Clients consistently demand more from services firms, including faster time to completion, more specialized projects, and a wider variety of services. In response, firms today are quickly adopting new applications to keep up with rapid changes in their industry and increase customer retention. With focus on keeping pace with modern demands, these fast adoption strategies may not take proper software integration practices into account, resulting in data silos.
The result is often what is known as a “hairball infrastructure” - a tangled map of applications that provide different solutions, which may overlap, contradict, and improperly integrate with one another.
Does this look familiar?
So many choices with little direction on systems architecture means that many services firms have ended up with a hairball infrastructure. While these solutions can enable very specific processes, they often result in greater complications behind the scenes than expected. Success today requires eliminating these complications.
The first step to untangling the hairball infrastructure is to understand its causes and effects.
What Creates a Hairball Infrastructure?
Piecing together a robust collection of applications can give the impression that a business is prepared for any task. But these solutions may be haphazardly adopted and improperly integrated with one another, resulting in poor data collection and visibility, an inability to analyze important information, and the need to use multiple applications to complete a single assignment.
Despite the number of solutions available today, spreadsheets are still one of the most commonly used tools for project and resource management. Combining spreadsheets with various applications causes many services businesses to lack integration in their back-end processes. This results in manual processes to access the data they need to function. As more and more tools are adopted to keep track of ever-increasing services and clients, businesses will only spend more time manually tracking projects, employee assignments, and client feedback.
It’s easy to become accustomed to these manual, time-intensive tasks until they begin negatively impacting margins and utilization rates. However, businesses will often have so many different processes entangled with one another and so little time available to begin fixing their strategy that it may seem intimidating to correct what has gone wrong.
What is the Impact of a Hairball Infrastructure?
A hairball infrastructure will create inefficiencies for any business by causing processes to take longer to complete. The amount of time spent jumping between applications and manually completing tasks that should be automated gradually impacts how a company operates and how its workers function. According to Forrester, the mental block created by constant app switching reduces worker productivity by 40 percent.
The effects of a hairball infrastructure on a business include:
- Limited Views - Teams are unable to see complete project and resource life cycles spread across multiple applications, leading to poor utilization and planning.
- Poor Predictability - Not being able to view past project successes hampers a manager’s ability to foresee the success or failure of in-process and future projects.
- Slow Decision Making - A lack of team coordination can keep employees from creating informed project strategies and then executing tasks efficiently.
- Continual Application Adoption - Businesses will need to consistently adopt more applications to fulfill client demands for new types of services.
- Inaccurate Time Tracking - Employees will track their time less accurately due to completing projects and logging work hours in separate applications.
- Margin Leakage - Project and task systems running separately from apps that track time, costs, bill rates, and more can lead to mismanagement that harms margins.
These effects will vary from business to business depending on how each is run and what types of applications have been adopted. But in any instance, this convoluted collection of technology and inefficient processes will need to be solved to help a business accelerate.
Advance Your Business Processes
Although a hairball infrastructure can marginalize the effectiveness of the systems your company needs to support clients, there is hope. Using the right strategy and transformational technology can untangle your company’s hairball infrastructure and take your business processes to the next level.
Read “Extending the Services-Centric Tech Stack”