Nesma homepage Forums Outsourcing How to combine productivity and innovation

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    Ian Alyss

    We need a new inventory and warehouse management system. We have run a package selection process and we have concluded that none of the available solutions fits our needs. The big ERP solutions have too much functionality and are way too expensive. The more affordable solutions cannot handle the required ordervolume. Therefore we want to select a vendor that can build us a bespoke solution.

    How can we select a vendor that offers good value for money (high productivity) but at the same time make sure that we get the most innovative solution that is available. Should we only look for local Irish companies or should we look at European or Global players as well?

    Any suggestions welcome.


    Ian, this is a very interesting question, at least the innovation part. Measuring and benchmarking productivity is not that hard and there are many useful references here on the Nesma site that can help you with that, like for instance the Mini Guides that are currently being written by the Nesma working group FPA in Contract(ing) (link)

    To measure the innovativeness is another question. This seems to be a major measurement problem, and as always I would like to recommend the book ‘How to measure anything’ by Douglas Hubbard for any measurement challenge. Reading this book will certainly help you to solve that problem.

    In addition of innovativeness, I recommend that you also keep an eye on the extent to which the solution is future proof. I am witnessing a lot of complete redevelopments of major applications these days that were considered to be very innovative not even a long time ago. Now they need to be replaced, either because the supplier of the technology does not support the technology any longer, or because it is impossible or extremely expensive to find skilled personnel that can maintain that technology.

    I hope this is helpful.

    Jacqueline Eshuis

    The most innovative solution I have seen is IBM Watson. You can upload files with data and it will be analyzed by the Watson. Graphs and slides will be created automatically or can be made based on questions you ask Watson in a natural language.

    At this moment it is still excel or csv files that can be uploaded, but it looks very good.

    Hans Kuijpers

    Ian, another approach that helps to be innovative is creating flexible easy to change software. When you build software in a modular way and the code is good maintainable it is easy to change functionality in a way the business wants. Time to market is better for good maintainable software.

    There is an empirical study of this relation, where a five star system is better maintainable than a one star system. The advantages for the business are evident and significant for better maintainable systems.

    Finally: Don’t be afraid to build bespoke software. When no package solution fits your demand, do not choose for any package. Better you choose for 100% bespoke, then having a lot of bespoke software next to your package solution.

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