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How much is it costing you?

This week one of my customers is rolling out a new system. The new system is a vast improvement over their current processes in the following ways:

  • Information is not repeated. In previous versions, the same data existed in multiple places, making it difficult and time-consuming to keep consistent.
  • Let's others do the work. In the old systems, most information had to be maintained by my customer. In the new system, they allow external users to maintain some of the data, decreasing their labor costs.
  • More user-friendly. The old version was difficult for external users to understand, which was bad PR for my customer plus it wasted their time trying to explain it to end users.
  • Built-in flexibility. The previous systems used a lot of hard-coded values. With the new system, many items are stored in the database, including several look-up values AND the validation error messages. My customer will be able to tweak these values on their own without paying for additional programming resources.

When I look at this list, it makes me wonder: why didn't they do this sooner? The truth is that it is often difficult to know how much these kinds of inefficiencies are costing an organization. I suspect that if my customer had actually looked at this critically previously, they would have realized how much the productivity and opportunities lost were costing them.

How much are your work-arounds costing you? Are you re-keying data into two systems because there isn't an interface between them? Are you manually producing reports for your customers that could be generated automatically? Are you losing customers because you aren't able to respond as quickly as the competition due to your manual processes?

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