Enough is enough with substandard office furniture dealer business software!

It seems like a lifetime or two ago now but back before the pandemic, the office furniture industry was all about collaboration.

On the product side, the focus was on features and office design that would support greater collaboration among end users, while within the industry itself, there was a lively debate, backed up by a fair amount of development work, about ways to help the various elements of the supply chain work better together and reduce redundancy and manual intervention in routine processes.

On the product side of course, the pandemic brought a huge shift in emphasis, moving the focus away from collaboration and towards what became literally a life-saving effort to provide safe working environments.

Even with that shift, however, the importance of increased collaboration within the industry itself has not diminished. If anything, it’s become even more important as a vastly different business environment has made it more critical than ever, up and down the distribution system, to take advantage of every opportunity to reduce operating costs.

Unfortunately, when you look at some of the tools dealers today are working with to try and do all that, the situation is just shameful!

Like it or not, the ugly truth is that too many dealers are trying to run their businesses with software that may have been just fine when they first saw the light of day twenty or even thirty years ago but those days are long gone and the industry is exponentially more complex and end users are far more demanding.

At a time when our industry is crying out for greater collaboration, those programs are designed and marketed to actively discourage collaboration, with technology providers even going so far as to threaten dealers if they go beyond their own carefully constructed software silos.

We know of at least one dealer, in the Pacific Northwest, whose main technology provider told them he would not let them use his software any more if they persisted in trying to bolt on additional functionality from a third-party source that was intended to sit on top of their primary business software.

Putting it bluntly, that’s outrageous and there’s no reason in the world why any dealer should accept it. The relationship between a technology provider and a dealer is one of partnership, not servant and master and both parties need to recognize that.

Dealers also need to recognize that the advantage in the equation is not all on one side either. Dealers have worked together in the past to strengthen the dealer community as a whole—witness OFDA, WorkPlace Furnishings and INDEAL today—and there’s no reason why they can’t work together again to do the same thing now.

If you allow a vendor to decide what you can and cannot do and accept the limitations they want to impose on you, then you’re only taking what is already a very bad situation and making it even worse. Your customers wouldn’t take that from any of their suppliers and neither should you!

And if your current technology vendor isn’t giving you the tools you need to run your business the way you want to in 2021 and beyond and, indeed, if they’re more obstacle than facilitator for that, you owe it to yourself, the people who work for you and to your customers to go out and find someone who can before things get even worse!

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