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Top of the Traps

Trap #3: Buying not bodging

November 25, 2019

But then, sometimes the opposite instinct takes charge.

I’ve got to say that often this instinct arises in the IT department. IT departments attract people who like big tools. It’s part of the procurement culture. We get excited by feature checklists. 

I see this play out the most when big, generic products are bought to solve relatively simple, domain-specialist tasks. Huge vendor Content Management Systems. Personalisation Engines. Recommendation Engines, Loyalty Schemes. We want the gold standard, but sometimes these products are designed to do very simple things on huge data sets, whereas many of the organizations Made works with have hugely complex, but relatively small data-sets.

So you do a huge checklist vendor comparison, and negotiate a chunky charitable discount on a big-vendor solution. You spend months implementing it. You’re only actually using it to send thank-you emails at the moment, but you’ve barely touched the surface. There’s all that power thrumming under the surface. Like buying a Lamborghini and using it solely for the school-run. Of course the performance requirements of that engine mean that it’s always overheating and taking down your web stack.

Congratulations you played yourself.

Think about the problems you really want to solve, and the shortest route to solving them. Forget the me-too features, and think about where your data is and where you want it to be.

  • Maybe the in-house skills you really need are plumbing skills. The ability to do effective joining up of your disparate systems. Some basic SQL and API skills can go a long way in achieving this.
  • Let go of the idea that everything has to be perfect to be worthwhile. Better to handle a little manual process replication and deliver a thing today, than to spend two years configuring the perfect one true database, and find that no-ones interested in the product. If you get something out today, that just about works, you can invest in improving it if it takes off.

Trap #10 Building a Monument
Trap #9 100% Digital Coverage
Trap #8 Divide & Conquer
Trap #7 Designing for your CEO’s smartphone
Trap #6 False Prophets
Trap #5 Post-it Fetishism
Trap #4 Building not Buying
Trap #3 Buying not Bodging
Trap #2 Bogus User Stories
Trap #1 Cutting Against the Grain