Preston Smith's Corner

How should we incorporate technology tools into our development process?

December 2003 Quick Tip

Modern computer technologies can accomplish wondrous things. I recently accepted a volunteer position that required keeping track of many disparate pieces of information, coordinating them, and making commitments based on them. Database technologies, unavailable just a few years ago, were the perfect match to my needs.

However, many managers who apply computerized tools to their development processes, be they computer-aided engineering tools or a complete Web-based development process, do not obtain the benefits they seek.

To obtain real business benefit, you must do two things – neither of them involving technology. First, you must analyze your current business situation and objectives before you chose a technology. Otherwise, you will be solving the problems that the technology’s developer had in mind, not necessarily your own needs. In short, analyze your needs first, then go shopping for technologies that resolve your need.

Second, once you install the technology, recognize that the hard work lies ahead. Now you must change behaviors, and perhaps even your culture, to reap the benefits of your new technology. For example, for my new database technology, whose objective was to track disparate bits of information and commitments I had made, I had to adopt a new habit of stopping whenever new information arrived to enter it into the database so that the database remained up to date. Without this change in behavior, the new technology was useless.

Most companies are willing to invest lavishly on new technology, but they greatly underestimate the labor, time, and money needed to make the associated behavioral changes. For more on this, see our recent column, “It’s Not About the Technology.”

(c) Copyright 2013 Preston G. Smith. All Rights Reserved.


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