by Steve Field, President Field Consulting Services  © All Rights Reserved

1. Are people working around the system rather than using the system? The use of ancillary applications is one sign your software is not meeting current needs. Having to rely on complex excel spreadsheets is a clear indication that your system is not providing you with the information you need to run your business.

2. Are you unable to plan and forecast? All companies need to plan, execute, monitor and control their business activities. Without the right tools to provide good information, forecasting becomes much more difficult and a good forecast is the crucial first step in successfully planning materials, manpower and equipment.

3. Do you lack the ability to monitor what has already happened? Do you know what customer orders have already shipped? Do you know the progress of work on your shop floor? Are answers to product revision questions quickly available when a customer calls? The results of work already performed should be easily obtained and understood.

4. Are the inventory quantities in your system inaccurate? Individuals waste time manually checking on inventory because they do not trust the numbers their system provides. Some systems are limited to the number of available locations. Others delay the entry of transaction data due to batch processing. The goal is for real time information available all of the time.

5. Are you shipping late to customers? Late shipments are the result of making promises to your customer that you did not keep. Often the root cause is poor planning, lack of good data or even just bad internal communication. Having the right tools is important in being able to make solid commitments. Do you feel like you are always behind and never catch up?

6. Do you back office processes take too long? Adding customers, processing transactions, getting reports. If any of these are taking too long, the software system might be at fault. The simple act of extracting captured data from your system should be easy and straight forward.

7. Do silos of information exist in your company? You need to have one trusted source of information across the company. If critical data is coming from excel spreadsheets, it is difficult to quickly disseminate the facts, there is no built-in error checking mechanisms, and people frequently end up working from different versions of the spreadsheet.

8. Are you using old technology? If you are still looking a “green screen” your technology is way out of date! You can even be on a more modern system but not taking advantages of the latest supply chain technology.

9. Do you suffer from weak business processes? Your internal processes are repeated over and over and consistency is important to make sure they are done correctly. Top software packages provide best practice guidelines to follow. Look to see if you are wasting time on tasks that could be automated with the right software.

10. Do you rely too much on Carl? Carl is the guy who everyone goes to when they need an answer. He carries around a bunch of index cards in his pocket and consults those whenever he is questioned. When he tracks down an issue he will write it down on the index card and into his pocket it goes. Very small companies can get by with a Carl but larger organizations eventually outstrip his capabilities. Don’t ask what happens when Carl goes on vacation!

Have a question for Steve? You can reach him at 734-476-6425 or email him at