I have often wondered what the one thing that we don’t do well when we build technical solutions for a specific business need is. The answer to that question is that often we disregard the technological best practices while implementing a technical business solution. The excuse is that best practices are a set of guidelines, they are informal, and there is no penalty for not following them. True, there is no penalty as such, but there are hidden costs of not following best practices. Businesses often don’t see that because the costs are hidden; however, stressing the importance of best practices can help ensure that the cost of implementation does not add up for your organization.
What Exactly Are These Best Practices
Best Practices can be defined as a set of guidelines or rules that produce good outcomes if followed. All of us working in the business and technology services space are very familiar with the word. In this article, I am going to talk specifically talk about best practices in technical solution projects. These are different from best practices that are made mandatory by regulators, and organizations must compulsorily follow them.
Why Are Business Best Practices Needed?
In the technology implementation space especially, it is beneficial to establish and follow best practices. This is because there are various ways in which a particular technical feature can be implemented. To prevent the implementation from becoming subjective on who is implementing it, organizations should have a set of best practices to act as a guide for all working on that technology.
How These Best Practices Add Value
In the coding world, you often hear that making a particular change is hard because the developer has “hard-coded” the business rule. It means that there will be an extra maintenance cost when business process changes dictate that the business rule should change.
This also applies very well to UI/UX Best practices. In a technical solution, UI/UX is always treated as a stepchild. People get to think about design after they have thought about everything else. However, changing that attitude and giving the design its due importance, and sticking to the UI/UX design best practices. I have spoken about a few dashboard design best practices in an earlier article, but due to various reasons, it is easier said than done.
When Best Practices Not to be Followed
Before we go into why best practices should be followed, let us look at some common reasons which may cause best practices not to be followed:
- When you fit the technology into the problem – This happens when companies invest in new technology and, to get the best return on their investment, expect that their teams make use of that technology. Companies invest in project and performance management tools. They buy off the shelf, which means that some of the functionalities may not fit with the organization’s specific business process. This is when they start implementing workarounds. I agree that sometimes that is the right way to go, but when workarounds become complex, maintaining and using that system becomes hard, and adoption is low.
- When you are picking the wrong technology to solve your problem – This happens when companies have a critical problem, but because of the urgency of the problem, they want to build on wherever it is easy to build. It usually starts with the idea of creating a Minimum Viable Product to get the business leadership to see the value of the solution. However, even after getting the leadership goes ahead, because of the cost of shifting technology, the shift never happens.
- When you give in too much to the demand of your users – This is when organizations do not have a robust change management approach built into their technical solution implementation projects. You start by aiming for the moon, but because it is hard for users to change their current way of working and because of push-back from them, you don’t land where you aimed to land. You know how when you want to do a clean and crisp dashboard and give your users easy access to metrics for their everyday work, however, the one question users ask – how can I download all the data in excel from this dashboard? Or when you want people to move away from current excel reports and use your new business intelligence tool, but all your BI dashboards start looking like fancy excel versions of the dashboard. Working with the users to ensure that they can use the solution in their everyday business operations is the hardest work in any project. It is hard but not impossible if you involve your users early in building the solution and keep managing their expectations through robust change management.
- When there is no one in your project team that can give you that information – This is the most common and probably the easiest to handle. I have written an article on the critical role that business translators play in the success of a project. If you have a person playing that role, rest assured that they will ask the right questions to ensure that best practices are being followed. If you are working with a vendor for the implementation, it is important to see whether the vendor is bringing that up in implementation conversations. This would show that you are both aligned on the use of best practices.
After extolling the virtues of using best practices, there could still be cases where you decide not to follow them. It could be because the trade-off is not that expensive, or a particular feature is a must-have functionality for adoption. In that case, the way to do it is to make the stakeholders aware of the situation and specifically call out the potential risk of not adhering to the best practice in this case.
DefineRight Suggests Best Practices to Achieve the Expected ROI
At DefineRight, as part of our business enablement service portfolio, we believe that best practices ensure that your technical solutions achieve the expected ROI. It also ensures that the solution can be easily adapted to changing business needs without extra investment. The second point is very important, especially in the case of technical solutions for business that must evolve as business process changes.