Ryan Bush

There is a fundamental difference between software that actually works versus software that people find a way to make work. Software people find a way to make work is one of the most frequently occurring themes we see in businesses, and oftentimes one of the most hindering to productivity.

Software should improve some aspect of the communication and data organization of a business. When programs are configured correctly, and the proper training is provided, the results can be magical. Unfortunately, for many companies the reality is the configuration was not complete, the training fell short and a new version of the software is necessary to function properly. When employees find a way to make software work it often chokes the growth of a company, and results in confusion that may become catastrophic.

The best employees are problem solvers who believe in the company they work for, and want to find ways to be successful. However, it is often the problem solving skills of these employees that causes them to find ways to make things work, rather than explaining to their manager that the software is not set up to function correctly. The employees who are successful at finding solutions have done two good things: they found a solution and added value for themselves, but over time they may have inadvertently jeopardized the growth of the company.

When an employee finds a solution they have effectively implemented a new procedure for a company somewhere within the business process. A new procedure has effects that are both intended (fix the short term communication problem) and unintended (add a layer of training to a position that management is not aware is needed). Adding layers of training to any job title makes the job more difficult and expensive to fill when there is turnover. If the software work around is complex enough it can cause the employee who created the fix to be entrenched and unable to hand off the work to another person. The inability to hand off tasks means the company cannot lay off entrenched positions when downsizing, nor can it add employees to help if there is growth. In addition to compromising the ability for a company to grow, or shrink, a work around could be catastrophic for a company if the work around is located at a vital point in a company and the worker leaves the company or dies without any documentation as to how the work around has been implemented.

For most companies the description above may seem impossible to comprehend. However, if a software program is used throughout the management of a company, and the initial configuration was incorrect, or the employees were not properly trained, then there may be many employees implementing work around solutions without documenting them for the company. These instances are not typically done by employees who are trying to entrench themselves. The instances of potential catastrophe are typically implemented by good employees who have the company’s best interest at heart but do not have any resources to correct an improper or outdated implementation of complex software. For companies evaluating the effectiveness of a software deployment it is important to determine whether the software is actually working or if the employees are making it work.

Regular audits of your business software and hardware is the best, and most effective, way to ensure everything is functioning properly. Talk to your IT company and schedule a recurring time for them to come into your office to audit the equipment and give you their recommendations. Fixing the small problems as they arise will help you budget for IT costs, and avoid the burden if an unexpected bill after a crash. If you have any questions, call e-vos at (843) 410-0050.