Developing ERP software is a tricky business, especially if the software is not being developed for any specific customer but rather for a range of customers, some of whom have yet to purchase your product. A software product needs to evolve, be constantly updated and advanced, if it’s not to fall into neglect and disuse, and that can happen all too often in the software market.
Henry Ford is widely, if erroneously, credited with the quote “If I had asked my customers what they wanted they would have said a faster horse.” While Mr. Ford was correct NOT to listen to customers when he famously started his assembly line, he should have listened a little harder to trends about the types of cars people actually wanted. The problem Mr. Ford faced was that his customers didn’t know what they didn’t know – I’m sure you all know what I mean. We continually get asked for a product change, with the customer often providing the solution. But the customer can only provide a solution in the context of his or her experience. If Mr. Ford had actually asked a customer what they wanted and then probed the reply, he might have discovered that he or she just wanted something that was faster, not necessarily a horse.
As a cycling fan, I am excited by the start of each new season particularly spring time as the "Spring Classics" get underway and everyone starts to look towards the summer blockbuster, the Tour de France. This is also the season in which I start to seriously ramp up my training as I look forward to the Tour de France stage (Annecy to Annecy-Semnoz) I will be riding on 7th July. With this in mind, I will share what I consider similarities in learning the necessary skills to power tailor and customize SYSPRO, and training for such a gruelling endurance event.
When people talk about the three critical factors of projects, they refer to scope, time and cost. It is well documented that you can’t change one without impacting the other two, yet it still seems to come as a surprise when a change in scope delays a project or increases the cost.
One of my early mentors in project management used to drum into me the importance of scope management. “Where’s the scope documented?” would be the first response whenever you went to her for advice.
When I read a recent SYSPRO blog The Grace of Change, about a Seeker of Value, one customer immediately sprang to mind: Westlands Horticulture. A fast growing business, both organically and through acquisition, they always seem to be involved in one project or another with K3 SYSPRO. Finbarr McNamee, in his role as Group IT Manager is certainly the Seeker of Value within Westlands Horticulture. He engages with the business and gets to grip with the real business need, helping others find new, smarter and more effective ways of doing things. Finbarr drives the change through the organization in several ways.
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…
Ownership of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system is much more than the signing of a contract at the time of purchase. In order to deliver value it must be the consequence of a long term strategy of ownership, and that means a long term commitment to data integrity, solution design and education.
When I first saw Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece, ET – The Extra-Terrestrial, I was fascinated by its simple yet profound storyline. ET, an alien of sorts, ends up alone on Planet Earth when his fellow aliens accidentally leave him behind after a visit in their space ship. Unlike the children in the story, the adults are obsessed with the order, structures and habits they perceive as ‘normal’ and become his worst enemies, hell-bent on destroying him. Meanwhile, all ET wants to do is “phone home” for his friends to come and fetch him from the inhospitable planet.
Imagine living in a world where we humans don’t age gradually: we do so in one leap every birthday. After being fed at your mother’s breast for a year, your first birthday brings a rapid doubling in size, the ability to move around on four (perhaps even two) legs, babbling a few words, wide open eyes that see everything clearly … all in a flash. The second birthday sees you suddenly walking and running unaided and making conversation. And so the process goes until a ripe old age. An ideal situation? I don’t think so.