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More Introduction: The Current State of Affairs: Why You Can't Email Spreadsheets or Even Use Spreadsheets At All.

7/7/2016 11:23 AM

Yesterday, we talked about How Software is NOT all created equal.  Today, we are going to discuss how the business world works, and why we don't necessarily want, need or have to mock their archaic business processes.  We here at Sentia have automated entire offices out of existence, making all a company's business processes automated.  One of our child companies, Sentia Health was started precisely for that reason and we spend just a few hours a month sending a bill for our services where the company we helped was using an office with dozens of people.  Read on and think about it.

The Current State of Affairs

Every company I can think of, including Microsoft, IBM, Delphi, everyone has some accountant, somewhere, filling out some spreadsheet and emailing it somewhere.  This is a process descended from Bob Cratchit begging for an extra piece of coal for Christmas, while he adds columns of numbers in a ledger.  While this was the way to do things for hundreds, if not thousands of years, this is no longer the case.  So our fictional Mr. Cratchit is filling out his spreadsheets and mailing them around and we, as rational human beings need to look at this process and wonder how we can make it better.  Where does Cratchit’s data come from?  What manner of expertise is he applying to it?  Where is it going?  In nearly every case, Bob is getting his data from some database, applying some manual process to it, and producing a report from it.  We as developers would be far ahead of the curve if we could design and build a report that automates Mr. Cratchit’s job.  If we step back a few more feet and look at the overall picture, not just the big one, we can see that even the database where the data is housed is just one of many, or hundreds that helps Bob’s business stumble along.  Human Resources has a database.  They produce reports and paychecks and hire and fire and all of that.  There is a warehouse somewhere that keeps raw materials or an inventory of finished goods somewhere that Bob has to produce an ageing report for that doesn’t talk with the human resources database, yet there are workers in the warehouse that have to be paid.  Generally, there is an application bought or written for every department in a company and none of these have the faintest idea the others exist.  The natural consequence of all this is that there are many iterations of our Mr. Cratchit sitting around producing reports and shuffling data when they could be off making important decisions and actually helping the company to succeed. 

What should we as developers do about it?  Well, we should take a long, hard look at the current state of the art, and how things are accomplished.  Sure, it is easy to say that we should have one all encompassing database with every attribute of every business entity defined to the nth degree.  For example, when you hire on, you type in your name and Tax Identification Number once and you are set for life instead of writing your name address and telephone number one million times on one million pieces of paper.  We talk about this very subject in todays blog at Sentia HealthThis in and of itself is a daunting task.  There are hundreds of companies in the US alone who do nothing but vend accounting software.  There are hundreds of warehouse management applications as well.  What makes us think we have the corner on the be-all, end-all killer application?  The answer, of course, is that we don’t and we probably can’t.  What we can do is come up with a process, probably an iterative one that defines and redefines the business entities and their interactions and makes it easy to publish these entities to the internet or desktop for create, read, update and delete, and to make them easy to use for reporting purposes.  What is the best way to do that?  We will discuss those very issues in subsequent blog posts.

In the meantime, visit us at Sentia Systems, or send us an email to 

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