Custom Software should give your Organization new Verbs!


Consider, for a moment, the value stream of your organization. It might start when your end customer places an order online. It may end when that product arrives on their doorstep. Each step in the process advances your goal, and is another action you take to add value to your customer. This process contains many ‘verbs’ that your organization enacts. Verbs such as ‘Accept Order’, ‘Notify Customer’, and even ‘Send Invoice’. But these verbs might be bringing along some extra baggage you didn’t realize!

In his lectures on the Theory of Constraints, Dr. Goldratt describes a common attribute of existing processes. Namely that they emerge as a Local Optimizations around an existing Constraint. That means that our existing process may come pre-baked with extra work meant to address a historical constraints! This peculiarity become critical when you consider the case of Customer Software Development. Many such project begin with the thought of ‘just migrating’ the existing process. But consider Dr. Goldratt’s observation. That means that ‘just migrating’ means is ‘just copying’ the cost we paid to address a historical constraint into a new system! It means making the organization pay an unnecessary cost! Think of the last three years. Many of these constraints have definitely changed since the organization created the process!

We must bear this in mind when planning a ‘Custom Software’ project. We must scritinize the verbs replicate and what historical optimizations they may represent. But how can we tease out the ‘historical opimization’ from the truly needed steps? Have you heard of ‘Jobs to be Done’?

Jobs to be Done was originally proposed by Clayton Christensen, a Harvard professor. He was trying to explain why certain products were market disruptors. The model expects that customers ‘hire’ a ‘product’ to do a job. Disruptive products disrupt by better meeting the functional, social and even emotional aspects of the job. Start by identifying the real Jobs to be Done. Then compare these with the existing process. The verbs line up with a Job to be done will be the necessary ones!

For the rest, you have an opportunity to really achieve the RoI for your custom software product. Address the Job to Be Done in a way only possible with your current tools! Create new verbs for your organization to use! Optimize the process you build today, for the constraints you have today and not for the constraints you once had!

Custom Software is an expensive bet. Too often, it starts out as ‘Let’s do this process, just digitally!’ That isn’t innovation, nor even transformation. It’s treading water! Instead aim for “Let’s accomplish the same goal, in a way we could only achieve with today’s tools!” Leverage Jobs to Be Done to identify the historical constraints in your process. Build the new verbs your organization needs for tomorrow!