Trust your systems

Companies spend huge sums on installing and maintaining complex supply chain systems. Despite these expenditures and the training provided, it surprises me how frequently the people who work for these companies either don’t trust or don’t properly use these systems. And it isn’t just the people at the lowest levels of these companies that don’t trust these systems. I’ve seen people in leadership positions instruct their teams to override the systems under certain circumstances. In some cases this makes sense, since no system can anticipate every situation and some human judgment will always be required in unique situations. But when bypassing these systems becomes the norm or habitual, the value that these systems provide is quickly undermined.

So if you buy and install a system, it makes sense to require people to use the system as much as possible. Allow for exceptions and track these so that the system can be improved and standard operating procedures can be updated. But don’t allow the practice of bypassing the system become part of your company culture. Allowing this will undermine the system and deny your company the benefits it would otherwise provide.

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  • christinebaese  On January 10, 2012 at 07:38

    I would agree with this wholeheartedly, if I were confident we were designing what our users and customers need and will need. Too many times I see software and processes designed for the ease of one department or to meet a budget, instead of for the current and future needs of the users and customers.

    Also, in this age of technology and information, it surprises me that many companies seem to continue investing in and building on architecture that lacks an ease of change and development, making many of our work arounds the rule, rather than the exception.

    • fitz1  On March 17, 2012 at 14:03

      Yep, most companies are quick to add a system to correct a structural problem. It rarely works. But it’s easier to add a system and manage the structural issues than it is to change a company culture.

  • fitz1  On January 22, 2012 at 11:30

    Very true. Systems that support only one part of a business certainly don’t increase efficiency. And investing in systems that cannot be updated to support future business needs is often more expensive than companies realize. Workarounds take time and are often “ad hoc”, and they become part of the company’s informal tribal knowledge rather than properly evaluated processes.

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