The Cart Before the Horse: How System Integration Needs an Overhaul

Steve Fox
Cart before the horse

What do you think when you hear this analogy? Probably you’re doing something out of order. How do we determine order? I don’t mean this from a philosophical point of view. For better or worse everything has a certain order it follows. From making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to how we first introduce ourselves to a new person, there’s always an order.

Request for Information vs Request for Proposal

System integration also has an order. Companies will first come up with the idea. The self prescription process is formed from the company using a team from inside to figure out a plan for either a challenge or opportunity. There might be an RFP template that’s built from an RFI. Once the company chooses a system integration partner it’s off to the races to time and materials.

Why is this the cart before the horse?

Would you go to the doctor and tell them you have a torn rotator cuff and expect the doctor to prescribe you a solution based upon your prescription? No. So, why do companies use this “self prescription” model for their issue? Maybe, what has been thought to be the correct order that companies follow is actually them “putting the cart before the horse”? If the self prescription process was correct then the time and materials death spiral would not be the case.

What seems to be a better option now feels like it’s being done wrong. This is because it’s new. People can fear change. The old adage “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” does not apply in the software world. It takes far too long for implementation partners to understand the full scope of the project. Whether through an RFI or RFP this only means that they come up with the solution based on the company's self prescription. What discovery was done to make sure this is the best option? What if maybe the best option is to do nothing?

Shouldn’t someone ask how you came to this conclusion? Why do you feel this is an option to fix your issue? Not because it's bad or wrong, but maybe there's another path. These types of questions need to be asked at the beginning of the process to ensure all of the roadblocks ahead can be mapped out.

But how do companies define success? These statements are far too common… "Well of course it went over budget", “Of course the project took longer than expected, don't they all?" “well at least we got it done" as a sign of accomplishment. The industry standard has corrupted the definition of success.

Breaking the mold of the old is an ongoing theme in technology. What seems like the right way is constantly challenged. In fact the only constant is how change will continue to change things. There needs to be way more communicating in the beginning and a lot less coding. The implementation process needs to be viewed from a new set of lenses. By doing so this will facilitate a whole new paradigm, so companies can stop putting the cart before the horse.

This post was last updated on: Jan 30, 2023.