The importance of knowing where you are

It amazes me how many companies out there, or worse yet process/software consulting firms, implement or make critical decisions in regards to their IT systems without knowing a thing about what their current state is. How many times have you heard about large system implementations being scrapped because of missed requirements or the consultants weren’t aware of system ABC that has compatibility issues with what they are implementing? How about those stories where the system is implemented but then realize that phases 2 and 3 are now impossible because phase 1 was implemented without foresight. Those types of issues are avoidable by simply knowing where you are, where you are going and how you are going to get there. The key is having and knowing your Current State.

I love analogies so let’s use one…

Imagine getting blindfolded, dropped off at an unknown location and being told to go to destination A…later you are told to also go to destination B, C and D…but let’s just focus on A. The worse thing anyone could do is to just blindly start walking…I mean you might as well leave the blindfold on. Sadly, this is what sometimes happens. Teams or consultants are told that system XYZ needs to be implemented and away they go.

The first thing anyone should do in the blindfold situation is find a point of reference. I don’t care who you are…you can’t get anywhere without first knowing where you are. Or…even better yet, ask for a map or artifacts that may point you in the right direction. Translated back to the real world, this is typically found in the form of poor and un-updated documentation. Every once in a while you luck out and your map (solid documentation) is already in place. If it is not…then you shouldn’t start walking. Take a moment to find your point of reference, even if that means spending some time in the trenches of documentation.

By understanding where you are, you are better equipped to get to where you need to go. Of course understanding where you are going and the path you are going to take is equally as valuable…and that is when you get into Future State Mapping and IT Road Map Planning.

Do you know where your company is on the map? Are you having trouble figuring out what system is talking to what system and where all your data ‘lives’? Does every application update or change you make seem to break something else and you can’t figure out why? It could be that you are in need of understanding your Current State. If interested in learning more or getting a grasp on the unknown email us at [email protected].