Computing Services

The department behind IT services at the University of Bath

Tagged: expertise

The Customer can have what they can afford

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📥  Business Support Systems, Computing Services

I recently posed the question, 'Is the Customer always right?' and concluded that the answer was 'No', particularly when specialist expertise was required which the Customer does not have.

However, there are situations where this is different.  For example, if I am having a suit made for my wedding.  If I want a lime green velour suit, lined with black denim, turn-ups, no pockets and a jacket which skims the floor, then I can have it!  However...

The Customer can have what they can afford.

If I really want the suit I have described above, I can have it.  I will have to pay extra for the long jacket, for the unusual lining and for the skilled experts to work with the velour and tailor it to my rather round frame.  If I want it studded with diamonds, I can have it, but I must pay for the materials, the labour and any other costs to make the suit, including the ongoing cost of having it cleaned by specialists.

Everything has a cost, whether we are paying a 3rd party, or using internal resources to create and support a service, system or team.  If you don't have the budget to pay for everything you want (including infrastructure, staff, licensing and on-going support), you may have to compromise and focus more directly on satisfying the Business Needs, rather than producing an all-singing all-dancing system, otherwise you'll end up with a system which can sing and dance, but can't do what you actually need it to do.

Naturally, it's best to work out what can and cannot sensibly be achieved as early in a project as possible, which is why it is important to define and agree a scope.  If we don't, or if we allow the scope to change significantly once a project has started, we may get part way through and discover that we need to find funds for additional specialists or other resources.

We don't always have the skills we need to hand, so we must consider other ways forward.  One recent example uses a combination of additional internal staff, training and external consultancy to not only complete a large development but to build that expertise in-house.  You may be surprised to learn that this approach is significantly less costly than the original idea of engaging a 3rd party developer, not only in terms of initial investment but also on-going support, particularly when you consider that the expertise gained will be useful for future projects, further reducing our reliance on expensive 3rd parties and their purely commercial intentions.

If you want to contact the team, you can email us at, or by raising a ticket for us. Just make sure to mention BSS at the top of your description and it'll get to us.

Until next time.


The Customer is King(?)

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📥  Business Support Systems, Computing Services

In my previous post, I explored who we mean by 'the Customer' and concluded that anyone who wants something from us is our customer.

In this post, I ask:

'Is the Customer always right?'

The quick answer is 'No'.

That may be a surprising response to some of you, but consider this: would you tell your GP how to treat your illness?

My GP is a trusted advisor - a technical specialist in the area of general medicine.  When I am unwell and want to consult my GP, I tell her that I am ill and want to be well (the Business Need), what symptoms I am experiencing (Business Requirements) and not what disease I have or how to treat it.  I rely on her expertise to diagnose my illness and recommend a treatment path.  I understand that things aren't always straight forward, so that path may change if necessary.

Within the context of the University and specifically working with Computing Services, our customers are experts in the business and understand the Business Needs; we understand systems and how to satisfy those Business Needs, so together, we can drive the University forward.

Bring us your Business Needs, your Aims and Visions of what you need to achieve and we will work collaboratively with you to work out the details, then develop systems and processes to satisfy them.

If you want to contact the team, you can email us at, or by raising a ticket for us. Just make sure to mention BSS at the top of your description and it'll get to us.

Until next time.