What a Horrific Hospital Experience Taught Me About IT Pitfalls
The last couple of days have been personally traumatic. My mother who underwent an operation 10 days ago, was diagnosed with a ruptured intestine. It required an immediate surgery to close the rupture and provide an alternate opening through the stomach. This opening shall be closed after few months.
It might seem strange for the readers to be introduced about a medical procedure in the SCN space. However, during this period I had a personal experience of the normal pitfalls in our business implementations. I take this opportunity to share some with you people.
The IT business is still evolving in comparison with medical sciences. In-spite of it, there were standard pitfalls which I observed in my experience.
1. The patient approached the doctor with a report from a different lab. The doctor chose to operate the patient based on the findings of the previous lab, a breach in the standard protocol.
Result: They underestimated the complexity of the operation. During the operation faced with the daunting situation, they could not perform an accurate removal of the infected organ.
IT parallel: When the vendor is approached by the customer for an IT implementation based on customer’s understanding( usually their internal IT team), we as vendors are quick to provide an estimation and prepare for implementation. The pitfall is, the whole process is based on the customer’s understanding of the problem.
Better Practice: Always take the opportunity to understand the customer’s business. It is paramount to convince customer to share the existing business infrastructure before addressing the business need/vision. Only if the fundamentals are strong, can we implement a future vision.
2. In the few days after surgery, there were symptoms which needed special attention. However, the doctors took it easy. The intentions of the doctors were noble but the approach was casual.
Result: The delay allowed the rupture to widen and a few more days of delay could have resulted in a possible multi-organ failure.
IT parallel: After every go-live or project completion, we tend to cool-off from the project. The core members of the team are dispersed. Any symptoms related to the behavior of the appln. are generally wished off as an once-in a while behavior. Instead of addressing the issue we delay. Finally, we all get into fire-fighting mode where patches are applied all over the code and it ends up being a botched up project, once again.
Better Practice: No symptom is to be ignored. Testing should be rigorous and every defect/finding has to be taken on priority till completion. It is in our best-interest to report any deviation early than allow the defect to spread. Educate the customer about his business.
3. After consultation, we approached a reputed government hospital. The doctors with their vast experience addressed the situation in the most professional manner. It began with patient counselling, preparation, case study and clinical execution.
Result: The surgery was performed with full knowledge of the situation. In the process, the rupture was closed without much complications.
IT parallel: Generally customers approach professional consultants after a forgettable experience with the unprofessional vendors. [caveat: Professionalism is not directly related to the size of the organization. It depends on the actual team members, their expertise and their experience] The professional consultants dissect the situation and help the customer resolve the situation at hand.
Better practice: As a professional consultant/organization it our obligation to firstly understand the issue at hand. We should avoid the temptation of fake experience in domains with the idea of quick bucks. We should chose the right people to execute the job. Two wrongs can never make something right.
Customer’s Responsibility: It is always easy to blame the IT vendor for the mess up. But, the customer is an equal stakeholder. It is in his best interest to study the vendor and select the right vendor more on his experience in dealing with such business scenarios than the final cost estimate. Unless you prefer to have 2 surgeries in a span of 10 days.