If it’s as frequently as we have heard it at SSD, you may have questioned the slow rate of change and progress organisations seem to make following assumptions about what isn’t possible.
The SSD team have extensive experience of progress being restricted by the beliefs held within organisations. We also have a lot of experience testing and changing such basic assumptions, enabling clients to stride ahead and achieve far more than initially imagined.
This blog provides a few examples and how they led to £M's savings...
The next in line are systems and processes, efficiency and effectiveness: Very few organisations use their existing ICT systems to full effect. Rarely are the multiple systems most organisations have evolved to include been developed so they join up or coordinate effectively to provide a flow of information from system to system, without repeated data entry activities (and of course a high level of data entry mistakes and the associated delays, rework etc. such mundane errors generate).
At SSD, we’ve been improving the connectivity between systems since 1988, when we connected Housing Repairs to Housing Client, to Stores to Financial and Management Systems. Later using a mantra of ‘enter data once, use many times!’
Following our experiences we’ve written a book covering just such issues. The book is called Visualising Transformation. On page 118 an example is provided of a frequently occurring issue highlighted through the workshops we run when leading transformation programmes. In this case we detail how a need to connect a static database to mobile devices had been denied for seven years … challenging some basic assumptions following the statement “You Can’t do That!” we were able establish the connection required, with zero investment within three days.
Since then similar discussions about using CSV’s and what has come to be known as ‘middleware’ (Software that sits in between two other bits of software to act as a connector and translator) has allowed several massive databases in various clients, to be linked with other systems like GIS, CRM, SAP, Agresso, Triscan, Tranman and many others those in the Public and Service sectors will be familiar with.
You can buy specific middleware, like Crystal Reports, but very often you can use software already available at no cost … we have solved multiple issues by using excel and use its power to process .xml and .csv to act as middleware between different systems. You don’t need to know what a CSV is (a Comma Separated Values file) you just need to know it is often used by other databases and is supported by Excel … then it’s just a case of programming.
SSD’s MD, Dave Gaster was in discussion with a major software provider a few weeks ago, helping them understand the practical requirements of a number of local authority functions their software was failing to connect. The supplier was quoting £12,000 to alter some templates which would allow the authority to print and present some information in a different way.
It was quickly identified that the software was overdue a scheduled upgrade. Dave asked how much the alteration work would cost once the upgrade was installed. The supplier quoted £6,000. Dave suggested the data was exported from their system as a .csv file, imported into excel and printed from there. The supplier confirmed that was possible. It took around half a day to set-up.
We went on to discuss linking their system to SAP. With the upgrade it could be done for about £9,000. Dave suggested the Local Authority officers export a .csv file into Excel. This was identified as acceptable and enacted immediately, with ZERO cost!
This is just one example of many we have supported over the years. If you know how to export information from a database, it’s nearly always the case a common ‘language’ can be found and that information can be uploaded into another database. In many cases this can be automated making the same information appear on both systems seamlessly.
A few years ago another software house was trying to help a council make better use of their systems. That support came with quotes for the time and expertise required.
We had experimented with SIS, Crystal Reports and the software companies system to create a layered architecture to share and act on information. In this way, we were able to produce higher quality information than the software house had been able to promise following their submission of a quote for a £100,000 project lasting eight months.
In our experience, what is often required to make significant improvements are a few key questions and some bright people who not only understand what IT systems are designed to do, but also what they can be enabled to do when they can be connected to share information!
One organisation saved over £1M per annum as a direct result of challenging the phrase “We can’t do that!” Several others have saved between 12% and 22% revenue costs by better scheduling contract work.
If you suspect you could reduce costs and improve efficiency through better connectivity within your organisation, we'd be happy to discuss how we can help.
Case Studies are available on request from Daveg@supportservicesdirect.co.uk they are also available for download from our website at http://www.supportservicesdirect.co.uk/case-studies.html
NOTE Visualising Transformation is a ‘Way of Working’ (WoW) that takes information within a system and translates it into relevant meaning for the people involved, enabling clarity and better, faster decisions.
VT acknowledges that everything is connected and sustainable change comes from a better view of systems.
We would love to hear your thoughts.
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