Bryan Pflug's blog

It's not the tool, it's how you use it: a new business model for delivery of information systems

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Discussion exploring alternative delivery (and profit) models for platforms & services

Microsoft model - they build products, you configure

Microsoft's game is to continue to deliver higher and higher feature content in tools & platforms

  • Cost per seat' is high - especially when entire application stack (Server, Client, DB, communications, Integration agents, Applications) is included: easily $200/month/user in many environments
  • Emphasis is on producing highest-quality output and highest-productivity solutions, to justify investment
  • Their approach tends to work well in very large enterprises where scalability is critically important
  • Their approach does not necessarily work as well for customized solutions for smaller teams - requests will tend to get lost in Microsoft product teams, who are always going to look for pushing technology out, rather than pulling more customers in. Simply put, their mandate is to pull in more users, which tends to require more functionality.

Problem is the more features, the less likely you are to know how to use them, and often, the less relevant (or at least understandable) they are to the users you already have.

Entertaining the beast

''This article provides a brief summary of the many efforts within industry and government to wrestle the beast of unprecedented systems and implementing major organizational changes to the ground. We use the word 'beast' in the same sense that Tom Peters, in his latest book ([weblink:595]), reminds us that old maps labeled uncharted territory with notations such as 'There be dragons here', to warn the unwary of the dangers inherent in such situations.'' The current (and popular) quality, cost, and governance initiatives in industry and government typically focus on ways to get efforts off on best possible foot, improve communications, leverage knowledge and learning, and manage cost, schedule, and quality drivers. All of these things are obviously laudable goals. Examples of such approaches that have been introduced over the last 20 years in pursuit of these goals include: *Standards efforts which codify [When best is not good enough|best practices] that are subsequently invoked through procurement practices, government regulations, or company policies and guidelines *Legislation which introduces new governance models, improved management systems, provides for increased senior management accountability, or requires individual accreditation or licensure *Maturity models which are used to benchmark and establish roadmaps for improvements *Assessment programs which are organized to evaluate organizational capabilities, attributes, or assets *Measurement techniques which are used to identify gaps between current and target outcomes, highlight leverage points, and track progess towards goals *Modeling approaches which are used to explore options and stabilize cost drivers early *Alternative business models or relationships (outsourcing, partnerships, acquisitons, etc) *Focused incentive systems with rewards tied closely to performance *Competitive pressures which are applied through supplier management sourcing techniques *Consortia which work across companies to leverage their collective knowledge and experience in tackling commmon challenges *Centers of excellence that provide a showcase for others to emulate and learn from *Organizational, educational, and professional society infrastructure to train and certify practitioners *New methodologies, technologies, and training programs which enable, integrate, and accelerate these approaches in creative and unique ways While all of these initiatives have been successful in some contexts, they have failed in others.

Case studies

!(intro to be developed) This section is a placeholder for content to be included in [Transforming knowledge and vision into action] The intent is to introduce a consistent framework that can be considered across each of the case studies.

The nature of the 'unprecedented' beast

The hardest problems to solve are those that have never been solved before. If a problem has already been solved, you have a model to follow and improve on. The risks are predictable, and to some degree, controllable. The costs and benefits which lie ahead can be estimated and managed. Experience can be leveraged. When you are dealing with unprecedented problems, you do not have such breadcrumbs. You find yourself pathfinding through unfamiliar terrain, often with a poor understanding of where you are and where you're going. How can you estimate how long something will take or will cost when it's never been done before? How can you schedule innovation? Given such 'unprecedented' challenges, there are a number of realities and challenges that have to be dealt with. While many of these are also issues for precedented projects, their impact is often compounded on unprecedented projects to create a 'perfect storm' of risks that can overwhelm the unprepared. In simple terms, the questions which must be dealt with include:

  • How to gather insights about your (poorly defined) mission, and utilize that understanding to establish actionable goals and plans

A popular rule of thumb in project management is that if you don't know where you're going, any path you chose to attain it will suffice.


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