Friday, November 22, 2002

Time for a system refresh project? BusinessWeek has a short article on the trend away from large projects to implement completely new systems toward smaller projects to repair and improve existing systems. The article says, "Unlike the 1990s' craze of spending millions for new gear and armies of consultants who worked on extended contracts, the trend now is toward shorter, less expensive deals that make the most use out of existing IT resources."

My own observation is that many companies use less than half of the functionality available to them in their enterprise systems (e.g. ERP, supply chain, or CRM applications). There are many reasons for this: incomplete implementation the first time around, new users who are not as well trained as the original users, small changes in business processes, and creative users who develop their own little "side systems." I have often felt that companies would benefit greatly from organizing once every two or three years a small project to assess the use (or non-use) of their existing systems and to formulate corrective actions to improve their use. Such corrective actions can include additional education and training, business process redesign, custom report development, elimination of side systems, and implementation of unused functionality. My own experience in helping clients carry out such system refresh efforts indicates that the benefits are real. More companies should do this.

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