Many organizations that I work with have this concern when we first start discussing a software for tracking performance of individuals on the shop floor.
I recently wrote an article on my blog called, “Custom Software is a Bad Idea.” This came out of conversations where we were discussing the differences between custom software and configured software. Custom Software describes a situation where a company would have customer software engineering done for their specific situation. Configured software describes software that is setup for a company’s operations via a user interface, often by the customer themselves. Ampogee is a configured software because our customers can update information in the app such as products, reason codes (when a manufacturing standard isn’t met), employees, etc. Ampogee, by definition, is a SaaS product. If you’re unfamiliar with that acronym, it is Software as a Service. The simple way to look at this is that Ampogee is web-based software. It’s sold as a service to our customers, and delivered via the web. It requires no integration with backend systems such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), MRP (Manufacturing Resource Planning) software or anything else, including machines on the shop floor. Quite frankly, this is the secret sauce to Ampogee because it’s super fast to implement (an afternoon basically) and requires no other resources at the customer except for some iPads (which we can provide) and an occasional Wifi connection. (The iPads can collect data off-line, so this is often just daily to sync data back to the mothership.) The key is that Ampogee isn’t custom software. It’s in use at many different companies with many different processes and is configurable to work well in just about any environment where production throughput is countable. We have had customers in the past ask us to customize the software. Initially we were hungry enough to say yes. What we’ve come to realize is that it’s generally a bad idea. Now, we stick to the notion of configurable which means that our software is well tested across a broad range of customers, new features and benefits are easily rolled out to all of our customers, and whenever issues arise such as security bugs, updates in web browsers or iOS (on the iPad), or any number of other things come up, we can roll those changes out globally. What’s more, we feel strongly that Ampogee’s apps, including our iPad app for operators on the shop floor, scoreboards for teams on the shop floor, and dashboards for managers, provide great value across organizations and industries by providing the right level of configurability to account for nuances across organizations and industries while also being robust, bug free, and secure for all of our users. If we were to go down the path of writing custom software for customers, we would lose this advantage that we feel is core to the successful implementation of Ampogee in manufacturing organizations.