Change for the sake of change

After a decade of driving the same brand of car, I decided to make a change at the beginning of this year and bought something different. Functionally, the new car is great. It has cut my fuel bill in half, provides more interior space than my old car did, is a doddle to park, and has enough electronic features to keep me amused for hours. As a gadget-loving geek, working in the hi-tech software industry, I pride myself on being an early adopter who just “gets” new technology as it arrives. But this car may be just too much of a good thing. Even after two months of driving it on a daily basis, I find it difficult to use. There are just too many buttons and scrolling bars; too many ways to perform the same task, and too many features hidden behind elaborate menu steps…

This experience has given me a new appreciation of how SYSPRO users feel every time we release a new version of the software. After getting used to the software working in a certain way, our users have to deal with a new way of doing things. Then I also understand why we need to change the software. Existing users suggest that we change the software to work in a more effective way, prospective customers insist that we introduce new features before they sign on the dotted line, and industry analysts give us no attention if we do not have the latest buzzwords in our press releases. This dilemma of moving our product forward by being creative and innovating, without breaking the trust of loyal users, is something that SYSPRO has been dealing with successfully for more than three decades. Why is SYSPRO successful at this?

The quick answer is that we aim to make change easy. “Simplifying your success” is our tagline after all.

The more fundamental answer is that we have matched our values to the needs of our customers, prospects and analysts. Two researchers, Scott Lichtenstein and Pat Dade, linked executives’ personal values and human needs to how they shaped value creation in the enterprise. In summary, the research shows that companies’ values and human needs can be grouped as sustenance-driven, outer-directed or inner-directed.

Innovation, risk and creativity are the inner-directed needs that industry and prospects want SYSPRO to fulfil. At the same time, users need us to be the sustenance-driven, loyal, trustworthy solution that they have been using for decades.

SYSPRO’s corporate values claim that we are: personal, experts, tenacious, reliable, and responsive – all sustenance-driven. But we are also: savvy, innovative, leaders, individual, smart and unique – inner-directed. Yes, these values are plastered on the walls in our offices. They are also on the homepage of our corporate intranet, and form the basis of the performance appraisals that are done with each of our developers. And indeed, we live our values, so yes, we live to change. But we introduce change through evolution, rather than revolution to ensure that we bring our users with us on our journey…

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This entry was posted in Innovation, Software development, User experience and tagged , , , , by Pierre Van Dalen. Bookmark the permalink.

About Pierre Van Dalen

I started my career in software support at the age of 10, when my father acquired an accounting package to run the family business. We lived in the rural southern Cape in the mid-1980’s, when access to mobile phones was limited, and where the nearest official software support person was hundreds of kilometers away. I discovered that my natural aptitude for understanding this software proved as an asset in helping establish my father’s business. More than a decade later, I joined SYSPRO’s largest customer at the time, Columbus Stainless, as a Graduate Trainee. During this time, I convinced the company to keep up with the latest versions of SYSPRO, and was responsible for numerous software developments around SYSPRO, in a highly complex manufacturing environment. I have been SYSPRO’s Product Development Manager since 2005, and I am responsible for the Financial and Enterprise Performance Management areas of the product. Since joining, the financial modules of SYSPRO have become more effective in terms of supporting customers’ businesses – with, for example, increased supplier payment efficiency and real-time general ledger integration. I am qualified as a Chartered Management Accountant, and added a postgraduate Informatics degree to my résumé, while I was working full-time. I am currently nearing completion of an MBA, and I have also inspired my team to broaden their knowledge, with more than 25% of them currently pursuing IT or Accountancy related degrees. I enjoy gardening, and appreciating clever design in architecture and automobiles in my free time.

One thought on “Change for the sake of change

  1. Well done Pierre. This is so true – you have managed to capture the essence of SYSPRO’s approach in a nutshell. The user-centric approach is the way forward and has stood SYSPRO in good stead over the years.

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