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Perspective Matters in Solution Architecture

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Perspective matters. Chances are we've all had a situation in our professional career where we've thought “there's a better way to do this” or “why in the world is [insert process] done this way!”. Often, the reaction might be to get frustrated or discouraged by a situation. However, these are opportunities to gain a better understanding into the organization and the people you work with. Taking the time to get the full picture of the situation is beneficial, especially when preparing to recommend changes.

My first job out of college was as a Development Technician for a city government. Day after day I would watch the City Manager prepare for his meetings with developers by taking a 24”x36” set of plat maps to the copy machine so he could have materials available to help encourage development in the city, highlighting in marker all the positive aspects of the location in question; proximity to utilities, major roads, zoning districts, etc.

WHY?!?!

Times change, and your technology should too.

Every time I saw this I cringed. I knew there was a better way! Having just graduated with a degree in Geography & Planning I knew that Geographic Information Systems was exactly what the city needed. I asked why he did it this way, “because this is how I’ve always done it” was the answer, which I’ve learned throughout my career is a common response to the “why” question. I explained my idea and how I could improve the process and save him a lot of time and frustration. He liked the idea, but GIS was expensive to implement, and the budget was tight.

I improvised and was able to get a 3-month trial license of the software to build out a proof of concept. The impact was immediate, and I was able to build the City’s GIS capabilities from the ground up; improving processes, saving time, and helping the City begin a digital transformation process (before that term was cool).

You might be thinking, “Great story Craig, but what’s the point?”

The Point Is…

There are two distinct points of view from employees when it comes to technology change: the group that welcomes it and the group that is hesitant. As Solution Architects, we are often somewhere in the middle of where the City Manager and I were, our job is to identify solutions that help improve a process, but often we must be an advocate to the “we’ve always done it this way”, or hesitant, crowd. To be clear, we should never change something just for the sake of changing it; there should be a clear benefit. However, we should never not change because “this is the way we’ve always done it.”

How can we accomplish both? The key is to understand that each organization is unique and each project has different requirements. Sometimes the best solution isn’t the most obvious. Having the proper perspective in solution architecture helps make sure you're delivering a solution that is right for your organization.

Think Differently!

When you find yourself in this position, remember these 5 tips to help find the best solution for any situation:

Listening to others is important!
  1. Listen to Stakeholders: Maybe the solution you are looking for is just a few cubicles down (or a Teams chat away #workfromhomelife). Engage your colleagues and listen to their ideas. Many times, you’ll find somebody has an idea that makes a task easier, faster, or saves the organization money. Work smarter, not harder.
  2. Don’t Forget About Peer Review: It’s not only important to listen to new ideas, but also listen to feedback on existing solutions and how slight tweaks can make them better. Never be afraid of a little constructive criticism.
  3. Diversify: Surround yourself with people who have different opinions, titles, and experiences. One of the beauties of technology is that it isn’t “one size fits all”. There are countless ways to complete a task and the solution won’t be the same for every organization. Likewise, each person has a unique perspective that will help improve your processes. Having a diverse group of people involved in the process will help make sure you aren't creating an echo chamber.
  4. Educate Yourself. Technology changes every day. It is important to take the time to improve your skills, keep up to speed on emerging technologies, and have a well-rounded understanding of your field. Taking a class, listening to podcasts, or reading articles online are all great ways to stay up to speed on technology and make sure you're ready for the next big thing.
  5. Think outside the box. “For one thing, not every solution comes in a box”. Thinking outside the box can give you a new outlook on an old problem and help you come to a solution that better fits the organization. Again, sometimes the best solution isn't the most obvious.
Sometimes it's good to get a fresh perspective.

Need a Fresh Perspective?

Maybe the perspective you need is already on your team, or in your organization. Great! Find them and listen to their ideas. Have a brainstorming session or team workshop to help solicit solutions.

Or you can always contact us! We are experts with decades of experience helping clients use technology solutions to solve business challenges.

Here are a couple case study’s that highlight the work we do for our clients:

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