There are very few organizations that work paperless. Recent research has even shown that paperless is no longer a priority for most managers. This seems strange, given the huge increase in mobile working. What’s more, a paperless organization offers a lot of benefits!

Pessimistic about paperless

Organizations are still printing a lot and the current expectation is that this will not change in the near future. In recent years, paperless has even become less popular among managers.

This is intriguing, because cloud applications have gotten safer, faster and less expensive. In other words, transitioning to a paperless office has never been easier. Add to that the proven advantages of paperless: improved accessability allowing better communication with colleagues, which leads to higher productivity. So why are so many organizations still printing stacks of paper every day?

The numbers of paperless

To get a good view on the advantages of paperless, let’s take a quick look at some facts about the use of paper and the interest in paperless:

  • 53% of managers is interested in working paperless
  • 84% of users still work on desktop computers
  • 71% of people says paperless is not applicable to every project
  • On average people still print 22.1 sheets per day
  • Managers print more than others (29.4 prints per day versus 17.8 prints per day)

Unnecessary fear

Why do so few organizations prioritize paperless, while the technology is readily available? Accessibility doesn’t seem to be an argument, since digital data is more easily accessible than paper, and from every location.

Is it management that fears security of information that is stored elsewhere? In my experience, this is no longer an argument that managers use. Most companies use at least some form of (private) cloud storage, even for confidential information.

Add to this that modern cloud applications are very safe, and it seems that fears that used to exist, nowadays are no longer founded.

Digital communication mindset

The real issue is the mindset that organizations have when it comes to digitalization. Most organizations focus on digitizing paper. But simply replacing a sheet of paper with a PDF document does not yield the expected results. And more importantly, it doesn’t leverage the real power that digitalization has to offer.

Going paperless requires rethinking of processes. Things that are now on a single piece of paper, might have more value when split and recombined with other data. Some information that is now always filled out, may only be necessary in a very specific situation. Rethinking processes with a digital mindset is key to going paperless.

Practically everyone has at least some experience with software creation. People who have been involved with it in one way or another almost always have the same experience. That it is as expensive as it is time-consuming, and that is frustrating to say the least.

When we tell people about a product that eliminates such bottlenecks, they are always skeptical and we cannot blame them. But once our customers start working with Triggre, their initial doubts melt away like snow in the sun. So, why is that?

From idea into reality and fast!

Triggre empowers customers by allowing them to create their own software. Just do it yourself and let us provide support during the entire – ongoing – process. Our motto? ‘Let’s get to work as soon as possible.’ Of course, it’s necessary to document certain things, but we minimize the theoretical stage to the greatest possible extent. Because once our customers have created their first application, they experience a mind shift.

Just go

It’s easy to create software from scratch with Triggre and experience a first result. From there on out they can start adapting and calling on our expertise and experience whenever necessary. That’s where it gets interesting, because they have experienced how easy it is to transform an idea into reality. They can use Triggre as a toolbox to change and create virtually anything. Their first software product is only the beginning of an innovative and fun software creation journey!

Adapting to an ever-changing world

Today’s society is subject to change. To adapt to our dynamic, ever-changing world, our customers need to be able to change course in an instant. Triggre allows them to adjust their software rapidly and to adopt a more creative mindset. Whenever, wherever. The latter ensures that they can respond to societal changes in an innovative way, quickly implementing their own ideas as well as those of their customers.

Like riding a motorcycle

 ‘Creating software: isn’t that very difficult?’ It is a question we regularly get. In our case, the answer is very simple: ‘No.’ Everyone who can think in processes and make an Excel formula will be able to work with Triggre. Obviously, it has a learning curve, but you will understand it very quickly. It’s like riding a motorcycle: once you’ve learned the basics, you can ride off into the sunset and enjoy your freedom!

Author: Rutger Boomars

A recent article on AG Connect, a Dutch IT website, states that half of all IT professionals is going to either switch jobs or demand a big raise this year. In Great Britain it’s even worse, with 76% of all IT specialists looking to switch jobs. Everything considered, companies will be paying a premium for their IT specialists this year.

The reasons for IT specialists to demand a raise or switching jobs is because they feel they deserve to be paid more. Some even said that the global shortage of IT specialists was the sole reason to ask for a raise.

Demand for custom software

The world-wide demand for custom software has increased enormously over the past 5 years, Forrester Research found. From USD 43 billion 5 years ago to USD 136 billion now. That is more than 25% growth per year!

The most important reasons for the growth of the demand for custom made software are the gap between installed software and cloud based software, mobile applications and niche players with complex needs that cannot be met by standard software.

The IT specialist shortage in numbers

IT specialists are in short supply, as can easily be seen in the top 20 most desired skills on Upwork.com. Out of that top 20, a whopping 12 are IT specialist skills. So there seems to be a big demand for them. But how big is that exactly?

In the United States, the number of graduates in Computer Science was about 50.000 last year. If we compare that to the number of job openings for software engineers in the US, we see a huge gap. There are 223.000 job openings. This shortage is of course reflected in the average salary, which in the US is already at USD 100.000 for an entry level software engineer. Even higher salaries are very common.

The number of graduates is expected to grow over the next years though, to about 400.000 graduates in 2020. The big problem is that the expected growth of the number of job openings is even larger. In 2020 it is expected that the US alone has about 1.4 million job openings for software engineers.

Let’s do the math

We have all learned that if demand increases, price also increases. The question of course is, how much will the salary of entry level software engineers rise, given the numbers discussed?

Simply filling out the formulas for supply and demand gives a number that may come as a shock. On the low end we’re talking USD 270.000. And at the top-end it is USD 335.000. Please note that this does NOT include inflation, and that we’re talking about people who have just graduated university.

And at that price level, it seems that making custom software will simply be too expensive for all but the richest companies.

Information provision: that’s a keyword for chemical company OCI Nitrogen. A while ago, OCI asked its customers how it could better fulfill their needs. The outcome was a customer portal that would leave enough room for expansion, change, and an exploration of opportunities, as OCI wants to be able to handle its customers’ (changing) wishes in a flexible manner.

In collaboration with Triggre, the company has built a customer portal with savvy features that makes its clients’ lives a whole lot easier. In this blog, we’d like to tell you a bit more about the way in which we set up and designed the portal.

Process

After creating a proof of concept to give OCI an idea of what the portal would look like, we presented our approach to the project as well as our solutions to their most crucial obstacles. After they greenlighted it, we started with a small version that could be tested by OCI employees immediately. After their approval, a group of OCI clients provided their feedback, which we processed in consultation with OCI.

This successful process has now become ongoing: OCI clients communicate their ideas, which OCI includes in the portal where possible. Initially, customers could only email their suggestions, but the first improvement contained a functionality that allowed them to submit these through the portal as well. It’s smooth, easy, customer-friendly and quality-enhancing. And it perfectly fits our lean startup method.

Challenges

Of course, OCI and Triggre encountered a few challenges during the process. The biggest one by far was connecting the portal to their core system (SAP) where all customer information, invoicing, and core processes are handled. Although technically challenging, we made a team effort to realize it, and Triggre provided the necessary support.

Factors for success

Both OCI and Triggre are very satisfied with the outcome of the process and the ongoing collaboration. OCI clients have indicated that they are happy with the portal, which they can use to place orders from any location and from all different types of devices: from desktop to tablet to smartphone. Moreover, Triggre is always ready to support OCI employees to utilize all features of the Triggre Designer. We think along with OCI and try to empower them, which contributes to our successful collaboration. And last, but not least: OCI and its clients really like the portal’s responsive design!

Author: Rutger Boomars

Two weeks ago, I shared our vision on how visionary IT departments are allowing business units to make software themselves. If you’ve read the post, which I would recommend, you probably have a profound meaning about business users making software. Especially business critical software. If you are like most people, you are either strongly for, or strongly against it.

Now, you probably guessed that I, being CTO of Triggre, am strongly for business users making their own software. This is not the case. Am I against it then? That would be strange, for a company that allows you to ‘make software yourself’. No, I am also not against it. I believe that it is dependent on the tool meeting the needs of both IT departments and business users sufficiently to allow people to make software themselves.

But business users and IT professionals are facing a huge divide. To understand how Triggre helps to bridge this divide, let’s dive into this important dilemma.

The problems IT departments face

I have the utmost respect for IT departments. They face a very tough job. When all the software the company uses works flawlessly, meaning the IT department is doing an excellent job, no one notices. On the other hand, if something goes wrong, all hell breaks loose. And it doesn’t even matter whether it’s the IT departments fault…

This is without a doubt a very unthankful job in that sense, while vital to the business. Therefore, it isn’t strange that IT departments worldwide have adopted a strategy to have as much in their span of control as they possibly can. That way, at least when something goes wrong, the chance it’s their fault is higher and they can learn and improve. Very understandable.

The problems business units face

On the business side of the organization, business units face problems too. Customers have become much more demanding in the past decade than before, due to globalization. There is always another supplier, as most companies simply ship worldwide. So business units struggle to provide ‘added value’. The customer experience has become key, and quite frankly, the only reason left why people would ever pay more for what is essentially the same product.

The problem with added value is that competitors easily copy it. Which means that speed and flexibility become important. The faster you can get your unique process implemented, the longer you can enjoy being the only company to have this added value.

The collision

When business units want to quickly make new processes available for customers and other stakeholders, and IT departments want to keep everything under control, they collide. This is what causes the big misunderstandings between IT departments and business units. Both have the best intentions for the organization in mind, they just differ in perspective.

In my opinion, both are correct. The IT department is correct in wanting to make sure that the software solutions that are used are robust, well maintained and predictable. This is also why CIOs tend to choose the big names; no-one has ever been fired for selecting Microsoft, SAP or Oracle.

On the other hand, business units simply need to be flexible. Business users don’t understand why everything that involves IT must always be hard and take very long. I understand this feeling very well, we all want things to go faster.

How to bridge the gap

The divide is big, but bridgeable. The key here is to understand that a flexible solution must be rigid and controlled in some places. At the core of the organization, the IT department must be able to make sure that things run smoothly. Connections between applications and processes involving core data are important to keep stable. Not only for IT, also for business units. But the processes on top of those core processes, can be flexible. It is this area where business users should be able to easily make software themselves. Using core processes and data easily, as managed by the IT department, but with the freedom, speed and flexibility to perfectly serve customers and other stakeholders. And that is exactly what Triggre was designed for.

In my next post I will give examples of features and we implemented them in Triggre, that support this new way of working between IT departments and business units.

Simply put, digitization comprises the processing of analogue actions in a system. It is often confused with automation – which, in fact, takes digitization to a whole different level by performing procedures automatically. Basically, digitization is merely a first step – and only after that, things tend to get really interesting. Therefore, it’s a shame that automation is often overlooked!

From digitization to automation: an example

From rental agreements to phone contracts: a company usually enters all its legal paperwork into one system, eliminating traditional binders and increasing control as well as efficiency. But all that digitally available information is just lying there. How can you make it work to your advantage?

Suppose your company is a cell phone provider. All customer contracts have been entered into the system. Now, automation would allow you to indicate that you’d like to receive a notification of all contracts that will expire in three months. As a result, you will be able to automatically send out periodic renewal offers to customers that may be thinking about switching to your competitor – in due time and without a lot of effort.

Today, companies that utilize automation in such smart ways are the ones that perform best in terms of growth and revenue. Not surprising, as simplifying time-consuming processes is a profitable endeavor.

How about your organization?

Would you like to make automation work for your company, too? There’s no need to bring in all kinds of experts – like consultants and programmers – that drag you through months of preparatory work. Triggre abridges the process, allowing you to automate at your own pace. Just register and carry out your first idea. With Triggre, you can take it step by step.

Say, it’s three months later and automation is working great for you. Now, you’d like to automate a range of tasks – for example, in an online customer portal, leading customers seamlessly through all the steps in a purchasing process, making it a breeze to buy your products. To this end, you can create a flow that can be used to perform all tasks from start to finish without the need for additional explanatory information. Such user-friendly solutions can be realized in no time using Triggre.

So what are you waiting for? Don’t stop after you’ve digitized. Automate. Start today!

Why do you want to create software in the first place? What motivates you? Probably either one of the following goals: saving costs by automating more aspects of your business or generating more returns. Or, ideally, both of them.

No software, no future

Expensive and comprehensive software creation processes prove to be a hurdle for many organizations. This results in a problem: a lot of time intensive and repetitive tasks are not automated, new business opportunities are missed. If, however, you want to make your business future proof, you need to make software the heart of your business model. In a few years, all business models will have some sort of software component.

As developments follow each other rapidly today, you simply can’t afford to have ‘static’ software. If you want to change your software radically ten days after completing it, you have to be able to do this hassle free. And if you wish to try out a brand-new app and receive real-time user feedback, you should be provided with the opportunity to do so.

Just the fun part

To bring the fun factor back in creating software it needs to become easy-to-adapt, not-complex, and user-friendly. A solution that can repeatedly stand the short tests of time and is able to grow with your company. That’s what we had in mind when we created Triggre.

Can everyone just create software using Triggre? That depends. Have you clarified your business processes and are you able to write them down? Then yes, you can work with it, as Triggre generates your software based on the business process input that you provide it with. All software created with Triggre is automatically tested, you can only create software that really works. We check whether your processes are properly modeled on the fly and issue a clear warning if they need your attention.

In conclusion: yes, you can create software without ever having to see a single line of code. Just know your business process through and through, and you will only experience “the fun part” of software creation!

Becoming an idea generator

Let us tell you briefly about one of our customers. They’ve been working with Triggre for a while now, and after every client meeting, they’re full of inspiration. Triggre welcomes their creativity, allowing them to add new value-adding ideas all the time. Becoming an idea generator and putting all their insights smoothly into practice has made them very happy. And it’s sure made software creation fun!

Saturday’s edition of Dutch financial newspaper ‘Financieel Dagblad’ featured an article about how self-directed teams can help a company be successful in today’s fast changing world. The article starts off with a great example of giving people the ability to influence decisions. At Zappos, employees received an email with a very generous offer to leave the company. The reason for the offer: Zappos was introducing a new management structure based on self-directing teams, the so called ‘holacracy’. And Tony Hsieh, the CEO, wanted to make sure everyone was on-board 100%.

The action that Zappos’ CEO took is an excellent example of ensuring the presence of one of the three important cornerstones of self-directing teams: intrinsic motivation. But intrinsic motivation is not enough: self-directing teams must also have the ability to make decisions themselves and possess the means to execute those decisions.

Making software yourself

The availability of technology is one of the most important aspects for the success of self-directing teams, according to the article. It is important to have access to all the necessary information, which means an open information structure is required. Also, all employees must be able to easily communicate, share information and cooperate. The available technology must also be usable by all employees. Even better, says Saskia Nijs, is to have teams being able to make software themselves.

Allowing self-directing teams to make software themselves increases the fit between the software that supports the process and the actual business process. Since companies, and self-directing teams in particular, want to be flexible, it is of the utmost importance that the software that is created can easily be adapted. This ensures that the software will keep its perfect fit with the business process over time.

Start adopting self-directing teams

A good start for learning about self-directing teams is the book ‘Reinventing Organizations’ by Frederic Laloux et al. An excerpt of the book is available on their website. Another fantastic book about self-organizing teams is Tribes by Seth Godin. A brief overview of Tribes was given on a TED conference by Seth Godin himself. Finally, if you want more information on the organizational structure known as holacracy, check out their website.

Recently, Dutch television program Zembla aired a disturbing report about IT consultancy firm CapGemini. The episode, aptly called “The spaghetti code” shows the viewer in detail how companies such as CapGemini score multi-million Euro deals, while delivering software that isn’t even close to being considered good. These companies keep on getting major deals, while they continuously deliver bad software. So how is that possible?

IT consultancy back in 2000

It all reminded me of something I experienced back in university. When I was a sophomore, a job market was organized for students to find out what kind of jobs could be interesting for them. And for companies to market themselves, obviously. Nothing wrong with a good bit of matching supply and demand!

The job market hosted a lot of different companies. On one end of the spectrum there were the research institutes who seemed to have sent their shyest people to the fair, looking to score the interest of yet another beautiful mind. On the other end of the spectrum were the IT consultancy firms. With their slick suits and perfect brochures, they were looking to pique the interest of as many a student they could. IT was booming back in the early 2000’s.

So far, nothing was wrong. I could appreciate the diversity of jobs being offered, with the same degree of diversity in appearance somehow going along with it. What struck me as principally wrong only surfaced when I talked to some of the IT consultancy firms…

Cars, phones, laptops, even the rest of my university degree paid for by the company was offered to me, as long as I would agree to work for them part-time now and at least 3 years after I had gotten my degree. And it wasn’t just me they were offering this to, it was everyone. All students they could get their hands on got these sort of offers. Some of them may well have accepted the offer. After all, it sounds pretty nice, right? The problem here, for me, is that it just doesn’t add up.

I am a firm believer when it comes to information technology. It can, and does, help our lives get better every year. I am also not against making money. Even loads of money, no problem either. The point is that in my belief there should be a correlation between the amount of money earned and the value added. Yet these companies do not actually add value. They only make money, so much was already clear to me back then, as the papers were full of stories of IT consultancy firms failing to deliver the software they had promised. But they nevertheless send a hefty invoice.

The only reason to get as many students in, was to have them work projects that could be sold with extremely high margins. Even if only a few students would actually stay with them, they would already have earned at least twice as much as they would have to pay for the student’s education. And to me this seems wrong. Not because they earn money, but because the customer doesn’t know that students are doing the work, and that he’s paying a lot more than what he’s getting is worth.

IT consultancy these days

And that brings us back to 2015. A huge IT bubble and devastating financial crisis later, yet nothing has changed. Big IT consultancy firms still deliver bad software, and still earn a lot of money doing so. Zembla asked Graham Bolton, a software quality researcher, to take a look at one of the projects. As Graham stated, the quality was appalling.

The problem with software quality is a lot like the quality of a car. Most people take a look at the outside, sit in it for a while, make a short test drive and conclude that “this is a good car”, so they proceed to buy it. However, the true quality of a car is in intricate details about the engine, suspension, type of brakes used and so on and so on. You have to be an expert to know these things.

For software, it is the same. To really know the quality of software, you have to look under the hood. Because software quality, or rather the lack of it, only starts to show after a while. Like a low-quality car that requires major maintenance and replacements before it even does 50.000 kilometers, software with low quality will require a lot more effort to fix once defects are found. And that is not even taking into account evolving the software, which these days is a necessity since the world around us is changing very quickly and companies need to adapt.

Don’t play business poker

In the end it all boils down to the business model. The customer usually has a simple model; there is a business case which they want to implement. So certain costs should relate to certain gains in the organization, preferably yielding a profit or other advantage. Not so much for the supplier though…

IT consultancy firms earn their money per man hour. And so the more hours they spend, the more they earn. So it is not in their best interest to make sure that the customer gets the best business case possible. Rather, it is in their interest to get a business case that is just barely acceptable. But it is even more interesting for them, to play what I like to call business poker.

Business poker is played like this. First, the consultancy firm bets low, to make sure you stay on board. For most projects this means that they make sure they propose the lowest price possible. Alternatively, they could make an illegal price deal with competitors, as we see in other markets sometimes. Nevertheless, you go along, because it seems like you have a great hand!

And now they begin to slow-play their hand. Each little thing that is not exactly as stated in the initial requirements, will cost you a lot extra. And not only because they are slow-playing, but also because it will just take them forever to add it. Since the initial offer was so low, they will implement it with junior programmers, as Zembla has shown, which leads to hard-to-maintain software under the hood.

Finally, you are so committed to playing this hand, because you have already invested so much in this deal, you feel like you have to “play out your hand”. It is simply too costly to fold. And that is exactly what IT consultancy firms want. They want to hook you in a way you can’t get out of without throwing away a lot of money. It feels like it will be cheaper to call their hand, and have a slight chance of winning, then folding and knowing for sure you have lost your money.

Avoid misaligned business models

While the IT consultancy firms will probably never admit this, their goals are not aligned with yours. If it really comes down to it, they will choose their best interest over yours. And that is something that most companies would do, it is hard to blame them for it. So how can you tackle this misalignment in goals?

There is no way that a consultancy firm will be able to fully align their goal with yours, the business models just differ too much. But knowing this, means that you can at least dictate terms that force the consultancy firm has to deliver good, highly maintainable software. You can build this knowledge yourself, if you have at least intermediate programming knowledge. A great place to start is the book Code Complete 2nd Edition, which describes all of the important characteristics of well-written code in detail. Alternatively, if you do not want to internalize this knowledge or simply don’t have the means to, I highly recommend hiring a firm that can help you set up the right terms in your contract. There are many such firms, Graham Bolton’s SQMI comes to mind as well as QSM.

Ultimately, finding a solution that provides a completely aligned business goal is preferable. Companies that fully align their business model put themselves in a vulnerable position. They have to make sure you are successful in order to be successful themselves. This characteristic is more often found in smaller companies, which have a lot to gain from every customer that speaks highly of them, as well as companies that have a pricing model that scales with your actual use. Because if you are happy to use the software and it gives you an advantage, you will use it more, in which case it is fine for your supplier to earn more.

Let me introduce you to a person. Someone to take into account. He probably works at the same company, or in the same office. Maybe it’s even you. His name is Chief 2.0 and he is a professional smart guy.

Maybe you remember the chief 1.0. He was a professional smart guy too, but he always wanted to play it safe. When carrying out IT projects, it took weeks or even months to define the scope and write a plan. Fully detailed he presented his plan. Only shortly after this painstaking period of writing, it appeared that the plan was already outdated. According to his coworkers other requirements needed to be implemented. Progressive insight, they said.

People who embrace change

Sure, Chief 1.0 was a capable manager. In his era. But he did not like changes. Rather he searched for stability and guarantees.

The world is changing fast. And it is going to change even faster. Companies need to implement the mentality that enables them to change as fast as required. They need people who embrace change. They need more Chiefs 2.0.

Chief 2.0: no change, no go

A chief 2.0:

  • Is a smart thinker;
  • Spots opportunities and grabs them;
  • Is an adventurer, likes pioneering with new technology;
  • Has the urge to improve things;
  • Does not accept the status quo;
  • Inspires and motivates people;
  • Gets things done!

Do you embrace change? Do you get things done?

Maybe you are the star for your company, because you are a Chief 2.0!