I wonder how many of the business processes which a company develops over time from its early days as a very small company to a larger organization become overly complex. Of those processes, I also wonder just how many of them are the result of new demands on the process simply as the result of the growth of the company, and how many of them become “the way it’s done” out of habit or because of other requirements mandated by the business environment.
I’ve worked mostly with smaller companies, often times businesses that have started off very small and grown to become multi-location operations. As their growth has progressed the needs for tighter controls becomes increasingly apparent. No longer can the business depend upon the memory of that one key individual who “knows everything” that’s going on — who knows the customers, knows the vendors, knows each employee. As staff increases so does the “risk” associated with no longer having a close, trusted, personal relationship with employees, often co-founders of the company.
Many of the applications with which I’ve worked were originally developed specifically to provide the growing organization a means to “get a handle on” information that many may need, but early on resided in the head of the “key” person. The small company finds a way to get the job done – process is the least of concerns. I believe that what happens often during the growth period is that as the need for defining the business process becomes clear, efforts to define the business process fail because there are “so many variables”.
Its at this point that I’ve found a company will generally make the buy or build decision for software. Some will look at a vertical market package for their industry and decide that the “business process” required by the software is the way they should be running their business. (Hey — it works for others – why re-invent the wheel?). Others may find that they just can’t see themselves running their business “just like everybody else”, and they will choose to have a customized application. Then there are those who choose that vertical market package, work hard to change their business processes to “fit” the software, and then find the “work-a-rounds”.
“Work-a-rounds” add a level of complexity to the business process that is generally not required. If your business processes are too complicated – maybe its time to look at how much is a “work-a-round”, you may be surprised.