The secret of packing a suit coat is not to avoid wrinkles, as you might think. Instead, the secret is to make sure the wrinkles end up in places where wrinkles won’t be noticed.
Why does this relate to IT? Because it’s a lesson in perfectionism and prioritization. We all want our systems to be perfect, but we know that we don’t have the time or the budget to make that possible. So the secret of having our systems appear to be more successful is to make sure that the system limitations end up in places where the limitations won’t be noticed.
Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? Then why don’t we do it? Think about the typical everyday user of one of your systems. For online systems (web or not), what screens does that person spend most of their day using? For batch systems, what reports does the person use the most? Have you focused the majority of your systems improvement effort on making things better for these most common uses of your systems? On improving their usability? On improving their system performance and reliability? That’s where the productivity payback is, because that’s where most of the business labor goes: into the systems that are used the most.
But a common trap in IT is to get distracted by the so-called “corner cases,” the very uncommon situations where due to a certain combination of variables, weird buggy things happen in software. We tend to spend an inordinate amount of IT dollars on fixing these problems, “removing the wrinkles,” when we might be better off in some cases just moving the wrinkles to where they won’t be noticed.