Now and again we come across companies who approach us with a ‘need’ for technology. When we ask what the drivers are, we hear signs of uncertainty. Maybe the unit next door has just implemented a fantastic new stock system. Or perhaps an e-commerce website, or has began to use EDI (Electronic data interchange) for invoicing. Sure that’s all great, but it isn’t a one size fits all when it comes to technology.
If we cast our minds back, way back, we performed pretty well without technology, didn’t we? In my first role within a busy production control department we had a PC between four of us. We were all itching to ‘get on’ and create a spreadsheet of a Bill of Materials. I also remember painfully putting down my pencil for a mouse when we introduced CAD software, ah good times.
Incidentally how quick has this technology shift been! The level of expectation now is huge, when my daughter was two she’d toddle over to the television and try to move people by drag and drop. Don’t even get me started on how swift phone technology has developed. Everyone knows this is due to reverse engineering of alien technology developed in Groomlake, Nevada, but that’s for another blog post (yes I love a conspiracy theory).
What has technology gave us?
Anyway back to terra firma, in one word, what has this quantum leap (what a show!) in technology gave us? Efficiency. Accuracy. Cost savings (OK that’s two), well yes those and some. But there is a but, we must ensure that the correct technology is used in the right environment for the right reasons. I’ve seen companies that are slaves to a beast of an ERP system that wasn’t implemented correctly that came with a distinct lack of training. That training only gets diluted too as employees get disillusioned with the new business processes and go to work in the unit next door, remember the one with the fantastic system?
End to end enterprise systems such as ERP solutions touch almost every department in a manufacturing facility. Imagine choosing the wrong system and the potential impacts associated. Will your field workers new ipad/tablet application work with no signal and then sync once it enters an area of coverage? Do you have to buy licences in bundles of fives? What functionality is included in the future roadmap? All these questions and more will often be asked within our Far North software evaluations.
My own personal experience
During my time within solution sales, I was asked to take part in research for a doctoral theses discussing critical success factors in implementing ERP in customer facing organisations. The findings and differing opinions were quite remarkable across the seven interviewed consultants. Unfortunately ERP failure rate statistics over the years have been consistent when focussing on cost and duration overruns. Implementation outcomes often point to poor satisfaction. This potential risk needs to be minimised by expert evaluation.
So, before keeping up with the Jones & Co.’s, ensure that the technology is fit for purpose. Be sure to engage the workforce in the decision before they head next door.
If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help by emailing it to a friend, or share it on Twitter or Facebook… before they purchase a system:-)….and be sure to comment and let us know your evaluation process tips.
Ian is also the founder of Sales & Marketing consultancy Far North Ltd.