When discussing software, it’s very common to hear the question, “Is this possible?” It’s a question I asked many times in my early years as a technology investor. Over time, I realized it’s a problematic question because there is very little that software can’t accomplish. The first step the FE&S industry needs to take to improve it's technology is to remove any disbelief on what’s possible.
Why is virtually anything possible with software? Your organization’s processes can almost always be broken down into a set of defined rules or instructions that govern what actions or decisions are made. A software program is simply a set of rules or instructions for the hardware on your computer to run. Therefore, you can take any of your organization’s processes and recreate them inside a web-based software program.
Importantly, the costs of developing these programs is much lower than one might expect due to major advancements in cloud computing and software frameworks. As a fun example, I was able to recreate a text-based version of the popular game Wordle in 10 minutes with less than 40 lines of code for free. You can check it out here: Wordle - Replit.
Let’s take an example of something we’re actively developing at Centerpiece: Installation Scheduling. Below I’ll show how it can be broken down into a simple set of step-by-step instructions. From there, custom software can automate and/or streamline each step dramatically.
Install Scheduling Steps
- If a project gets awarded/accepted, the dealer assigns a Project Manager to oversee construction and installation
- Once the Project Manager receives the construction schedule (including all installation phases), they alert the Install Manager to schedule a team of installer(s)
- Install Manager searches for installer(s) that are available on those dates AND can handle the installation scope
- Installer(s) and the Install Manager have list and calendar views to stay on top on all of their upcoming installations
Interestingly, there are many parallels between software and commercial kitchen design. With both, the key is to identify the objectives and constraints (the collective rules) and then design from scratch the most efficient solution that will stay within those rules. There is very little that isn't possible when designing a kitchen but there is quite a lot that doesn't fit within the operator's objectives and constraints (budget). It's the same thing with software.
I'll finish this newsletter by highlighting that despite the catchy headline, software does in fact have limits. Computers can do certain things way better than us - they can store way more data, process it much faster and they never make calculation errors. They do a poor job though of handling uncertainty and they have zero ability to build relationships with customers. The power of software is that it allows an organization to take manual work off their team's plate so they can focus on the critical work that computers can't do: finding new customers, servicing existing ones and building more enduring and profitable business relationships.