Framing the Business Problem
Understand the business problem and then solve it
When a client comes to you with an idea for using the latest technology, what should you do?
Do you inflate the swelling enthusiasm of an entrepreneur or stop and understand the underlying business problem and implications?
When clients come to an IT company, they have a business problem that needs a solution. Sometimes technology can solve it, but other times it can not. Frequently, I find myself, not requesting more details about the solution, but asking clients, “What is the business problem you are trying to solve in your business?”
A lot of clients can easily get lost in the technology available to them, while not knowing about the all-too-common outcome — a high price for a low ROI. Clients and IT companies can be more concerned with what technology will use, rather than the business problem they are trying to solve. Before providing IT work for someone, you need to understand their business, evaluate the benefits of technology and involve your team in the process.
What is the Business?
Understand the business’ value proposition in general. Here at IT Hands, we send each client through a “Get to Know You Questionnaire” to get a better picture of their business. In the business world, clients are either wanting to catch up with a competitor or strengthen an edge they already have. It’s my role, if I am going to be a trusted source for tech development, to prompt my clients to answer the question: why does your business exist? Any good entrepreneur can easily answer this question.
Will Technology Enhance the Business?
How does technology strengthen the value of the business? Does it allow your client to deliver products faster, cheaper, give quality information quickly?
If a technology doesn’t augment some aspect of your business, then it is not sustainable or practical.
One example is the mobile app vs. responsive website comparison. Perhaps a mobile app would serve your business, but would it really enhance your business value? If you’re facing this dilemma, then read my blog on the topic of mobile app vs. responsive site
Another example of this is eCommerce. Many businesses want to build an online store. To build one using Magento (a huge eStore) may not serve the client if the business is only selling a few key products. Finding a smaller eStore platform would be more practical.
Is the Team Involved?
Not only does the client need to understand the problem they face, but everyone on your team needs to understand it. This means everyone — from the coder to the database administrator. Along the project route, each team member will need to make many decisions on colors, design, photos. If they don’t have a good understanding of the business and its target audience, they may be designing to the wrong crowd.
Take this example: You’re doing a bank website, like a credit union, targeting students with school loans and debt. One of their main targets is to start students on a path to financial stability. If your team doesn’t know the audience well, they may choose irrelevant images or highlight headlines about home loans.
You’ll want images to convey security and progressing in life. You would not highlight other options like home loans or car loans. Instead, highlight loan repayment plans, rather than the application for another loan. Your colors would need to appeal to a younger audience. The website would need to be mobile-friendly.
Although it may seem counter productive for an IT company to simplify a huge money-making project, for those developers with the long-term goal of trustworthy business partnerships, it’s the best possible plan. Before diving into a project with a client, consider the three steps to start off:
IT Hands has been providing quality, custom web development services for over a decade to web companies and ad agencies through excellent consultation with our clients. We are an agile web development company taking advantage of a globally dispersed team to deliver excellent results. Over 350 clients have been thrilled by the consultation, competency, increased capacity and cost effectiveness that IT Hands brings to every project.
Originally published at www.ithands.com on October 10, 2016.