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Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Are You Asking Your Engineer to Do the Impossible?

It is important for engineers building systems to understand how the organization will support the utility of their end product. I was asked to weigh in on a dispute between an IT vendor and a large multinational corporation. The vendor claims the IT security work has been delivered and they installed the systems and built the infrastructure needed. The IT sponsor at the corporation claims the implementation is not working.

Upon closer observation and after discussions with the technical team members I was able to identify the root cause of this confusion. Both entities were correct, the vendor indeed did deliver the work per technical spec, and indeed it was not serving the business objective the sponsor expected.

In a nutshell, the technical implementation was done correctly. However the way it was used by end users was not what both parties had envisioned causing certain portions of the solution to go out of sync with other components in the system, causing configuration errors yielding diluted value of the implementation. What was missing was an organizational policy that guides end users to follow certain process changes. Once the end users would follow the new organizational policy, and back doors were no longer allowed, the system components would be in sync and operate correctly.
The summary of this experience is that for a technology implementation to work properly the following need to occur in advance.
  • Clearly articulate the updated operational process flow
  • Ensure governance and policies support the new process flow
  • Develop controls in the IT implementation to to enforce the policy
Without the three components the net realized value and user experience will be suboptimal. This is of course assuming all other standard best practices of system development have been followed from concept to deployment.

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