Further to that and having been in the Information Technology sector for almost 30 years I can confidently and comfortably conclude that innovation, flexibility and grand availability of sophisticated and feature rich technologies have resulted in substantial increase to projects’ complexity with an increased risk of project integration failures.
Information Technology project tend to include, in one way or another, a number of database, networking, server, software packages and other perhaps more obscure technologies. Each of these technologies require the services of highly technical and trained personnel in order to best use the respective tools to achieve the best result for the project. Now, the problem with today’s set of technologies is that they are all highly flexible, powerful, customizable and configurable; to the point that a considerable amount of effort need to be spent in order to ensure that the enormous capability built into the tool is harnessed appropriately.
Let’s use a common presentation tool as an analogy to explain the point above. Preparing a presentation is an easy task (provided you have the right tool and you know what you intend to convey to your audience). If you are an average user of Microsoft PowerPoint (or any other similar tool) you will surly know that in addition to the basic presentation capabilities you can introduce complex transitions, timers, sound and multimedia to enhance your presentation and turn it into an Oscar worthy event. Now, most people don’t require this extra elaborate capability and indeed, for many, this extra functionality is more of a distraction than an enabler as they get tempted by the available technology in an attempt to make use of all these gadgets because they are there.
A similar phenomenon which can be easily observed at the micro level can be seen also at the macro level. Organizations are lured into deploying and using large number of technologies, each of which come with a promise of amazing flexibility and functionality, while the consequences of deploying these technologies are not properly understood.
The questions I would like organizations to ask before deploying any new technology are:
- Do we need this technology?
- What tangible benefits, based on a clear selection criteria, does this technology have that we don’t already have today?
- What percentage of the marketed feature would we actually use, compared with those features that we are really excited about but will never ever get used?
- Assuming we conclude that we really, really, really need this technology, do we understand the impact on integrating this wonderful thing with our existing technologies?
“…organizations which design systems … are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations“.
I would like to propose a slight variation on the above law (which I humbly call “Shim’s Law of the impact of Advanced technologies on projects’ risk“)
“organizations which design systems are bound to produce designs which mirror the myriad of technologies the organization utilizes“.
Think about it!