You don’t have to care about the difference. No one is forcing you to. The thing is, if you don’t care about the difference between a screwdriver and a paintbrush, you may find painting your house quite a challenge.
I’ve seen plenty of examples of clients treating solutions like products and then getting annoyed when it takes them 4 times as long to paint their house.
If you want to save a bunch of money and time, read on to learn about the difference, and how it can help you when you buy your next solution.
Still with me? Excellent.
Let’s quickly revise some basic stuff.
What Is A Product?
Products are easy to understand.
They’re everywhere. You buy them every day. Look around you right now. Pretty much everything you can see can be called a product.
It’s a thing. It was produced. You can touch it. You can hold it in your hand, assuming it’s not a fridge or a car, or you have unusually large hands.
They usually have simple names, too. Names of objects. Names like ‘fridge’, and ‘car’, and ‘flux capacitor’.
Solutions, ah, now they’re a different sort of beast.
What Is A Solution?
A solution tells you how to solve a problem. Check the dictionary.
A solution isn’t a thing. It’s a way of doing something. It’s a how, not a what.
And it doesn’t have to be unique. It can be one of many ways to solve the problem.
They often have more complicated names, like ‘Management Framework’, or ‘Advanced Procurement and Delivery System’. Acronym city.
Why It Matters
We’re talking about solutions you buy for your company, right? So you’re solving some sort of business problem. You’ve decided to buy a solution from a vendor because you don’t want to spend a bunch of time working it out for yourself. You assume they’ve done it before, and that they got it right at least once.
When you buy a solution from a vendor, it often comes with a bunch of products. Software. Hardware. Usually from that vendor (gee, I wonder why).
These products are often what people use to determine which solution to buy. You like storage from vendor A, so you buy the vendor A storage ‘solution’. You like the vendor B kit, so you buy a network solution from vendor B.
But what you really want to know is how solution A solves your problem. The shiny kit that comes with it should be secondary.
If you’re trying to work out the solution to a math problem, using a shiny fountain pen doesn’t matter if the answer is wrong. And if you get it right, the shiny pen just gives you extra points for style.
Is your vendor giving you good answers? Or are they just selling you some shiny screwdrivers?