Reflections After Overindulging

“Investing, like dieting, is easy to understand but hard to execute.”

Warren Buffet

I was going to be good over Thanksgiving.  Really.  You know: Moderate portions; get out and exercise; just a little dessert.  What could be hard?  I mean, really, I knew what I wanted…

In a recent posting on the AIIM Community Blog entitled “I Feel Cheated“, Bob Larivee[i] discusses the all-to-common phenomenon of customers’ post-project dissatisfaction with their vendor.   The situation, as frequent and in as many different versions as renditions of “The Little Drummer Boy” at Christmas (and about as appreciated), is usually that the enterprise’s requirements were insufficiently understood by either the enterprise or the vendor.  

Because this tune is so well known, government enterprises, including courts, have developed formal processes and procedures designed to avoid it by forcing up-front requirements analysis and specification as part of the procurement.  And yet, despite all efforts, the familiar strains (“Come, they told me, pa, rum, pa, pum, pum …”) come wafting unbidden to our ears again.

Given all the attention to formal, up-front planning and requirements definition by most courts, why do projects so often end up in trouble anyway?  I believe one major reason is that such transitions are a lot like Warren Buffet’s observation quoted above.

We can talk all we want about the benefits of transitioning; but the Truth, whether anyone wants to say it out loud or not, is that parts of it are plain hard.   Some people have to learn new jobs.  Some things that used to provide satisfaction or stimulation are gone.  Some relationships have to be re-arranged.  Granted, when it is accomplished, things will be much better.  But while it is happening, there is discomfort, stress, confusion, insecurity, doubt, fear and a whole lot more un-fun emotions that no one wants to admit.  And with all that in the air, there is a real tendency to backslide; to revert to double-pie, so to speak.

Probably the most common initial approach is to say, “Hey; I can do it myself.”  In IT projects, the “I” often becomes the IT department.  Often it takes one or more failed diets to learn that “I” might benefit from some outside help.

Courts, with their unique legal and processing needs, can certainly benefit from something akin to a Personal Trainer to help develop their plans and stay on course as they execute them, both because the plans are necessarily complicated and because, for the courts themselves, it may be difficult or impossible to avoid letting emotions inadvertently undermine their streamlining efforts.  In complex technology implementation projects, the Personal Trainer role goes by the more formal title Systems Integrator.

The Personal Trainer cannot do it for you.  He or she cannot exercise for you.  How much he or she eats will not affect your weight or condition at all.  The main thing the Personal Trainer needs is your fundamental commitment to success, even when the going gets tough.  Given that commitment, a good Personal Trainer can help you make an effective, experienced-based plan, can direct you step by step through the plan, can give you some perspective when you start to feel overwhelmed, and (perhaps most importantly) can help you stay with the plan when you start to stray from it. Likewise, given top-level leadership buy-in, commitment and willingness to keep their eyes on the prize through thick and thin, the incidence of success in court technology transitions will be increased through the participation of a solid Systems Integrator.

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