Enterprise Architecture: Differentiating wants and needs.

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BLOG - Wants and NeedsA Business will often decide that they ‘need’ to undertake certain activities so as to solve particular problems that they perceive themselves as having.  Once these activities have been completed and the ‘problems’ solved the business expects to reap the benefits of a job well done.

This is all well and good in theory but does tend to fall down in practice.

The issue tends to be in differentiating between wants and needs.

What may seem like a ‘good idea at the time’ and may have been very well executed might not, in fact, deliver the business the benefits it expects.

Perceiving a problem existing does not necessarily imply that it does. Deciding that a particular solution is appropriate does not mean that it is.

Without sufficient and accurate information available to them, a decision maker does as good a job as they are able. Without better information they may ’want’ to believe that a problem exists and also ‘want’ the identified solution to be thecorrect one.

How often has a business been influenced, for example,  by a software vendor in making their pitch that the only realistic solution to a problem (which the vendor has defined) is their solution. The vendor is out to convince the business that they also have the problem and the vendor’s solution will be their ‘saviour’.

Perhaps the business does have the problem suggested.

An Enterprise Architecture provides a tool against which the business can assess the reality of the problem existing and the impact it is having if it does exist. The nature of the impact can define whether the ‘problem’ needs to be resolved.

If a problem does in fact exist and is deemed necessary to resolve a business can explore the available options. A particular vendor solution might be appropriate, then again it might not.

An Enterprise Architecture can provide insight into what is ‘needed’ to solve a problem and optionally allow what is ‘wanted’ but not ‘needed’ to be discarded, consequently better defining the scope of what needs to be undertaken.

Focussing on the needs rather than the ‘wants’ provides for a more concise solution, delivering the benefits that are required and potentially eliminating extraneous cost and effort from the equation.

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