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Is "good enough", good enough?

By Locrian_Lyric ·
This point originally came up in the Bill Gates discussion, and I spoke to it there.

Recent developments at my place of work have made me believe even more strongly in 'good enough'.

From a simple survival point, going for 'good enough' instead of perfect is the order of the day.

Like it or not, 'the business' does not care how beautiful your code is, or that you've managed to put in all the bells and whistles anyone could want.

Business cares about productivity and deadlines. An application that can get the job done, even poorly, is better than a great application delivered when the point is moot.

'Good enough' is also a great sanity saver.

Let me ask everyone a question:

When is the last time you delivered a project that was not later amended, revised, or even redesigned entirely?

I know that we all want to deliver masterpieces. I'm as guilty as anyone. But we need to remember that in most cases, we were not hired to deliver perfection, we were hired to deliver solutions.

Our role in IT is to deliver the best solutions for given problems.

So, how does 'good enough' suddenly become the best?

It's not really a paradox when you think about it. The business has needs that must be met. Time is one of those needs, and it is the time of the business that we as IT professionals have been ignoring.

I know it's easy to say that the business wants Jesus in a 3 piece suit (I've said it myself). A more realistic appraisal is that business wants everything as quickly, cheaply and as useful as they can get.

I've started telling them that they can get any two of the three.

You can get it good and cheap, you can get it quick and good, or you can get it quick and cheap. You tell me which.

Usually, one of the three is not as important as the other two. If the need is pressing and time is the most important, then it's going to be less than perfect or damn expensive.

It's when we try to provide all three to our clients that we drive ourselves mad.

Think of it this way.

Let's say you want a cheap, crappy little computer for a friend who is not at all PC literate. He does a little web surfing, checks his email and uses a spreadsheet for a couple of things. His birthday is next week, and you'd like to surprise him.

How would you feel if you asked another friend to pick one up for you and the following happened:

Your other friend decides to build it himself, include the most kicka$$ sound and video, a 1 TB hard drive..... et cetera. It's ready, but not until a month after your first friend's birthday, cost four times as much as you wanted to spend on it, and your friend can't even figure out half the features.

That is, in effect, what we do to our business clients.

When I talk about 'good enough', I am talking about doing the minimum to meet the business need, no less, but certainly no more.

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