Functionality vs technology is the one of the common battles. You do need solution to cover your processes and most of the functions within the business. Sometimes this need becomes obsession to make specific system that ‘one and only’. No system or solution is going to cover all your activities 100%! Industry specific vertical solution may come close as 80-90%, if you are lucky. By my standards that is even very high. Please, do drop this vision of using your inventory management system as e-mail server. Look at this from a bit higher perspective. Any piece of software is just the tool meant for specific purpose. Some are more flexible than others. They all are as good as they ‘play’ well together. There is no magic “all in one” solution! Do not be afraid to change 2 systems not with 1 but with 2 or even 3 again. Make sure that they will be doing what they are intended for. Make sure they fit your purposes. Typically there will be integrations and customizations to bridge (hopefully) minor gaps – specific screen or two, reports, mobile apps and extension, import or export scripts, workflows etc. It is important that you have technology that is easy to develop on and is easy to maintain. Good example would be SAP. There you get vertical solution with industry best practice that does come close as 90% (again if you are lucky). Even this percent comes at the price – “SAP way or the highway”. To do modifications and perform maintenance for them afterwards is very pricey exercise. Other extreme can be some custom .net or Java solution where technology is flexible but functionality has to be started from scratch. If you do have the luxury to spend time designing it all – be my guest. Supporting such application technically may be quite easy, though functionally support will be limited to very few people who were involved in the project and piles of outdated documentation (practice dictates that there is usually none). Balance or if to call it a trade-off between functionality and technology is always there. Consider all the angles of your decision carefully. Do think platform first and then solution and application. Do consider how this change will play with your current tools and technologies that are there to stay. Example – if you choose something from Microsoft Dynamics suite, bear in mind that all promoted bells and whistles do work best when they are surrounded and supported by other Microsoft products like Exchange server, SQL, Sharepoint and etc. Otherwise prepare yourself for compromise.
” So the problem is choice..?” if to quote Matrix. Indeed it is quite a challenge when technology solution is need. Need to mention here that most of the insights will be based on enterprise resource planning and management systems and solutions. Those mysterious beasts are the bread and butter for us, 17 years for some individually and counting.
The first headache is to choose that ‘exciting’ piece of software, the second is to live with consequences, and of course plenty IT project related things in between.Reasons to start looking for the solution can vary: business is growing and excel sheets are getting too slow or there too many of them; it is not only accounting and invoices that matters any more but also projects, product logistics and customer relations; people in the same business speak different language since they see a different picture of what that business is and where it is at; time has come to do some PR that your business is running on a smart ass technology; or there is a good financial year-end discount/sale for licenses. The hunt begins.
Broad expertise is brought to the table when picking a solution for your business. You do your due diligence online, sales guys will knock on your door, general knowledge of the names and words like SAP, Microsoft, Sales Force, Epicor, Oracle, .net, Java, C++, SQL, iOS, your IT manager’s brother-in-law working for IT consulting company pushing a deal etc. There are lots of criteria how to choose but sometimes very little of common sense.