Top of the Traps

Trap #4: Building not buying

November 25, 2019

Once you assemble your big expert team, led by a guru, and armed with all the different post-it colors, what you really need to get the blood flowing is a big project.

Something that requires you to spend a good while evaluating the myriad JavaScript frameworks (and pick React like everyone else). Something that requires a big capital grant. Something, that you could buy off the shelf?

Ah - but we’re not going to do that are we? The big generic product is great, but it’s just not quite what we’re looking for. There’s 20% of functionality that we really need. It’s pretty subtle stuff, it’s the stuff that makes us unique.

Two years later, you’re still trying to build the 80% of functionality that the generic platform has, whilst the platform vendor has been busy developing the 20% you thought you needed. Meanwhile digital progress has totally stalled in your organisation. No-one implements quick fixes to problems today, because ‘the new platform’ will do it all, and it’s nearly there now honestly…

Congratulations you played yourself.

  • Take the time to understand the platforms that are available to solve these problems. Quite often, when I hear that an organisation has unique challenges, it turns out that they haven’t really taken the time to understand how a platform can be configured to support those needs. Configuring a complex platform to be just right for your organization can take a long time and a lot of patience, even more so if people are already using it the wrong way. But it’s never as much effort as building a platform from scratch.
  • Re-think some of what you do to suit the product. It’s OK for the tail to wag the dog a little here. Software investment can be a huge overhead. Especially if you’re building it from scratch. If you were to elevate those concerns to board level and make a true cost consideration, would the organisation actually change some of the things they do to suit the software? 

What if marketing looked at what types of promotions and offers their platform made easy to facilitate, and set up around those. Instead of thinking up (sending to print) schemes and asking the digital people if they were ‘possible’.

This runs antithetically to the idea of IT as a service department, but that’s the whole idea behind rebranding it as Digital.

Trap #10 Building a Monument
Trap #9 100% Digital Coverage
Trap #8 Divide & Conquer
Trap #7 Designing for your CEO’s smartphone
Trap #6 False Prophets
Trap #5 Post-it Fetishism
Trap #4 Building not Buying
Trap #3 Buying not Bodging
Trap #2 Bogus User Stories
Trap #1 Cutting Against the Grain