Bigger than Ben Hur: keeping it simple is the key to success

August 23, 2017
by Lawrie Breen

We live in an era of being time poor. Pretty much everyone you speak to these days is in a constant battle to fit everything in. In business, in particular, where change happens rapidly and markets can shift on you very quickly (just look at the recent Domino’s example over the past week), it can feel like change is the only constant we have.

In the technology space in which we operate at Inland Digital, it can often be more keenly felt than in other industries. With technology moving fast, projects can change rapidly and that often leads to problems in completing what you’ve set out to achieve.

So how do you avoid the pitfalls around technology projects?

Keep it simple and start small

The biggest challenge I’ve seen around technology projects comes in the form of doing too much, the old adage of ‘biting off more than you can chew’. In the rush to bring in a project outcome, often what seems relatively straightforward can become stuck in a bit of a quagmire.

This is where I believe focusing on simplifying the whole project can help. Projects are often like any journey in life: there are a number of steps you need to take to get there. Taking a planned approach and breaking it down into smaller steps can often help you achieve your outcome.

There’s a Tony Robbins principle that I love which encapsulates this very simply. He relates it to how he plans out his day. He calls it the ‘power of chunking,’ i.e. taking something that seems large and difficult and chunking it down to more manageable steps that are well thought out and, most importantly, planned. It’s worth a read in my opinion.

We practise this philosophy in our own business. For example, we sell a range of technology products, from multifunction devices through to business process software. Each offering has a different order management process. Rather than trying to automate them all at once, we’ve chunked them down by offering type. We’ve learnt something new every time, which we’ve then been able to apply to the next step in the project. Starting small not only gave us a better result, but it made sure we learnt from any previous mistakes, which we see as a real win-win situation.

Agility is crucial in the digital age

Technology changes so fast now that if you haven’t factored that into your planning, you can easily get caught out.

I think the best way to avoid this is to stay agile in your approach. If you’re adaptable to change then you’re more likely to be able to ride out the bumps along the way. Think about it like this: some projects may never have an end date. A good piece of technology is flexible to changes as they happen, giving you the ability to make small tweaks and refinements along the way. Taking this approach in planning can make the world of difference.

The challenge around this is one that isn’t new: it’s hard to know what you don’t know. While I’m not trying to sound like Donald Rumsfeld here, the challenge for all of us is in understanding the steps in the journey. This is where a strong partner comes in: you need to work with people that can help you understand the journey and uncover the hidden pitfalls that you may not be aware of. We’ve seen this many times, both internally with our partners and externally with our clients. It pays to pick the right partner for the job.

Don’t become bogged down

My advice: don’t become bogged down in trying to build the world’s biggest project. If you start by keeping it simple and looking at a project as a journey, you’ll often find you’ll not only achieve the outcome you want, but will enjoy the process a hell of a lot more!


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