Introduction: For many years the erp was primarily considered as a manufacturing system, largely because of the huge cost. Huge manufacturers were the companies that could afford it. Over the years dozens of variations as well as other industry verticals have taken on the term erp. Manufacturing erp sometimes became scm erp. Sometimes it is erp crm. The acronyms tend to trade places at whim, but even ERP SCM systems have changed very little. This article is about why we need that change and it’s going to take more than open erp to make it happen.
Sometimes it is delivered as a comprehensive integrated package and even to-day it can be purchased as an open erp. In fact, it has had a number of flavors and has been dished up in a host of server configurations but two things have remained relatively constant and that is the fact that it has been an excellent product for generating as suppliers and as customers system integrator revenues and its designed objective has been primarily that of satisfying the basic requirements of accounting and taxation at a per user erp software price.
The following commentary presents my views on how software vendors can go a long way toward becoming infinitely valuable to their clients as well as making this a better world in which to live and do business.
Our observation of competitive software offerings …
I believe that selling business software has always been based on a concept of the seller leading the prospective buyer into believing that the software they are contemplating is the perfect answer to all their business problems because it has all the answers built right into it. Software vendors want and lead their prospects to think: ”Install our system and all your problems will be resolved because you will then have all the answers you will ever need.”
In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
If it is true, then why does just about every company in North America replace their software every three to seven years? The real truth is that, if the software were as good as it had claimed to be, they should not have to be replacing it at all. The raw reality is that most purchasers are not only led to believe that they should buy new software but they must also purchase an ongoing maintenance contract to ensure that the seller gets paid to fix all the bugs that eventually emerge in his or her “perfect” solution. Then think about this. Just to add insult to injury, the purchaser is then sold an “upgrade” every one to three years (which is really what he has already paid for twice before), to ensure that the purchaser gets the opportunity to pay for the exact same thing all over again. Now, to make it even more outrageous, but none the less true, the real awesome, revolting truth is that business owners are not only systematically scammed three times in a row (possibly even two or three times over), but now they line up to do it all over again - every three to seven years.
Is it not time to find a better alternative?
What can be done about it…
First I would like to make a statement that has become very real to me as I observe what is taking place around me in the business world.
There is little or no excitement or joy in what I already know. It is what I do not know, the unknown, that excites me, drives me to new plateaus.
It is in the process of making the unknown known that we perpetuate our thirst for even more knowledge prompting more questions requiring more answers neither of which have ever yet been asked nor responded to. It is therefore more than obvious that even the greatest software vendors are not only fooling their customers but themselves as well. Obviously we will not find the right answers until we ask the right questions and we will not ask the right questions until we realize our true inadequacy. It has little or nothing to do with what we already know, which is what 99.9 percent of software systems propose for your business but rather with what we do not know.
Far more powerful to seek new questions, driving new answers, than to reiterate over and over that which we already know, for it is new questions that spark new ideas for new products and services thereby creating diversity. Never before in our history have we been more in need of the ability to discover and meet new challenges. Never before has the need been greater to be able to dream up and try new strategies, and then quickly adopt or reject with measured purpose.
Furthermore, I have concluded that software vendors are obviously not in business for the same reason as their customers. Is it not time they were? I am sure some would argue this point on the basis that it is impossible because the objectives of the customer are not the same as the software vendor. I say the exact opposite is true. When the objectives of software vendors match those of their clients, both will very likely succeed. Conversely, if they do not match, both will certainly eventually fail. Both must be in hot pursuit of the unknown. When they do, when they both work together, it is my experience that excitement heightens and the bar is raised. Perspectives are changed and new challenges emerge.
How is it possible.
First, a new reason for changing our software marketing strategy must be realized. It is already there. It is just that most software vendors either do not yet recognize it or are not willing to accept change. Some want to believe that the gravy boat they are sailing will never sink. But it will. Software vendors must change their strategy in what they are taking to market. When they do, new reason will prevail.
Secondly, software vendors need software that presents a highly revised methodology in data collection and reporting. We must abandon traditional reasons for accounting and adopt ones that are purposely engineered for corporate growth, long term data storage, rapid information retrieval, promoting extreme security and fostering virtually unlimited “what if” thinking. New applications must support a newfound, virtually instant ability to drive corporate diversity and be almost unbelievably simple and easy to use. While we will forever be doing accounting to satisfy the requirements of governments and stock market shareholders, acounting can no longer remain the primary reasons for installing new computerized accounting systems. In short database engineering can no longer be relegated to traditional vices but must be for the masses and the good of everyone in the company. Everyone will come to play a part in the evolution of corporate knowledge and growth from top management right down to the lowest paid employee. All will share in both the pain and the benefit.
Thirdly, software vendors have to develop a relationship with their corporate clients that goes far beyond supplying software solutions with built in bugs. The software must be guaranteed to do the job it was intended to do. Vendors must take on a role of becoming true business partners in the sense that they are no longer there to fix their software problems but rather are a part of the corporate management team in helping corporations, large and small, to develop new ways and means of using data to create meaningful information. It must be recognized that the solutions developed will typically be micro ones and different in every case. Software vendors can no longer lean on the fact that they provide a huge list of nice reports. I know that the right question is worth a great deal more than all the perfect information I can get in a thousand reports containing information I probably already know or don’t really care about anyway.
Are we there yet.
For the most part, other than iNfinite Answers, not by a long shot. The way is narrow, the pathway rough. In fact, few, very few will make it.
The software industry as a whole is a very long way from being there, maybe many years. Those fortunate enough to realize they need change but decide to develop on their own are looking at several years work before they can truly market a new model. Developing software development strategies which produce virtually error free code is not an overnight task but it definitely can be done. It takes many years of difficult, unrelenting effort.
Most small companies who try will falter because the cost is very high and the time to market will be longer than they will be able to bear.
Huge companies will falter because they will engage tremendous amounts of resources in an attempt to achieve quick results only to discover a long way down the road that the more money and resources they poured into it, the more elusive the solution becomes.