Business applications today
Do people take the chronic business software deficiencies for granted ?
Software practices today are not able to fill in the needs imposed to twenty-first century companies.
Process management software today.
"Processes are enforced in companies by ERP software". This is more a kind of official statement than the whole truth.
This software imposes a rigid way of working on companies. It is common sense that to force companies to work the way the software imposes is the wrong approach.
ERP software is expensive. Not all companies can afford it. This so called process management software is also rigid and costly in maintenance.
It is clearly a legacy of the past century that had its merits in improving productivity of companies.
The twenty-first century reality is that in a highly competitive environment companies are forced to adopt flexibly adaptable processes to survive or to remain competitive. This is a need ERP apparently cannot fulfill.
The ways of working of a company, the so called company processes, should be steerable at all levels of a company, in a very responsive way. Both the processes and the software that enables them should be fast and flexibly adaptable.
There is a need to change to self regulating processes, but obeying the company business structures.
Other truths about ERP software that can be observed are :
ERP software lives its own live in a company. Most company employees never come in touch with its applications. A lot of software developers never come in touch with this software.
Apparently ERP software alone is not capable of facilitating the smooth daily working of a company. The daily working of a company can definitely be classified as company processes, but it seems like this is not where ERP software is about.
This leads to the conclusion that a lot of the processes in a company are sustained by another kind of software :
ERP software is complemented by software projects that address the specific needs of companies. Both kinds of software live a separate live in companies.
The process enforcing ERP software seems not capable to fill in specific needs of individual companies in a realistic way. Taking into account that a lot of the needs of companies are similar, the need for a project approach for each individual company is also not ideal.
Even this is not the complete reality. In my view, reality is that a lot of the daily working of companies is simply guided by email !
One can conclude that the software solutions to facilitate the companies to do their job are fragmented. There is a complete lack of a unified software solution. In reality there is a mixture of ERP software if the company can afford it, software projects, also definitely if the company can afford it, generic cheap workflow management software, and emailing, something every company can afford luckily.
This highly fragmented and unsatisfactory situation is not unavoidable since a lot of the needs of companies are similar. Similar but not identical. A nuance that until now seems to have been an unsurmountable obstacle.
Business applications and data today.
I will describe some familiar facts and situations about business applications and data that make obvious why most of the time company collaborators, at every level in the hierarchy, do not have relevant information, or must make time consuming efforts to obtain part of the relevant information, to take well motivated decisions about the actions they have to take.
Most of the real company activities are not supported by databases and applications above the databases because the project approach is too costly to make it commercially affordable.
Companies do have projects that result in applications that support their activities. These applications are built above the databases that model a part of their activities.
But in reality : only limited information can be obtained from these databases, since only a subset of all activities going on in a company are modeled. Usage of the applications is not trivial.
Database information offers limited information about the historical context of everything that has been accomplished. Contextual information is buried in inaccessible mailboxes and documents hardly anybody knows about. A lot of the information that helped in realising company objectives is burried in mailboxes or documents.
Company activities may be on going for a long time, people may have left the company and be replaced. Knowledge of a lot of what happened may be burried in mailboxes of people that since long left the company.
Aims to reach, or achieved results may be hidden in documents only some specific persons know where to access. In practice these documents are forgotten or at least not been updated since long.
Traces of achieved results can be stored in databases, but this data may be the outcome of a lot of actions and decisions nobody can oversee simply because all this knowledge is at its best scattered and hidden over a lot places, mostly mailboxes, or not documented at all.
There are no links between all this data that is distributed over mailboxes, reports, documents and database information.
In no way, the costly custom business applications can play a steering role for the dynamic ongoing activities in a company. A Datatweb application can by its notification mechanism.
The best one has come up with since decades are still the rigid company processes imposed by ERP applications.
To manage data that does not fit in databases, the complicated name of Enterprise Content Management Systems has been invented for solutions claiming to have a solution for effective usage of all this data.
Since business applications are not trivial to use, a lot of company collaborators only know partially how to use them.
In this situation, several actors have to collaborate to make a company work as efficiently as possible. Since a lot of the activities are not supported by business applications, people manage to fix a lot simply by email.
Emailing is an informal way of communication. People like to work in an informal way.
But, you can also give people the impression they are working in an informal way and at the same time impose they are automatically acting within the company business structures. This is one of the things Datatweb Productivity accomplishes by its notification mechanism and by making usage of an application as simple a doing a web engine search.