Rising to New Tasks Challenges

 
 
By Peter Coffee  |  Posted 2006-08-28
 
 
 

For any organization or IT professional involved in application development, few things are more costly and frustrating than delivering to users exactly what you thought theyd agreed they wanted—only to find their reaction lukewarm, or even negative. An Aug. 28 announcement by Capgemini U.S. and iRise highlights the potential of simulation tools to close the gap between a developers technical understanding and an end users subjective impression of what an application is supposed to do, and of how the experience of using it is supposed to look and feel.

Ive previously spent time with the 3.0 version of the iRise technology, then called iRise Application Simulator, and found it a compelling improvement upon other efforts Ive seen to involve end users and accelerate the understanding of developers. The problems that Ive identified in past attempts to do this have never quite covered the ground, as I then observed, of "laying out screens, describing their connections and testing their functions using actual data without ever writing code or even anything that looks like code—quickly enough and clearly enough that different ideas can be tested and oversights rapidly identified."

The iRise tool enabled me to express every element of an imagined application: When I thought Id found something it couldnt do, it turned out that I had actually discovered a discrepancy between my database model and my application design. In a real-life development situation, this could have saved a lot of money that might otherwise have been spent paving a blind alley.

I spoke in advance of the Aug. 28 announcement with Corey Glickman, senior manager in the Consulting Services Practice for Capgemini: "Were looking at how to increase user adoption of solutions while at the same time lowering risk of development and delivery," he said, adding, "There are many complex things to put together. It starts out with a business mission and an ROI for that process; it gets over to the IT world, where theyre left with very large challenges: There are tensions. Its hard to pull off."

Glickman told me that the staff in Capgeminis RDV Lab, practitioners in rapid design and visualization, have been enthusiastic in their adoption of the iRise tool and that clients have also responded well. "We all want to deliver things that are going to be accepted and will work," Glickman said, noting the trend of late toward applications that add new tasks for their users. A new system might be going into what used to be a simple call center, he offered as an example, but now those telephone representatives may be getting a handful of new tasks such as basic product support or upselling of premium packages.

"There might be five new tasks that all involve protecting the brand," Glickman said. From eWEEK Labs perspective, wed say that its essential for the support systems that are critical to an effort like that to be available on time and be rapidly mastered by their users.

"Communications between business and IT can break down: The way that requirements get talked about can become very technical," Glickman noted, and my own experience in former lives doing first-stage interviews with prospective application users confirms that. What Glickman has found, though, is what I wish Id had in my toolkit when I was doing this kind of thing 20 years ago: "We can generally explain what were going to do for a customer in two or three slides. We show them some of these things, and they get it right away. We have daily comments from clients saying that they got more done in a day than theyve previously gotten done in a year," Glickman said. Theres nothing simulated, Im sure, in the pleasure that this inspires in any developer or client.

Tell me what would turn your years into days at peter_coffee@ziffdavis.com.

Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.

Rocket Fuel