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Changing Software vs Changing Business Process

Let’s break down the age-old debate of when it makes sense to change your business processes rather than change your business software

Business processes are arguably one of the most important differentiators between competing businesses. Unique processes can provide an edge over your competition and add business value to your product and/or service offering. It is for this reason that businesses will cling to unique processes that they feel provide that differentiation when evaluating business software options. The initial instinct for a business is to make a software platform conform to how the business currently runs, which typically relates to the sentiment of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.”

When it comes to software, off the shelf solutions will never completely fit your unique business processes. There will always be areas that are either missing or done differently in these platforms, but different is not necessarily bad. You will have one of two choices:

  1.     Force your process into the system – this typically comes with awkward work arounds or complex “customizations” to the software.
  2.   Alter processes to fit within the solution – this typically makes using the software more acceptable to users but may compromise unique processes that you feel are your differentiators.

Of course, the third option here would be to develop a custom software platform that is designed from the ground up to fit your business’ unique process requirements. For some organizations this is the best path forward to give them control over both their unique business processes and how their software platform supports these processes. Custom development is suited for well established processes that are outside of industry norms, yet still support the business’ competitive edge in the industry.

Signs that processes need to be evaluated

Here are 5 reasons why you should evaluate changing your business processes:

  1.     When evaluating a process, the only reason you can justify following it is because “that is the way that we have always done it.”
  2.     Your process is not considered an industry best practice and it would not be categorized as more efficient.
  3.     Your business has changed since the process was implemented and said process may no longer be relevant
  4.     The process has many unnecessary manual steps involved or can otherwise be streamlined
  5.     Your organization is administratively heavy, both in personnel and administrative “red tape”.

Signs that software needs to be evaluated

Here are 5 reasons why you should evaluate changing your business software:

  1.     You have recently evaluated all your business processes and feel they are best in class
  2.     You are not using the majority of the software’s functionality because they do not work with your processes
  3.     Your processes have outgrown the software, resulting in processes being handled outside the system
  4.     Your existing software’s user experience and/or user interface is a problem or roadblock
  5.     Your existing software is outdated and potentially no longer supported


It is highly recommended that you regularly evaluate business processes as part of the strategic development of your business. Stale, old processes can create inefficiencies in productivity and affect your bottom line. Moreover, you should always evaluate your processes before evaluating new software. Purchasing or developing a new software platform for your business and using old and ineffective processes within that platform will only make you regret the change in software. This can be summed up using the adage “garbage in, garbage out” because replacing software will never fix bad processes.

As software becomes the backbone of most businesses, assessing how your tools and process work together to deliver is even more important. When you need a great partner to investigate these details, get in touch, we'd love to help you!



About the author

Chad Ross is a Senior Business Analyst with our User Experience & Design practice and is based in Edmonton, Alberta. He is a seasoned professional with 17+ years of IT related experience and has knowledge in both the technical and business aspects of technology. He is an avid science fiction fan and enjoys seeing how sci-fi has introduced new technologies which have also become realities. From Star Trek communicators (mobile phones) to Artificial Intelligence, he is excited to see what advancements are yet to come. Connect with him on LinkedIn!


About the artist

Taylor Reese is our Principal Innovator based in Edmonton, Alberta. His background is in design and facilitation, but he also loves drawing, cycling, and craft beer. He believes the things we build must improve the lives of those who use them. You can follow some of his adventures on instagram, including his series of comforting cartoons on airplane barf bags.

For this piece, he was thinking about the balance between things like simplicity and complexity and how process and tools ultimately need to work in harmony for success. Layers of complexity, each with their own nuances, hopefully coming together in a beautiful whole.