Today’s topic is a recurring problem I find in business. People tend to apply a familiar information model to every new problem. The old paper tablet is a favorite. You can scribble notes and pictures on it without delay and the most current information is right on top. Also, when the information ages or otherwise becomes problematic, you just lose it—no audit trail. I call this type application “The Big Chief Tablet App”
A real Application manages the entire problem. The application should:
Sometimes a new project is undertaken and the business rules are not all known in advance. The “tablet” tools are taken up to deal with the immediate problem and then remain in place for too long. There is no analysis of the process. The process is reinvented over and over again because the data cannot be analyzed effectively in an unstructured environment. Ultimately the project will either fail, or consume so many resources that it damages the business.
There are many computer applications people use as “Big Chief Tablet” Apps:
So while all of the applications are fine tools, including the original Big Chief Tablet, they are not a substitute for a full enterprise application. The application that address the full problem will manage the collaboration of all users and also manage the flow and integrity of the data, while requiring the least effort from the least number of people. The enterprise application can perform in this way because a team of people, including at least one software developer, has worked through the entire process and codified it into a system. The process of refining such an application can take decades because most business processes become more complicated over time as more laws are promulgated and each success brings new demands. So be careful not to fall into the trap of solving a very involved problem with a familiar but inadequate tool, and do not be beguiled by the shiny phone app in the cloud that promises to solve all your problems.