Power User (July 2023)

Companies use multiple pieces of software, some simple and some quite complex. And for every one of them, especially those that are complex, there needs to be a power user in the company who knows the software like the back of their hand.  When anyone comes across something that they don’t understand, it is the power user who has the wherewithal to figure it out.

Years ago, when I took my first CFO job, I was told that the company needed new software as the current system just didn’t work. This was just days into the role. I asked the name of the software. “GERS” was the response. OK, what does GERS stand for?  GE (as in General Electric) Retail Systems (or maybe that last word was software, it’s been a while). I remember thinking, what are the odds that GE would put a piece of software into the marketplace that just didn’t work?  So, I started to do a little digging. We were on version 6. The current version was 10. And the latest documentation I could find was for version 3.

It wasn’t the software. There was no one in the company who knew how to use the system. I called our vendor (known as a VAR or Value Added Reseller in the software game). They were more than happy to upgrade us to the current version, supply up to date documentation and provide training. Of course, people had already decided that GERS didn’t work. The evaluation of new software continued. The problem, however, is that if there is a lack of interest in maintaining the knowledge base on the current software, the same will happen with the new software. It will get installed. Everyone will be trained. And then people will leave the company and new employees will get some (but not all) of the training the original group received. Eventually, the company will end up in the same position. They’ll have a piece of software that no one really knows how to use, and the cycle will likely repeat.

I’d be willing to bet that most companies out there are underutilizing their core software. I could site multiple examples of it even in my own client base (at least in these cases, it is the subject of active discussions and efforts to improve).

Start by asking if you’re on the most recent version of the software that is core to your operations?  Ask who the power users are? Find out when the last time they did any training? Most pieces of software have online training; some even have full curriculums. I frequently see emails announcing training webinars from various software vendors. Take advantage of these. Has anyone been to a user conference? If so, how long ago? I know those can be expensive and time consuming but can add real value both from the curriculum and peer interactions.

Before you run out and buy a new piece of software, make sure you’re getting the most out of the software you already have today. If you have the current version, a power user on your team, have invested in training and are following prescribed processes correctly and the software isn’t’ getting the job done, well maybe it is time for a change.

But more often than not, there are substantial internal gaps that are part of the problem. And if you don’t fix them with your current software, sooner or later the new stuff is going to appear to fall short as well.

If your business could benefit from fractional CFO services, I would welcome the chance to speak with you. Please give me a call at (314) 863-6637 or send an email to [email protected]

The archive of these monthly newsletters is posted at the Resources section of homza.com

your cash is flowing.  know where.®
Ken Homza
Copyright @ 2023 Homza Consulting, Inc.


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