Subscribe to my newsletter EDM News
Beware over-engineering

One of the greatest dangers of having access to the latest and greatest technology is over-engineering. That is, searching for ways to automate processes that really don’t need to be automated. I was reminded of this last week by an email from a friend, which he has given me permission to quote here:

We bought ERP software for work orders, sales orders, parts inventory, etc. Have not been impressed but fortunately I don’t have to deal with it much.

The reason for the e-mail is that one of the pieces is the annual performance review. We used to fill out an electronic form, I think it was a Word document, and it was straightforward, sort of a hybrid electronic/paper system.

Now we have this new system, that we all use once a year, for the annual performance review.  For this once a year use, all managers had to sit through one hour of training. We received a 40 page instruction document that consisted of screen shots, and it was extremely handy because nothing was intuitive.

I just received a five page document as to how to print out the annual performance appraisal.  This too was necessary.

As I explained to my friend, this sounds like a classic case of over-engineering. I’d bet if his company added up all the hours that were spent to purchase, install, test, and train on the software and compare that to how much time was spent on doing things manually, they’d find the manual way was far less expensive.

As I often tell my clients, NO ONE loves software more than me. I’m a huge geek and love to automate anything I can. But even I know there are times when “using the computer” is far more labor intensive than actually doing things by hand. Just because you can automate it doesn’t mean you should.

About author:
  • megan twohill

    Wes, I am sure a lot of people want to go back to the type writer and dial-up.

    • Wes Trochlil

      I don’t think so, Megan. Sure, there are some who may long for “the good old days” but that’s a serious minority, at best.

Archives

Sign-up for EDM News

 

 

Testimonials

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
%d bloggers like this: