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Enterprise versus Departmental Solutions – Which is Best?

When you’re looking at IT solutions for your organization, the ideal approach would be to create a single capability that ALL departments can use. One solution means that it is easier to support administratively, to work with users – and one vs. many always means cheaper, right? If only it were that easy.

The challenge begins with the approach:

Start from the Department: Trying to harvest the requirements across the entire enterprise and incorporate every department’s needs into a single solution can set you up for an unending nightmare. It takes forever to research and get global consensus. It takes even longer to create something that complicated, then implement it, then prepare the users – I won’t even get started on the headache that is the ongoing system admin on something like that.

Start from the Enterprise: Going the other way isn’t any easier. When the enterprise comes up with a solution, it typically is a real stretch to meet how any department does business day to day. There are generally some common areas, but some of the core missions of a particular department often differ from the others – so you end up with square peg/round hole syndrome. When these are adopted, they are generally not as successful as envisioned. And you’d be hard pressed to find fans in the user base.

Successful enterprise solutions (or ERPs) traditionally focus on those areas across the organization that share common internal activities – finance, HR, etc. It has been our experience that when they go beyond that and try to provide standard tools for supply chain, order management and other customer-facing operations, they haven’t been so successful since those areas tend to have pretty specific requirements. These operational areas are continuously pressured with both cost and competitive challenges, not to mention a need for speed and agility, to adapt as situations develop.

One of the areas HL Group has been able to deliver an effective enterprise approach is with our assetsPLUS solution. There are two primary motivations for implementing a mobile asset inventory solution. One is the need for financial reporting (corporate) and the other is strategic visibility and planning (operations). The challenge is to create a system that can deliver on both motivations and still meet the economic goals desired from an enterprise solution.

Here is how we’re addressing this challenge with one of our large multi-business customers.


This client is a large multi-site and multi-business organization that has a single ERP instance for managing all of their financial requirements. The ERP solution itself has taken many years to complete the installation and has been rolled out to different departments over the course of those years.


Improve the collection – time, effort & accuracy – of fixed asset information for financial reporting annually.


The challenge has been twofold: the first one being the initial load of the asset data. The second challenge is what additional values that the individual department can gain – and ultimately expand its use for them – from this new corporate solution.


Deliver a corporate version of the solution that standardizes asset reporting information in a timely manner. A key part of this solution provides a “tailored” version of the same solution configured to the department’s needs and to the department’s best benefits.

Being able to accomplish this approach with same application, a common user interface, and managing everything with configuration setting (as opposed to customized source code) has been the key to a successful tenure of use. Also, by staying with a common application and database, the cost and time to implement agrees with the original economic goal of having an enterprise solution.


Corporate gets the accurate and timely reporting its wants and the departments get the visibility and tracking tool it needs. When you add in the improved employee moral that comes from not trying to force the square peg into the round hole, it’s a Win – Win – Win.


So when you’re looking at enterprise vs. departmental needs – remember that one focus or the other isn’t always the only choices available. The answer may be a third option – find the balance in the needs of all areas (that is always the challenge in life, isn’t it) – and the right tools. They’re out there. And right here.