Does the Cloud give us what we need?

There’s no doubt that cloud-based systems are convenient. What a relief it is to outsource the headaches of hardware and software management to a third party. We can buy more power when we need it, less when we don’t. But all too often the convenience of the cloud comes at the cost of simplicity – one-size-fits-all systems that don’t give us the competitive advantage we need.

I’ve never subscribed to the view that business software can be commoditised. If our businesses are to be competitive we must do things differently – manage and analyse our businesses in idiosyncratic ways. Whenever I hear a client say ‘Our needs are quite straightforward,’ it usually turns out not to be the case. .There’s usually something ‘special’ that crawls out of the woodwork during the sales or implementation process. Our skills as consultants lie in anticipating such differences and designing systems that go at least some of the way towards reflecting them.

The problem with Cloud systems, especially if they’re multi-tenant, is that it’s hard to customise for each and every client.

Professional services organisations, it seems to me, differ more markedly from each other than, say, manufacturing companies. Machines, perhaps, have a mechanical discipline that we humans don’t possess. There’s no equivalent of MRP2 for Professional Services Automation software. Indeed, the favourite invoicing tool of most consultants is Word or Excel. You can do what the hell you like with them.

At systems@work we’re trying to offer Cloud solutions that offer convenience without compromise – preconfigured Ready To Go models that organisations can start using almost immediately (videos guide a system administrator through the process of configuration and data import). But if there are features missing, we can Tweak these models to meet each customers particular requirements.

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