Some Assembly Required


I worked on a big project a few years back.  It was an addition to a large, complex building, doubling its capacity.   It was very important to the future success of the organization and they had a LOT of money riding on it and were counting on it being finished on time.  In fact, they planned a big launch event and sent out the invitations well in advance of its completion, trusting it would be done and knowing that if they wanted all the right people to show up for the launch, they needed to get it on their calendars early.

So far, so good.

They trusted the different construction contractors and teams to work together on their own to get the building done.  They were sure that any disputes between the electricians and the audio-visual contractors could be smoothed over easily and that each contractor would complete all their work on time for the amount they promised at the beginning.  They were also confident that the original drawings that described how the building was to be built were extremely easy for anyone to understand and that no mistakes would be made.  And finally, they knew that the owner’s vision of how the building would be used was clear to everyone working in constructing it.

Wait!  What???   No they didn’t.  That would be naive and crazy!  Here’s what they did instead…

To help ensure success, they hired an architecture and construction management firm.  The two guys from the firm never lifted a hammer or drill, never ran any wire, and never poured any concrete.  They were there to make sure things got done right, got done on time, and most of all, resolve the inevitable questions and issues that arose during construction.   They had a lot of construction experience and had built buildings like this before.  They knew where problems were likely to arise and knew the best ways to resolve them.

Makes sense, right?

Now, let’s replace just one word in the first paragraph…

I worked on a big project a few years back.  It was an addition to a large, complex system, doubling its capacity.   It was very important to the future success of the organization and they had a LOT of money riding on it and were counting on it being finished on time.  In fact, they planned a big launch event and sent out the invitations well in advance of its completion, trusting it would be done and knowing that if they wanted all the right people to show up, they needed to get the launch on their calendars.

Still sounds about right, eh?

Let’s tweak a few words in the second paragraph above…

They trusted the different software vendors and teams to work together on their own to get the system done.  They were sure that any disputes between the designers and the programmers could be smoothed over easily and that each software vendor would complete all their work on time for the amount they promised at the beginning.  They were also confident that the original wireframes and design documents that described how the system was to be built were extremely easy for anyone to understand and that no mistakes would be made.  And finally, they knew that the owner’s vision of how the system would be used was clear to everyone working in implementing it.

How many systems do you see built according to the paragraph above?

I have written over 150 blog posts now, with nary a plug for my company, the BrightStreet Group, and what we do.  So I figure you all will indulge me if I do it now and then promise not to do it again for another 150 posts.

People ask me from time to time what we do.  It can be a bit hard to explain, but basically, we do for IT systems what the two guys in the third paragraph about the construction project did for the building.  Crazy, right…? 

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