The Best Business Practice

The Hype
Often times when I go into an implementation, some clients will want to implement it based on the “best business practice”. The idea is that somehow using the “best business practice” will reduce their implementation cost. In reality, more often than not, enforcing “best business practice”, without proper analysis, ususally leads to go live problems that will plague your business for years and years.

Unforuatenly, there’s no such thing as best business practice. If it really exist, then all business would be ran the same way and software developers like me would not exist.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the chart of account or the financial statement of the companies in your industry. If “best business practice” really exist, they would look identical. All of the sales and analysis reports would look all the same. They would look for the same key indicators to run their business. With “best business practice” there will be absolutely no room to think outside of the box.

The Truth
The dirty secret is that software consultants will sell you the “best business practice” to cover up limitations in their software. The key is if you asked for a specific feature or functionality that the software is weak at or doesn’t cover, they will keep questioning you and make your request seem stupid or irrevelent.

A typical response if you request something they can’t do is:

  • “There are thousands of companies using our software that does it this way, why are you trying to do something different?”
  • “We developed the software this way because these are the requirement from [some successful] company. Why are you different?”
  • “All the other company does it this way, why are you doing it differently?”
  • “Of all the thousands of companies that I’ve implemented, nobody does it this way. Why are you different?”
  • “Based on our experience, this is how it’s done”

An easy response to these? Because you ARE different. As I’ve mentioned before, businesses are as unique as the people that are running them. The chances of another person who thinks like you, talks like you, has the same taste as you is slim to nil.

What About the Cloud?
Ah yes… The Cloud. We software developers created this to streamline OUR process. The key word here is repeatability. If I can package this industry specific solution into the cloud and sell it like I sell T-Shirts. I win. It’s the “best business practice” for me, not necessarily for my clients.

You want software as easily purchased as buying Angry Birds on the iPhone? We have it! BUT, you have to conform to what the software does. When’s the last time you “customized” Angry Birds?

Believe me, I really do wish this “best business practice” would exist. It would make my job so much easier. I would not have to train developers or implementators. I can just pre-record some training and package it up. Actually, come to think of it, there are partners out there that have this available already for their industry specific solutions.

To be honest, we’re moving towards that direction as well, for us it makes sense. We want to package our expertise and sell it like a t-shirt. We want to use the minimum amount of effort to obtain the maximum results and we’ll sell that to anyone that wants to buy it. That’s not to say that the consulting industry will disappear eventually.

The cloud in its current state is like the ERP software industry 20 years ago. Basically, when you’re buying ERP software 20 years ago, you take whatever you’re given. Customization is a no-no and/or very expensive. When there’s an update, everybody gets it whether you like it or not. Eventually, software came out, such as Navision (Dynamics NAV), with the ability to make it the way you run your business that appealed to a lot of people. I suspect the cloud, given another 5-10 years, will be as such.

However, at this point, I’m not sure pretty sure a company of significant size will want to  “Keep track of data if it can be enter, the rest we’ll keep track in Excel” mode. Again, based on my previous post, this concept makes perfect sense for startups and small companies.

This is not to say that the worlds coming out of our mouth is all BS. This is where your judgement and the understanding of your business and what your needs are comes into play.

Some processes in your operation are derived not by choice, but by circumstance. The worst mistake you can ever do for your company is to be sold on what your needs are without having a good understanding of what your actualy needs are FIRST.

Again, there are a bunch of people out there that will use big words to make themselves really smart. If consultants comes in and only tries to sell you the best business practice. Pack up your stuff and RUN!

The best business practice is the practice that works for YOUR business.

4 thoughts on “The Best Business Practice

  1. Darren Lutchner says:

    Good article Alex.

    I think the phrase “best business practice” should be changed to “better business practice”.

    There are organisations who have established their business by using their past experience and a bit of guess work and, have got it wrong.

    Organisation believe that by implementing software will immediately improve their business operations. In fact as they have incorrect business process then implementing an ERP would be like putting a square peg in a round hole.

    As part of an implementation I believe there is always some groundwork to ensure the organisation has the basic concepts in place correctly. This is important because no organisation is an Island. It needs to deal with other parties (e.g. Customers, Vendors, Government)

    You are correct though us Consultants (and Project Managers) must ALWAYS be ready to listen and be able to adjust our approach for each customers specialized requirements.

  2. Mario Župan says:

    I read recently that enterprises looking for a car with the five wheels or six, when we talk about ERP. They are looking for an engine with the five pistons. On the other hand if we talk about customization, then open source is the more customizable then the MS NAV. I mean, it must be if community and companies works together on the same project.What do you think about that and what MS NAV have and OpenERP does not?

  3. Alex Chow says:

    Open Source ERP vs. Packaged ERP is a huge discussion that may be beyond our discussion here. You will find valid arguments in both viewpoints. For us, it’s time to market. The time it takes for us to develope and move that product to the customer in a packaged ERP, more specifically Dynamics NAV (Navision), is a lot faster than any open source ERP we’ve seen.

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