"If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." - Henry Ford
That statement pretty much sums it up. I'm all for "Requirements Gathering & Analysis" as much as the next guy, but those initial requirements always need to be taken more as ballpark estimates of core problems that the business is trying to solve. A customer says "We need a new CRM", you ask, "Why?", well, ours is old and no one is using it. Why? Because no one laid out the core problems that you were trying to solve, and ensured that the tool is driving the elimination of those core problems. Additionally they'll want the cool dashboards, reporting, etc., but again it's only partially about the flash, you need the dash too. (or flash and dash? I digress)
Examples of core problems that a business needs to solve, and why they are looking to implement a new technology system in the first place:
1. Resource Constraints, IE: Doing More With Less
Technology solution? A CRM platform to allow Salespeople to cover more accounts, and cover them effectively.
2. Resource Tracking, IE: Who is meeting with who, when, and what is it delivering? Additionally, are we tripping over each other and sending different people to the same account days apart from each other?
Technology Solution? Same CRM platform, but create ROBUST reporting to ensure everyone is looking at the same calendar and delivering instant feedback on their touch points. Weekly / Monthly reports to see how everyone is doing. Celebrate successes and create a path for improvement for those missing targets.
3. Retaining Account Knowledge on Employee Flight, IE: People leave and then the question is "What do we know about that account?!"
Technology Solution? Institute a partnership (or mandate if necessary) with Sales to ensure they are keeping their Account details up to date and celebrate those who provide transparency. Those who do not need to be held accountable, because the only one who loses when they leave are your stakeholders, and they need to be (gently) reminded of this.
Tracking more to the "faster horse" theme, your customers will teach you about their business and it's up to YOU to proactively come up with new + innovative business process solutions (and dashboards / reporting) even if they ask just for the "faster horse" instead of the car that you plan to make them. These are masters of their domain, but no one should expect business leaders to point out every field they need and how to easily have it display onscreen for them. Try to take the business metrics presented, whip something up, and take this to the next meeting for you both to form a solution. The business may have hired you in the SOW (Statement Of Work) to just build them a system, but it never hurts to put your business manager hat on and point out ways for them to chop a few steps down in their existing businesses processes, with or without your system. They will be happy that you put forward the extra effort and the work should put you even closer to your end solution.
How do you handle the "Faster Horses Dilemma"? Any additional insights please let me know in the comments! Thanks