As your business matures to the point that you have begun to develop systems, processes and methodologies, your business will need to decide on tools to manage these processes and enforce the best practices.
For example, my business is a professional services company, so the following are key processes for us: performing estimation, authoring proposals, tracking time, invoicing for time. This is effectively the "Operations" of our business, and therefore the software that supports these operations could be referred to as "line of business" software.
If your business has any data associated with its operations (yes, this means 100 percent of you), you need line of business software. This software will, over time, accumulate the data that you will study and analyze to learn about your company's effectiveness as well as to identify shortcomings and opportunities for improvement.
For example, in my business, I might like to know the following:
- How much administrative time do we spend each week?
- What types of tasks do we typically over/under-estimate?
- What is the typical ratio of Project Management to Software Development time on different types of projects
- Which developers are strong at estimation? Which need improvement?
- How can we know if we're ahead/behind on a given project before we come to a milestone/deliverable?
Answers to these and other questions allow me to improve the service to my clients as well as guide mentorship and training investments in my staff.
What are the essential processes of your business? Do your employees have the tools that they need to be successful? Many times, you are asking them to do the job "the way [you] would do it." Can you really hold them accountable to replicate the success that you have had personally if they do not have the proper tools? Line of business software is the toolset that your information workers need to be successful.
Finally, to acquire line of business software for your business, you should consider these three options:
- Buy (typically either a “horizontal” solution, like ERP/Accounting/HR or a “vertical” solution specific to your industry)
- A Combination of Build and Buy (integrate several off the shelf options)
A good software consulting company can help you with this decision.