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Strategy vs. Requirements - the WHAT<>HOW Equation

One of the more common issues that impacts business today is something that appears simple, but is so critical to understanding everything from strategy, to architecture to project requirements. People naturally jump into the solution - the how. That is because most people relate to concrete concepts.

Abstract concepts - the what - are foreign to most thought processes.

The critical aspect of this, in any area, is the definition of solutions - the how - predisposes the users to accept that solution as gospel. If they had instead defined the needs - the “what” - then alternative approaches might have been identified. These alternatives afford the opportunity to implement other aspects of strategy, such as common delivery.a“The best solution to any given point problem, may not be the best enterprise solution”

Let’s explore a tangible example; project requirements. Nearly every reader probably would have experienced requirements gathering at one point or another. More often than not, people have a pre-conceived idea as to how to deliver the project, and solve the problems. However, it is exactly this pre-conceived notion that gets in the way of innovation.

You really need to get requirements into the realm of “WHAT” and not “HOW”. Once you determine what the root needs are, alternative solutions (how) can be developed. Often these can be in line with a corporate enterprise architecture, and in line with the strategic plan - solutions that may not be the user’s initial impressions of requirements, as they were thinking “how”.

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