“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Although half of the semester was taken online, and so did our practicum course, I felt our team was even more united during this special time and we successfully managed to communicate within the team and deliver our ideas with our clients via Zoom. Our clients’ challenge was to improve the incident ticket filling process within its non-production environment.
The first lesson I learned from this practicum is that there are wide gaps between the general concepts and the real-life situation. Before we actually met with our clients, we did our preliminary research on the company and topics related to the non-production environment and ticket filing. We once thought we got the idea of the clients’ challenges and be ready to have some in-depth conversations with our clients. We came up with several possible assumptions based on our best knowledge.
But when we got started on this project, we were kind of lost since we were not 100% understand how the whole internal system functions as our clients did. There were also jargons that we never heard of. I am glad that our clients are supportive and responsive. As we communicate with the clients more, we got to gain more knowledge of the big picture. The two clients that directly in touch with our team are more like mentors to us because they were always patient and provide lots of suggestions along the way. They were straight forward and they would immediately bring up their questions and concerns on our ideas. They would explain things with extra details to ensure we get the idea. This saved us from wasting time on drifted directions.
The second lesson I learned is about making decisions as a team. At the beginning stage of our project, as we gained more knowledge of the content, each of us developed our own perspective on how we would approach the challenge. I think we should focus on the human side, how to improve the process by controlling the input part. While others believe that we should be more focused on neural networks and other algorithms since our clients seem interested in it. I understand that because nowadays, companies are seeking for technology innovation and lead the industry. Although I think my idea would be brilliant, I am not confident enough to convince my teammates and present it to the clients. Luckily, my teammates are open-minded and supportive. While they were more into the machine learning part, I was responsible for getting the supportive evidence for human perspective enhancement and try my best to explain my idea from the abstract concept to an example that can be applied by the clients. At the end of the semester, we got to present our outcome to the clients, and each of us had strong faith that our work was excellent.
Last but not least, the most important thing is about timing. The best time to take any action would be now. Our team indeed spent a lot of time on secondary research on the related issue in the beginning. We got fascinated by the new subject, machine learning, and we received positive feedback on it from our clients. Four of us thought it would a good idea to gather more research. So instead of stick with the plan we originally have, we spent more time on the secondary research. We did not realize the importance of taking other methodologies into the projects. The tasks we planned did not require any order sequence, and actually, they should be carried out at the same time so that we can combine them to gain collective insights. Later on, we got stuck on the research stage and the progress of our group is also a little bit behind other groups. We felt overwhelmed at that time. But we knew that it would be late to take another approach. But, the best time to take any action is now, and there is no time crying over the split milk. We then decided to spread out and diverge from just one direction. We conducted several interviews with the internal stakeholders while we keep getting in touch with our mentor. The interviews turned out to be really helpful because our final solution was taking all the stakeholders into consideration. We would update our insights on the challenge and seek suggestions on the technology side.
In conclusion, this practicum was definitely one of the most amazing experiences I had at Gies College of Business. Besides gaining experience and skills on consulting projects, I got to practice to work on subjects that require new knowledge, I learned how to communicate with clients and teammates, how to express myself while listeningå to others, I learned how to manage the timing issue and work collaboratively with teammates remotely. This project made me get to explore the possibilities to become a consultant in the future. Also, I met some really good friends in this class and be able to work with them for this semester,