I always liken developing and deploying a GIS to house building. You have a vision of what you want, but putting the pieces in place takes careful planning, and skilled house builders. Done right, the final deliverable becomes your dream home. Done wrongly, and your dream turns into a nightmare.
Why GIS Discovery is so Important
From our work over the years with customers looking to start with GIS, or those looking to get the most out of GIS, one common theme has emerged: the best outcomes are a result of careful upfront planning and preparation. That seems obvious, but too often we have seen projects start without proper due diligence. At WebMapSolutions we have formalised the process. What we call our GIS Discovery Workshop.
Fundamentally, GIS discovery revolves around 3 key questions:
- Where are you today?
- Where would you like to be tomorrow?
- Walk us through that story?
Data forms a key focal point of this conversation. And not the technology. Why?
Fundamentally a GIS is used to store, visualize and ask where questions of your internal and external data.
We work with 2 groups in the GIS discovery process:
1) Those wanting to get started with GIS
GIS has never been more affordable nor more accessible. New cloud based GIS platforms have opened the door to wider use of GIS. But that is both good and bad. The good is that finally organizations have a way to answer their where questions:
Where are our customers?
Where are events happening now which impact our business?
Where is that pipe or valve I need to inspect?
The bad is that GIS is complex for those new to the technology. Just like building a house, answering your where questions takes expertise. Does that mean you cannot learn. Absolutely not. But:
How you get started can be the difference between success with GIS and failure
Discovery is crucial. Where you are today and where you would like to be tomorrow. Mapping out that journey. A key part of discovery, which often surprises those who join us for our workshop, is learning. For those unfamiliar with GIS, discovery provides a place for questions and understanding.
2) Those looking to get the most out of GIS
George used the term ‘DIY GIS‘ with me in a recent conversation. That captures beautifully how many organizations start using Web GIS to solve problems. This might be you. Learning as you go. Taking online GIS training. But stretched for time.
DIY GIS sets you moving forward, but getting the most out of GIS from this base can be challenging. We often work with organizations looking to ‘squeeze every last useful drop’ out of their GIS. Put simply looking for maximum return on their investment (ROI). GIS is complex. If you subscribe to one of the new GIS platforms, you can soon become overwhelmed. But your challenges are unique to your organization. Leveraging those parts of a GIS platform which help solve these challenges is key. Discovery will help provide a framework to maximise your GIS ROI.
Join us for our free GIS Discovery Workshop.
Download a free copy of our white paper ‘ArcGIS Deployment Guide’, which provides a road map for getting started and moving forward with ArcGIS Online.
Author: Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan is a Principal at WebMapSolutions. Matt evangelizes GIS and location intelligence around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books. Follow him on Twitter: