Singing off the Same Hymn Sheet

This has come up in conversation so many times in my career and I feel warrants some airing online.

The number of companies who are built on a patchwork of technical solutions, where it is not uncommon to find one employee working on one system and another employee down the hall on another. This is where I can not begin to advocate enough about the importance of business wide buy-in and education. It is the old adage if you stick a website up – no they won’t come – you have to educate and encourage people to come in and so is the same with internal systems.

I worked on a SharePoint intranet project at a local NHS trust this was an environment where resources were stretched to the max on the front line and had been submitted to so called ‘miracle cure’ technical solutions to make work easier. However, the employees have been used to this just being another system to learn, another administrative burden. The irony is that if correctly delivered with company wide buy-in it can truly make a difference to people’s day-to-day work-load.

Acting as a customer-facing architect I had the opportunity to engage with everyone from pharmacists, A&E nurses, financiers and the corporate steering group. I was able to get a full picture of what was needed. It is not about people coming and telling you the solution it is about encouraging them to tell you what they need. These needs are the requirements and a good architect or PM will build the requirements and, subsequently, the system will be built around these not shoe-horning a solution in.

The first thing that needs to be done is to audit existing systems, interfaces and in-house employee engagement – what’s the point in re-inventing the wheel. If a company is already using one system, why introduce another just because it differs slightly. Often whichever solution you have there are add-ons, plug-ins and the capability to do some bespoke coding to deliver the requirements. Employees will be more inclined to engage with a development of the same rather than re-invention.

Research, understanding requirements, understanding employee drivers and understanding system capabilities is first and foremost before any grand schemes for a miracle cure. Let’s start singing off the same hymn sheet.

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