The 80% Rule, Part 1

Most every business, no matter how large or small, depends on a key software application to control its operations.  The operations of a company are likely to center around an accounting application of some type and possibly another application that may control the production of goods or services.  When searching for these software applications, business owners often tend to review many solutions in search of exactly what they need, never being satisfied with what they see.  Too often I see these business owners conclude the only way to get what they need is to hire someone to custom develop software, only to later be left stranded and ultimately scrap their solution to settle for a commercial replacement.

When going through this process, business owners and decision makers should keep an open mind to the core functions they need.  In nearly 20 years of technology and business management experience, I learned to tell these decision makers about The 80% Rule.  Generally, if a business is able to find a solution that addresses roughly 80% of their core needs, the solution will probably do everything they need with minor modifications, if possible.  Outside of customizing the installation, the other 20% usually comes in the form of process changes within the business.  To modify business processes requires someone to effect such change while maintaining continuity within the business and its personnel.  The vast majority of people do not accept change well, especially within their work environment.  To work within these difficult parameters and help people cope with such change can be a daunting task.  This person or team must understand varied personalities and work with them while keeping the goal in focus and on target.  Some leaders will basically force change upon their personnel and subordinates, but I believe that when properly approached, the acceptance level increases and so does productivity.  By not approaching the changes in this manner, employees can become disoriented and productivity level may drop significantly.  Which approach would you take?   What motivation and goal setting guidelines would you follow to make a significant change?

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