The Grass Probably isn’t Greener with that System


imageThe other morning as I walked my son to school, I took on a little experiment. You see, every day I walk out my door and I see every imperfection in my lawn. I see the dead spots from where a dehydrated dog relieved themselves on the grass. I see the thin areas that are still recovering from the drought two years ago. I also see the beginning of crabgrass that I need to break down and fight soon.

When I look down the street, I see lawns that look greener and richer. As I walked my son to school that morning, I looked closer. Some lawns had green from lots of clover. Other had the same dead spots, they just weren’t visible at a distance. In general, most looked worse than mine upon closer inspection. There were lawns that were better, but that’s okay. I don’t strive to have the best lawn, just a good lawn by my standards and the standards of my neighborhood.

This applies to enterprise software of all flavors. You system is never perfect, it has flaws. Of course, every system has flaws, you just may not know what they are. That other system may look better but that’s because you are seeing the good side.

The Devil You Know

When I provided advice on any Content Management System (CMS), I’d help people determine if issues they were having were due to the software, the implementation, or the way it was being used. I’d tell them that the next system they pick will also have problems, they’ll just have to discover those problems.

That is one reason that I stuck with Documentum when I was in consulting. Aside from the investment in skills, I knew the issues and I knew how to work around them. I never thought it was the perfect system, never assumed it was the best, and never told anyone anything different. I usually said, “It can do the job.”

Before you switch systems, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this system hurting productivity more than other systems?
  • Do users hate the current system so much that they only use it when forced?
  • Are our problems truly the fault of the software or is it from an external factor?

Understand your issues in depth or you’ll repeat them on any system.

Before Jumping

Can the issues be addressed without the effort of moving to a new system? Have you looked at other alternatives to resolving them?

  • Are you on the latest version? It is amazing what a few feature enhancements and patches will do for a system.
  • Can you address the greatest pain points with the existing system? Just like pulling a the weeds out of your lawn, it is amazing what spending a little effort to fix issues can achieve.
  • Have you gotten professional help? Sometimes a fresh set of eyes helps out. They may see something and have a quick recommendation. Just make sure you vet the experts to make sure they aren’t just out to pad their billable hours. If they can’t come in and give you a quick assessment in 1-2 weeks, move on.
  • Can an add-on help? Sometimes gaps in functionality have been addressed by partners. While you don’t want a system with too many add-ons, two or three is usually manageable.

A new system may be perfect for you, or you may solve one problem only to introduce two or three problems that previously had worked perfectly. There are times to change systems but it is no panacea. I am in the middle of a massive change now and time will tell if I’ve fallen victim to the siren call of Green Grass.

It is human nature to want what you don’t have. It is Murphy’s Law that will punish you for making a hasty decision.

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