Home > Business, Leadership > A sense of urgency

A sense of urgency

I once worked for an organization, marketing their product as business critical. We spent a lot of energy and effort getting the customers to maximize their use of the system, something which made them dependent on the system too. When it worked, all was of course well and their productivity was amazing.

But the system was not fool proof and sometimes it just stopped working. It didn’t happen all the time but not as seldom that you would not get a bit used to it.

The first time, it was a real disaster. The customers and we consultants panicked. If the system didn’t work, our customers wouldn’t get paid, their customers would not be serviced and since we’d made them so dependent on the system, they didn’t have a really good process to handle this type of situations.

But when it happened again and again and yet again, the same situation wasn’t handled as an urgent issue. Oh, the servers are down. Too bad. We’ll work on it and hopefully the problem is solved soon. Indexed has as so often caught this in a simple image:

Since we let the failures happen too many times, we lost a sense of urgency. We knew the system would fail so we weren’t that serious about it. A real horror story was when a customer was left with a non working system for many days, not being able to bill his customers.

So, what happened to the customers? Well, first of all the trust was broken. We had stated that we would treat his system as business critical, but that was not how it worked. They lost faith in the product and I guess a couple of customers built a separate system for the times when the system failed. The customer staff of course lost all their trust. Many are stressed at work and need their critical systems to work. I guess they did not recommend this system to their friends and families.

Does this mean that systems cannot fail? Well, of course they can and they will but if you are building business critical systems, the likelihood of failure should be low and not functioning systems should be seen and handled as disasters. Of course that does not apply to all functions in a system. There are few really mission critical functions of a system.

When developing systems we must clarify SLA’s and identify these mission critical tasks in the systems. And we need to build a sense of urgency into our crew when disaster strike.

Categories: Business, Leadership
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