• rm@rmbastien.com

Look Ma, It Works!

Look Ma, It Works!

Business IT solutions are mainly made of software. Software has characteristics that are hard to find anywhere else: it is highly flexible and malleable, to a point where you can do almost anything with it.  In essence, it is a series of electrical impulses representing numbers.  All a computer does is compute numbers, nothing else. The images on your screen, the voice that you hear on your phone, or any other occurrence that looks like magic, gets reduced to zeroes and ones. And then they get eaten by an immensely powerful number-crunching machine the size of your thumbnail.

Very Little Constraints

If you’re an attorney, there are things that you just cannot do. Referring to a law that does not exist or hoping for court procedures that have never been accepted won’t work.  As a doctor, if the heart stops beating and the blood stops flowing, it would be nonsense to count on the patient to survive without help. 

In engineering fields, many things can be done, but going against the laws of physics is just impossible.  Furthermore, there are regulations that ensure that risky endeavors, potentially detrimental to the customer, the environment, or the public in general, become illegal and are hence avoided most of the time.

But in software-based solutions, there is so much flexibility and power that it makes the spectrum of workable solutions very diverse. And this can become a hindrance as much as an advantage.

It Will Work

In corporate IT, more than in any other engineering and design field, anything can be done and made to work.  It might be subject to more maintenance, run slower, be less stable, difficult to understand by future employees, need to be replaced sooner, augment costs in other projects or other applications, but it will work

Hard to Say ‘No’

Since your IT team works in a world where anything can be done, this means that it is quite arduous for them to say “no” to a business requirement. Even if saying “yes” means cutting corners or using duct tape, it will still work.

Not Too Consequential

The fact that the solution fails to conform to the original design is not so important. If it doesn’t comply to corporate quality standards is of lesser importance. That’s mostly because the consequences are not that acute. In the virtual world of corporate IT, there is rarely any risk of human injuries or casualties. Thus in my career, I’ve never seen someone drawn into a court of law for a botched design. External bodies will never audit a project down into its technical details.  Events of skimping on quality never get published outside the corporation, and not even outside the project team.

Don’t Take It for More Than What It Is

Your IT team will find a way to make it work, I can guarantee it. With little effort or heroic tug, and with best practices or haywire, the job will get done.  An important corollary to remember: the fact a solution works is proof of nothing more than it is working.  Don’t think for a second that it proves anything about the quality of the end product.

Always keep in mind that a working IT solution should not be taken for more than what it is.

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