we can measure against costs. This ability to score our solution is critical during the planning and when we have to make hard decisions like a go/no-go. While it is not all we need, it is an essential piece. It can make tough decisions easy. For example, the solution impact is measured at five hundred dollars when deciding whether to spend another one thousand dollars on the project. That becomes a no-brainer. Early on, this can influence the answers to other key questions and guide us to where our solution needs to complete in terms of time, money, and effort.
Signing Off On This Question
This question aims to determine a value for the solution that can be measured against time, effort, and cost. This objective is no different than having a budget in mind for any other purpose. For example, think about buying a car. When you walk on the lot, you will be asked for a budget as part of the sales process. They want to avoid wasting time showing you models below or above your target. Budget is as much a requirement as anything else for a solution. Thus, do not skip over it as you define your ideal solution.
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