The Self Evident Truths of Project Management: Truth # 12 “Software is just automated processes”

The Self Evident Truths of Project Management: Truth # 12 “Software is just automated processes”

Taking the mystique out of software

Software is too often seen as a black art or magic box that can only be understood by the high priests of technology. A whole mystique has grown up around software. Now it is time to blow that away.

Software is just automated processes. A series of information processing steps that represent all or part of an end-to-end process.

When you’re buying software you’re buying processes. Often configurable processes, but processes all the same. Therefore when you install software you are installing a set of processes in the midst of the rest of your organisation’s processes. This is a bit like taking a chunk of jigsaw pieces from another puzzle and placing it (force fitting it) into the existing jigsaw that is your organisation. If you haven’t done your homework right, you’ll find it does not fit well.

Gaps will be created where the software’s processes don’t connect well with your organisation’s existing processes. Disjoints may occur where the software’s process philosophy is different from the rest of the organisation.

To avoid such problems you need to FIRST identify your current processes and then simplify them into your desired processes (taking 40-50 percent of the process steps out). Now you have defined how you want to run your business in process terms.

THEN (and only then) should you look at the software’s processes. You’ll find that (a) some processes match exactly (good); (b) some software processes are better than your processes (great); (c) some software processes are worse than your processes, but can be lived with (okay); (d) some of your processes are not supported by the software at all. Here a decision has to made as to what to do — forego these processes or change the software, but this decision can now be made in the full knowledge of the role and impact of these processes and how valuable they are.

NB These unsupported processes are often the ones missed in software evaluations that are done without the preceding process simplification work, and which then cause downstream performance problems.

So if you decide to ‘just take the software vanilla” you are deciding to take another set of processes and impose them into the middle of your existing processes, thereby creating (often unseen) business risks. Don’t think software, think processes.

© Jed Simms, Australia, 2009.

Further support and useful tools to help you manage your investments, projects and portfolio are available from

For the previous article in this series visit The Self Evident Truths of Project Management: Truth # 11: “Project scope is a weapon of opportunity not control”.

For the first article in this series visit The Self Evident Truths of Project Management: Truth #1 - We do projects to realise the Associated benefits.

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