Hermann Stainer

IP-Software Developer & Consultant, MBA, CEO of Sympatent Software GmbH

Recent Articles

Leaving Pen And Paper Behind

Many companies prefer to solve even complex problems with pen and paper rather than software. The reasons are false reservations and bad experiences in the past. But the potential cost and time savings are enormous.

When consulting clients in software matters, at the first meeting I often notice a certain fundamental fear, if not resentment against software as a problem-solving tool in general. Solutions that have become indispensable for day-to-day business, such as word processing, accounting or customer administration, are used and accepted, but for everything else, many businesses prefer to use pen and paper. Software is not uncommonly perceived as a time waster, a burden and something with which one would like to have as little to do as possible.

Excel In The Wild

A real example: In a manufacturing company, individual orders were managed centrally—handwritten. While this worked smoothly on calm days, the overview was completely lost at high utilization—and this obviously was the naturally desired state of affairs. The problems were numerous: status of individual orders unknown, timely completion to the promised delivery date at risk, employees unknowingly working against each other. The management had different ideas to tackle the problem using the same methods that were always used: circulation slips and a big whiteboard were put in use and soon discarded. Finally, the idea came up to use a software solution. Without research or consultation they resorted to the most obvious software product, the only too well-known, supposed Swiss Army knife of the software world: Excel, the spreadsheet from Microsoft. With great expenditure of time of all participants an attempt was made to use it as a project management solution.

The end was inevitable: after countless hours, endless anger and frustration to keep the one, centralized Excel file up to date, they returned to pen and paper with all the familiar procedures and challenges. Software as a whole had failed as a solution—after all, they had tried Excel and it did not work out.

There will always be issues that software cannot help you with. But let me assure you that a) in all other cases, the right software solution to your problem is something that can save you a significant amount of time and money. That b) this solution is not too complex to be operated by you and your employees, and that c) its developing company knows the challenges of your industry only too well and has years of experience in solving them.

How To Find Suitable Software For Your Business

These are my three recommendations to you to find this software solution:

  1. Ask your trusted expert, as soon as possible! This may sound incredibly obvious—yet, in my experience, it is not done often enough, which introduces the immediate and great danger of you unnecessarily limiting yourself. As in the example above, you might end up going in the wrong direction altogether. And all that despite the fact that—according to my experience—nowadays literally every company has an external “software guy” or “IT person” only a phone call away. My advice: consult this person with your questions, and do that right at the beginning!
  2. Do not be afraid to ask someone else who is just a click away: Google. Look for your problem along with the keywords “software” and / or “cloud”. Within ten minutes you will have an overview of available solutions that might provide exactly what you are looking for. Many software products nowadays run as a so-called cloud application in your web browser, in other words you do not have to install anything or worry about your own IT infrastructure. In addition, such applications often offer short introductory videos on their website. Use the available information to quickly sort out what you like and don’t like. And best of all: almost all providers of such software offer a free test phase without any obligations.
  3. Almost certainly, there will be trade shows or industry events for your sector. Even if the event location or date is unfavorable to you, or you simply do not have the time for a personal visit, the event’s website will provide you with a list of exhibitors. With a little luck, after just a short search, you will find exactly the right provider for your future software solution.


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About the Author

Hi, I’m Hermann, I’m in the software business for 20 years—welcome to my website! Here I write mostly about both the software industry in general and my personal experiences with my company Sympatent.

My specialty is IP (=intellectual property) software, which is used by patent professionals such as law firms or companies that own patents.

If you have a question about one of my articles, something to share or just want to chat, please contact me!