Apps

The problem with top-down decision making

When those outside the daily work routine make decisions for end-users, they had better include them.

Having experienced, as an end-user, my share of tech rollout horror stories, I feel that I’m in a good position to weigh in on the matter. And if I can help even one IT manager see the error of his or her way, then I’ll feel better.

Here’s the scenario as I see it in my mind’s eye. The CEO/CIO tells the IT manager/director that the company needs a new cms and to go out and find the right one. The IT manager/director does some research as to what’s out there, meets with some vendors and comes back with three choices:

  • The most expensive app
  • The cheapest app
  • The app with the most features, particularly that one feature that is really awesome (as one charismatic vendor explained) but that happens to be something the end-users in the company would never have a need for.

The IT manager slaps the choices on the Wheel of Apps: 

wheel.jpg

They spin the wheel and make a selection.

So what's missing? Nowhere in this scenario is there any kind of fact-finding or data-gathering with the end-users, those who will actually be using the product. I don’t know what kind of tunnel-vision prevents the decision-makers from seeing the value of end-user input, but I suspect it’s mostly budgetary. And it's also very short-sighted.

Omitting the fact-finding upfront ends up costing the company more money in terms of lost productivity while training and down-time while addressing bugs (also known as old features that no longer work or new features that aren’t needed). If you want to really align with business, then the line goes both ways. Consider how a product is used before you make a decision about a new one.


6 comments
williamjacobs
williamjacobs

Two things would provide damage control:

1) Pilot program. See how it works on a portion of the users.

2) Rollback procedure. Have a plan to undo the damage if it fails miserably. (for the rollout AND the pilot. No reason to make the early volunteers suffer.)


Using these two simple tools produces fewer nightmares and flexibility to adopt more changes because failures don't cost you so much.

Brownie points: make the pilot users all volunteers or rotate the misery. Volunteers get lunch catered that week for their bravery and taking a bullet for the team.

CesarFStoll
CesarFStoll

Common or not common among the decision makers, I think it is a great point to reflect upon. Not just at the top management level but at every intermediate level, because the business is always made by the users and without consulting the end user, even if the trend does not go with the great majority, the decision will be like that wheel of fortune displayed above, just a lottery... unless of course the market is so controlled by outside forces that neither the end-user nor the product or service delivered, becomes relevant.  

Adam Shrug
Adam Shrug

Seriously?  Is this article from 1980 or what?  

If this still goes on anywhere (and they've managed to stay in business), they've been under a rock for 30 years.  

lskong
lskong

i find it just a wee bit insulting to the suggestion that this is common among IT managers/directors....

bmeyer66
bmeyer66

This sounds likes situation normal with a lot of decision making that I have seen from bosses that don't care about the people under them.

Keighlar
Keighlar

@williamjacobs 

Hmmm... Sounds exactly like the plan that should have been in place for the new layout here.  :)

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