If you’ve ever used any type of business automation software, you know how powerful it can be to help run your day-to-day operations. But you may also have noticed some flaws. You may end up only using a small portion of what the software offers. You may also find yourself having to change your business processes to fit the way the software needs you to input the information.
The truth is, today's business software does not meet all business needs. Companies either try to customize their off-the-shelf software with manual processes and workarounds, or they invest significantly in custom software or ERP systems, which fail or is outdated by the time it's released.
There are several levels of “software suck” that can drag down a company. Let’s go through all six levels together.Level 1:
You may have various software your company has been using for years, but it’s probably not helping you stand out from the competition. If anything, you’re probably using the same off-the-shelf software as everyone else in your niche. This means your company’s unique selling proposition (USP) is above your software.
Your software probably is not moving with you as you grow. If anything, it’s holding you back. Your team finds themselves bridging the gaps with manual processes and spreadsheets.Level 2:
Eventually, you may find yourself adding new niche software applications like marketing automation to make you differentiate from your competitors. But if you’re not using all of that software’s functionality, you’re wasting money paying for features you don’t use. But maybe you like how one platform handles a process vs. another.
So you end up with a handful of off-the-shelf applications that you’re only using bits and pieces of, and your team is still using spreadsheets to bridge the gaps and manual effort to jump between each software system. You’re still dependent on your core software that you’re not happy with to run your business.Level 3:
You reach the point where you just can’t grow anymore. You’ve wasted so much time and money jumping between dozens of software applications.
At this level of suck, you have a choice where you’d like to go next. The first choice is to move to an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software that runs your entire business in one place. Sounds like it’ll solve all your problems, right? The hang-up is, regardless if you’re doing a smaller implementation like using Infor or Epicor, or a large implementation using NetSuite or SAP, it’s going to be extremely costly.
It’s also incredibly time consuming. You can expect to spend 6-18 months implementing the software. And we all know time is money – in addition to the monetary cost of the software, you’re probably going to spend another 3-4x on employee time, training and onboarding.
The best part is, during this time your business is still changing and evolving. When the ERP implementation is finally complete, you’re basically back to where you started 18 months ago. You now have a laundry list of enhancements and changes.Level 4:
The second choice is custom software, which is typically built from scratch to your exact specifications. To build custom software, developers must go through the defining process, implementation, then testing, and finally deployment. This is the traditional waterfall method. You could also choose an agile method with sprints, but this just means there’s a lot of iterations, which adds time to an already lengthy process.
You can expect this process to also take 6-18 months, and you’re paying by the hour – either for your employees, your software developers, or an external firm. This can add up very quickly.
Like with an ERP implementation, you’re still running your business as usual – which means making changes and updates – while your software is being built. This leads to the dreaded scope creep, which causes tension between the business and technical teams.
You will eventually end up with software that was built to your exact specifications…when you started this process 18 months ago. Now you have a huge technical debt, you need to maintain that software and make changes.
The result is the same as with ERP implementation.Level 5:
So now you find yourself in the fifth level of software suck, 18 months behind where you need/want to be. You’ve invested time and money into your ERP or custom software solution. At this point you also more than likely have full teams of individuals whose sole job is to support the software. You’re going to want to add things into your application to fill new gaps.
You end up investing more and more into this beast of a software system, experiencing the same time- and money-consuming process you went through before. Your business executives are getting upset with the long turnaround time for improvements, so they start creating solutions with off-the-shelf software so they can get their job done without having to involve a team of developers.
They end up trying to tie these new disparate off-the-shelf solutions together and integrate with the ERP/custom software.
The fifth level of suck is when the software lifecycle becomes cyclical in nature. Level 5 starts to look an awful lot like Level 1, with disparate systems and bridging these gaps with manual processes and spreadsheets.Level 6:
The sixth level of suck is mostly felt at the Enterprise level, when the power of the technological infrastructure is handed down to a single point: the technology team. They’re going to remove the other pieces of software and every decision will need to be run by them first. The team gets bigger and stronger and gains more power within the organization.
Up to this point, the business partners have been able to do some things on their own and really drive what they need from the software. The technology/engineering team becomes the department of “No.” The business leaders can’t get what they want done because they’re not prioritized enough. You start seeing this cultural divide between the business folks and the technology folks.
The sixth level of suck is the beginnings of a cultural suck. Unless you jump on that right away, it’s just going to get bigger and bigger and you’ll find yourself stuck by what your internal technology team will support.
Avoid these levels of software suck at all cost! Now that you have the information, you can make an informed decision. There’s a better way. Learn more about the OptimumHQ Adaptive Software Platform and how it can save you from software suck.
Watch our CEO Simon Chatfield’s video series on the topic here:
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