Nothing is Perfect

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I have seen the following scenario far too many times in the world of IT:

  1. Technology A is purchased and deployed, and it does about 90% of what the business needs.
  2. Getting the remaining 10% of the business’ needs met will require training, planning, and effort.
  3. The person who bought technology A complains about how it does not work.
  4. Same person starts preparing to buy technology B.
  5. Technology B is purchased because it covers that remaining 10% of the business’ needs, but still only covers about 90% of all of the business’ needs.
  6. Technology B will also require training, planning, and effort to have it cover 100% of the business’ needs.
  7. The person who bought technologies A and B complains about how they do not work.
  8. Same person starts preparing to buy technology C, and the cycle continues…

Why does this happen? In part because the person who sold the technology promised that it could do everything, but like the old saying goes “buyer beware”. No one product can do it all. If a sales person tells you that their solution will do everything then you as a customer better start asking “What does it not do?” Follow that up with “What third party studies validate your claims about the product?” and “Will you guarantee that in writing with a service level agreement and refunds?”

That is for when the solution sounds too good to be true. My personal belief is that most people already have the role of the skeptic buyer down to a science. The real problem is when the buyer is told the truth about a system’s limitations and ignores what they are told.

I have no explanation for why this particular phenomenon occurs. My opinion is that people just get excited about buying things. Much like when someone buys a shiny new sports car because it is fast and sleek looking, and then six months later they complain about the lack of trunk space or a backseat. Suddenly the design of the car is “flawed”.

Yet there was no way that the buyer did not see these details before buying the car. The buyer just chose to ignore them.

You cannot do this when making an IT purchasing decision. You also cannot dismiss a solution that is going to require additional work beyond just the initial purchase and deployment. If you instead recognize that your needs are unique because your company is unique in some ways, well then you will drop the unrealistic expectation that a “perfect” solution exists for your company. You can now ask the better questions of your vendor for that solution that addresses 90% of your business’ needs:

  • “What have your other customers done to address my remaining needs?”
  • “How much will I need to purchase in addition to your solution to truly have a complete solution?”
  • “Would you please provide references to your customers who faced similar issues to ours?”

Drop you expectations for perfection to come in the form of a product, and know what your needs are before purchasing anything. Unlike a car that is difficult to customize beyond its original design most technologies have the interfaces needed to create a complete solution with. You just have to be willing to put in the training, planning, and effort to make it happen.

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