The methods of conducting IT projects involve heavy and very structured processes. Often personalized by companies, they generally draw their framework from the “MERISE” method.
They generally begin, after an opportunity study, with a phase called “expression of user needs”.
Our experience feedback over ten years shows that the needs expressed by users often turn out to be significantly different from their real needs.
We analyze the main causes of this lag:
Factors of incompleteness and distortion of expressed needs
The process of expressing needs, carried out without a particular methodology and too quickly, the users not agreeing to devote the time they deserve to it, is already generating gaps:
Expression limited to dissatisfaction with the existing
Projects initiated on virgin land represent only a tiny minority. The vast majority are aimed at overhauling or extending existing systems. In an expression of needs, users generally content themselves with citing everything that dissatisfies them with the current system: dissatisfaction with an aging system generally concerns 10 to 20% of the services provided.
For the remaining 80 to 90%, the formulation of the request is limited to “a continuation of the services provided by the existing system”. For lack of anything better, the project managers generate specifications from an analysis of this existing: the result is solutions that meet … the needs of users 10 years ago .
The unstructured expression
The IT project development methods do not have any tools to frame the expression of needs. The result is a heterogeneous list, combining on the same level strategic objectives and operational points of detail.
Expression in terms of solutions
The popularization of IT means that every user prides himself on having a good knowledge of it, and leads him, perhaps even more than in other fields, to express the needs not in terms of services to be rendered, but solutions.
The successions of interpretations
The contracting authorities or assistants to the contracting authority, relatively recent trades in this sector of activity, and in full expansion, have the role of facilitating the relationship between users and contracting authority, and to control the services. project management in terms of costs, deadlines and quality. But many of them, often former users themselves, invest in the mission of representing users, and replacing them to express their needs.
Experience shows that a former user, from 6 months away from everyday reality, already has a distorted view.