Software is great until it isn’t. How many times have you fallen in love with the perfect software solution for your project — that looks like it solves 100% of your needs — until you realize it only solves 70%? Then you go back and forth trying to justify that the last 30% you can do without for now, maybe cover the gap with a manual process, and wait until the software provider promises to “add that capability to the roadmap.”
The truth is, most packaged software solutions will never perfectly match your business processes. No two businesses are alike, and even though you might have regulations and compliance requirements to meet, there is rarely a standard set for accomplishing these requirements; every company does it differently.
So how do you make software work for you?
Most software vendors build specialty solutions that can get you most of the way there, but when it comes to your unique way of doing business, ultimately you find yourself having to fit your processes to the software, and not the other way around. It’s a fundamental truism of any pre-built software: software applications cater to the lowest common denominator of solutions, regardless of what problem they solve.
We hear this story all the time. For example, with construction firms we hear about issues with massive ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems like Viewpoint that are inflexible, or with smaller project management solution like Procore that are overly complicated for their needs. In either case, they found a 70% solution that doesn’t support the flexibility they need to map to their unique business processes. And as the “99 rule” humorously depicts, that last 10% takes 90% of the work. Luckily that’s where low code platforms shine.
Just last month we were working with an oil services company who was struggling with tracking their work in the field. Their ERP solution, Viewpoint, was lacking a true mobile solution, and all of the pre-built software solutions they’d evaluated either didn’t have the flexibility they needed or didn’t have an easy way to integrate with and update Viewpoint.
The main problems they needed to solve were:
- Improving the accuracy and consistency of data communicated and collected in the field (avoiding mistakes and making sure the data was captured)
- Reducing the amount of time needed to capture this information (they were spending upwards of 7 hours per week in Microsoft Excel)
- Keeping their ERP system up-to-date with the latest info
To solve these problems, our oil services client built a custom application that addressed all of the above and supported their unique business processes within a matter of weeks.
The word ‘build’ makes the process of creating a TrackVia app sound like it is a ton of work, but it isn’t. With TrackVia ‘building’ involves no programming, no coding of any kind. To build their TrackVia app, our oil services client simply started by importing their existing spreadsheets, then built the rest of their workflows and reports using our drag and drop tools. The best part, since the app they built was almost the exact same process as their manual one (just automated), they didn’t require massive change management efforts to roll TrackVia out to the field. The team already knew the workflow. Also, because using the app is easy, the workers now use the app more than any other prior tool, which greatly improves data consistency and accuracy.
One of the benefits that our oil services clients hadn’t realized before is that data in TrackVia is available in real-time. This means that their managers can now keep tighter tabs on what is happening, including adding notifications to alert them when things aren’t right. Additionally, TrackVia helps them keep Viewpoint up-to-date with the data from the field, giving management visibility all the way to the front lines of the business.
ERPs like Viewpoint and other large systems are great at managing resources, but as anyone in these industries will tell you, they don’t come close to solving every problem in the field or on the job site. So TrackVia’s value add in this (and many other) stories, is our ability to extend, and integrate with, your larger systems. We are a complementary solution; we do not look to rip and replace large systems. Unless of course your current solution is MS Excel, but that’s another story.
We’d like to hear from you. What solution gaps are you experiencing with your current ERP or other systems and how are you managing them?
For more information on how TrackVia can help your organization, read Business Applications for Your Operations at the Speed of Now.