After several months with no updates, it seemed appropriate to update the Top 10 page. This revision, I thought I’d add a page for each of the major accounting packages with commentary from our experience with the packages. It will take a couple of months to publish all the content. Take a look at the new page(s).
In a previous entry, I started the thought that software was always free. In particular, this should include ERP software. Along the same lines, the next post was about the 80% of software most businesses don’t use, and the software gap.
Businesses Use Less Than 80% of Their Software
When I picked 80%, I was vaguely remembering a couple of studies–one on Word, and the other on accounting software. I found one of the studies I remembered. It was on Word, and it was done before the 2007 release of Office that introduced the ribbon bar (which I initially hated, but have grown to like).
The most interesting data points from the study are: (a) most people use less than 10% of Word’s features, and (b) The most commonly used commands in Word are: Paste (11% of the usage), Save (5.5%), Copy, Undo, and Bold! These five commands account for 32% of all Word usage.
What If Businesses Used More
This got me thinking. Word has some complexity, but it’s a pretty basic tool. Your average business ERP or account software package, however, is a lot more complex. What if the average business uses only 10% of their ERP software. Let’s be more generous. Suppose the business uses 40% of its business software (ERP, MRP, etc.). That leaves 60% unused.
We Don’t Need What We Don’t Use
Clients often tell me that, “We don’t need what we don’t use. The software does more that we will ever use.” Ok. Hold that thought. Next entry, I’ll talk more about how I’ve observed software companies developing software, but for now, just assume that I’m right here.
The features are in the software because enough people wanted them to convince the software company that it was worth the money to include them in the software. In most cases, the features are there because competing software companies included features like them in their software, and the software company wanted to catch up.
The Features in ERP and Accounting Software Are the Ones Most People Requested
This implies that the features you see in commercial software (accounting, ERP, or otherwise) are the most commonly requested features. They are the things that most people wanted! I think that in most cases, software features represent best (or at least most common) practices.
If this is true, why do most businesses use such a small portion of their software?
If You Don’t Know Our ERP Software, How Can You Help?
This is perhaps the most common question I am asked by companies thinking about letting DGG take a look at their systems. The second question is “How can you teach me anything about our business?” I’ll deal with #2 in a later entry.
Knowing What Accounting Software Can Do Is Most Important
Inventory has some common characteristics. Businesses stock it in bins, shelves, tanks, etc.
They usually number these in some systematic way. Some inventory expires. Some has lot numbers or serial numbers. Some items have warranties. Inventory items usually have some common demographic features like item numbers, descriptions, min and max quantities, sales history, price, cost, quantity, etc.
Most systems that deal with inventory deal with these things. If you know one system, you can’t say that you “know them all,” but you have an excellent starting point. A learning theorist named Piaget said that we have “hooks” or “categories” that help us learn. Once these categories are formed, learning is easy. Until they are formed, learning proceeds slowly.
The More Languages You Know, the Easier Software Becomes
Some business people are surprised when I tell them that I’ve developed computer software in about two dozen different languages over the last 25 years. It could be more. But once you know one language, adding an additional language is pretty easy. It’s the same with ERP and accounting software.
A Systems Example
A couple of days ago, I visited with a client that had been trying to make a Windows 7 workstation work with their accounting software for over a year. I knew a little bit–but not much more than that–about the software. According to the company, the vendor had spent HOURS dialed into the system trying to fix the problem. In about 15 minutes I had them up and running.
I didn’t need to know the software to solve the problem. I needed to know how software worked!
Several years ago, we began the Top 10 ERP / Accounting software page. It’s time for a major revision of those review and information pages. This time, we’re providing some comments about our experience with each of the packages in the mid-market. Since the companies in this market are constantly seeking new resellers, we generally evaluate each product thoroughly about once every five years. When these reviews are complete, we’ll change the format of the Top 10 page to reflect what we believe is the current state of the market.
The first one completed is Sage ERP ACCPAC. We hope you find the insight helpful. Sage has provided a YouTube video highlighting the new features in 6.0.
Are Passwords Protected by the 5th Amendment?
I never really thought about it. Until, that is, I read a recent article in a tech e-newsletter I get. It seems that authorities seized the computer system of a suspected white-collar criminal. The hard drive was encrypted with some type of whole-drive encryption (similar to what is implemented in Windows 7).
Give Us the Password!
Of course, authorities wanted to force the suspect to provide the password. That, said the suspect, would violate his 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Here’s a good example of the way that current laws don’t fit in the cyber-age. Of course, the encryption could be broken, but at what cost? And with what kind of a delay? Depending on the sophistication of the encryption, it could take years to break the code.
Whole Drive Encryption May Be Important for Corporate Security
I suppose this comes down to a couple of points:
(a) You should learn how to turn on the Microsoft bitlocker (encryption) technology if you plan to commit white collar crime, and
(b) Cryptography (the study of how to break codes) may be a hot field in the future for those wanting to go into law enforcement.
I still think many people use the old fashioned kind of security: they count on the ignorance of the user to keep things safe.