ou’re the CEO or COO os a small to mid-sized business or perhaps a slightly larger one. A problem arises, one you’ve heard from employees or noticed yourself. Maybe it’s a customer problem or maybe an internal one and you think that maybe you could build a mobile app, or find a new one to slide into your existing tech stack. So you assign your IT folks to find a solution or your managed IT services firm. And so it starts.
This happens a lot. Especially for small to mid-size businesses that can’t afford or need a full-time CIO (Chief Information Officer) or maybe have a CTO. A good CIO is more business oriented than technology focused. A CTO’s job is to find the technical solution to the problem, which is often why a CTO will report to a CIO. A CIO will pause and reflect on the problem first, truly trying to determine if a solution is necessary, understand the business case for the problem to be solved and how a new technical solution might efficiently get the job done.
Building a new mobile app or even a customer portal via a website or adding to an existing app can be a lengthy and costly endeavour. And new apps or services will come with some level of technology debt and if you’ve already got significant technology debt, this adds to future pains and costs. Even moving from say Google Workplace to Microsoft 365 can seem easy enough to do and valuable, yet even moving such digital work environments can be very costly indeed. That’s another topic.
Of the many projects I’ve seen and worked on, almost always there is some degree of overkill. Too many features, overpowered for the actual problem or adding another layer of complexity that is unnecessary. Managed IT services companies and software development firms have a vested interest in adding to your tech stack. They may well believe it is a viable solution, but they want your long-term business. Designing and developing, then implementing and servicing the new app or services.
Before you make the decision to go ahead with a new mobile or web based app or implement a whole new information management system (e.g. Google Workplace or Microsoft 365), take a moment and dive deeper into what you’ve already got. It may well be that the problem can already be solved by a feature or features you already have.
Consider the problem too. Is it a technology problem or an information management one? The two are often conflated and that is another point that leads to issues later or higher than expected costs. A CTO or VP of Technology often sees problems as technology driven because that is how they’re trained. A CIO will understand information management on top of technology as well as the business side of the issue.
Don’t end up with tech overkill. Be sure to evaluate what you have first, understand if it’s a technology or information management issue and find an outside voice that isn’t focused on pushing one solution or another who can be neutral.