The Clown

Jeffrey L. Bromberger, Senior Pontificator

12 August 2021

You have to love these targeted Smart Ads, right?  You go searching for one thing and “The Algorithm” decides that there’s something else you need to see…

As a fairly new blogger, you can imagine that I am looking up loads of items about WordPress (the platform that I use to present these posts).  Most of the time it is easy to find what I am looking for.  Other times the Search Engine Gremlins throw a substantial amount of noise into my search results.  These days, the ads are trending towards beginning classes in coding.  That’s the assumption that since I use WordPress, I cannot program my way out of a paper bag, I guess.  On other days, the advertising process swings the other way and I see ads for “No Code Business Solutions.”  And that brings back a childhood memory…

Kids of my generation were never allowed to pick school clothes out for themselves.  That was always the responsibility of Mom and/or Dad, depending on who held the checkbook at the time.  My mother had this penchant for buying us clothes that were ill fitting and several sizes too large.  “You’ll grow into it!” was almost always the explanation at the Department Store.  It didn’t matter if it drooped off your shoulders at inopportune times or that by the time you let the (several) hems out, there’d be this very obvious crease worn into the fabric by the ankle cuffs.  And heaven forbid you mention anything about style and fashion.  “This is a classic look that’ll be around until you graduate Medical School!”

Talk to any of my classmates from back in Brooklyn and they’ll attest to the fact that I am the reason some wise-ass came up with the schoolyard phrase “You’re ugly and your mother dresses you funny”.

… the pitch is always the same: conform and save money!

The point I am trying to make here is a delicate one.  Vendors are singing you a sweet siren song. “If you fold/spindle/mutilate your business to use our generic tool, think of all the money you’ll save on custom development!”  Everybody knows that software development is expensive all across the board.  There’s the whole building out a development (and testing) environment, finding qualified programmers (and managers),  the idle time waiting for your dream product to be written and released, and then the eternal cost of adding features together with fixing bugs.  For a small organization that doesn’t want to have it’s own software division, this is a huge hurdle to jump in both time and money.  The Magic Quadrant charts so beloved by corporate management types will present hundreds of these third party tools, each one claiming to follow a universal standard, an industry ‘best practice’, some international consortium’s documents of understanding.  But no matter what book or law that’s claimed to be the underlying framework of their respective tools, the pitch is always the same: conform and save money!

I’m not here to say that your organization should thumb its figurative nose at HIPPA, PCI, Sarbanes-Oxley or the hundreds of other legal standards out there.  Those laws are there for a reason (usually a hard learned reason) and they are just that: laws of the land.  But you should never just take the position that your internal methodologies are automatically wrong because they aren’t codified in somebody’s software.  The best of these standards form a framework for you to hang your own process upon.  A hangar for the shirt that dresses your corporate body and fits you best.

Try on the various options available to you. Perform a rigorous Proposal process and make the vendors participate in a realistic Proof of Concept phase.  Make them fit their tool to your business model and demonstrate that their system has the flexibility to meet your needs.  The best systems out there allow you to customize them from a pure “out of the box / follow every possible standard” configuration all the way to your proprietary “We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!” processing.  This freedom gives you the ability to consider moving your firm towards the standards, but that conversation doesn’t have to be right now and it doesn’t have to be implemented all at once.

Remember, it’s your body, and therefore your shirt.  Don’t ever wear anything that isn’t your size or makes you look absurdly ridiculous.


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