Have you ever had the experience of speaking with someone over the phone so many times that you build up an image of what that person looks like in your mind? If so – and most of us have – you probably recall the feeling of surprise when you actually first met that same person. Taller or shorter than you anticipated; younger or older; eyeglasses, hair color . . . the list goes on.
The author Mark Twain was once asked about his many business ventures – most of which had failed. Twain explained how his ventures had failed not because of bad technology (most of the items he invested in became very successful realities, but under different ownership), but rather had failed because he had not kept an eye on their progress.
In this acronym-rich industry of ours there’s still one acronym that I hold above all others because its truth is undeniable: GIGO. For those of you who might not remember this one, it stands for “garbage in, garbage out” – and it describes what we all know too-well: the poorer the quality of the data in our ERP application, the less value we’re going to get out of it.
Dashboards are to software applications what Starbucks™ is to coffee – omnipresent. In the same way it’s hard to drive into any North American town and not see one or two Starbucks (and usually across the street from one another), it’s hard to purchase any business software application – including ERP applications – and not be told about, demonstrated to, and confused about the plethora of “dashboards” that come with it.
When Sage talks to its manufacturing customers, visibility comes up as a major problem. In order to scale, business owners need to hire more people, establish more specialized organizational structures, and invest in more technologies. All of these things are important to scale, but they come at a cost: visibility into the entire business. Just as investments in people, processes, and technology are essential for growth, the complexity they introduce can paradoxically create barriers that can hinder it.
If you’re like today’s average office worker, you probably deal with a great deal of paper – coming in, going out, passing through your organization – every day. Effectively tracking those various documents is both costly and hard to do. What happens when the invoice you leave on a coworker’s desk gets buried under other files? Even when documents are scanned to a file share, data is difficult to find: perhaps a coworker hasn’t followed proper naming conventions or saved in the correct folder, leaving you at a disadvantage when a customer calls asking for previous order information.