For many years, small businesses have been purchasing “best-of-breed” business systems for every department of their organization and then dealing with the repercussions of those decisions later. It makes sense at first because this approach solves your most immediate pain, shuts up the most loudly screaming department head for awhile, and seems to be the least complicated way of solving their problems. So companies end up with one system for sales, another for accounting, maybe Excel to manage their inventory and fulfillment processes, a few custom-built systems in the middle, another database to handle customer service and support, a platform for their ecommerce needs if necessary, and Excel everywhere else.
However, as companies grow and become more mature, this cornucopia of systems, labyrinth of databases, and hairball of business software integrations becomes unmanageable.
IT spends all of its time and money creating new integrations, maintaining old ones, and then re-creating these integrations each time the company upgrades one piece of their software puzzle—and, as a result, the department has no time to create solutions to help the business grow and be more productive.
Analysts spend days and weeks tying data from one system to another and wasting time that could be better spent on other projects. Executives and decision makers have to wait weeks, or even months, to get these reports and, by the time they receive them, the information is outdated and filled with inaccuracies caused by having multiple “versions of the truth.”
Employees spend unnecessary hours of their days typing data from their sales force automation system into their order management systems, accounting systems and support systems. They’re unable to spend their time on more strategic, high-impact projects that leadership wants to make progress on.
Customers receive their orders late and too many receive the wrong packages because of a broken order management process caused by siloed systems and manual processes. Because there are multiple customer databases running, sales and service representatives can’t answer basic customer question about inventory levels, order status and customer issues, and sales representatives don’t have adequate processes and information to manage renewals and identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities.
Finance takes weeks and months to close their books because they are collecting and appending data from multiple sources. And the business ends up paying much more on licenses for several systems, so even more money is wasted.
Ultimately, these issues cause the business to start losing to their competition because it can’t efficiently scale its business for growth, can’t move quickly enough, and can no longer provide the strong customer experience their customers expect.
At NetSuite, we have a name we use when we run in to this all-to-common business affliction——Software Hairball Syndrome (SHS). We’ve created a humorous video about this business disease.
We have also launched a competition for businesses who tell us about their own software hairball. The most painful cases of SHS that we receive will win a two-night trip to San Francisco for our annual Hairball Awards competition. If you have SHS or know of another business that suffers from this affliction, register for our contest today!