Sunday, June 13, 2004

People-oriented automation 

Loosely Coupled weblog

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The trouble with traditional enterprise software is that it's rooted in an organizational model that assumes a large bureaucracy shuffling documents around according to preset procedures. Whereas 21st-century business is carried out by delegating decision-making responsibility as far down the reporting line as possible.

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So why not cut out the intermediary and let the user modify the business automation directly? The traditional response is to say that users aren't software experts, and of course that's a valid argument if the only way to change the automation is by recoding the software.

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Nsite describes its services as "business automation on demand." Users can set up forms-based processes such as approval procedures, task management or change control, start using them, and then analyze performance and make changes to fine-tune each process. The service is hosted online, so users don't have to touch the underlying software, and the cost starts from $40 a month for a process with up to 10 users. This hosted service approach means it's possible to get started within days and see a return on the (very small) investment within the first month. It's a very neat way of bypassing the software bottleneck for automating the myriad of small but often troublesome people-oriented processes in a business, and handing control directly to users (but at the same time being able to track the processes that have been set up and also monitor how they're performing).

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