Does the system which powers your operation (cloud or otherwise) bleed equity when it comes to bringing revenue into the business? Sometimes it may be a challenge to step-through all of the things that could streamline your enterprise software, while at other times even minor changes can make a big change to your productivity. Regardless of the size of the issue, one thing is for certain… doing nothing about it can only lead to a financial bloodletting. As with other means of eliminating problems and increasing production, looking at how databases work is a process, and any process can be improved. In fact, there may be so many bandages applied to your system that the root cause of the issue(s) may have been overlooked.
The process of automation can be traced back through the centuries, and the outcome always dovetails to a single goal… to make the given task faster and easier. To give context as to why we automate a process today, the same reasons can be learned from the following:
In the medieval Islamic world, Al-Jazari (1136–1206), a Muslim inventor during the Artuqid dynasty, designed and constructed a number of automated machines, including kitchen appliances, musical automata powered by water, and programmable automata. The autmomata appeared as four musicians on a boat in a lake, entertaining guests at royal drinking parties. His mechanism had a programmable drum machine with pegs (cams) that bumped into little levers that operated percussion instruments. The drummer could be made to play different rhythms and different drum patterns by moving the pegs to different locations
Su Song was the engineer of a water-driven astronomical clock tower which employed the use of an early escapement mechanism. Su’s clock tower featured the oldest known endless power-transmitting chain drive, called the tian ti, and had 133 different clock jacks to indicate and sound the hours.
Charles Babbage (1820) automated mathematical calculations through his Difference Engine. Babbage’s difference engine was created to calculate a series of values automatically. By using the method of finite differences, it was possible to avoid the need for multiplication and division through this machine. His first difference engine would have been composed of around 25,000 parts, weigh fifteen tons (13,600 kg), and would have been 8 ft (2.4 m) tall.
Don’t Blame The Wrong Party
At times, the platform itself may take the brunt of the blame for why more processes cannot be automated, but in taking a closer look, it may be that the rules and options contained within the CRM may not be utilized. Some of the more common items for automation include things like email and reminders based on an event, which for years has been a standard option with many CRM and database systems. However, if management is unaware of the options within the system due to a lack of communication from the development team, then more times than not the underlying CRM needs an overhaul. This aspect alone has been a common fault as to why many otherwise good systems are given the shaft because while the functions to fix the process exist, no one except IT is wise to the information.
Related to automation, simple errors are another common thread that plague bad database design, not the database. Like the previous example, many of these items can be fixed through a communication bridge between techs and management. For example, your CRM system may be producing errors and pop-ups for unknown reasons, or worse, producing reports that are incompatible with how management perceives the data. These so-called ‘errors’ may be attributed to human-error. How could this be? Perhaps it was a difference in development philosophy by the changing of heads of IT, or it might have been a lurking issue for a long time, but only now is coming to light based on the need at the moment. So, before taking a look at a complete revamp, why not look at what you have invested in, and see how it can used as intended.
If your enterprise system however is lacking in modern functionality like social engagement, cloud structure or mobile / smartphone integration, than the reason(s) for a switch should be obvious if your existing platform lacks in these areas. However, the first thing to look for before laying blame on technology is to ensure your IT team performs a ‘seek-and-destroy’ of all ineffective procedures that are slowing the means of production. By engaging in this exercise, you may be surprised to learn that you already have in your possession a good database, but with ineffective rules, triggers or procedures. If you find that many of the items you would like to accomplish simply are not available within your existing system, then the next stage is to look for a solution which does the things you need through an apples-to-apples comparison. By doing this, you may find that there is a simple add-on which can be used to fix your areas of concern. However, this can be a slippery slope as if there are many additional options required, you may start investing more in patch-work than real development, which leads back to the reasons why it would make more sense to opt for a newer, modern database.
So, taking these options into account, the first thing to look for is an answer to the question: “What don’t I like about our database system”? Once the list is compiled, talk to your technical team to determine what can be fixed with what you have. Once you are armed with this knowledge, then ask yourself “What are the items which I’d like to accomplish, over-and-above any errors in the system”? If this can be done with your CRM, then the best course may be to stay with your existing database as most systems provide regular updates to take advantage of the latest options. If many of the items on your wish-list can be done with a simple upgrade, then compare the cost of this to a full migration to a new system to arrive at your ROI. Remember though that if the options can only be realized through multiple add-ons, then again, take the cost of each option (along with the development time to implement each change) and compare it with another system which has all of these deliverables built-in.
By peering ‘under the hood’ before drawing conclusions, it might take some time to get your points answered, but is the only way of arriving at a confident decision. If you find that your previous answer to the problem was in the cards all along, you can at least be confident that the final resolution was a sound one based on good rationalization.