As consultants, we’ve heard it too many times. Firms run to invest in the latest greatest tool that will:

  • Collect, store and manage all the data
  • Ensure a smooth interface between user and system
  • Ensure a smooth interface from system to system
  • Create 100%, real-time visibility
  • And of course, reduce costs!

Later, when the software is paid for, and the dust settles. We meet them, we’re tempted, but stop short of asking, as Dr. Phil would ask; “so how’s that working out for ya’?”

We try not to ask questions for which we already know the answers. But they’re going to tell us about it anyway.

One complaint is that they spent a fortune on software, then an even bigger fortune on implementation, only to be left with a bolted-on product that was retrofitted to support the processes they were trying to replace.

Another complaint is that the new software simply refuses to function with the legacy software.

Another complaint is that no one really knows how to use the new software.

And so on, and so on . . . .

You think they’d learn that AT&T banked on “the system is the solution” mindset. We all know how that worked out, don’t we?

But let’s not do the easy thing and blame the software folks. Truth is the software is just fine. It does exactly what it’s designed to do, or pretty close anyway.

As the techies tell us, it’s “a user issue”. Actually, it’s a carbon unit (people) issue. The carbon units that buy and use the software often forget one key consideration. Or maybe they’ve been lulled into a false sense of security by software salesman.

After all, when was the last time a software salesman said “no, the software won’t do that, you need a person for that”. Ok, they do say that when there are dollars to be made bolting systems onto systems and modules onto modules. But when it comes to functionality . . . .the SAAS (software as a service) rap is de-rigueur.

So the moral to the story is this. It’s not a software issue, it’s not even a user issue; it’s a planning issue. There are plenty of great products out there, all of which produce the exact outputs for which they’re intended. But a thorough analysis of how a company will get to those outputs, and the inputs required from the yet to be defunct carbon units. Companies must accept that software still supplements and enhances the efforts of humans rather than replaces them. True, software removes many of the non-value functions once performed by humans, but it has yet to replace creative/abstract thought, business savvy or intuition. So at least for now, the carbon/silicon conundrum is not an either/or proposition. Software is a tool, better thinking, planning and reaction remains the solution.

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