Growing up, I worked Saturday’s at my father’s hardware store in a small farming community. It didn’t take me long to learn that the local farmers were masters of ‘out of the box thinking’. It wasn’t uncommon for someone to come in and wander up and down the aisles of tools, plumbing supplies or nuts and bolts just looking while considering the broken equipment that they needed to fix. Sooner or later, they’d come up to the counter with something that they were going to use to fix their problem by using it in a way that was never intended by the manufacture. It may not be pretty, but it would work and they’d avoid spending thousands by investing in $3.78 worth of garage door brackets and a couple of bolts.
In my past life as a consultant, we’d look for a way to meet the needs of the clients, sometimes through customization. I often didn’t agree with this, thinking that there were other ways to get the job done, but I couldn’t explore those options for various reasons like the client not wanting to invest in research, wanting a ‘clean’ solution (i.e. no bolt-on options) , or a lack of willingness to take ownership for one reason or another.
It continues to amaze me how often organizations are willing to spend large amounts of money to buy a system to do something in a ‘pretty way’ when they have the tools in house with their existing systems to get the job done already with a little bit of work. I’m not talking about developing custom solutions that require us to round up the programming team to implement. I’m talking about leveraging functionality that’s already delivered in our products through configuration. Thinking ‘out of the box’ can save us huge amounts of money if we are willing to give a little.
I’ve been exchanging emails recently with a fellow practitioner that is looking for a way to manage credentials. Some expire, some don’t. Some are required, some aren’t. Some are audit-able, some aren’t. Their core HRMS can’t handle this and they are shopping for a specialized system that will be used exclusively for tracking credentials. What is odd to me is that their existing LMS can already do everything that he’s listed as a requirement with out customization, it just stores it in a system other than their core HRMS. Sure, the idea of tracking your RN license in your LMS may seem a bit odd at first, but it really isn’t when you consider that you track the training that your employees take there which result in that license or other certifications. Think CPR training.
When presented with a new challenge, I think we should always wander the aisles of our existing systems looking for a feature that will get the job done, even if it isn’t intended to work that way before we go shopping for new equipment. Many of the systems we have, have lots of functionality that we aren’t familiar with or have never used or considered. Sometimes, you just have to break out the books.