I feel like it was just yesterday that I was a server at a restaurant, running around like crazy, feeling that rush of adrenaline knowing I had more to do than likely physically possible. And every time I go to a busy bar or restaurant those memories come flooding back and two main thoughts go through my head:
- I appreciate having a desk job (although I miss the nightly workout).
- I wonder, “how did I do that?”
There were nights that the task list in my head was large enough that if someone asked how they could help, it was easier just to turn them down flat. All I really needed was to get to the computer.
If you’ve worked in the restaurant industry, you remember the feeling of waiting for a computer and strongly considering bumping ahead so you could get a drink order in that you just pretended you didn’t forget about (even though you did). Think about how essential the computer was for operations. It was the hub that allowed you make just about everything happen.
As a manager, I knew the factor that likely affected servers the most was not knowing the computer screens. I may be referencing the restaurant industry here, but I think the same concept can be applied to most any job. Usability of the technology that we work with on a daily basis is one of the single largest factors in the underlying success of our employees. Let’s look at this through the eyes of an event professional, shall we?
EVENT PLANNER PROGRAMS AND DATABASES
It’s easy to think that spreadsheets and original documents can be the solve-all solution to your business needs. Each field that is entered is created by the user. There’s hardly any adaptation in making it work because it’s custom. There are certain downfalls with using this as a services solution, however: multiple users create multiple versions, an unstable file size, human error, etc. The drawbacks far outweigh the benefits: custom, available and (essentially) known by everyone.
On the other hand, you’ve got event management solutions touted as “best-of-breed” options that are focused on one or two specific functions. Although they seem to include most of the features you think you need up front, it often doesn’t take too long to notice shortcomings. Why? Wasn’t this software supposed to be the best option for you?
When event professionals have been using the same system for a long time, whether that be spreadsheets, a binder of notes, a wall calendar, and so-on, it can be hard to shake the habit. I mentioned the restaurant industry earlier because I can recall a time when we changed the POSI-touch system that was on our computers. Although the interface and usability features were comparable, there was one thing that was not: terminology. What were once called beverages were now listed as drinks, and although the difference seems subtle, it can be enough to throw an employee off her game (even if just for a moment).
Most of the best-of-breed solutions aren’t going to allow this level of customization. What one may call a “hold” another may refer to as “pending.” However, these small nuances can make a dramatic difference in usability and adoption rates. When management has the ability to dictate these custom-fields, implementation is a much smoother process.
This is but one small consideration when making a software infrastructure decision. We’ve discussed in great detail the other considerations that need to be made in Part 1, Software Decision: Best of Breed or Integrated Solution & Part 2, Software Decision: Infrastructure of our blog series by Ungerboeck’s Executive Director for Customer Success, Ken Treadway. Stay tuned for Part 3 in which we’ll discuss the value proposition of software selections.