In the meantime, there are more and more solutions and services that promise optimal support for your processes. Be it in the cloud or a pure in-house solution. Every single one of them promises to solve all problems in a certain area, be it CRM, ERP, DMS or so-called Collaborative Tools which promise an optimal control of projects. Many of these tools have their place on the market and everyone has the chance to find the system that suits their needs. If you want to get a system that adapts to your personal requirements, you have to consider certain things that make a solution future-proof.
Anyone who invests in a solution today would like to use it in the long term. In addition, processes should be consistent and should not be slowed down by media disruptions. Redundant data that not only leads to multiple maintenance, but also inevitably leads to errors in processing must be avoided. Moreover, it is not exactly motivating when work steps have to be carried out several times, apart from the economic nonsense. In Germany, the required auditing security comes into play.
For larger projects in particular, for example, there is a need to have different views of the same information. On the one hand there is the distributed storage of documents and on the other hand there is the distributed storage of information in different software tools. Assume that someone from accounting will not go the same way as an employee from project or sales to get the same information. And these groups of people are very likely to use different tools.
Communication needs diversity
Especially at a time when it is becoming increasingly important to communicate with customers and suppliers on different channels, it is becoming increasingly important that the systems can interact seamlessly with each other. Who really wants to have various programs or apps running in parallel and to monitor them and synchronize the information with each other? And how often do you think “Oh, I have to transfer this info to Tool XYZ later on” and then forget it, because there was so much real life in between? Especially annoying also on the smartphone. App ABC has an information that must be passed on to someone else via App XYZ. Copy & Paste can quickly become an ordeal and a source of error. Fun is different.
There are good tools in all areas that may fit your processes perfectly. However, it is just as important that they are able to communicate fully with each other. What is the point if, for example, changes in the availability of certain articles occur in an ERP system and the dependent project management is not automatically informed about them? Or the other way around. Changing project requirements do not find their way into ERP or CRM.
Consistency creates process reliability
The consistency of the processes is always important. To employ people to transfer information from Tool A to Tool B is neither efficient nor process-safe. Time and again, we see that it is sometimes intended for people to exchange data instead of having it happen automatically. And every time it doesn’t work, it has the same cause. The person who forgot or didn’t do it correctly. The procedure is always the same.
What sense does it make that a certain document is kept multiple times and is not always accessed from the same document from the respective point of view of the problem? For example, you will receive a Word document by e-mail. This is relevant for a project, but it must also be assigned to the sender and an activity. The first version manages to be stored in the project tool as well, a possible correction version can only be found in the address file.
In September 2015, IDC published the white paper “Common gaps in data control”, which states the following figures: Companies with between 1,000 and 10,000 employees keep original data in up to 27 data pools, of which 13 copies exist on average. The danger that inconsistent data, which evolve further and further apart over the course of time, is extremely high and economically, to put it mildly, unfavourable. Not to mention audit-proofing. A copy becomes a copy, becomes a copy, becomes a copy, …
Diversity needs communication: seamless data exchange is a must
In order to avoid unnecessary complexity, it must be ensured that all tools used allow for bi-directional communication. If, for example, I receive information about a transaction by e-mail, it must be automatically filed immediately during the transaction. Within a project, this process is part of the same. This is the only way I have the chance to equalize the complexity that the project tool takes care of in one place by artificial additional effort elsewhere.
In addition to the interfaces, however, other points must be taken into account. What if the business model changes or the company’s growth demands different processes? The business model changes processes and structures. For this reason, all data and documents must still be preserved. This requires that either the tools used are so flexible that they can be adapted to the new processes and information without any problems or that a migration of the data from old to new is possible. Preferably in such a way that the existing information is lost.
If you are looking for new solutions and have found software that meets your needs, whether cloud or in-house, check the following points.
- Are there bi-directional interfaces that are so flexible that they can be easily connected to other systems?
- Is the solution flexible enough to accommodate changes in your company?
- If it is possible to import existing data and if a change of the solution should become necessary, all information has to be exported again in order to facilitate a migration.
If you cannot answer yes to these questions, you should reconsider your decision, because the advantages offered by the solution itself may be reversed by these requirements and the problems will simply be shifted. Redundancies are damaging to business, as the basis for decisions is built on different foundations. Not to mention audit-proofing.
Victor Hanacek / picjumbo.com
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