Ideas, Problems, Requirements
Concepts in the form of Ideas, Problems, or Requirements… How a project begins will lead to excellence and efficiency, or costly mistakes.

Projects have to start somewhere. Some Concept will lead to action.

We think in terms of three basic forms a Concept may take.

The first form is an Idea.

Idea

Ideas tend to be loosely defined, broad in scope, and filled with passion and vision. These can be among the most enjoyable projects to deliver.

The source and driver of an idea is exceptionally important to understand. As with any grand dream, vision, or project goal, the resource requirements, technical constraints, and market realities establish boundaries which have no concern for how any of us feel about the Idea. In this environment, a can-do attitude, coupled with a realistic view of the boundaries and obstacles, can be valuable.

For example, there are always those who say something “can’t be done”, as captured in the poem “It Couldn’t Be Done” by Edgar A. Guest. And maybe it can’t, but with a negative attitude, “can’t” is guaranteed. We prefer to begin by looking for solutions, and only deciding against an Idea after all reasonable possibilities are exhausted.

We also endeavor to bring our expertise to bear on the Idea, looking for a path that starts with an attainable beginning, and leads to a desired long term end.  This process can be enhanced, or impeded, by the mindset of all involved. Following is an example of how a project in pursuit of an Idea may be enhanced or impeded.

Being unreasonable about cost can set a project up for failure before it begins.

On the other hand, being unreasonable about what constitutes a baseline of functionality can unnecessarily overburden a project with front-end cost.

The key is to know what should and should not be done at a given point on the project timeline, and why.

To manage such issues, and to optimize the solution, it is helpful to think of a negotiation between various disciplines which are involved in the project and process. The following statements are not exhaustive or definitive, but simply provide a sample context to illustrate a few points.

The one having the Idea sees the brightest possibilities, and the fewest obstacles.

The one writing the check sees the cost, and all the extras that seem unimportant.

The one who cares for the customer sees the workload associated with delivery and support.

The developer sees complex tasks, and sometimes will avoid certain layers of important complexity.

The database architect sees load on a server, and any violations of normal form.

The network administrator sees network resources which have to be managed.

The architect sees requirements, and works to build a foundation that will support the end product.

The project manager sees the information flow among all these roles, and works to squeeze deliverables out of the process.

Leadership and Advocacy

At MSC Software Solutions, we enjoy working in this environment to provide leadership and advocacy.

Leadership requires that one has influence, and influence is built on time-tested relationship and proven integrity. Leadership also requires credibility rooted in sufficient understanding of the various roles, from entrepreneur to project manager.

Advocacy is a critical component in driving toward an optimized solution.  An advocate must intentionally and wisely ensure all the voices are heard in the negotiation which leads to the start, and follows through to the completion of a project. This is so important because all of the actors have a bias toward what they experience from day to day, and this bias and experience generally produces an innocently flawed perspective…

Having a person in the mix who understands the general experience, and the work, of each of the actors is exceptionally important and valuable. Having grand ideas, meeting payroll, writing code, supporting customers, architecting systems, building database schemas, maintaining networks, managing projects, leading teams, and studying people are things that our CEO has done for over twenty five years.

The key is not that anyone will correctly see from all these perspectives, but having experience in various areas provides at least these two points of value:

First, one understands that there is a tendency toward bias, based on one’s current role, or roles. In other words, if one knows a bias is present, then one will want to ask questions and will expect to gain insight while communicating with others having a different bias and role.

Secondly, in addition to a principled belief that a team needs to communicate and value all who are involved, when one has actual experience in different roles, it is easier to receive the tweaks and tunes to one’s overall understanding of the project.

The point is that at MSC Software Solutions, we love great new ideas, and the people who bring them to the table, and the people who make them a reality. All the roles are important and valued, and when all are honored, great things can happen.

The culture of MSC Software Solutions is one where Ideas may safely be explored. We concede the “Can’t” only after exhausting all possibilities, while expecting to find “It Can Be Done.”

The second Concept form to consider is a Problem.