The Diablog™

It’s Time to Sell The Studebaker

Many people are naturally late-adopters. It is a known personality trait. You know who you are. You like what you have. It works just fine. Sure, there are newer versions out there, but your version does everything you need it to do.

When it comes to the software you choose to run your business, there is a very real downside to thinking that what you have been doing in the past is perfectly fine for today.

There are a surprising number of companies attempting to manage their business processes in Excel. It is the wrong tool for planning and managing your business. It is a calculator. It is not reliable and it is not scalable. You create a spreadsheet and email it to a colleague who makes a couple edits and emails it to their boss who changes a couple numbers and sends it on to a couple more people who each revise parts of it. You now have five versions of the same spreadsheet and not one of them tells the whole story. Have you ever seen an Excel spreadsheet with 5,000,000 rows of data? The answer is no. An Excel spreadsheet can only have a little over a million rows, but the bigger issue is that a spreadsheet with that many rows would be nearly unusable. If you have chosen Excel for logging orders or customer contacts or whatever, you have already decided that you don’t want your business to grow.

I actually know some businesses that still run on paper. Estimates and sales orders are on paper forms, etc. There are numerous problems with paper. Crucial company data can only be utilized by one person at a time. Editing information is hard. Sharing is harder. Reporting and analysis is the hardest. The legal pad is not your friend.

So how do you know if it’s time to update your aging business software? Here are a few warning signs that you may be slipping too far behind the times:

  • Ad-hoc spreadsheets crop up in every department to back-fill missing process automation.
  • You can only access your data from a few computers running specific software.
  • You can’t access your data from the internet.
  • Your customers can’t access their accounts.
  • You have workarounds for basic functions like adding products.
  • You can’t edit your website content.
  • Branch locations can’t share business data.
  • Your sales people can't check inventory.
  • When you orient new employees, you say things like, "I know this seems awkward" or "This part gets a little tricky."

Some products go through slow evolution while others see revolution. Smartphones revolutionized how we communicate. Light bulbs last 100 times longer and use a tenth as much energy as bulbs from just a generation ago. With products like these available today, it’s hard to imagine using the previous versions. So, is your business software more like a smartphone and an LED bulb, or is it more like a wired desk phone and an incandescent bulb?

Let’s talk about your Studebaker. Your old, non-web-enabled business automation was a game-changer 20 years ago. When you first deployed that system, it gave you an advantage over your competition. You may not have thought about it that way for quite a while. It was modern, filled with features that no one else had. It’s like a Studebaker. Seriously.

I spent a portion of my youth attempting to restore a 1950 Studebaker Champion. Even though life got in the way of completing my hobby, I learned to appreciate the technology in that car. It had a device that prevented the car from rolling backward before you could release the clutch. It had a hidden channel that focused a flow of air on the coil so it wouldn’t overheat. The starter switch was not engaged with the key – it was under the clutch pedal so you couldn’t forget to release the clutch before starting the engine. In 1950, Studebaker was a leader in automotive technology. By the mid-1960s, Studebaker was gone. The other car makers beat them at the technology game. They went from being a leader to being a follower, and it cost them everything.

What worked for you in the past isn’t good enough today because your competition is using tools you don’t have. What takes you an hour, takes them a minute. What you use ten employees to do, they do with one. They can do more and charge less because of the power of their business tools.

That’s the downside to hanging on too long to aging software: your competition isn’t. It’s that simple.

The good news is that your old system may still be viable as a data warehouse, and all you need is an improved user interface, web access so employees and customers can get to the data from anywhere, or better reporting and analysis. Getting current might be easier than you think. Dialogs can help. Call us today at 800-707-0106 x:123.