We have all worked on a project before that everyone dreaded. The causes are irrelevant, what is important to success is quickly getting on track as a team and building momentum while you work towards your final goal. Building momentum however can be difficult, particularly if no one is looking forward to the project, which is why it's key to go after some low-hanging fruit early and establish key wins.
In order to go after the easy wins, it is important to recognize which challenges you should tackle soon, and which can wait. Important improvements that are easy to solve but can have large cascading impacts include workflow improvements, software configuration changes, an element of what the users are doing, and most often a combination of all three.
As a consulting firm, when we mention the term "Software Development" it can have a scary implication to some people. Many envision concepts and technologies like AI, machine learning, or other complicated, expensive, and hardly achieved solutions. Our experience is that in the majority of cases a couple of marginal, small, and relatively simple improvements to processes are the ones that make the biggest impacts.
Where do I start?
As a firm, we have identified that the biggest wins usually have a set of criteria in common that are easy to identify. Does your workflow today contain repetitive or tedious tasks that don't involve complex thinking? A good example that our BIM experts came across was in labeling solar panel arrays in large projects and exporting data associated with them to a spreadsheet.
The interesting part came when we faced the data exporting side of the problem: making a very small change in the labeling workflow and inverting the order of these two tasks (first labeling, providing input, and then exporting) resulted in a huge difference in time and quality controls. These small changes saved thousands of hours of work but also improved quality by removing the possibility of a human labeling error.
These types of issues are common and occur in all industries. In this case, the core issue was not the software itself, rather how it was being leveraged in the overall project workflow.
It possibly saved thousands of hours of work and human errors. We've seen this type of issue before, and we encounter them very often in the industry. The core of this, in our opinion, wasn't the software itself, but rather how this small change in the order of the tasks and the slight addition of providing an extra input when labeling could make such a big impact.
What actionable steps can I take to achieve Easy Wins?
In our example above, the solution was a combination of changing human work and integrating small software automation to make a marginal improvement in the project life cycle, with the small task order adjustment making the biggest impact. If you are ready to get started, we suggest starting by taking a look in the mirror at what you are doing today.
Identify tasks that are repetitive or tedious and don't require complex thinking or logic.
Determine your North Star, the purpose of your improvement. This will help keep you on track during design.
Take your task list and start dissecting it:
Are there changes to what your users are doing today that would fix the system?
If the software had an additional feature, form, or field, would it enable your ideal workflow or functionality?
Is this an issue of users not being trained?
Once you have identified the easy improvements you can make, it's time to start designing. Stay tuned next week for our follow-up post or…
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