From the Inside May/June 2016
What is the Most Valuable Asset in your company?
Is it the people? While good people are hard to find, and even harder to train, there is always someone that can fill that empty position.
Is it your company's inventory or property? While inventory and property cost money, they are always replaceable.
Is it your computer or office equipment? Much like your company's inventory, you can always replace it in case of damage or theft. Most companies have insurance specifically to handle this scenario.
What about your company's data? Is this an asset? YES. Companies often buy other companies for no other reason than to get their hands on the data. Your customer information - not just contact information, but also purchase history and other sales notes - that's one of your most valuable assets.
But sorry to say, while this kind of information is extremely valuable, and your company can't run their business without it, there is still one more asset that is widely overlooked: business applications.
The other day I brought this up with a colleague. He started to disagree, like many of you are likely doing right now, but then he gave it some thought. His first reaction was that the data is a company's most valuable asset - not just computer data, but also all those files stored in the deep, dark corners of your company that you actually have to get up out of your chair to access.
Data has a lot of value, but we all know that there's tons of data in our company's databases that isn't tapped. Much of it is only tapped to answer one specific question. And then there's all that information in those file cabinets sitting the dark corner that you don't even use.
Your CEO always wants answers, and wants you to use the data you have to answer those questions. The thing is, the data you have to work with is limited by how and what your business application captured.
You hear about companies spending big bucks to implement a data mining or a BI (Business Intelligence) project and failing because they don't have the data to answer the questions. BI is only one part of the equation, and data mining is only as useful as the question that the user asks.
BI will not run your day-to-day business. Which brings us back to my original point, "Your company's business application is your biggest asset." Your business needs to run day-to-day to provide the mounds of data for the CEO and CFO to evaluate.
Most companies with high turn-over positions have refined the business application to the point where training is minimal. Because the business application has such a level of refinement, these positions no longer have to have trained people in them to handle the day-to-day business. In some cases, the company can even eliminate certain positions altogether.
Please don't get me wrong! People are very important assets. The longer you can keep someone, the more stable your business will be. If a person leaves, it might hurt your company for a few weeks or months, even if, overall you can always get someone to take over the empty position. The flip side is that the longer you keep someone, the more holes in your business application are developed.
Huh? If the person leaves, what happens to the company? Because the position was filled so long by someone who knew their job inside and out, your business application was not refined in that area. But now the person is gone.
Is that really a liability in the business application, or a liability caused by the person who was working in that position? They didn't point out the holes in application or create controls to help protect against this problem.
Thinking of the business application as an asset has helped many companies stay productive when key people leave, or - god forbid - go on vacation. I honestly don't know which is worse.
If the business can't run without a specific person, then that person is no longer an asset to the company, they are a point of failure.
Like any other asset (property, people, or inventory), a business application can become a liability to the company. Your business applications need to be under the microscope so that they can show the company where their liabilities exist. They must be used to repair most of the problems that they highlight.
You, as a MultiValue business application developer, have the advantage of being able to modify your business applications quickly, efficiently, and without costing the company an arm and a leg. Most of the time, this means a return in profits. So the more a company is willing to invest in their MultiValue business applications, the more return they are likely to see.