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When rules start becoming handcuffs…

Business Strategy, Software Strategy, Uncategorized

Rules are meant to be handrails, not handcuffs. I have always found great wisdom from this saying which I first heard as a freshman in college from a colleague, who attributed it to his father, an honorable army man. 

I am a very strong proponent of having process and rules, as long as these do not begin to hinder progress. Time and again, I have come across many situations in corporations I have worked directly or indirectly for where process is to be blamed for their inability to execute. Typically it is IT department versus the business playing a tennis match in slow motion without making any headway. Of course, business thinks everything is highest priority and that somehow the IT department can conjure up resources to deliver on 120 requirements at an electrifying pace. The IT person pretty much is inundated with requests and is already over-worked. Their best course of defence is to make sure that only the ”plastic” balls are being dropped, while the “glass” ones continue to be juggled. This means that the IT person wants the business to follow the process and formally submit their requirements and wish lists that can be then prioritized with respect to other projects in the pipeline. There lies the trap. Processes can be stifling especially if one is trying to grow a mile a second. 

Any process that is not flexible is bound to fail, and therefore not a good process. Bad processes are not due to only one department’s fault.  It is often a result of setting incorrect priorities by management, shortage of resources or simply b/cthe organization is growing too fast. 

Each situation is unique, but generally the problem lies with trying to put a general work flow to all activities. Any company will have steady state and non-steady state activities, and obviously in a start up, the non-steady state activities should exceed as the organization takes off. Agile development, project and product management is required. It may be implemented through a parallel or auxiliary team. Incentives to foster prompt delivery are also good idea.


March 30, 2008   |     Comments(0)   |   Posted by: Imran Aftab

creativity through process

Software Strategy, Uncategorized, Web Development, Web Strategy

It almost seems an oxymoron to talk about creativity and process at the same time, as one typically negates the other. However, the truth is that often creativity is an iterative process.  How often have we seen writers tear up mulitple pages, before they really settle on writing, or how often does the artist start anew until they find that perfect start.  Some gifted creative professionals can go through the iterative proces in their heads without needing to ink or materialize their vision.

In the world of GUI and design, the ideal design is achieved through numerous renditions/ iterations which take time. It is unrealistic to expect a highly creative/ perfect GUI in a short period of time, specially if the vision keeps changing or is not clear. Factor in strong branding guidelines and the personal likes/ dislikes of the customer, coupled with the designer’s own creative take- this whole creative process could be very frustrating.

The best approach is to allow sufficient time for the design process, have lots of patience, and not make judgements about anything until the final product is delivered. In cases where there is very little flexibility with time, one has to compromise on quality.

March 15, 2008   |     Comments(0)   |   Posted by: Imran Aftab

Build vs Buy

Business Intelligence, Business Strategy, Software Strategy


Needless to say that this is a classic debate when it comes to software. The pros and cons for each approach are obvious and well known, with the “Buy” strategy being the more expensive, yet quicker option, and the “Build” option being the more personalized and oft less expensive option. However, the real verdict depends on the requirements and business objective. It is not a good idea to purchase an off-the-shelf product when the functionality required is not as sophisticated, and less than 50% of the features provided by the product. Customizing pre-built applications could be a nuisance at times, and at times more cumbersome than custom building.  Often times, companies will purchase monolithic, comprehensive business intelligence applications to fullfil their departmental analytical needs only to find the implementation taking much longer than anticipated. There is of course then the recurring software licenses and maintenance costs. If the need is contained and specific, a custom solution is the best choice. There are many third party tools/ widgets available which makes rapid application development possible.

March 1, 2008   |     Comments(0)   |   Posted by: Imran Aftab
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