For the 8th consecutive year, @weCONECT’s Intranet Reloaded (#intrelEU) was the leading practitioner gathering around the future of intranets and the digital workplace. Despite the occasional “there are other ways, too, you know,” the dominance of Microsoft Office 365 in the field became even more evident.
The majority of cases showed early or slightly advanced solutions for internal communications and, in some cases, information management. What struck me the most was the emphasis on design and (yes, Swarovski SIA) outright visual beauty – next to the clear message to the audience:
You (experts) are not the user, you need to take UX and employee experience serious.
Mobile access is becoming an increasingly important aspect in the light of a more agile workforce and the need to keep blue collar workers in the game; Deutsche Post/DHL showed this in a quite impressive case for the 8th Intranet Reloaded Awards.
A similarly frequent topic was ‘change management’ and the impact of digitalisation on organisation and business processes. My favourites this year were delivered by Martin Wilckens (Deutsche Telekom) and Jacqui Randle ( @jacquirandle1 | Scottish Government).
Work 2028 – Trends. Dilemmas. Opportunities.
Martin gave a 20 minute summary of Deutsche Telekom’s latest report on the future of work. To make it quick: download the report, lean back and get ready for some serious inspiration. Two bits tickled my brain in particular:
In a nutshell, the counter opposite of the classic German career path. In the future, our commitment and engage for a business, a brand or a person will not last forever. It will be more bound to projects, roles or individual identification with the challenge at hand.
As a consequence, companies need to get ready for more frequent on-, re- and off-boarding of employees. Without proper digital support for the employee life cycle, this will turn into HR’s worst nightmare.
The Ability to ‘Unlearn’
Even though the report is about ‘unlearning the old understanding of leadership’, what clicked with me was the concept of ‘unlearning’ per se. Looking back at my recent experience in digitalisation projects core to the business logic (sales, legal, technical delivery), the ability to ‘drop the old habits and routines’ was essential to moving towards the new ways of working.
It is paramount to the change process that everyone understands that just executing the old ways with new tools most likely won’t deliver the desired result. That’s why we will have to be able to ‘unlearn’ existing (and comfortable) work patterns to move on and unleash the digital potential.
Handling Users along the Innovation Adoption Cycle
Jacqui from the Scottish Government gave a compelling presentation on change and change management in the context of a pretty intranet re-vamp. One that, for example, delivered the ability to onboard new entities on the concept for less than two grand, providing a result that would have cost millions in the past.
My favourite part of her presentation, however, was the connection of the Innovation Life Cycle to the attitude of digital service user groups:
Looking back at some recent change initiatives I’ve been part of, I might steal it with pride and slightly re-work it for explaining activities for specific user groups. Just on a quick side note: the need to convey purpose and implement (change) leadership throughout the organisation is of course present anywhere along the cycle…
So a big thanks to Jacqui for that one 🙂 It will stick with me for some time for sure.
I have toyed with this idea on more than one occasion. Encouraged by my network and my family, I’ve now taken the plunge into self employment and am a “gun for hire” for clients that could benefit from a “Digital Sherpa”.
On my re-worked website you will find information on what I can offer you, your people and your business. Please get in touch with me via the contact form, Xing, LinkedIn or Twitter if you want to know more.
In a nutshell I will be offering the following services:
Alignment of teams & digital initiatives
Strategic framework & “true North” for a project or program
Scoping & specification of a project/program (charter, plan, sourcing, roadmap)
Well…some of you know that I love being on stage to inspire people and share my thoughts and ideas. I am happy to do this at conferences or in corporate environments to drive internal evangelism for change, digitalisation & the new ways of working.
I’ve even put together a more specific offering along a process of “Building the Base Camp” for a digital journey.
The following illustration shows where I connect to your digital initiatives & teams:
(Click image for a larger version)
So…Hire me as your Digital Sherpa today. Limited supplies only ;o)
Summary: My wife just recently shared David McGraw’s article “Communication Tactics For Remote Companies” with me. Reading it made me realise that it contains a lot of implicit “reason-why” for the current situation of the Digital Workplace in many companies. I want to build on what David has written about start ups which, in many ways, experience the same challenges as globally distributed enterprises. And I want to elaborate on the leadership aspect that should go way beyond preaching connectedness and start to take action and balance empowerment and motivation (or shall I say “gentle enforcement”) of the required behaviour.
First of all, I have met people who frown on a military past when it comes to business leaders. For those who mistake the military business to be a pure command & orders structure I can assure you: there is nowhere better to learn to trust people with your life. I am not American and I have served only for a very short amount of time. But the people I met and that were respected as well as high up the military ranks were empathetic, charismatic and trustworthy characters. It made me seriously rethink my picture of the leadership aspect in the armed forces.
David writes about three core aspects: “(…)
Why transparency, leadership, and even celebrating play a critical role
The value of consistency by formalizing communication channels
How employees and leaders might suggest ways to improve the current virtual environment
(…)”. Let me pick up on those and add my personal thoughts and a “Digital Workplace” spin on the subject as well.
Building a purposeful “we care about what others do” culture
The foundation for a successful organisation is a joint purpose. People need to understand the contribution they make, where it connects to what others deliver and how it’s a piece in the bigger picture. Simon Sinek is probably the best known speaker about purpose and “How great leaders inspire action“. Seeking the “why” seems to be built into our DNA and is almost instinctive. Why else would young children persistently ask “why” when they are forbidden or asked to do something? Most parents will confirm that “just because” is the worst answer one can give in that situation. In large corporations it’s no different.
The same goes for “caring about what others do”. Leaders and managers need to make sure that success is not determined by delivering on individual goals and KPIs. Furthermore, and this has been a rule of mine whenever I have been in charge of distributed teams, not being physically present should not get in the way of the success of others. It’s important to understand that personal freedom, for example the place one prefers to work from, must not be allowed to impact others in situations where input is required. A virtual meeting requires a proper connection and everyone to be able to look at the same shared screen. Frankly, I can’t count all the conference calls and virtual meetings in which attendees were in fact driving cars, walking through an airport or simply “just popping in but I don’t have my laptop with me”…it makes me palms sweat just writing about it.
Formalising the “us”
David writes about stand ups and distinct channels for sharing success, progress or even whereabouts. In my experience “celebrating success” is one of the most essential things that can act as glue for distributed teams.
However, I’ve just recently run an analysis for a large company to determine the performance of their intranet function for thanking others publicly and the results were rather modest. Even though it isn’t the usual “launch spike & fade out” scenario, the people distributing recognition were few and the adoption of the opportunity was almost exclusive to the HQ and main markets. Saying “thank you” hadn’t become part of the corporate culture despite the availability of a distinct channel just for that. Together, we determined quickly that the shortcoming wasn’t technical, it was simply the lack of leadership and management attention (and contribution) to this idea. Only very few intrinsically motivated people kept up the good spirit.
It is essential that a collaborative attitude is established, led and lived sustainably. In particular when companies grow (organically or from M&A), maintaining the spirit of common purpose and “we help each other” is what leaders have to really strive for in addition to securing effectiveness, productivity and growth.
Governance, or in my words: Simply knowing where to go for what.
In his article David writes about standardising the communication channels. Honestly, there is no greater challenge than this in global organisations. The fact that in today’s world a large majority of companies have been built from mergers & acquisitions leaves them with legacy, pride of the past and “not invented here” scenarios. There isn’t one single place to go for product knowledge. There isn’t one corporate channel that would deliver all (as in: no exceptions) formally required information. And of course there isn’t one single “organisational chatter” room, in which people meet and actually show interest in what’s going on across the globe, pro-actively, because they feel that it’s important to “stay in touch”.
In order to pull off the “Digital Workplace” – and by now I feel the field has agreed that it’s more a concept or an ideology than a thing – there needs to be a certain level of standardisation. We really really need the “this is how we do” governance. It’s required to create an environment of
confidence (I’m sure I’ve got what I need to be successful)
trust (We are all on one page and help each other) and
motivation (We can get anything done, because together we are strong).
3 Pillars for Success: Purpose. Care. Leadership.
The transformation from “how we used to do things” to “this is how we do things now” needs to be purposefully led.
People cannot be ordered to care about others.
Trust and motivation to work as a unit cannot be commanded, which connects back to my military reference from before.
It all needs to be carefully implemented and “lived” top down. In combination with a joint purpose and a “we care for each other” attitude, organisations might become unbeatable!
Summary: Margaret Heffernan’s TED Talk on “Forget the pecking order at work” inspired me to write this post. I’ve talked and published a lot about why Enterprise Social Network by itself don’t seem to really deliver the success people expect. Listening to Margaret’s talk I was quite baffled that research on chickens was actually able to draw some parallels to business life. So this article is about the need for a new kind of leadership – in particular around motivation & reward models – when you want to lay the foundation for a more “WE” driven attitude in companies.
I’ve now worked from almost 8 years in the field of the Digital Workplace and Advanced Intranets. Over the years my job has evolved from “making people desire IT” to “establishing a successful foundation for cultural change”. One of the most striking things in my line of work is the fact that the attempt to establish Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) sustainably seems to be so challenging. I am, however, not implying that there hasn’t been a company succeeding in the attempt to establish an ESN. Unfortunately the real (like in: substantial impact & cultural change) success stories are rare and in a lot of cases limited to distinct use cases such as R&D, Sales or Marketing/Communications.
We’re conditioning future leaders the wrong way
In her TED Talk Margaret Heffernan talks about an experiment with chickens. To cut a long story short: Creating an average chickens flock delivered a happy camper group of hens that after six generations even showed an increase in (egg laying) productivity. Putting only the most productive “power hens” in one superflock delivered…oh well…only three chicken still alive after they started pecking each other to death at some point.
Then Heffernan says “(…) But for the past 50 years, we’ve run most organisations and some societies along the superchicken model. We’ve thought that success is achieved by picking the superstars, the brightest men, or occasionally women, in the room, and giving them all the resources and all the power. And the result has been just the same as in William Muir’s experiment: aggression, dysfunction and waste. If the only way the most productive can be successful is by suppressing the productivity of the rest, then we badly need to find a better way to work and a richer way to live. (Applause) (…)”. (Source: Talk Transcript on Ted.com).
This goes hand in hand with my experience from requirements engineering & needs analysis. What people are looking for is enablement and empowerment for their own work. They want to be put in a place in which they are able “to get sh** done” with reasonable effort.
A new way: focus on productive work that you cannot deliver by yourself!
We need to change two fundamental things:
Empower people to focus on productive work and take everything away that consumes time for unnecessary tasks and actions.
Lead people towards collaborative success and create an environment (incl. incentive and compensation models) in which “WE” behaviour is rewarded.
It’s important to emphasise that neither improvement works without the other if you’re really looking for a proper leap in results and productivity. It’s a little like it is with technology: digital transformation is built on organisational, managerial and leadership change…but without a proper piece of software in the background, there is no “digital” transformation.
We need to introduce ways to “synchronise coffee breaks” all day long. Then we will be able to end up in a place Heffernan reports on on the TED stage: “(…) When Alex Pentland suggested to one company that they synchronize coffee breaks so that people would have time to talk to each other, profits went up 15 million dollars, and employee satisfaction went up 10 percent. Not a bad return on social capital, which compounds even as you spend it. (…)” (Source: Talk Transcript on Ted.com).
If you empower people without a change of the reward system…
… what you get is people with a lot of time at their hand. 20% of those will spend the time on figuring out ways on how to be the next VP and gain more organisational power. The remaining 80% will…well…do their job with less effort and find ways of “burning” the time until it’s time to go home.
If you lead people towards collaboration but don’t take away the productivity road blocks…
… you might drive people insane – in particular the good ones. There is nothing more frustrating than the right perspective, the right purpose and a feeling that the right behaviours is rewarded, but you cannot behave that way. Coffee breaks, personal networks and meetings can only deliver limited impact. We need the support of modern technology to take the pieces out of our day that keep us from delivering results and enrich it with new opportunities to reach out and combine our talent with the talent of others for the “next big thing”.
The power of purpose…
Just to wrap this up I would like to reference Simon Sinek as well. Basically it’s a must if you talk about #change and #leadership.
I strongly believe that leadership towards a more collaborative work and corporate culture will not be driven by the classic corporate goals. In an interview in the npr TED Radio Hour Heffernan talks about her witnessing a corporate meeting in which the joint objective of 60 mUSD. “Who get’s motivated by trying to achieve a 60 million Dollar profit?” she asks.
And it’s true, if you want to get people engaged and committed you need to provide more than just SMART goals in a financial sense. For that it’s worth to (again) check out Sinek’s talk on “purpose” on the TED stage.
Summary: Even though the field has agreed (and I’m on board here) that there is no such thing as a “Digital Workplace”, we’re still trying to find a tangible description for it. Based on my most recent gig at Social Business Collaboration and a little new business pitch I am involved in I’d like to add an (not revolutionary but maybe helpful) angle to the subject. Let’s call it the “Single Entry Point to the Truth”, in particular acknowledging the fact, that there is no such thing as a “Single Source of Truth” either. So this article is about what the DWP could actually be…whatever it’s built on.
Learning from my work in the field
I’ve used the following illustration in my most recent presentation at the Social Business Collaboration in Berlin. And maybe it’s me or the stuff I am getting involved in…but no matter how high the ambition is around collaboration, social or innovative things…we always end up at the same thing: I just need my stuff…easy…personalised…please!!
I was just working on a summary of a business case development project and the outcome was exactly that. What the majority of people in business functions wish for, is one single place in which they will find all their reference and work material…no matter where it lives or who’s created/published it.
Now… Let’s accept a few basic conditions:
The Digital Workplace is no “thing” – it’s a metaphor to describe what we need in information and knowledge work to drive effectiveness, foster working out loud and make it easy for people to reach their goals.
There is no “Single Source of Truth”. Period. Depending on what the truth is, it might be web content, a document, a post, an email…name it. So that all of this can reside in ONE huuuuuge container…come on.
There will never be one single digital communications or information management channel. No matter how many “one intranet” or “one company” or “MyXYZ” initiatives we run, there will be other channels that pop up in parallel, after it or were there to stay in the first place.
If that’s the reality, what we need is the:
Single Entry Point to the Truth
It would be the…how did one of my clients phrase it: everybody’s good morning.
The first touch point that guides you through the day. It show’s what’s going on, where people are dependent on input or things that need immediate attention. It would be the place that is directly connected to the user’s work day and business context and allows functions like Corporate Communications to sneak (relevant) messages into that context.
It could be called an aggregation layer, a wrapper or a portal. The name doesn’t matter – as long as it hasn’t been burned by previous initiatives and is better never mentioned in public anymore (Boogie Man…Boogie Man…Boo…….).
What we create is something that contributes to effectiveness (happy executives) and efficiency (happy employees). It would take away the digging, searching and crossing fingers that I got everything I need to “do things right the first time”.
And it would be the place that would pick up from the business logic, the co-creation, the projects, the iterative work and turn the final items into corporate reference material.
Summary: This year’s SBC was primarily about change. Once in a while you actually got the feeling of being at a Human Resources conference. But as fairy dust there were a couple of presentations that stood out because they provided a new angle on a couple of things. Telenor reported on their experience with Facebook@Work. Jen Regruth Crites (@jen_k_crites) talked about actually “branding” a new IT solution. Laurence Fourcade from Kelios gave a striking presentation on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in the Digital Workplace. Europa-Park shared the insight how social connects the “unconnected” bees with a new software called “BeeKeeper”. And I am only mentioning a product here, because I really like a few aspects of their approach because of my work for the industrial manufacturing industry…and without further ado, here we go:
We knew it for some time. Finally everyone is acting on it.
Let me keep this short and crisp: “social” finally got its emphasis in real life. The days of IT-driven initiatives seem to be over for good. Literally everyone on stage made it clear that without properly orchestrating the symphony of change management, SBC (or business IT in general) initiatives simply are destined to fail.
Leadership needs to believe in and sponsor the efforts
Senior and middle management has to play an active role in the process
People have to be guided and taken on the journey in order to allow the new ways of working to really take effect
And the journey of change isn’t one of “campaigns” and “visionary promises” anymore. It’s about tangible value and a close connection to what people need help with. It’s about empowerment and allowing talent to really contribute its value to what the organisation wants to achieve.
All success stories that were presented this year showed, how essential the three bullets above were. Henry Haijes from ABM AMRO even added a slight twist to the culture/strategy quote from Peter Drucker:
“Influential power is eating organisation power” says Harry from ABN AMRO at #wcsocbiz – love the variation of the culture quote 🙂
Same goes for driving change throughout the entire organisation. Paul from the European Commission actually have a really compelling presentation on what it means to make sure that everyone is on board.
The P&G heritage: branding as a success driver for IT tool roll-outs
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in the Digital Workplace
Keeping the bees involved…
1. Facebook@Work at Telenor
John Alphonse gave a pretty compelling presentation about their “roll-out” of Facebook@Work. For me the story was particularly exciting because it was literally the first company to report on their experience. Essence: it seems to work really well after some serious ramp-up efforts.
x-silo insight facilitated by FB@Work
State of “collaboration” at Telenor
“Every employee should be part of each box” John said at the conference
After Facebook worked very(!) closely with Telenor to get all set-up for enterprise readiness and prepare of an official data security audit, an audit Telenor & FB passed in attempt #1, which is probably one of the most impressive things I took home from Berlin. Not though, that FB passed the test impressed me here, but actually the fact that FB actively worked with Telenor and used their help and advise to gear up for the requirements of the enterprise world.
The 2nd interesting angle John reported on was, that FB@Work actually started in the world of Telenor’s Shadow IT. You know Shadow IT: it’s what the official IT department cannot keep up with on people’s laptops, tablets and smartphones (…long live the cloud). Telenor, however, has decided that they want to be inspired by their Shadow IT and that they will keep investigating new options for business solutions that have been “tried” by voluntary guinea pigs.
As part of my World Café Hans Dekker (@hansdekker) from IKEA even suggested that it makes total sense to actually actively encourage Shadow IT. He believes that allocating accountability to people and putting them in charge of finding new and better options outside the standard governance is rather an opportunity than a threat. Quite frankly: I think he’s spot on. With a certain set of reasonable rules this might actually be the solution to one of the key challenges of IT organisations: herding cats.
Thirdly John added a little detail: communication, exchange & networking (formal, informal, project) happens in FB@Work – Documents are managed in SharePoint. Literally all vendors that were mentioned had their short coming in document handling. So Telenor employees were simply encouraged to post links to SP in the FB conversations:
In Facebook@Work the main part of conversations happens in (open & closed) groups – in contrary to the private version, in which the majority of posts are in the public/main feed.
I wonder if Microsoft ever considers the fact that they seem to stay (very) dominant in the “enterprise information management” part and that they should leave the field of “social glue” to the ones that know the real deal. However, after still not 100% delivering on a Yammer vision, maybe the acquisition of LinkedIn could add some momentum here. Who knows. Time will tell…
2. The P&G heritage: branding as a success driver for IT tool roll-outs
Jen Regruth Crites (@jen_k_crites) reported on how her Procter & Gamble learnings helped to support the roll out of a new IT tool. She simply asked the question: if a brand helps commercial organisations to differentiate and emphasise value, why shouldn’t IT departments apply this to delivering their “product” to employees. Jen answered that question with a striking presentation on how a well branded IT tool roll-out can make an impact: 6 months in the following KPI pretty much speak for itself:
54% of users recall the brand (starting from 3%)
375k EUR savings
83% Net Promotor Score
Active requests for MORE to the IT department
So FrieslandCampina (her gig at the time of the project) actually applied the Marketing 101 by the text book and even came up with a claim for the new UCC service:
Digital Meetings. Be there without going there.
3. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in the Digital Workplace
Laurence Fourcade’s (Keolis Group) presentation touched my inner beliefs when it comes to the value drivers of the future Digital Workplace:
Driving content quality will deliver search experience.
Keolis really approached the submission of documents to the intranet from a SEO driven angle and they tried to drive awareness for content IMPACT. For each item readers (online consumption) and downloads are displayed. Doing this actually can help editors or content owners to understand if the information provided has any reach (or relevance) within the organisation. You could even go as far as “x readers, no downloads” could stand for “na, this isn’t what I was looking for” from a searching point of view. Combined with the search query we’d enter a complete new game of content relevance and quality management.
Laurence made it clear as well that the UX for the upload interface is essential to the success of the approach. Thereby she made clear, that AGAIN the people are in the centre of all thinking, because an easy and intuitive upload mechanism that enforces SEO relevant aspects has to be user centric. Thereby the user (here the editor) is clearly the success factor that needs to be catered to.
The fact that I had at least 3 other in-depth conversations on Enterprise Search and search in general at the conference shows that it’s still one of THE subjects companies are struggling with. And I am still flabbergasted by Estée Lauder’s guts to actually run a “re-work” of their search index…from scratch. It’s one of the presentations that will stick to my mind for quite some time.
4. Keeping the bees involved…
I’ve always enjoyed working for industrial manufacturing clients. To guide organisations that usually perceive digital transformation as the next SAP roll-out into the world and value of information and knowledge work is very rewarding… However, there is one key challenge that still hasn’t been addressed properly: how do we keep the blue collar work force involved? They don’t have a PC or a user account. They often don’ even have an e-mail address. Two things the majority of current solution require (as an either or) to actually get someone on-boarded to the party.
Anselm Müller from the Europa Park theme parks presented their approach to keeping the bees connected with a new software called “Beekeeper“. Authentication does not go through AD or similar services. It’s rather a “sign up” service, which gives full control over content and access to the maintaining organisation. In it’s core it’s a social network with streams, groups and all.
The adoption of employees at Europa Park confirms the expectations and now the organisation even considers to gradually say “goodbye” to its conventional intranet. I cannot wait for that success story to hit a stage…
So far for my little digest. The summary of my World Café session on “driving people and corporate value with the Digital Workplace” will follow soon. So, stay tuned…
Summary: As part of my work in the field of the Digital Workplace I get asked one question a lot (even though I am not really a technology expert): “It’s 2016. Can’t we just buy this as a box somewhere?”. My answer to that is always: “Depending on how flexible you are as an organisation and what you mean by ‘box’.” So, this article is my personal(!) angle on the three main options to deliver modern digital services (probably as blurry as communication & collaboration in its scope). Personal angle, because I am not an analyst and because I don’t have the ambition to come across as one. My point of view is primarily driven by my experience in projects when I represent the business side of things.
I sincerely believe that we are moving out of the age of proprietary and specification driven development. Two factors seem to influence this with tremendous momentum:
The substantial change of quality SaaS (that’s what we used to call the cloud in the old days) provides on almost all levels: scope, easy-of-use, governance, performance, availability, evolution/roadmap, mobility etc.
The lack of effectiveness in allocating OPEX and CAPEX to infrastructure and systems that aren’t remotely core to the source of business
A third seems to emerge as well: compliance. In various projects (and it feels like a trend already) business owners have made sure that data touched by the project is business critical but not regulated! This means that there is very little legal leverage to argue “cloud security” by principle. For non-regulated content it’s almost a guarantee that cloud vendors have a better angle on data security than the heavy metal t-shirted guys in your basement.
The most significant change in this new playground: requirements engineering.
To play with boxes or modular systems requires new rules. The best way to determine, if you play by these new rules, is to never need a specification. In the new world, requirements and processes have to adapt to the capabilities of the target infrastructure and solutions (or the combination of modules/solutions therein). There simply isn’t the option to ask for the button on the upper right instead of a text link on the lower left anymore. The designers of the box want it up there, and if you don’t like it: get another box!
Organisations have to even learn a different way of determining requirements. They have to leave wiggle room to ready-to-use services in order to address the requirements properly. That requires intellectual flexibility on all sides: business stakeholders as well as (internal) solution experts. Therefore new methods of requirements engineering and documentation are needed.
Let’s talk about the scenarios
The following part of this article will only refer to three scenarios but not solutions or platforms that might fall into those. Primarily because I don’t want this article to be perceived as “analyst material” but more importantly because the “modular” scenario can be built from more than one solution/platform/service.
In order to provide the core content of this article in a somehow re-usable format I will use a structure: my take on each option divided by
key questions in the business context
Firstly this structure will help to align my point of view with yours, the reader (most likely not always 100% matching). Secondly I want to provide inspiration for readers that are confronted with the decision between the scenarios and seek for additional input for the decision process.
You buy a space ship in a toy store. It’s called “space ship” and it comes in one piece – as a space ship.
You know what you get. You know what to expect and so does everyone who’s going to play with you. If your play requires space travel, interstellar transport and artificial gravity, you’re all set.
The play is limited to the context in which a space ship makes sense. To play “summer camp 2014” will require a lot of creativity in
framing (change management)
execution (user experience & add value)
adaption (requirements re-engineering)
Questions in a business context
Are your business requirements clear enough so that you can determine a (reasonable) match with a technology? Do you need a space ship?
Can everyone use the new box? (e.g.: do you infinite bandwidth everywhere?)
Have you made sure that “out of the box” doesn’t mean “out of the boxISH” in the vendor’s sale pitch? In German you say “Auslegungssache” ;o)
Do you know all the other boxes in your company? Do you know the boxes that will be brought in in the near future? Do you understand how things will play together or create redundancy?
Are your functional requirements flexible enough so that they can adapt to how things are done within the new box?
Is your organisational willing to change the current standards (processes, ways of working, guidelines etc.) so that YOU will be compliant with the new box (not the other way around)?
Option 2: Modular
You buy a construction set to build a space ship. The set it build from some common standards and some space ship specific pieces. *
You are way more flexible in your play. You can adapt the space ship depending on space ship play relevant factors. You don’t even have to use all pieces and still build a space ship. Some standards in the set will help you to address needs that aren’t specific to space ship plays.
If you don’t follow the exact (child proof) plan on how to build the space ship you need the experience (not just the vision) on how to build a space ship. Not everything you can build from a space ship construction set will be a space ship, which might be confusing to others.
You need a solid understanding for the priorities in your space ship play, so that you can cater to them. If you leave pieces out you need a reason-why. If you leave out all the space ship specific pieces, there was no need to buy the set in the first place.
Questions in business context
Do you have a plan? (literally)
Do you have internal competence to work with and maintain construction sets? It is a different ball game compared to standard solution operations…
Have you matched your plan to the construction set?
If you leaves pieces out, do you have a reason-why for the ones that “always wanted something like that”?
If you start small, do you have a roadmap for adding the other pieces?
Does your construction set play well with other sets and boxes in your organisation? Does it have to?
Option 3: Custom
The following statements will make you feel that I am not necessarily a “custom” fan anymore. However, there can be good reasons to go fully customised. It’s all a matter of requirements engineering and cost/benefit analysis.
Analogy You get some raw material and you build a space ship.
Benefit It’s the space ship that fits a specification, which was built on known requirements. It’s yours. You are in charge, if you don’t sell and lease it back…
Your requirements have to be spot on (correct and complete)
Your specification has to be spot on (correct and complete…and ideally tested)
Prioritised requirements automatically lead to a roadmap and release management. It’s good to have the future 1.5 releases in mind to avoid “cul-de-sacs”.
You better test your space ship before you fly off because it’s a brand new space ship
(Pragmatic) questions in business context
There is really no box out there that would fit your requirements? Really, really?
Is “custom” connected to the people in charge? (that’s always how we’ve done it)
Could you adjust your requirements to fit a box or a construction set?
Could you change (like in: processes, ways of working, etc.) to become more box or construction set compatible?
Could you win your CFO over to your team by creating a business case that sets out
benefits of generally changing “ways of working” (aka organisational evolution)
freed up CAPEX and OPEX for more core business focussed actions
* “Modular” can stand for “built from multiple specialised/best of breed solutions” as well. The available eco system of services simply becomes the construction set.