Solving pain points requires individual understanding and solutions
May 01, 2023
What are pain points?
Pain points are systems, applications, tools, or equipment that do not adequately solve a requirement or business need. There can be many such pain points. A few examples might include inadequate sensors in a temperature sensitive process, a lack of quality controls, production equipment that keeps malfunctioning, or unreliable computer systems. Every business has unique needs and thus unique pain points that require individual attention.
Because of the unique nature of each business, solutions that work well at one company may not perfectly apply at another. This means that it is often necessary to create individualized solutions instead of trying to force the business to use a solution that doesn't really fit the pain point. To illustrate this, I've included two examples below of how we have solved pain points for our customers.
We were approached by a business that had a unique pain point: a very antiquated computer system. This computer was critical for business functions, but due to its outdated hardware, operating system, and applications, the system could not be upgraded or replaced in the event of hardware failure. The system could not receive any kind of upgrades to applications. Further, it used a non-standard on-disk data storage format that made data transfer seemingly impossible. This antiquated computer system was a serious pain point.
After listening to the business describe both the problems associated with the system as well as what the current requirements really were, we suggested some steps forward. Each step involved working with and listening to the business to make sure that they agreed that everything was moving in the right direction.
The first step involved deciphering the on-disk data format. We created software for them that could read the data formats and create output in simple tables. Once the business saw that we could read their data and they were able to verify that it was correct, we could move on to the next step.
As we worked with them, we discovered that they had another pain point: inaccurate tracking of inventory counts. They described specific scenarios where the antiquated system would lose track of inventory. We worked together to ensure that the new system would correctly address their specific concerns, as well as give them sufficient information to help them resolve future concerns on their own.
Another business discussed with us the difficulty they faced with a particular software tool. The software was originally designed with a set of requirements in mind, but over time a new requirement had developed. This kind of change happens regularly and is a sign of a growing business. As businesses grow their needs change and thus their tools need to change.
In this case a need arose to streamline the process of sending quoted prices to customers. The business was manually copying and pasting pricing information from the software tool into emails to their customers. This created a significant inefficiency to their daily work process - a pain point.
To better understand the problem, we visited the business and watched them use the software tool and listened to them describe both the current difficulty as well as their idea of what a solution would be. We wanted to understand better how they were doing their daily business functions as well as how they wanted to communicate with their customers. This enabled us to create a solution that matched their needs and streamlined their work.
Good solutions require individual attention
Both of these examples illustrate how finding good solutions required understanding each individual business. We visited each business in person, listened and talked with the people involved, learned how each business does their daily work, and then finally presented solutions and received feedback from the businesses. Because each business is unique, finding good solutions required an individual focus.