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  1. The Costs of Complexity
  2. Requirements for Reducing Complexity
  3. Summary
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Requirements for Reducing Complexity

How can we reduce the complexity of IT? Developing an approach requires an IT project team looking intensely at the issue. The following set of eight requirements apply to any process for reducing complexity in business—not only apply in IT, but in any organizational entity.

  • Management support for the initiative. Senior management must support and provide adequate resources, personnel, and time to make the project a success. Complexity reduction is a new process that may be unfamiliar to management; it will likely need a senior person as its champion.

  • Determination to succeed. The project team and the individuals on that team must be motivated to succeed. Clear guidelines for expectations, roles, milestones, and recommendations must be identified and agreed upon.

  • Understanding and knowledge. The team of individuals needs to be selected on the basis of their knowledge of and experience in the areas or processes under review for complexity reduction. If a process is to undergo complexity reduction, the team must be knowledgeable about the process to be successful. They must also have the motivation to make things simpler.

  • Flexibility, options, and design. To build simpler and more effective business processes, analysis of options and alternatives is required. Teams should present several options that provide flexibility in the solution.

  • Willingness to challenge everything. Teams need to dig deep and evaluate the need for every process or business area. This effort can often be difficult, as other managers may offer significant resistance to any challenge. The quest for simplicity often results in turf battles.

  • Decomposition. Complexity can often be reduced when processes are broken down into smaller, more manageable segments. This process of decomposition clarifies thinking and illuminates complexity.

  • Best-of-breed solution. Teams need to recommend the best and simplest solution that will work for the business process, documenting the process used to arrive at that solution. A business case must be created to explain potential reductions in costs, reduced times scales, and the like. The solution needs to be "defensible," as many managers may want to see it fail. Determination and preparation for this event will help it to succeed through to implementation.

  • Continuous effort in reducing complexity. Reducing business complexity is not just a one-time effort; it must be a continuous program with the resources and necessary funding to take on future projects, or complexity will creep back into the enterprise. Future new projects should undergo a simplicity review and have representatives that can assist other project teams to be successful. Spread the word on simplicity, and make complexity reduction a part of corporate culture.

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