Few people really understand the significance and importance of business defined attribute fields in software design and operation generally and in Integrated Business Information Systems and ERP generally. This document headlines the reasons why your organization should invest in developing a really high quality set of Attribute Fields and populating them with really high quality structured data.
1. Attributes are the way we accurately model the real world
Attributes are the way we model the real world. They can be as simple as a male / female gender classification and as complex as a huge product classification for a mining operation.
2. Strategic Attributes are often less tangible
Strategic Attributes are often less tangible, a client, in the business of marketing and selling Golf Clubs identified the sound that a Driver (a type of club) makes as an important characteristic in buyers fashion driven purchase decisions – buy clubs that sound the same as the club used by the world champion. These items are often tacit and it can require strategically skilled facilitation to identify them and populate the associated lists.
3. User defined Attribute fields cost very little to add at the configuration stage
When user defined attribute fields are added to a logical entity while the system is being configured the time cost of specifying and adding them is small relative to the total cost of the system investment. Many times it also takes only a few minutes of the appropriate (executive) time to populate these lists and yet they add huge value. Adding them later can be a very costly matter because of the time taken for testing, updating of working procedures, manuals, training materials, new instructions to staff, changes to stationery and all the time required to go back and classify historical entries when no-one can really remember the exact characteristics.
4. Strategically designed attributes open the door for strategically clever customization
The presence of strategically designed and precision structured and coded attribute lists and master list classifications opens the door for small pieces of strategically clever custom software to add HUGE and lasting strategic (competitive / thrive) value as well as huge operational value and process efficiency. These pieces of software are frequently ONLY possible with really well designed attribute fields and attribute list content and can raise the strategic (competitive / thrive) value of an IBIS / ERP / Other IT investment by a factor of ten or even a hundred by enabling the client organization to do things that would otherwise be impossible.
5. The allocation of values during operational processing costs almost nothing
Once user defined attribute fields have been added, it costs almost nothing to add the few extra values to take-on sheets or screens by senior people who are fully immersed in the business and are aware of the nuances of products, customers, personnel, etc. These are the same people who are generally customers for this information months or years later. To go back and retro-classify the same data when the attributes are no longer top of mind or at your fingertips is generally a more time consuming process but is nevertheless STILL worth doing.
6. The capture of attribute values at take-on time costs almost nothing
Where punch operators are taking on data or data is being supplied by suppliers who can be persuaded to include the attributes in their databases the finger on the keyboard time to capture a few extra attribute values is zero or close to zero and so a wealth of additional information is acquired at almost no operational cost. Even where some digging IS required, creative measures can greatly reduce the acquisition cost.
7. The absence of Strategic Attributes is the biggest single factor in big sub-optimal system investment performance
The absence of strategically aligned and focussed attribute data, as well as operationally relevant attribute data – “every possible attribute you can think of” is the biggest single reason why executives cannot get answers to their questions from their ERP and other Integrated Business Information System (IBIS) investments. The cost of adding these items later is much greater but IS still warranted in terms of the savings that follow such an enhancement of a piece of software and its configuration.
8. The JAR&A approach to strategic attribute definition and population is unique
I have been developing and using such attribute tables since 1987 and have seen some dramatic improvements in strategic AND operational efficiency and effectiveness as a result. I regard these fields as absolutely essential for any business systems investment and have very diverse experience with regard to the identification and population of these fields.
I hope that this provides some information to stimulate your interest in custom attribute fields and look forward to the opportunity to develop such fields for your organization