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Do You Have a Great Idea?

"Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration,"- Thomas Edison.

This truism from Thomas Edison reminds me of some technology deployments I have been a part of. Edison's point is, "How much work does it take to make a great idea work in the real world?" and my answer is "always more than you think."

For example, a local agency took seven years to complete its digital records project. I'll wager that they didn't think it would take that long when Legal, IT, and the Clerk's Office initially planned the project.

Generally, when something goes wrong, it's one of two factors:

  • The idea is endemic. If the idea's creator and stakeholders underestimate the effort needed, every person down the food chain (to the actual implementer) will, in turn, minimize it.

  • The idea is depleting. The organization needs to have a realistic view of costs. If the concept were formed without noting the impact on budgets, it would be starved for funds and staffing throughout the implementation.

Don't worry; I'm not suggesting you cancel all your IT projects. Plus, organizations need to encourage innovation, but they need to carefully develop programs using a governance framework. Let's explore what the elements of that governance would be using the example of an organization whose big idea is to go paperless.

Designing the solution- A great idea such as automating records requests is a rough depiction. What's missing is the detail: budgets and costs, benefits, goals, and, importantly, the causal sequence, so the impact on the agency is explicit. Your Laserfiche Partner will add a lot of value. Also, ask neighboring agencies who have completed the project for tips. One of the most admirable traits of public sector projects is that customers are willing to share.

Tracing and testing the impact on departments (other than the one that owns the process)- We all know the magic happens backstage. In our example, the clerk may need to go to other departments to collect the records. Hence the records request workflow needs to include any departments participating in public records requests. Great ideas can affect other units, so it's essential to communicate with them.

Changes to or purchases of business applications- Business processes often include more than one application, such as database lookups from Laserfiche to an ERP system. IT must be clear about all the technology involved in creating the "big idea." Communication is even more critical when IT is decentralized, and applications are "owned" by departments.

Big Ideas should be powerful enough to move the needle- If something is not measured, it won't get done. Great ideas change metrics completely: " We were measuring the wrong achievement."――or increase existing growth by a significant amount. Back to our example, automating records requests should speed fulfillment significantly.

Project management: Project management is the engine of your great idea, also known as the "how" you'll get your great idea implemented. It's also mandatory. Great ideas deserve to be staffed accordingly. I prefer using a formal method such as Agile,

The importance of project management in organizations can't be overstated. When done right, it helps every part of the project run more smoothly. It allows your team to focus on the work that matters, implementing the great idea.



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