itb-nz logo
Story image

Is a desire for 'all-in-one’ functionality the reason for IT failures?

04 Jan 2014

Desire for ‘all-in-one’ functionality may be reason behind many IT failures

As information technology solutions become increasingly Swiss Army Knife and apparently multi-purpose in nature, New Zealand companies are being cautioned that ‘feature cool’ does not necessarily mean efficient.

Companies planning to implement a new technology system or software in the 2014 are advised to clearly identify the features that will actually be used and to keep it as simple as possible.

Chief Executive of New Zealand IT consulting and software development company Designertech, Ray Delany, said today that by limiting complexity to what is absolutely necessary and no more, results are often far better than cumbersome systems which promise to ‘do it all’.

“Increasingly we note that at an enterprise level there is a desire to implement every possible feature, which can then result in scope creep that adds unnecessary complexity and creates systems that are unwieldy to implement and unnecessarily difficult to operate.

“IT is complicated enough as it is. But when new projects are mooted, there is often that human desire to make a mark and, in so doing, to disregard the plentiful lessons of the past.

“We all want to be involved in exciting, transformational projects to make a real difference, but that can result in blindness to well-documented failures of years gone and the lessons these dished out,” he said.

Delany notes that it remains a fact that in software, up to 80% of features built into any given product will be used infrequently or, worse, not at all.

“Anecdotally, we also know that people in general have no idea how to work a computer. Move one small item on a screen and pandemonium ensues.”

The recent introduction of Windows 8 is a case in point: the vanished ‘Start’ button is arguably one of the big tech news stories of 2013.

“The point is that when developing a new system, the ‘everyday’ features are the ones that should get most of the attention.”

While the many facets of IT combine into what can be seen by businesspeople as a transformational resource that can take care of everything, Delany says the rub is translating great ideas into functional systems.

“In most projects, and certainly the ambitious ones, nobody achieves quite as much as they hoped they would. Almost always, most bang-for-buck comes through focusing on the things that really do deliver a benefit. And once it is working, you want to be circumspect about changes you make. Keep it simple where possible,” he said.