The Systems Staircase
Visualize the Hierarchy of Systems Maturity in an Organization as a Steep Staircase.
1st Level - Manual Systems.
2nd Level - Data Sources like Spreadsheets, Databases & Other Documents.
3rd Level - Independent Standalone Standard Packages / Custom Built Bespoke Software Solutions .
4th Level - Integrated ERP Systems .
5th Level - EAI (Enterprise Integration Application) & similar Systems.
Is it tough climbing The Systems Staircase ?
Level 1 - Manual Systems at the bottom of the systems staircase
Organizations need to have properly defined manual systems to get started.
These could be in the form of paper based registers e.g.
For it's accounting operations, an Organization may have a manual 'Payment Register','Receipt Register', etc.
A Doctor's Office may have a manual 'Patient's Register', 'Charges Register', etc. In these registers, the entries are made manually by the users.
Instead of registers, some use notebooks & pads to record information by hand.
It is important to understand that unless manual systems are in place (which implies that basic procedures are being followed), even the simplest computerization activities cannot be done satisfactorily.
The scope and depth of information being maintained in these manual registers must be studied thoroughly to proceed ahead.
Level 2 - Data Sources like Spreadsheets, Databases & Other Electronic Documents
After manual systems, the next logical progression step on the 'Systems Staircase' is to have data entered and stored in Office Productivity Software like Electronic Word Processing Documents, Spreadsheets and simple databases.
This enables the organization to use the properly defined manual systems in Level 1 to start organizing their data systematically.
It also inducts a disciplined attitude in the daily operational work procedures, routines, activities and tasks.
Level 3 - Independent Standalone Standard Packages / Custom Built Software Solutions
The next stage beyond storing data in spreadsheets and simple databases is using standalone software packages that take care of specific aspects of the organization's work functionality.
These independent software solutions help move the organization's systems usage to the 3rd step just before an integrated ERP solution can be used.
Some organizations prefer to work directly at Step 3 without going through Steps 1 & 2.
Also, the organization must be ready to work with such a standard software solution and not demand too much customization as a starting point.