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Dickeson--Wanted - A New Kind of Software Company

October 1999
We're aware that general ledger data and reports are not intended, nor useful for, operating decisions. The premise of the general ledger is identification of asset ownership.

We also know that our job-cost accounting has an overlay of assumptions of capacity and utilization that impair its usefulness for operating conclusions. Our pricing is essentially marking up estimates of those questionable job costs.

The statistical systems we've been using are not adequate tools for print operations managers. So let's concentrate on the kind and quality of information we need to operate a printing business in the 21st century.

Just what is the information we really need as managers? Let's think about it for a moment. Start by reading Peter Drucker's latest book, "Management Challenges for the 21st Century." Then, as managers, begin asking questions like these:

Don't we really need to replace obsolete job costing, with activity-based costing in order to identify our core competencies and eliminate non-productive activity?

Shouldn't we direct our attention primarily to cash flow rather than profitability? "Profitability" doesn't assure survival tomorrow.

Why don't we use an "expert" system to assist us in pricing our graphic conversion services—one based upon perceived value-added to the user? Wouldn't this be far superior to marking up estimated costs?

Shouldn't we be using the Kep-ner-Tregoe analytic techniques for problem solving rather than selective anecdotal experience?

Why aren't we applying the scheduling lessons taught us by Eli Goldratt, in his book "The Goal," in performing our tasks?

Isn't it time we developed an information scheme that forced us closer to "just-in-time" materials management decisions?

Why can't we have a "knowledge base" browser to look for help in resolving technical problems of our printing business?

How should we establish threshold perceivers for aberrant results in our information systems? Are the upper and lower control limits of statistical quality control the answer? If so, why aren't we using them?

Shouldn't we be constantly monitoring resource destroyers like inventories and receivables? What's it going to take to danger-label this survival quicksand and force us to corrective action?

Wouldn't "fuzzy logic" systems help us identify problem accounts, doubtful "hires" and substandard product quality?

Questions like these are "content-directed" rather than technology issues. It's high time we left the "gee whiz" era of digital technology and settled in on digital information content for the new century. Take that list of questions and add your own.

Are the present printing software suppliers addressing these questions, providing needed tools for survival? Not really. They're still caught up in the wizardry of computers and digital technology. They're hawking technology rather than information. They sell us something called a "license" in exchange for payment of a royalty. This software license seems to be a license to steal in many cases. The software house proceeds to charge us ad nauseum for technical support upgrades, new releases and customization. We wind up employing expensive tech staff for network administrators and in-house gurus to use the products. We expend endless capital for the latest hardware upgrades.


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