If you have ever been in a conversation with a toddler, you are probably familiar with the word “why.” While getting stuck in a rabbit hole of “why”s may be mildly infuriating after the 6th one, it does make you think a little harder about some of the things you take for granted, like, “Why do I need to wear pants?” – my 4-year-old niece last week.
Of the 5 W’s (who, what, where, when, and why), the “why” often gets overshadowed during a project. It’s very easy to jump right in on who is going to be using the tool, or what functionality is needed, and when something needs to be processed. Hypothetically, a team could build a fully functioning application without ever asking why they built it. However, the application can fall flat when it comes to presenting that application to the users and it doesn’t fulfill the “why”.
The “why” gives us a purpose. Business requirements or objectives tell us why are we doing a project. Most importantly, it helps us define the success criteria of the project. An example business requirement would be: “Reduce onboarding time for a new employee to 1 day instead of 3 days.” The solution can be tested against that requirement to determine how long the onboarding process takes and whether or not it is successful. Without a clear definition of the “why,” it’s hard to determine how successful the project is. At the end of a project, we should be able to look back at the business requirements and say, yes, we accomplished those.
Asking “why” also helps us dig deeper into processes and makes us think about why we are doing what we are doing. It can be easy to build a solution from the existing business processes because “that’s how we’ve done it in the past” or “I don’t know, we just do it that way.” Without challenging that process, we risk building new functionality on top of faulty logic that could cause problems in the future. Instead, we can ask, “Why does a person’s record need to wait a full 24 hours until processing?” That answer can either justify the wait for regulation reasons or uncover past process relied on paper records that needed to be mailed. When we ask why something is done the way it is, we find either a logical explanation or a more efficient way of doing things.
“Why” is also a powerful tool when it comes to troubleshooting. Sure, you can put a bandaid fix on the symptom and move on, but soon you’ll be putting bandaid fixes on your previous bandaids and spending too much time fixing things instead of adding new features. The “5 Whys” technique can be used to find the actual problem. It’s as simple as asking why something broke, then taking the answer and asking why, and then repeating the process until you find a concrete answer. This will help you get to the root cause of the problem so you can spend your time fixing the root cause instead of just the band-aid.
At Zirous, we are asking, “Why?” for everything that we do. We want to set you up for success and knowing the “why” is how we get you there. So don’t mind us when we sound like your favorite 4-year-old, we’re just trying to help. Give us a call today if you’re wondering why a business process isn’t working quite right, why it’s not being done more efficiently, or if you just need someone to get it there and uncover those “why”s for you.