Friday, November 20, 2009

"Lean Manufacturing" in software ...

The term Lean Manufacturing has been around for a while, but it seems that it has been re-discovered by a few marketing teams in a few of the larger ERP systems (I hate this term ERP, but I'll use it for reference) solution providers, and I'm getting spammed about how to "make my business 'leaner'".
I have no intention to drill deep into Fordism at this point, as it is a really exhaustive topic (and well worth researching if you're unfamiliar with it) and not really suitable for an ad hoc blog post. What I will say (and to really water it down and simplify it) is that in terms of software solutions for logistics/production companies, is that the goal of any information system you implement should aim to reduce the amount of manaual work employees perform or remove the need for any manual work altogether.

The great majority of systems (ERP, SCM, MM, IS, --> insert acroynm here) capture information well (including the system the company I work for implements), but they do a poor job of automating processes or removing the "decision time" process. In other words, you collect a plethora of information about, say, what items are in your warehouse, but very few of these systems are ordering supplies for themselves (ie... when a store's shelf is empty or the supply depot is almost exhausted, very few outfits have automated re-ordering of goods in demand, and still depend upon shop assistants and students to do "inventory" or "by-site" management of goods ordering).

There are a few systems out there (not being fully used by most of their customers), that automat the sourcing process, including the contracting process, ordering process (by Demand), etc ... but for the most part, especially in this part of Europe, product chain management is extremly poor. The local giant Tesco or Hypernova or Albert should NEVER run out of something (unless it's seasonal), but they do all the time. For example, items I buy all of the time seem to run out, and isn't replaced for days, sometimes even weeks -- even when their other stores on the other side of town have a shelf full of the same goods. "Real Time" analysis and movement of items by demand shouldn't be some rare function of an information system and a comapany's procurement organization, it should be the norm.

The point is, if you are a manager of a large company needing an information system to help you capture AND improve your current production/procurement processes, just don't follow the other sheep and invest in "popular" tools (especially those subsidized by a government, cough, cough ...) ... try doing a bit more research first, and if you're completely lost, contact a professional outside of those companies to help you garner your proper requirements (it doesn't have to be me! :P) ... you'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Well, this definately isn't going to help your business at all, but the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is out. If you are wondering why some of your employees may be calling in sick more often lately, or why they're not even bothering to show up to work (cough, cough), this may be the reason why.

I must say, however, that you can learn a lot about business from playing such first-person shooters, especially when playing online against other real people. 1. Team work is essential to winning. 2. Real-time communication is a major advantage, especially as it relates to information about knowing where your enemies are located. 3. Having the right-tools (Heart-beat sensor enabled rifle vs. pistol) definately can make the difference between pawning some noob or getting stabbed.

Just think about it ... I'm off to, hmmm ... work on some business proposal for a customer :P (if you're playing this on the PS3, let me know, I'll be happy to skool you online!)

Sunday, October 04, 2009

How NOT to sell software ...

Recently, I was looking for a good photo/picture editing program and a good video editing program ... since I don't own a Mac (yet) that comes with awesome software out of the box, and Microsoft's free picture and video editing tools are completely worthless (shocker!), I went looking to buy something.

I used to be a big Paint Shop Pro guy, so I of course went to see what they currently offered -- turns out that Corel now owns them and the software is called Corel Paint Shop Pro. Downloaded the trial version, and it was very similar to the older versions I knew well. Ok, found my photo/picture tool. I saw Corel had a video editing application called, Corel VideoStudio 12. Downloaded the trial, it wasn't bad either, and pretty easy to use. Ok, that was easy. On their webpage, I noticed they had some nice package deal for both applications for one-low price. Great! Let me buy it ... go to buy it, and of course, it won't let me buy it for the low-price because, and get this ... I'm not in the USA. I am then given a link to pick UK, EU, or some other countries. I picked the EU ... but of course, no nice package deal. Normal price but in euros instead of dollars -- in in short, the software would cost me almost two-times as much. WTF?!?

Now you'd think if I somebody were coming from say the Czech Republic or another former-Eastern Block country, the price might be ... and I'm going out on the limb here saying this ... at least the same? (cheaper would be crossing the line). In an area where software piracy is higher, wouldn't you want to entice people to use legal software by having a lower price (or at least equal) to fit the local's budget?

I know when I worked at a very popular software firm in the past, the price was publically the SAME for everybody -- in dollars. And when the dollar took a hit and got weak, ooh, well ... it was just that much cheaper for the rest of the world (the US was 50% of the market and Europe the other 50%). We even lowered the price on a case-by-case basis when people wrote to us from countries with much lower GDPs. Maybe that's why that company I worked for is still thriving, despite having fierce rivals backed by much larger corporations.

It's really no wonder why companies like Corel, who used to really be king of the hill, have just become standard.

Monday, September 07, 2009

No SMS vCards on iPhone?

Unless I haven't figured something out, it seems you cannot send a vCard via SMS from say, a Nokia (in this case my wife) to an iPhone (in this case, me). WTF? I remember being able to do this back in the old skool days with my Siemens C35i phone, but I can't get a .vcf (vCard) file sent to my iPhone via SMS? Please somebody tell me that I am just doing something wrong?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Back from the Dead

Well, the summer is winding down, so it looks like I'll start to blog a bit more ... less car racing, less beer drinking, less fight tournaments, and more posts about the nerdy stuff that matters!

Nothing new to report, except that my Nokia N95 finally died, so I got an iPhone ... I am such a sell out! It's pretty cool in a lot of ways, and I HATE it in many others ... I'll post some thoughts about it when I get time ... in the meantime, if you're an iPhone user, you have to get Doodle Jump .... can you beat 30055 points? Get some!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Prince2 Certifed

So, after a long week in the UK, I am now officially (after years of practice) Prince2 Certified. Weeeeee. Was it worth the 4000 Pound I spent for training, hotel, food, and of course Ale and Pies? I don't know, but it is what it is.

As for this blog, I've been so busy, you can see not much is being updated. Once I am "ramped up" on this new project, I will probably start blogging more, but my focus will probably be more Supply-Chain related, than mobile or tech ... not that I'm getting away from tech or mobile, but there are many fine blogs out there already discuss this stuff, while not much exists on the latter. We'll see!

A late Happy New Year to everybody!