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Software Is Not the Answer


Framingham, MA, May 16, 2005 – Manufacturers pursuing performance improvement
through the implementation of enterprise systems and supply chain systems are
learning an important lesson: New information systems and software alone are
almost never the solution. To the contrary, many companies have tried to solve
performance deficiencies by using information technology and have been greatly
disappointed in the results.

“These companies rarely, if ever, get the “quick fix” they were hoping for,”
according to management consultant Mike Donovan of R. Michael Donovan & Co.
“More often than not, they find themselves saddled with expensive new
information technology that not only does not achieve the results intended but
actually creates new problems. This can lower company performance below levels
that existed before new information system applications were introduced into the

This is not to imply that information systems are not important tools for
performance improvement. “The point is,” Donovan adds, “systems are tools and by
themselves they don’t change the way a company performs. Properly implemented,
however, in conjunction with process changes designed to take advantage of what
these systems have to offer, new systems can be the key to a quantum leap in

Process changes make the difference, not the software. Modern-day systems are
built around industry best practices and are designed to support
state-of-the-art business processes and techniques. A company that wants to move
to industry-leading practices really needs the proper information systems to
support those new practices – after all is said and done, it is information that
drives these leading-edge businesses.

Expecting the system to deliver the results is a serious mistake. Without
recognizing this fact, a company might invest in a new system only to find they
are paying the price, not only in their systems investment, but also in
cumbersome data collection and entry and awkward procedures, but without gaining
the benefits. When the system and its requirements are embedded in new
processes, they work together for improved results.

“Bottom line,” says Donovan, “performance improvement comes down to process
improvement. Process improvement can be enabled by the functionality built into
information systems. A software system upgrade may be a part of a major performance improvement project, however the system is an enabler, not the answer to improved business processes.”


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