Our new template doesn't seem to apply to what I'm doing.

The organization has rolled out a new template for requirements that we're supposed to use for all projects, but it doesn't all seem to apply to what I'm doing. What should I do?

You've probably seen that trying to make things easier only ends up making them harder. This can easily happen when we try to implement broad-based tools or processes that haven't been tested over the entire spectrum of applications for which we're trying to introduce them. It's unlikely that someone sat down and wondered, "How can I introduce a tool that will make us work harder?" We all want to make things consistent, familiar, and easy. Here are some ideas for making sure that a proposed solution matches the realities of the work.

If there's a tool that you're supposed to be using, but it doesn't seem to be working the way it should, ask yourself three questions:

  1. Are you sure? Before raising a fuss about the non-working tool, or even raising the issue in conversation, be sure that you've done a fair and reasonable job of determining if the tool actually will work. Give it a fair shot, even if it looks different than you would have liked. Be sure you aren't simply frustrated by a new interface or a difference in vocabulary. Try to understand the intent of the tool, and the meaning of its description. Find out if it actually means something like what you want, but in different terms. Think of the things you've done or are doing for which the tool would work. It may not work in every situation, but perhaps it has some value.
  2. Can it be modified? Review the tool and try to see if there are parts of it that you can use. Perhaps part of the tool doesn't apply, but some of it applies nicely. Perhaps by adding something that you feel is missing, you could adapt it to meet your needs. In some cases, templates may be tightly controlled, and minimal or limited modifications are allowed. In other cases, the templates are only guidelines, and entire sections can be added or removed as needed. Find out which is the case, and how much you can modify the tool to meet your needs.
  3. What do you suggest? If the tool simply won't work for you, what is a reasonable alternative? Can you suggest another tool that will work better in your situation? Perhaps those who introduced the tool haven't gotten around to implementing those features. Consider offering to help develop a tool that better addresses your needs. On one hand, you're more likely to receive a favorable response if you suggest an alternative instead of complaining. And on the other hand, if you can benefit from a different tool, perhaps others will, as well.

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