Mechanizing the new Enterprise

In this era of Economic Crisis, things are dramatically changing inside the enterprise. Not only low-level employee headcount is decreasing but is some cases high-level, too. It is even possible that department merging takes place. For example typical HR processes are directed to the Accounting Dept. or Marketing is merged with Sales Dept., under one “roof” and management. This is a “business transformation” that needs to be supported by Information Technology, in new ways.

In a traditional organization, the HR dept. could have been executing their tasks using spreadsheets or even paper-based processes. This was a system that had been “developed” by an old fashioned HR manager (who is now close to his/her retirement and who will probably not be substituted due to downsizing). If a non-HR specialist is given these tasks, he/she will probably have a hard time finding his way around paper-based processes and custom spreadsheets. Therefore, the procurement of a new HR system is now a “must”.

Another example is this of the Sales Force Automation: The crisis is here, sales are going down and the sales process becomes more and more difficult. Mobile sales representatives must cover more mileage each day and the ordering process must become more efficient. So, the Sales Dept. must now get a “mobile or web-enabled sales system”, which salespersons will be able to access from their smart phones or laptops. (So device procurement is also an issue, here!)

Another example is the Production Planning. Now, it has to be further optimized and streamlined. Probably, that good-old “do-it-all” ERP is not good enough anymore. I also happen to know some production units that – due to special conditions and processes – are doing their production planning and resource scheduling with custom-made systems or spreadsheets. Maybe, now is the time for the purchase of a new specialized “production planning” module…

There are more examples but I think I made my point: In this era of economic crisis and “violent” business transformation, the usage of Information Technology is once again becoming a “hot” issue. Just like it started in the 80’s for the big enterprise and in the 90’s for the medium/small ones. But now it is no longer an issue of buying a big Accounting System or a do-it-all ERP. It’s all about filling the gaps that these systems leave behind. We are talking about new and specialized pieces of software (and hardware) that will support the transformation. HRIS for the HR dept, Sales Force Automation for the Sales Dept. etc.

These systems could (or must!) have the following characteristics:

  • Web enablement. The modern manager is more or less mobile. So he/she needs to have information available beyond the physical boundaries of his/her office. Also, in some cases the enterprise must “invite” its customers “in”. I have blogged about “customer self-service” in the past…

  • Cloud architecture. This ensures fast deployment, fast customization, best-of-breed functionality etc.; all the benefits that Software as a Service (“SaaS”) can provide.

  • Specific scope. You don’t deploy a big ERP (or a NEW big ERP) to do Sales Force Automation! You need specialized systems for a single piece of work. If you are in a small company, then the issue of all-around, do-it-all integrated system comes on the table, as I have described in my previous posts. But if you are a big enterprise, maybe you will have to take the cost of multiple systems and the project of integrating them…
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