I spent a summer counting 10,000 wire nuts and connectors.
One by one I counted. Every single piece of material in an electrical warehouse, I counted. Ancient parts, new parts, ruined parts, used parts, I counted. Not only did I count, I rearranged. I cleaned. I sorted. I organized the entire warehouse.
I created an indexing system. I digitized everything. I imported all of these records into inventory management software. I wrote procedures for all of them. I walked through a few quick training courses.
Finally, the electricians could walk through the warehouse. Finally, they could find parts they were looking for. Finally, they could check if parts were in stock from the field. It eliminated hours of time driving back and forth checking for parts.
Everyone was excited.
But it didn’t last.
I returned four months later. The warehouse looked entirely unlike the warehouse I left. In my absence it reverted to its original, primitive state.
The situation frustrated and confused me. It didn’t make sense.
All the workers admitted it made their lives easier. So why didn’t they maintain it? Why did I waste so much of my time on this?
So, I asked them.
Why The System Fell Apart
The frustration I felt walking back into the unkempt warehouse was not unlike the frustration they felt attempting to adopt a system that got in their way. In theory it made their lives easier. In reality it prevented them from doing their job.
Absent someone to manage it, the new system quickly fell by the wayside.
Numerous moving parts made upkeep too costly:
- Who would charge the iPads?
- Who would pay the AT&T bill?
- Who would rest the router if the wifi failed?
- Who would reset the passwords if they were forgotten?
- Who would update the system each time they purchase new parts?
- Who would audit inventory when it got off track?
- Who would answer questions about the software when they came up?
No one. That’s who.
All of those to-do’s stood in the way of their work: providing electrical service to customers. So it’s no surprise what happened. They quickly abandoned the system for what they knew.
They didn’t need a new tool, their trucks were filled with them. They needed a solution.
My system was something that created more work for them. They needed a resource that enabled them to do their jobs better, faster, cheaper. The system lost its value the moment I stopped managing it.
Truly helping small businesses doesn’t mean giving them another tool to manage. They don’t need more. They need less. Truly helping small business means making them the beneficiaries of a service — not the trustees.
Small businesses don’t need another tool. They need an end-all, be-all, do-all, complete, managed solution.