Internal systems

One of the takeaways I’m finding in Bill Jensen’s book Simplicity is a reaction to the effect that information overload has on company productivity.  As there is more and more information to process to do one’s job, it becomes ever more important for a company to provide tools that not only provide access to information, but which help interpret the information in the sense of analytics.  So how does this manifest for a large company aiming to produce streamlined products for the marketplace, that will address (and solve well) a specific problem?

As a product manager with a multinational corporation, I find that (at least at my company in my specific division/subsidiary) there’s a contrast between the streamlined solutions we’re being asked to produce, and the cumbersome internal systems we use to collect and analyze the information we use to design such products.  The systems we’re building are “push,” but the systems we use internally are “pull.”   Some of this may be due to our company’s implementation of off-the-shelf requirements management and project management tools, but the net result is that the company does not make it easier to easily understand the decisions we need to make, much less make them.

I suspect we are not nearly the only ones.

One of the products I’m developing now is a service which can run client-server or on the web, in order to maximize the base of customers to whom we can provide a solution.  I’m finding that questions about–and design of–the internal management components to be used by company support representatives are getting short-changed due to the pressure to meet release targets.  This is certainly not unique to this one product, and the support angle hasn’t been ignored, but at the same time the support team’s “use cases” have not been considered with nearly as much diligence and interaction design as the product itself.   So in one sense, the sub-optimal experience product managers have with requirements tools is being propagated to the experience support reps will have with service management. 

Something I need to reiterate within my organization.

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~ by John Peltier on August 30, 2009.

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