'Silent Requirements' cost US companies $400 Billion a year.
It’s been called a communication problem. It’s actually a function of silence. It’s all the things the business knows that they forget to tell the project team, and all the unanswered questions the project team forgets to ask. It’s these ‘silent requirements’ that are the problem.
Science has recently discovered that forgetting isn’t an accident. It’s the way our brains are designed to work. We’ve been making assumptions about how teams think and communicate that are directly opposed to reality.
Without the right tools few teams are capable of communicating business requirements in sufficient detail to lay a good foundation for a large, complex IT project—especially when those teams don’t have lots of experience. And if the base is bad, the project will be too.
Unfortunately, tools like that aren’t widely available. We had to create our own. It took 300 man years and hundreds of projects to refine our tools, but we can teach you to use them in a few days. The tools aren’t difficult, just different—a map to navigate every step in a business process, and a checklist to touch every base while there.
Tools like this—across other industries—have consistently, immediately reduced errors and omissions by 40% to 50%. But identifying the oversights is only part of the story. At every client we work with we find roughly the same ratio—one day with our tools up front would have saved six to eight months of flailing and rework on the backend. Sometimes that ratio is much higher. As they say, it’s the little things that’ll kill you.
We’ve helped others. We’d like to help you too, and to the extent we can, we’ll do it for free. Click here to download our in-depth explanation of the problem and our basic toolkit, or contact us for a free consultation.
What have you got to lose?
Apollo 11 had millions of parts that had to work perfectly.
NASA knew the moon shot was too big for any person or team to get their heads around. So they figured out exactly what they had to do to get to the moon and back safely. They broke each objective down into interim steps that had to be successfully completed before proceeding. They turned the entire project into a checklist to be sure they executed each step correctly. Then at every step along the way they checked those lists to make sure they’d done everything right.
They didn’t trust their memory. They didn’t trust their communications. They didn’t trust their assumptions. Some of the smartest people on the planet didn’t trust themselves—because they knew they couldn’t, and the costs of failure was too high to cut corners.
Smart people acknowledge their limitations and create safeguards to work around them. Fools pretend they don’t have any and charge headlong over cliffs.
It appears many have forgotten this lesson. We’d like to refresh their memory, and to the extent that we can we’ll do it for free because we want to reach as many of our fellow professionals as possible. Contact us for a free consultation.
3 out of 4 IT project failures happen for one reason.
Bad IT vendors show you what they’ve got, then ask how you’ll use it. Better vendors ask, “what do you need?” The best ask, “what are you trying to do?” They know that business requirements flow from your execution strategy—not the other way around. They also know you’re not running an IT project, you’re running a business project that’s just enabled by technology.
When it comes to understanding mission and need, both business people and technologists have relied on three implicit, but never discussed assumptions.
- Employees know, understand and are aligned with their company’s execution strategy;
- When people explain a process they accurately remember and convey all the details of that process; and
- The requirements we collect based on the above assumptions aren’t perfect, but they’re good enough.
Unfortunately, research has recently shown there’s a problem with these assumptions—they’re all wrong. We’ve been laying the foundations for our IT projects in quicksand!
When “what you want to do” is in question, “what you need to do it” is impossible to answer. That’s why failures to communicate business requirements cause 75% of all IT projects failures. That’s also why we take a different approach—one that goes back to basics to answer both of those questions.
We start with the premise that business is about execution. Whether you build a product or deliver a service, you move a ‘ball’ from Point A to B as fast and efficiently as you can to generate profit. That sounds like a linear exercise—it’s not. Execution is a cycle with four phases. You do the work. You manage that work. You assess your performance. Then you refine your efforts—because if you don’t, others will, and you won’t stay in business.
The only reason to implement any new technology is to improve your ability to execute—which means that understanding your execution cycle is not only job #1, it’s the most important thing you’ll ever do.
Historically, there’s not been a good framework for understanding an execution cycle. Now there is! And we’ve turned it into a checklist that anyone you use.
When playing Russian Roulette with 5 bullets has better odds than running an IT project...
The biggest experts in the IT industry are unanimous in this assessment—70% of enterprise IT projects fail. The good news is that 70% isn’t as bad as it sounds. Not all failures are created equal. 50% just experience some “significant” level of failure—meaning they’re way (30 – 300%) over budget, behind schedule or under-deliver. Only 20%, 1 in 5, are total failures, complete write-offs, smoking craters.
The bad news is that if a project costs over a million dollars, the odds of failure jump by 50%. That means the odds of total failure for a big project are 1 out of 3. The odds of a significant failure are almost 2 out of 3. And the odds of success? Only 1 one in 20!
Playing Russian Roulette with 5 out of 6 bullets in the gun has better odds of success than running a large IT project!
The question we—our profession, our industry—need to deal with is, “WHY is this happening?” Our mission is to help you answer that question. And to the extent that we can, we’ll do it for free because we want to reach as many of our fellow professionals as possible. Contact us for a free consultation.
70% of IT projects fail because the team never gets the whole story.
According to the Project Management Institute (PMI) roughly 75% of all IT project failures are a direct result of failed communication between the business and tech teams. In a nutshell, the business forgets to share everything they know, and the tech team doesn’t know what questions to ask.
Gallup says this problem extends far beyond IT, “…half of all US employees don’t know what’s expected of them at work…(they) don’t know what their boss wants, what the project requires or what their business is trying to do.” That’s an issue! People can’t execute a plan, if they don’t know what the plan is!
For too long we technologists have acted as if what our customers don’t tell us, is not our problem. Well, they don’t see it that way. It not only becomes our problem, they stop trusting us. We’re supposed to be the experts. We’re supposed to know what needs to be done. We need to start acting like it.
The good news is, we recognize the problem. The bad news is, the real problem isn’t what we think it is. We’ve been looking in the wrong place.
Our mission is to point you in the right direction. And to the extent that we can, we’ll do it for free. Contact us for a free consultation.
The biggest risk to IT projects is SILENCE.
For decades universities have taught that people make rational decisions based on the best available information, that we’re in control of our thoughts and actions, and that we know what we’re doing. Believing this to be true, we’ve assumed that workers were negligent (or incompetent) when they missed important details during an IT project. There’s just one problem with this logic—it’s wrong!
Neuroscience has come a long way in the last 20 years. We’ve recently discovered that humans are controlled by an ‘auto-pilot’ that we never knew we had. It leaps to conclusions based on little information; ignores some facts and invents others; is easily, unwittingly manipulated; and is the antithesis of rational. We thought we were in control of our brains, but it’s the other way around!
We miss critical details and forget to share others because we’re literally hard-wired to act that way. That’s a big problem when the success of our IT projects demands accurate and complete information. So, knowing what we now know, we’ve got two choices. Either we can continue to get mad at people for being human (which hasn’t worked so far), or we can accept our human limitations and figure out a way around them.
We’ve chosen the latter and we’ve found a very simple way to do it—it’s called a checklist.
Our mission is to share it, and if you’re interested, we’ll share it for free. Click here for your free copy.
Do you really think that developing or deploying enterprise software is easier than building a house?
Anyone who has ever built or remodeled a house has been stunned by the number of details that had to be addressed along the way. The first thing you learn with contractors is that if you don’t tell them what you want or need, they’re not going to know—other people can’t read your mind. The second thing you learn is that the learning curve for navigating the construction process is pretty steep. The uninitiated make a lot of mistakes that veterans have learned to avoid. It may look easy, but it’s anything but—there’s more to it that swinging a hammer.
The exact same lessons hold for developing and implementing IT systems—there’s more to it than writing code. When you’ve been designing, building, selling, implementing, deploying and operating enterprise software for well over 100 years—like our team has—you pick up a few things along the way.
It’s time for us to share that knowledge. It’s time for our industry to become better change agents and more effective technologists. Our mission is to help that happen. And to the extent that we can we’re committed to doing it for free. We want to reach as many of our fellow professionals as possible. Contact us for a free consultation.