For years, we at DHx Software have been talking about the number of systems it takes to run a business–bid systems, project management systems, customer management systems, supply chain systems, accounting systems, etc. Invariably, we find that having multiple systems makes it hard to have visibility into the business; and it generally requires a lot of hard work and effort by the people in the business to make sure the data is accurate across the systems.
More and more, we are discovering the obvious: these system/data problems don’t only exist within companies, but they exist between companies. For example: A home builder may have a commercial application they use to plan new communities. Inside the builder, there are likely a number of other applications that are loosely connected at best, including a sales application, a customer-facing application, and an accounting package. Keeping the information in all four systems up to date is time-sensitive, costly in terms of hours spent by team members, and error-prone.
Meanwhile, the home builder also needs to communicate with a host of subcontractors in order to manage bids, coordinate hectic schedules, manage changes, and handle invoices. The subcontractors need to get the information from the builder, synchronize it with their internal planning systems, etc. Then, then need to coordinate with the builder to make sure the right thing gets done at the right time. Too often, that involves frequent back and forth over the phone or email. The subcontractors also have to turn around and repeat the process with their suppliers. . . From a customer service system that a home owner might log into to submit a ticket, back through the home builder planning system to the subcontractor to the supplier, there may be as many as seven or eight systems all heavy on human intervention
The bad news is that the system is manual, expensive, error-prone, and can cause delays in a time-sensitive process. The good news is that there are opportunities all along the way to improve the situation through a combination of improved processes and improved data flow.
If this reminds you of the problems facing your business every day, we’d love to help. You can reach us at: