Sources of innovation #1

The CIO Weblog summarises a McKinsey report on the software industry that says, among other things, that customers expect software innovation is more likely to come from smaller vendors. That’s encouraging for our company with the software development plans we have.

The company I work for has many ERP manufacturing clients, and a number of them deal with long term projects. While the term ‘engineer-to-order’ could describe their busic business process, it doesn’t indicate the long-term nature and issues around their business. We use the term ‘project manufacturing’ because each engineering order is unique and must be managed as a different project. Each project can extend over several years.

When your business is making something that takes several years, a number of the traditional management and financial practices have to be adapted. Revenue doesn’t necessarily come in every month, but is related to a delivery milestone. Inputs to the manufacturing process may be ordered up front but only delivered a year or more later, which means escalation costs have to be planned for. Because the work takes so long, you need a means to measure progress so that you know that you are on track all the time.

Our application has been developed with a customer to address those and many other issues. From a technical perspective, we have built the software to be as independent of the back-end financial system as possible; the aim being to slot in with any ERP application. Using Microsoft’s .Net Framework, we are able to do that as many ERP applications are .Net compliant.

I wanted to write this blog to substantiate that innovative software could come from smaller companies. It’s thanks to technical and architectural developments in recent years that companies like ours can now do those things. I will go into more detail about our product in another blog.

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