I am sure most of us at one point or another in our career will be asked to undertake an evaluation of a problem the organization is having, not to mention provide a viable solution to the problem.

Marketing research says that ~97% of us will start this search via a Google type search.  ~57% of us will not reach out the companies that provide the solution until we have either chosen the solution or at least narrowed it down.  While in this research mode we tend to review blogs, customer reviews, call peers, watch YouTube clips and maybe use other methods in an effort to come to a conclusion. Which makes sense, right? To say the least, we have a whole slew of resources to find the solution. But is this really the best practice to find a lasting enterprise solution?

Recently I was tasked with a similar type project. I was attempting to consolidate a number of systems into one or two systems, while trying to stay within a defined budget.  What I noticed is the more research I did on the problem, the more complicated the overall solution became.  To fix one or two solutions I was now looking at a bunch of different applications and processes to resolve a relatively simple issue. In whole, the “solutions” I was looking at didn’t change the overall situation. Essentially, all it really did was reallocate who was receiving funds, however my organizations problem still remained. Discouraged, the thought often occurred to me to simply “bag it” and just keep doing what we were/are doing. I am sure many of you have had similar experiences.

In most cases, all this does is further perpetuate the problem, when realistically; the goal is to simply find a valuable solution to the organization, as a whole.

I run across this situation on a daily basis. Many customers (and prospectivecustomers) have a very specific pain or challenge they are facing throughout their supply chain. In some cases, the perceived pain is, in reality, a ripple effect of an even greater problem, which can be upstream and (in some cases) downstream in the organization. Although looking at the face value the illusion is to fix the outward expression of the pain rather the pain itself.  One way I think about this is in reference to muscular “trigger points”. “When the myofascia is stressed from overuse or trauma it can tear and adhere together. These adhesion are called “trigger points” …Trigger points lead to an increase in muscle stiffness and tenderness and a decrease in range-of-motion. In addition, the discomfort from trigger points can radiate from the adhesion”.

I think in many cases the challenge in researching enterprise solutions is the ability to visualize the landscape of needs throughout the organization. The most common thing I run across is a “rogue“ department head that drives the purchase of a one off solution to alleviate one particular pain point inside of his/her department.  Rather than bringing in other departments or to further research the overall pain and effects of the said challenges the company is having.

For example, a few weeks ago I had a conversation with a company in an effort to open a conversation on a Product Lifecycle Management solution. The VP of Engineering mentioned they did not have a PLM system in place but they greatly needed one. He mentioned there had been a lot of conversation internally about communicating better as an organization as well as creating a better process on quality issues. Part of the challenge is each of the departments affected in the supply chain were using separate tools. The engineering department process was to create the CAD drawings for the products then save them to a file folder on the server. There wasn’t really a lot of clarity of what and how the other department utilized the information. When changes did occur it was handled via email and attachments. He mentioned one of the previous VP of Quality had gone out on his own and purchased a quality system. But they were having a lot of challenges on getting the systems up and running. The general consensus was the application was a money pit. This further perpetuated the lack of communication and collaboration among the organization. There wasn’t any visibility between the sales/marketing/customer service/quality teams that were able to provide feedback for the design team to create or redesign new products to meet the needs of their customer. But, because of the investment of the quality piece, management was in a mode of “make it work”. He said for that reason alone he didn’t think it was a good idea to bring another software package.

I have a hard time believing this is a one off circumstance. This call among many other such calls, not to mention my own experience provoked my thoughts. What if the way we research solutions in today’s marketplace hampers our ability to find a solution that is actually the best fit?

In my circumstance clarity on what we really needed as an organization wasn’t clear until I reached out to a handful of vendors.  Only then was I able to understand how each “solution” was either helpful or wasn’t helpful. It wasn’t until then that I was faced with viable choices that could be classified as “good, better, or best”.

I am curious to hear from you. What do you think are key ingredients in finding a viable enterprise solution? How do you typically research solutions to meet the challenges/problem of the organization (i.e. twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google searches etc.?)