The customer isn’t always right
Published 11:39, 22 March 10
One of the hardest problems in IT is determining customer requirements.
In most cases, being able to design a system exactly to spec is not a problem, but what does an IT provider do when the customer requirements are either wrong or flawed?
More to the point, how do you balance this with the philosophy that the customer is always right?
As an IT provider, it is very easy to simply take the client requirements and build, despite being aware that once implemented, the system will need changing. This is essentially like writing a blank cheque for the IT provider and more importantly, conflicts with the client’s overall business objectives.
Healthcare has the same problems. Across the broad scope of the healthcare sector there are a plethora of client requirements issued to IT providers that simply don’t address client needs.
This leads to vast sums of money being ploughed into building systems that are at best ineffective and at worst amplify the original problem. This in turn leads to more cash being thrown at it in order to change the system again.
The question is; where does the job of an IT solutions provider end? Given that business requirements and IT solution requirements are completely intertwined, do we have a duty to advise at the initial tender development stage? What about on business processes overall?
During my time working in the industry I have helped set up and create more clinics than most full time clinic managers ever will in their entire careers.
Yet informed opinions from experts are rarely called upon when decisions are being made as to what IT systems would ensure a particular hospital or private clinic is run efficiently and with the patient’s interest at its core.
Yes, this would involve IT provider’s being very bold and actually pointing out to a client that a particular business process is flawed and that the requirements they have outlined don’t offer a solution.
But the blow can quite easily be softened by taking the time to explain the solution that you know would work and the benefits it would bring.
Surely that is better than what we have now, which appears to be a simple approach of meet the tender requirements and charge a little less than the competition, regardless of whether the system will work or not - safe in the knowledge that you'll make any discounts back in the long term over and over again...