During the Holiday season many of us think about the tradeoff between want and need. For example some may want a new BMW 7 series (~ 85 K ) but the need is for personal and family transportation. There are dozens of models both used and new to address the transportation need. A late model, used mid-size sedan can be purchased for (~20 K). Oftentimes a higher-end vehicle comes with extensive navigation, fuel management, and entertainment features, but may lack in a practicality department. Is it more important to have all the bells and whistles or that the car serves its primary purpose of getting from Point A to Point B safely?
Sometimes it is easy for an individual to say, “I get that, and I will make a more practical purchase and drive a nice mid-sized sedan.” Other times it might take a parent, spouse, or other trusted advisor to bring us back to reality.
This same dilemma occurs with clients and their technology wants versus needs. One of the mistakes made by some enterprise solution architects and teams is to design a solution that addresses the wants of a client and overlooks the true needs of the client. With significant pride, solution teams deliver a very sophisticated and somewhat complex solution only to have it fail due to the client’s lack of readiness for sophistication and complexity.
That’s where the advisor role should come in. There is an art to listening to both the wants and needs of a client to fashion a usable solution that meets their business needs and will deliver demonstrable value (i.e. transportation) without all of the features listed on the wants list. It takes awareness of both the client and the solutions team to strike the artful balance and deliver a solution that may not have all the blue sky features, but hits the mark for usability and ROI.
Next time you start an initiative with your information technology partner (internal or external) have the conversation about the difference between want and need, making sure the project charter includes demonstrable ROI. When undergoing the requirements gathering, I encourage you to ask, “Will that feature help us realize demonstrable ROI?”
When asked and answered from a business perspective, many wants fall off the list. Except the heated seats. Those are always a good idea.