It Gets the Job Done



  • This term gets said a bit and we are discussing it via PM and in another thread but I wanted a place to talk about this term specifically because I think that it is a mistaken concept in business and it carries into IT and there is some really important understanding around it that needs to be addressed.
    First let me lead with.... "It Gets the Job Done" or "It Worked" are often used to describe a decision with a black or white success metric such as "it produced payroll" or "it made the machine do the thing the machine is supposed to do." This is a very proximate way to look at success - as if the physical act of making payroll transactions is our ultimate goal rather than a means to a different end. What I mean is, as a business and by extension as IT, our goal is to make money (or in a non-profit to enable the mission) and as employees to get paid. That payroll is part of that process is incidental. If we could make profit and get paid without the mechanics of payroll that would be just as good to all parties.

    Let me give some examples completely outside of IT....

    Wedding Planner. You hire a wedding planner. You pay them lots of money. You explain your dream wedding to them. You talk about style, music, where guests should sit, etc. You want a great wedding but need to not waste money too. When the glorious day arrives the preacher is late, the guests go to the wrong building, the colours are wrong, the music selection is from someone else's wedding plan, everything is horrible and people are crying. And to top it all off, everything ended up costing way more than it should have and you not only waste money but have to cancel your honeymoon to cover the overruns. You go to the wedding planner, furious, that they have screwed up everything they were hired to do, wasted your money and ruined your wedding. The wedding planner looks at you and says "You got hitched, right? Ergo, success."

    Is that true? Even though you could go to a justice of the peace for almost free and have done this without a planner, you hired a professional with the singular purpose of saving money and doing a design that you could not have done yourself. You brought in a pro not to "get the job done", anyone can get married without a wedding planner, you were trying to have a dream wedding, not a disaster. Do we really define success as "didn't screw up so badly that the marriage didn't happen?"

    Of course not. It's about making it that special day beyond what someone could have done without a wedding planner.

    Tax Accountant You hire a tax accountant, you pay top dollar because you want to find every tax loophole possible. You spend $5,000 and your new accountant does your taxes. After they file them, you find out that they did not save you one penny and simply skipped all of the exceptions, deductions and other benefits you were owed because they didn't care or bother and just filled out the simplest form possible in the simplest way and saved you nothing. You could have done this yourself. You could have done better yourself. You go back to yell at them for not doing the job that you hired them to do and they say "dude, I filed your taxes, we have success. Why are you upset?"

    Clearly, "it gets the job done" here doesn't apply. The job is not to "file the taxes." The job is to "do an amazing job on the taxes."

    Lawyer You hire a lawyer to defend you in a case where you are being charged with a crime you did not commit. You get to court, confident as there is little to no case against you, but your lawyer screws up, didn't prepare and accidentally gets you sent up the river for ten years. You are livid. You go to the lawyer and complain that he didn't do a good job, he wasn't prepared and he failed to defend you. He points out that he "showed up in court and defended you" - he "got the job done." That the quality of that job was low and you are now going to jail for something you could have prevented by defending yourself doesn't matter since he "showed up."


    This is the thing that we often face in IT. I see it a lot. It comes, quite often, from poor business mentality in SMBs where business people often have no business sense and have no idea what they are doing and fail to do their own job of "running a business well." Anyone can be a CEO, most will lose money doing it - the average company will go out of business. If we define success as simply "showing up and running a business", then CEOs who show up and "run the business into the ground" are still successful. But you could run a business into the ground without a CEO - companies will do that on their own.

    Same with IT. Any business can run without an IT department. Buying computers, acquiring software.... getting enough equipment running to "get the job done" can easily be done without IT. IT is there, in theory, to leverage experience, skill and expertise (along with focus, time and effort) to take the infrastructure of a business from the proximate goal of "getting the job done" to actually making valuable decisions that enable the business to succeed in its goals better than if IT was not there enabling it - the more it does so, the more successful IT is.



  • This issue I have with your examples, is that the company/person in question did NOT do what they were supposed to.



  • @BRRABill said:

    This issue I have with your examples, is that the company/person in question did NOT do what they were supposed to.

    That's the point. If business people and / or IT people make decisions that actively hurt the business not by accident but because they just don't care, don't bother... they are doing exactly the same thing. Their job is to "make the most money" either by increasing income or lowering cost. Choosing to do something intentionally otherwise is no different - just not doing their job.



  • To be clear, there is a big difference between not bothering and just being bad. A wedding planner will often fail to make a wedding be the wedding of someone's dreams - but generally they try. It's easy to fail. Failure doesn't mean they were lazy or sabotaged it or anything - sometimes you just can't make these things work.

    Even well meaning and hard working CEOs have businesses go under and fail. Well intentioned, hard working IT people often implement systems that are inefficient, overly expensive or whatever.

    But the point here to recognize that the situations are identical. The job of business people and IT people is just like a wedding planner - to make as much profit as possible, not to just "turn the lights on until the company goes under."



  • I kind of agree with BRRABill the examples, althought at the most basic level are accurate, don't represent well enough the trouble.

    "Good enough" or "It get's the job done" with regards to IT is greatly expressed by a company who purchases a few computers to run their POS system on.

    These computers, are running Windows XP, and work, they process transactions as customers purchase items, they print receipts etc.

    Where it doesn't work or isn't nearly "good enough' is that the POS system is a P.O.S. If the software works, but hasn't been updated to run on a more secure platform, and for some insane reason can't be virtualized the software is not worth paying for.

    IT has the responsibility in this case, to offer a modern POS system that can take advantage of modern technology, for a greatly increased benefits.



  • @DustinB3403 said:

    "Good enough" or "It get's the job done" with regards to IT is greatly expressed by a company who purchases a few computers to run their POS system on.

    And a CEO saying that and losing money when they do it would be no different to their shareholders than a wedding planner is to a bridge when he creates a horrible wedding that she hates.



  • @DustinB3403 said:

    Where it doesn't work or isn't nearly "good enough' is that the POS system is a P.O.S. If the software works, but hasn't been updated to run on a more secure platform, and for some insane reason can't be virtualized the software is not worth paying for.

    How is that different than the wedding? The wedding "got the job done." Just poorly and the people tasked with making it great did not do so. Same with a bad POS system - the people tasked with making a POS system that makes the company money apparently failed to do so. But it is a "functional POS", so it "gets the job done" just like the wedding managed to get people married.



  • But a CEO is not an IT Person. He is not the expert. He would hire skilled IT persons (hopefully) to tell him to not do something such as that.

    His expertise should be "Knowing how to run a business" or "We need an expert" (per case). His expertise should be how to run a business.



  • But something like QB. Granted, there are free options that have equal or better features.

    But it's like you hired a DJ for your wedding. He played music and didn't ruin your wedding. Though you later find out there was a cheaper DJ who also gives out party favors.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    @DustinB3403 said:

    Where it doesn't work or isn't nearly "good enough' is that the POS system is a P.O.S. If the software works, but hasn't been updated to run on a more secure platform, and for some insane reason can't be virtualized the software is not worth paying for.

    How is that different than the wedding? The wedding "got the job done." Just poorly and the people tasked with making it great did not do so. Same with a bad POS system - the people tasked with making a POS system that makes the company money apparently failed to do so. But it is a "functional POS", so it "gets the job done" just like the wedding managed to get people married.

    If the people don't show up to the correct wedding, the wedding planner clearly didn't do the job at all though. The Wedding planners job is to arrange the wedding.

    Not to ensure that the couple get married.



  • But for most businesses, QBs job is to print check, sends invoices, and do payroll.

    Not to ensure the company is a success.



  • Again, I am not defending QBs. I've honestly never really used it. It could be HORRIBLE.

    But it's like the argument where OpenOffice is the only option because it is free and has similar features. It doesn't mean MS Office is bad.



  • @DustinB3403 said:

    But a CEO is not an IT Person. He is not the expert. He would hire skilled IT persons (hopefully) to tell him to not do something such as that.

    That's a red herring. The CEO's job is to make the company profitable. Hiring and relying on a mixture of IT advisers, financial advisers and good business decision making is what he is there to do. Whether the CEO is being reckless and making IT decisions that he does not understand, can't be bothered to listen to good advice, won't pay for the needed skills or whatever ultimate is his responsibility. It is assumed that the CEO is not IT. Successful companies do not see that as a problem. There is no need for a CEO to be in IT for a company to have good IT strategies.



  • @BRRABill said:

    But it's like the argument where OpenOffice is the only option because it is free and has similar features. It doesn't mean MS Office is bad.

    True and totally unrelated. That MS Office is a good product has no relevance to the fact that IT and business people not bothering to do their jobs is bad. There is no conceptual relationship here.

    This is like saying that putting sugar in your gas tank is bad and responding that just because Ford is great, doesn't make Chevy bad. Sure, but what does the price of gas in Oregon matter to a cupcake baker in Germany?



  • @scottalanmiller Well lets step away from the CEO approach. (You have more experience then I here).

    Let look at the Wedding Planner.

    The Planner's job, is to arrange the wedding, transportation, flowers, music.

    The Planner's job does not include that the couple get married.

    It can't be, the planner might have done an awful job, for which you're rightfully owed money back.

    In the case that the Planner failed at their job (Planning and coordinating the wedding event) is completely detached from the fact they the couple got married.

    The two aren't attached. It could have been an Amazing Wedding, and the couple decides to call it off, the planner still gets paid for their services.



  • @BRRABill said:

    But for most businesses, QBs job is to print check, sends invoices, and do payroll.

    Not to ensure the company is a success.

    This is exactly what I mean by getting lost in proximate goals and losing sight of the actual goals. EVERYTHING a business does is to ensure company success. Literally everything. If any action is taken for another reason, that means that that action should be stopped. If QB is being implemented against the needs of the business intentionally, that is sabotage and should not happen.

    This is the exact concept this thread is about - don't confuse a proximate goal with the ultimate goal. You would not implement QB if you knew if would cause immediate bankruptcy, right? Why would you do it if you only knew it "wasn't in the interest of the business" but wouldn't directly cause total failure? Both cases are the same, one is just more immediate and obvious.



  • @DustinB3403 said:

    @scottalanmiller Well lets step away from the CEO approach. (You have more experience then I here).

    Let look at the Wedding Planner.

    The Planner's job, is to arrange the wedding, transportation, flowers, music.

    The Planner's job does not include that the couple get married.

    It's not the IT or the business' job to print checks, do the taxes or make payroll. That's finance. IT and the business acquire, implement and manage the tools for doing it. So very, very much like the wedding planner.



  • @scottalanmiller

    The relation is, I feel your argument is like saying

    "Why would you ever use MS Office? OpenOffice is basically the same, and most companies using MS Office are just wasting money."

    It IS true. But like the other thread stated, it's not like people need to be tar and feathered for it.

    Now, there ARE scenarios that you are 100% right. Take the RAID5 for example. Instances where hard data has shown something to cause significant danger or loss. Or say someone wanted to come in and charge $100K to design a custom-made office applcation suite for you.



  • @DustinB3403 said:

    The two aren't attached. It could have been an Amazing Wedding, and the couple decides to call it off, the planner still gets paid for their services.

    Just like IT. Bring in IT consultants, they help you out and you decide to shut down the business because you decide that your business plan was poor. You still pay the IT firm, it's not their fault.



  • @BRRABill said:

    @scottalanmiller

    The relation is, I feel your argument is like saying

    "Why would you ever use MS Office? OpenOffice is basically the same, and most companies using MS Office are just wasting money."

    No, this is a completely disconnected leap. You've taken a discussion about "clear decision making" and are trying to say "MS Office is bad." I don't agree that it is bad and see zero connection to the discussion. If you want to talk about MS Office being a product so bad that no honest business person would purchase it, that deserve a thread to discuss. But it doesn't relate here.

    There is nothing in this conversation that should trigger a thought like this.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    You would not implement QB if you knew if would cause immediate bankruptcy, right?

    Of course not.

    Why would you do it if you only knew it "wasn't in the interest of the business" but wouldn't directly cause total failure? Both cases are the same, one is just more immediate and obvious.

    Have we ever officially established QB is so imminently disastrous?

    And again, if we were starting out with a fresh company, of course we'd give them a myriad of options. But to try and get an established QB company to move just because ... there are better options which might save them a few bucks? I'm not sure that's a fair argument.



  • I completely skipped this entire thread after the examples. The examples are completely not what "It gets the job done" means. Those examples were all 100% deliberately sabotaged jobs.

    "It gets the job done" does not mean sabotaging the job. It means that the product does the job it is needed to do. It does certainly leave room for a job to be done better.

    @scottalanmiller if you want to start this over and be willing to have an intelligent conversation based on real examples, I will participate.



  • @BRRABill said:

    It IS true. But like the other thread stated, it's not like people need to be tar and feathered for it.

    I don't know many people that would agree that that is true. Not from the business or the IT side. Lots of people will agree that MS Office is not the only solution. I've never talked to any seasoned pro who felt it was universally evil and had no value scenario.

    This isn't the place for MS Office bashing, start about thread and we can discuss its merits or lack thereof there.



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    No, this is a completely disconnected leap. You've taken a discussion about "clear decision making" and are trying to say "MS Office is bad." I don't agree that it is bad and see zero connection to the discussion. If you want to talk about MS Office being a product so bad that no honest business person would purchase it, that deserve a thread to discuss. But it doesn't relate here.

    There is nothing in this conversation that should trigger a thought like this.

    You don't think there are members here who think it is foolish to use MS Windows or MS Office when there are viable free alternatives out there? And that decision, considering the cost of both Windows and Office, could be a sabotage to the business?



  • @scottalanmiller said:

    This isn't the place for MS Office bashing, start about thread and we can discuss its merits or lack thereof there.

    I am saying the opposite.

    I'm saying that as long as MS Office "gets the job done" (what most people are looking for it to do ... e-mailing, letters, spreadsheets) it still has value. You don't have to move to OpenOffice just because it saves the company a few dollars.



  • @JaredBusch said:

    I completely skipped this entire thread after the examples. The examples are completely not what "It gets the job done" means. Those examples were all 100% deliberately sabotaged jobs.

    "It gets the job done" does not mean sabotaging the job. It means that the product does the job it is needed to do. It does certainly leave room for a job to be done better.

    @scottalanmiller if you want to start this over and be willing to have an intelligent conversation based on real examples, I will participate.

    I picked these because they are exactly alike. How are they different?

    We constantly see IT pros doing "whatever other people do" and providing zero guidance of their own - literally not doing their job at all. Many try to do a good job but get it all wrong like the wedding planner.

    These are, I feel, incredibly close examples. If you have better examples, please share. But these were chosen because of how close they are. Based off of the example of ignoring the needs of the business goals and just using a proximate "success" metric that does not support the business goals directly and using it to excuse either IT or the business managers of not doing their jobs either on purpose, accidentally or just doing it poorly.



  • @BRRABill said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    No, this is a completely disconnected leap. You've taken a discussion about "clear decision making" and are trying to say "MS Office is bad." I don't agree that it is bad and see zero connection to the discussion. If you want to talk about MS Office being a product so bad that no honest business person would purchase it, that deserve a thread to discuss. But it doesn't relate here.

    There is nothing in this conversation that should trigger a thought like this.

    You don't think there are members here who think it is foolish to use MS Windows or MS Office when there are viable free alternatives out there? And that decision, considering the cost of both Windows and Office, could be a sabotage to the business?

    Okay, maybe, but I'm not aware of any. PLEASE take this to another thread. It has no place here at all.



  • @BRRABill said:

    @scottalanmiller said:

    This isn't the place for MS Office bashing, start about thread and we can discuss its merits or lack thereof there.

    I am saying the opposite.

    I'm saying that as long as MS Office "gets the job done" (what most people are looking for it to do ... e-mailing, letters, spreadsheets) it still has value. You don't have to move to OpenOffice just because it saves the company a few dollars.

    If OpenOffice really does save money, why would you intentionally not move to it? I'm going off of your assumption that it will save money instead of it might save money in some cases. I don't agree with your assumption even though I am a huge LibreOffice fan - I think that MS Office has extremely viable use cases and might be the best product maybe even most of the time, at least much of the time.

    But using your assumption that MS Office is always bad, then it is always bad. If you know this, why would you ever implement it knowing that doing so would sabotage the business?

    How are you defining "getting the job done" if the job isn't for the business to be successful?



  • @BRRABill said:

    I'm saying that as long as MS Office "gets the job done" (what most people are looking for it to do ... e-mailing, letters, spreadsheets)

    All people in business have one goal - to make the business money. ANY skewing from this is bad. Not that proximate goals are not needed to achieve the bigger goal, but confusing proximate goals with ultimate goals is very bad and that's how bad decision making starts to happen.

    The job of the company is to make money, not to email people.



  • @BRRABill said:

    Have we ever officially established QB is so imminently disastrous?

    This is not an appropriate thread to mention products. This is about goals and decision making. There is a thread for discussing individual products.


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