Focus on Strategic Decision Making
We love technology and what it can do, but we recognise it still has a long way to go. All too often, IT systems let down the user through poor interfaces (design), poor workflow (design), not doing enough (design), or not even existing.
For example, how often do we see a pop-up alert filled with techno-babble that only the programmer would understand, and one or two buttons to click that make the techno-babble go away? All that is achieved is training the user which button to click to make the pop-up stay away the longest.
Developing a system that presents the user with techno-babble pop-up alerts tends to subconsciously allow the software developer to put the responsibility of resolving difficult issues with the (non-technical) user rather than building a more robust application.
Many providers see progress as stop when they have a solution that matches what the customer was expecting, albeit faster, prettier, or with even more options (feature creep). Hopefully this is done after consultation with the customer.
What we like to do is find a new solution - a better way of doing things. We start with "what if we didn’t do it that way". Progress often requires a big structural or philosophical leap, not a small incremental change.
We like to see users doing less mundane work. As computers become faster, and technologies enables more complex activities to be automated, more of the routine work that people do should be transferred to computer systems. This makes the results more predictable, and allows staff to focus on higher level decision making. If the systems are there to support it, the outcomes should be a better result for the business and the staff.
An example was a time when I worked within a very small trading team. The business wasn’t big enough to support many spot traders, yet we had a portfolio with demanding time schedules. We frequently needed to start and stop our units around 6am and 11pm six days per week if the conditions demanded it. There was also little margin for error with a tight budget.
I ended up developing a system that would allow remote operation (startup, and shutdown) of the units via standard SMS (this was before current smartphone technology). We could also submit complex rebids, and obtain market information, all via SMS. For the first time, a trader could quickly perform their out of hours activities without opening a laptop.