In solving any problem, the goal is to come up with a solution that will work. But sometimes it’s not easy to evaluate a solution’s worth. It might also turn out that there are multiple, alternative solutions that are credible.
An important step in the problem-solving process is developing criteria that you can use to evaluate solutions. Ideally, these will be specific to the unique business problem you are trying to solve. You might, for example, want to make sure the solution can be delivered in a certain timeframe or in a certain way.You might need the solution to address the concerns of a specific group of people.
Although you will need to develop your own criteria, it’s helpful to have a starting point. Here is a list of general criteria, and the questions you can ask, to evaluate business solutions.
Ask yourself if the solution you are considering:
- Deals with the underlying cause of the problem versus only the surface issues.
Will the solution permanently solve the problem or merely gloss over it by temporarily covering up a symptom?
2. Simplifies the environment rather than making it more complex.
Does the solution take advantage of opportunities to simplify business processes, or does it solve the problem by adding more processes and procedures?
- Addresses short-term concerns necessary for immediate effectiveness.
Does the solution take care of immediate and urgent aspects of the problem?
- Will be effective over the long-term.
Does the solution take into account its long-term impacts, and will it continue to work in the future?
- Is based on factual, reliable information.
Are you certain of the evidence or assumptions underlying this solution?
- Will be accepted by all of those who must support its implementation.
Is this solution appropriate given the political and cultural environment of the organization?
- Supports and reinforces related corporate or departmental goals and activities.
Will this solution help others to achieve their goals, or will it make their jobs more difficult?
- Optimizes the effectiveness of the overall organization rather than just the individual work group closest to the problem.
If this solution makes your job easier, will it also make other people’s jobs easier?
- Has limited negative ripple effects.
Have the long-term impacts on other parts of the organization been taken into account by this solution?
- Will be measurable in terms of its implementation as well as its impact.
Will you be able to monitor the progress of the solution as it is implemented, and will you be able to assess its impact on the problem?
- Will reduce or eliminate key barriers to achieving the desired situation.
Does this solution leverage existing success factors by removing those things which impede their effectiveness?
- Uses resources effectively.
Does the solution make wise use of people, materials, time, and other corporate resources?
If you are evaluating multiple solutions, you can add a simple rating scale to help you assess each one. But some criteria will be more important to you than others and might carry greater weight, so factor that into your analysis. It’s important to consider each alternative in depth so you can determine which solution makes the most sense.