I’ve been thinking a lot about simplicity lately. The need for simplicity keeps surfacing in front of me over and over again.
We are doing some merger work and anywhere that we have customizations (one either side of the merge) we find that it dramatically increases the difficulty in completing the merge and integration. This complexity translates into slowing things down, which is deadly in today’s business, and it translates into more money(people, time, effort) to complete the integration.
We are replacing some IT systems now and I’m adopting the position that we must use the new system out of the box with only the system configuration options used for customizations. We aren’t going to change anything in the system we are buying. Making this shift takes purpose and focus because there is a huge tendency to make the system behave how you are used to things behaving. I remember putting in an ERP system years ago and the system had 18 ways built-in to do cycle counting of inventory. None of those 18 seemed to work for us. Funny. I said they had to pick one of the 18.
This complexity is one reason why companies tend to orbit around a single ERP vendor and its eco-system and they avoid interfacing to other systems. Any time you integrate with something outside the central core system, that complexity raises its head again. If you are one of the main vendors (that start with an O or an S) then this favors you.
The complexity also surfaces in how you do things with systems. We’ve built an account approval process that in one case requires 8 approvals in the system before a person can get permission to do whatever. 8 approvals! I suspect one could start a war with less approvals. But now unwinding this complexity takes work and focus and purpose to achieve.
IT has got to be more vocal about stamping out such complexity. I’ve not done enough.