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Value Creation Blog

Don’t Computerize Your Crummy Systems

Posted by Josh Patrick

systemsIt seems that we often believe that if we only computerize our company, our systems will automatically get better.  My experience with this strategy is that it’s wrong.  Not only will your systems not get better, they’ll probably get worse, much worse.

If you look at the leaders in great systems, companies Like Disney and Toyota, you’ll find that they always make sure their systems work manually before they ever try to computerize them.  I think that all a computer system does is magnify what you already have.

Crummy manual systems become crummy computerized systems.

If you have a system in your company that doesn’t produce the quality you want, first fix the system.  Only after the system has been fixed and is running properly should you think about automating it using a computer.

Computers really only do things faster, they don’t necessarily do them better.  I bet you’ve heard the term garbage in, garbage out.  That’s what happens when you take your systems that don’t work and put them inside a computer.

Think about what you want your systems to do.

Great systems are strategic activities.  All strategic activities start with thought.  Thinking about what excellence means in your company is a good place to start.

If you can answer what makes great service, products, or systems you are on your way to putting together what you need for a computerized system.  You should first run your systems manually and make sure they work.  Then it’s time to start looking around for what type of computer system will support your company.

Software should do what you want it to do.

Many years ago I used to think that I needed to change how my company ran to match the software that I choose.  That probably was true back in the dark ages of computerization.  Today it’s not nearly as true.

Today’s computer programs allow you to customize what your software does.  You might even decide to buy parts of your software solution from different vendors and then tie all of it together with open API’s.  (Application Programming Interfaces or Open Source Software)

If you use open source software you’ll be able to mix and match and find a computer support system that does just that, support your operations.  You can have your computer support you and not operate your company the way some computer engineer thinks is important. 

You don’t have to computerize everything.

There are some things that just don’t work well when they’re computerized.  When I had my vending company we could never get our computerized food-ordering program to work well.  Eventually we gave up and went back to our manual system.

Even Toyota, the leader in all things Lean, doesn’t computerize everything they do.  They’ve found that there are certain activities that a manual system does better.

The lesson here is don’t try to computerize everything.  Just computerize what will make your systems better and allow you to deliver a better product to your customers.

Part of running a smart computerization process is also running a smart budgeting process.  Too often companies spend too much time and too much effort putting together long and detailed budgets.  I’ve developed a process called Four Tiered Budgeting.  This four-page system allows you to easily and quickly put together a budget that works for many private companies.  If you’re interested in getting this report, click on the button below.


Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through NFP Securities, Inc. (NFPSI), Member FINRA/SIPC. Stage 2 Planning Partners and NFPSI are not affiliated.

This article is published for residents of the United States only.  Registered Representatives and Investment Adviser Representatives of NFP Securities, Inc. may only conduct business with residents of the states and jurisdictions in which they are properly registered.  Therefore, a response to a request for information may be delayed.  Not all of the products and services referenced on this site are available in every state and through every representative or advisor listed.

Topics: business coaching, for business owners, value creation

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