Monday, 20 September 2010

IT: Highly Rated Failures.

One of the recurring themes of many IT projects is that not too long after setting them up and trying to get them implemented it all goes horribly wrong. Now, there are many reasons for this but none more prevalent than miscommunication and misunderstanding.

Miscommunication, headaches and all that mess.
Especially with inexperienced users there is often a feeling of uncertainty. Can this project deliver? Does it do everything it says it does? Is it worth the cost, time and effort?
And, admittedly, if you're not too savvy with computers and technology in general- it's hard sometimes to see the real benefits of an IT system. This is where miscommunication comes into play as too often what is wanted, what is needed and what is delivered are three different things. While misunderstanding can hamper the process further as you're always going to be unsure of what it does, then when it is delivered does it do everything you want- if not, why? Sometimes it's just a simple case of hearing one thing and thinking another through sheer inexperience.

It's always been one of those things that I find is very commonly ignored in business. In that, organisations would rather save a few thousand now to get the job done manually than save a few million over several years to have it all automated and self-sufficient.

Although technology is far from foolproof and error-free.
These days most modern technology can boast that things have improved a great deal since the times of 1990 and 1980 where computing was new, hard to understand and even harder to use. But, we've all heard that excuse "It was a problem with the computer". It's something that almost everyone has said once or twice when you ring up about an overpaid bill or the like.
That's why a good system is nothing without the users to back it. Much like any marketing project for a new product as it could be the best product, the most innovative and the easy choice for cost saving- but who will know if the marketeers who back it don't show it? Users are a key element of any IT system and more often that not you will find that they're not even consulted when the system is implemented.

Equally relying on technology takes a great deal of faith.
Not to use it, as most of the time you can back up what you're doing and save it in the result of any major catastrophe- but to have it implemented. New software with new features is going to take a while to design, code and finally implement. Waiting for this and evaluating it at each stage of the process is always going to be a very tense step. For one thing you're not even sure what the system is going to do when you see it- not to mention you're going to always be looking for errors, reasons why it doesn't work and general bugs that may hinder the use of the resulting system.
This is where most of the money is lost in implementing IT systems and it's before they're even designed. As often if it doesn't meet your initial expectations you're going to immediately get warning signs, get nervous and pull the plug before they've had the chance to show you the meat of the system.

In practice- not just theory.
In fact, in one of my previous jobs I'd come across a very similar situation.
I was in charge of setting up a computerised form of a paper database which was going pretty well and eventually ended up being completed a month or two after starting. From there I had a few bits of design and imagery work to do for a website. To do these I needed to trim, crop and cut down images but one of the problems was no-one understood the kind of quality we needed. So working at low resolution and poor quality was an enforced necessity. Shortly after, as the employer had little idea what I was actually working on (as it was technology-based) I was no longer employed.
It was kind of a harsh blow personally but equally for his organisation as now they have a computerised database without the imagery to go with, or the extra functionality, and should he want it he's going to have to pay even more to get someone else to finish it off and implement it.

Therefore we have a practical example of how these things can be misread and misunderstood to the point where it not only costs to get it started, but to continue and to implement it will cost even more and make the process a lot more painful.

Thanks for reading!
If you have any comments or any experiences to share about IT systems that have gone awry or haven't been implemented correctly and just started costing over the board- do let us know in a comment.

All information presented here is © copyright Carkean Solutions Ltd., 2010 - Not to be used without our permission - The views expressed here are the views of an individual not the corporation

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