A Tale Of Woe: What To Do When IT Is Too Complex?

by drjim on July 1, 2010

Image Credit Is It A Solution That Only An IT Leader Could Love?

Is It A Solution That Only An IT Leader Could Love?

There probably isn’t a problem out there that couldn’t be solved by adding some IT to it. In fact, once you had done that, you could probably make that solution even better by adding more IT to it. At what point is too much IT considered to be too much of a good thing? IT Leaders need to be able to realize when enough is enough…

The Story Of A (Small) Bank

Doug Bartholomew has taken the time to hunt down stories about when IT Leaders allowed the technology monster to get out of its cage. One such story has to do with a small bank in Texas that had a pretty simple problem: they wanted to keep track of all of their interactions with their customers.

Now any IT Leader worth their salt would instantly realize that this type of customer issue is exactly what Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software packages have been designed for. The trick; however, is to match the solution to the problem – and that didn’t happen here.

The small bank had 16 bankers who keep track of everything on paper. It was working ok, but they had difficulty “seeing” just how much contact they were having with a given customer. Everyone agreed that a CRM solution was needed. In the end, the bank selected a Siebel Systems (now a part of Oracle) solution.

Did You Hear The One About The Monster Application…?

There’s no question that Siebel makes a great CRM application. I mean it sure seems like it can do just about everything. The problem in this case is that the small bank really didn’t want it to do everything: most of the installation of the application focused on turning off functionality that they didn’t want.

The next issue was the simple fact that for a customer who didn’t have a lot of existing technology, the solution that they had selected came across as being very complex. Multiple screens had to be navigated to complete a function and a new way of thinking about both products and customers had to be adopted.

The result of this is that the very folks that the bank needed to use the new system, the bankers, didn’t want anything to do with it. Once they stopped using it, the value of the application to the bank pretty much went out the door.

In the end, after having invested roughly $500,000 in software licenses and implementation costs, the bank ended up walking away from their CRM application.

A New Way Of Doing Business

This story might end on a sad note with the bank staff going back to doing everything by hand, but it doesn’t. Instead, the IT Leaders went out and found another application that better suited their needs. This new application was much simpler although it had a lot less functionality. It was just a shared database and spreadsheet program that was much easier for the bankers to use.

In fact, the bankers soon found that they were able to create customized reports without having to ask IT to help do it. Now that’s using IT the way that it’s supposed to be used!

What All Of This Means For You

IT Leaders do love our IT technology. However, we need to keep in mind that not every business problem that comes up needs to be solved with an ultra-sophisticated IT application.

We always have to take the time before we design an IT solution to study our customers: what is their real issue? The trick to creating the right IT solution is to provide the end user with just enough (but not too much) IT technology to get their job done.

IT Leaders who can take the time and not over design solutions for their end users are the ones who will be able to best meet the company’s goals of doing more and moving faster using IT technology.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think the bank should have stuck with their initial CRM solution and just customized it to meet their needs?

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