How many times have you gone to perform a business function and were unsure of which software application to use?   

The Digital Energy Journal recently explored the concept of Increasing productivity by taking away software with Ed Evans, co-founder and Managing Director of New Digital Business (NDB).  In the article Ed suggests that oil and gas companies can increase productivity by reducing the number of subsurface software applications.  Let’s see how the core concepts of Ed’s analysis can be applied on a much broader scale across an organization.

First of all, it is important to note that at the core of all business functions are clear, concise, robust processes; software applications are the tools that allow us to collect, evaluate and disseminate information to make informed business decisions. 

Secondly, different software applications can offer different results for the same input parameters.  If one is looking for consistent information in order to make decisions or to apply applicable lessons learned it is important to standardize what/when software applications should be used.  This allows organizations to share consistent, consumable information across functional departments and business units.

It must also be recognized that the responsibility of deciding which software applications to use resides with the business.  IT departments are primarily concerned with the cost to support and maintain the range of applications and are not capable of deciding which applications are most appropriate for the various business functions.

To decide which software applications to use NDB suggests that you first map key business processes and define specific tasks as components of the processes, or as we leaners like to say, “Take a (Gemba) Walk”.  It is important not to get lost in all of the constraints or dependencies of the process – just identify the components and list the software applications against those components; NDB calls this a ‘Dog-Tag’ model.  The software applications can then be standardized for the various components of the process with the understanding that there will, from time to time, be exceptions or requirements for specialized applications.  As NDB points out, once the model is finalized it can be used by everyone in the organization to develop data management and infrastructure plans and identify training and technical development requirements.

So…which one should you use?!