Beginning last week and continuing this week, I've been blogging about software for running vs. managing the business. Check out my other posts on this topic first: Day 15 and 16 – Software for Running vs Managing the Business Day 17 and 18 – The Differences Days 19 – 21 – Differences in Data Volumes Here's my post on the difference in user interface: Continuing on with the differences in software for running vs managing the business, we move to difference #2 which I refered to previously as: “The user interface flexibility and generalized customizations for software to run the business is significantly less than those required to manage the business.” In rethinking this, user experience flexibility would have been more accurate than user interface flexibility. I say this because the flexibility has to go a lot further than just the interface itself in management software, since the goal is typically to detect deviations from the plan (exceptions) and determine what to do about it short-term (response management) and longer-term (strategic planning). In most cases, enterprises really drive their compitive advantages in their marketplace through these management processes of early detection, correction and strategy setting and less so through execution of operational processes (Of course there are exceptions to this rule, such as Wal-Mart who out-execute most all retailers. But even in this case, Wal-Mart in part does this by having world-class analytics to drive decision-making.) Stepping back for a minute, it is almost impossible to manage the business without consistency in operational processes. In terms of software, this means that although a company will likely want to do some customization before going live, once the software is in production changes should be minimal. Again, this might seem obvious, but it is not always the rule. As an example, an enterprise deploys SFDC for its’ client-facing folks. If the SFDC application changes frequently, as it often does, it will have negative impacts of adoption (as the experience changes and takes away from time with customers for users) and will make it hard to manage that part of the busines (as there will almost certainly be different data collected at different times of the year leading to bad assumptions off that data – or the data being ignored!). Compare this to what is needed on the management software side … different functions will require different analytic visualizations (dashboards), different analytics driving planning scenarios, alerting rules, dynamic collaboration networks, views by various business dimensions, customized “what-if” scenario creation and more. Each of these rules and views are going to be different by type of business, functional area in the business, and in most cases, customized all the way down to the individual business user to allow him/her to “discover” breakthrough opportunities for the enterprise. To net this out, it really comes down to the point that software to manage the business needs a very high degree of flexibility to give enterprises true breakthroughs.