Introduction: Time. Everyone thinks there is lots of it. Then, suddenly it is gone! We can look back and bemoan our arrogance or we can smile and say to ourselves, “I have used my time wisely!” This article presents a generalization on the value of time and food for thought when selecting a new ERP solutions.
As a society, we have come to worship our money, our cars, our homes, an endless list of physical, sometimes even virtual things, but as for the value of our time, our most precious of all assets, we have developed a complete disregard.
Have we really come to believe time is disposable? Is it true that our time really never ending, the easiest of all assets to acquire? Why do we use our time with complete abandonment as though it has no end? Worse still, why do we expect, even demand, our friends, coworkers and employees to follow suit? Is their time not as valuable as our own?
How valuable is time anyway? Ask the man who has just been told he has but three months left to live. Ask the mother who has just lost an unborn child. Ask the business man who has just been told by his key sales person, a man he has trained for seven years, he is leaving his employ. Ask the sales clerk who has just been told that his or her services are no longer required, after having faithfully served for 32 years and nine years to go to retirement. All these people will tell you, each in their own way, the value of time. The answers will vary but, even if not used, words like invaluable and priceless will surely be implied.
The truth is, we fail to cherish our most valuable all assets – TIME. Time comes, time goes, always borrowed, never repaid, neither can it be purchased nor sold. Over time itself, we have no control. We can only choose how we serve in whatever time we are allotted in our lives.
The second truth is that, consciously or subconsciously, we all choose to do whatever we wish with our time. Some approach each day with a self driven determination and passion to add increased value to whatever their objective in life might be. These people, by choice, choose to make their efforts represent value. As a result, they also tend to place high value on their time. These people also tend to fill management positions. Some may even become leaders.
Other people, the vast majority, choose to allow others to choose for them. They simply barter their services, equated in time, in exchange for physical rewards.
Having choices and being able to choose is truly wonderful. Unfortunately, the choices made by managers and leaders are often not so wonderful. Being good stewards of their own time does not necessarily mean they are quite as understanding of the value of time of others, their employees. The “time” of those whom they serve is every bit as important as their own, however, they do not consider the fact that they are actually asking employees, their subordinates, to give up the most valuable asset they will ever possess, their time.
When we watch those about us, we make an amazing discovery.
When we are busy, very busy, with a purpose in mind, we tend to make good use of time. In fact, the busier we become, and the more determined our purpose, the more valuable our time becomes to us. Not because of our time, because time doesn’t change used either wisely or foolishly, but because of our determination and effort.
Conversely, when we act irresponsibly with our time, without purpose, we tend to place a low level of expectation on ourselves and others. Unfortunately we then reduce the perceived value of our time as well.
This all leads us to the question: “So what! What can we do about it?’ Can computers help people make better use of their time? Two thoughts come to mind.
First, if we continue to do things the way we have always done them, nothing will change.
Secondly, if we make computers run a million times faster than they run today, this alone will still not alter the results of our efforts. We will simply create additional chaos and pressure because if what we are doing today is stress, doing it a million times faster is simply making stress a million times more intense.
We looked about the back rooms of commercial establishments, both big and small, we observed two things of significance. The first observation was that although computers had speeded things up tremendously, they were just churning out a lot more errors a whole lot faster. This fact was evidenced by the huge numbers of people hidden in back room accounting departments and corporate IT help desks whose primary responsibility was simply just to fix data problems. Problems primarily due to inadequate data collection controls and the fractured integration of IT modules.
The second major observation is a somewhat general, if not obvious, one. The entire life cycle of business appears to be getting ever shorter with each passing year. This is presenting business leaders very special challenges unique to today’s economy.
Thousands of years ago a man could choose to be a hunter and, in all probability, would die a hunter. Over the last few centuries one could choose to be a farmer, a carpenter, or maybe even a stone mason. With assurance, they could spend their entire lives in their selected trade. During the first three quarters of the 20th century, it was not uncommon to spend ones entire career working for a single employer. As we closed out the 20th century and made the transition into the 21st, things changed. Oh, how they have changed!
Today, the life cycle of a company is often measured in the amount of time your product or service can hold the interest of the public or whether or not you can create an exciting replacement before a competitive one appears from another source. Oddly, the competitive product may not be even closely related to the one responsible for your current state of success. Slick marketing of an inferior product or service, even for totally unrelated use, can mean a rapid demise to your company.
The problem today is not that we have change, change is inevitable. The problem is that change is so fast that we are always in reactionary mode and we never catch up. We, forever, continue our stressed out attempts to “catch the bandwagon”, as it rolls on by. The problem with this approach is that, by the time the bandwagon appears, it is already too late.
Being proactive means “getting there first”, thus eliminating the problem. However, being in proactive mode requires a bold change in thinking and a determination, to not only to make the very most of our time, but also the use of time expended by all those serving our cause, our employees.
Infinite Answers was designed as an erp solutions tool to help a variety of SMB organizations in both of these issues. As it comes to functionality, we are not just another erp mrp either. Our approach is – Whatever functionality you need is what fits, and it generally holds true. However, Infinite Answers is not a magic bullet and is never to be marketed as such. Like any other tool, it is just a simple tool. Just as you can put the finest of hand tools into the hands of a carpenter, it does not make him the words best carpenter. But it goes a long way towards helping him in getting there.
Infinite Answers was designed to value and change how we all use our time. This basic change in philosophy led to many new innovations in software design and development. Two of these innovations stand out among all the rest
First, we discovered it really was possible to create a system dramatically reducing the error count in data collections. This we accomplished through implementation of strategic data editing procedures. The edits, defined by the company using the system, are such that all data collected must pass edit controls before being written to disk.
Secondly, we created an emanated system instead of an integrated one. This means all the problems associated with system Integration are not only removed but are also replaced with seamless data structures. This technique also exchanges “the integration of modules”, a desirable trait, with “the integration of use” by the end users, an even more desirable feature.
There is yet another concept incorporated into our system arising out of our need to be forever developing new strategies. The thought processes on this were simple. If we are already collecting data for the purposes of satisfying the requirements of tax collectors and financial lending institutions, why are we not keeping it and using it to help ourselves too. After all, there is no more meaningful data to extract information from than our own? If we are making the effort to ensure it is as pristine as humanly possible, why not keep it. This approach is proving invaluable to companies, not simply because they now have good clean data, but because it is theirs, not someone else’s. This data now represents unique information, always available. Use and reference is virtually instant, regardless of the age of the data, whereas, previously it was being destroyed or removed at regular annual intervals making it difficult if not impossible to access.
Companies using the Infinite Answers system collect everything they possibly can in data. Surprisingly, employees who use the system quickly become aware that nothing is lost. Everything they have ever done is recorded and at their instant disposal. It lets them look back, make comparisons, and make smarter, if not better informed, decisions. In some companies it is leading to entirely new concepts in how the company delivers their services as well as changing what services they do provide. Now, front line and staff employees are making major contributions toward evolving change, not just management.
In reality, we have changed the modus operandi from one of disaster recovery to one of proactive pursuit in search of new strategies, a radical reallocation of the use of everyone’s time.
Remember: Nothing is worth the time, but success is worth the effort, whatever time it takes