An electronics manufacturing company had an in-house developed information management system to support their entire business from the initial quotation and account acquisition process, through material supply and production planning, to manufacturing, quality assurance and product delivery. The system had been incrementally developed over several decades, with significant changes in staff over that period. While they had managed to upgrade the system to work in a more modern IT environment with a graphical user interface, the in-house team had been struggling to support the system which had significant defects and usability issues.
Making changes to the system had become difficult and lengthy such that it was not able to keep up with the changing and increasing demands being placed on it by the business. Business users had learned to work around the deficiencies within the system but at the cost of considerable inefficiencies and manual interventions which were limiting the ability of the company to grow.
IT Systems Evaluation
Brandon Cross Technologies was selected to perform a technical evaluation of the system to determine the best way forward. This involved evaluating how the system was structured, and how it was perceived from both the business user perspective and the technical developer perspective. As with many stories of this nature the issues were as much human as they were technical.
Neither group was happy with the system but for completely different reasons. The business users were frustrated with a small number of significant defects which led them to distrust the system, significant usability issues which had declined over time in spite of moving from a text-based to graphical interface, and the inability to get changes and enhancements introduced, which then led to significant inefficiencies and workaround across the business.
From the technical perspective the developers were frustrated by demands for change which they could not support with sufficient speed, and difficulties with the technical debt which had built up over many years, and areas of code for which no one was sufficiently familiar to be able to make changes with any confidence. Some defects, which had been managed rather than fixed over many years, persisted and would require significant change and risk to address.
Consequently, significant effort was being expended both by business users and their support team to dance around the defects to correct anomalies in their data on a day to day basis, while at the same time neither side seemed to appreciate the pressures and difficulties experienced by the other. Morale within the development team was low, and business users were frustrated.
A Bespoke Approach To IT Solutions
With a rapid evaluation over just a few weeks Brandon Cross clearly identified the difficulties, both technical and procedural, with the conclusion that it was not possible to dig themselves out of the problem in the same way they had managed the system thus far.
Brandon Cross identified four possible futures:
- Patch, Mend and Extend – this would be slow and painful, and hinder business growth
- Ditch and Replace – while an ERP had hitherto been ruled out, this should be reconsidered
- Divide and Conquer – replace with alternative solutions, one business function at a time
- Hybrid – progressive transformation using bespoke and pre-existing components.
Patch and Mend was doomed. Divide and Conquer would be very difficult as the system was so poorly structured and intertwined. An ERP system remains a potential future for the longer term; however, the commitment to such a project, and a single vendor, remains daunting and would not yield the near-term transformations required for the business without major disruption.
Improved IT Strategy For Better Business
Brandon Cross is now working collaboratively with the internal development team and business stakeholders, bringing its breadth of experience, to create real transformational change. A strategy has been developed to progressively transform and reinvent the current system from its legacy roots into a modern web-based application, applying modern standards-based technologies, more rigorous development procedures from requirements and scoping, improved development, quality assurance and delivery processes.
Resulting from Brandon Cross Technologies’ engagement the company can now see a way forward and can see the light at the end of the tunnel (and it’s not a train!)
If your business is struggling with IT solutions and workability, Brandon Cross can help. Give us a call today on 020 8144 2000 to discuss a unique approach for you and your company.