One of the early assessments needed in solving a problem is whether it is a moving target. In particular, business problems often change or evolve while we build solutions. These changes can be upgrades to tools, compliance changes, or the winds of change many businesses navigate. While the problems may be good ones to face (e.g., your business is growing faster than expected), they still can impact your approach to solving them. Thus, we have items to consider that may be simple but can be difficult to judge.
A True Moving Target
One challenge in answering this question is determining what contributes to a moving target. For example, business growth is expected, as are product changes and upgrades. However, some changes can be quickly adopted, and others require changes to the architecture. Likewise, there are decisions made for performance and user experience reasons that can be impacted. A typical example is the customer’s address. We can often add a third address line or c/o field quickly. On the other hand, support for multiple address types (i.e., home, billing, shipping, etc.) can be complex and costly.
Will This Ever Change?
The question I always find invaluable when discussing a solution is, “will this ever change?” We make decisions based on whether we will need to account for change or not. While this occurs with areas like address types, it also applies to business growth. We often started a solution where a customer was simply a customer and later had to adjust. For example, a customer has to support a group of customers (i.e., an organization with multiple sites), which impacts billing, invoices, fulfillment, and so much more. It is always safest to assume things will change. However, that can lead to over-architecting a solution. This is a question that needs careful consideration.
Planning For The Future
We previously asked what a perfect solution looked like. That is hard to answer. In the same way, it is hard to plan for the future entirely. However, most businesses grow and evolve. That should not be haphazard. There should be a plan and roadmap for where the company wants. These plans are critical in the determination of whether a problem is going to change or evolve. A complex solution that accounts for today and the future is not as difficult to solve as a moving target. The goal is to identify areas where we need to be more flexible.
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