The online meeting Scott had scheduled began promptly at 2 p.m. Joining Scott on the call were Iliad, Scott’s partner, and from Acme’s side, Art, Sally, and Rupert. Scott cleared his throat and began, “So we had a chance to review the two spreadsheets that Sally sent over. We also had the opportunity to speak with your ERP administrator.”
“Great!” said Rupert, “Luciana knows our ERP inside and out; she’s been the administrator for over ten years.”
“Yes, she was great,” added Iliad, “she confirmed that the purpose of importing the Master spreadsheet was to create employee payroll records.”
“Luciana also confirmed that this was the only HR-related function in the ERP.” Scott added.
“This got us wondering where the other HR-related functions were occurring,” said Iliad, “and we discovered that the Master spreadsheet was being used for much more than just consolidating the Recruit Onboarding data for import.”
“Well, obviously,” said Sally, “we track all sorts of things in that. Healthcare Plans, Certifications, Training Attendance, and more, it is a critical tool for our department!”
“Exactly,” said Scott, “this is why we don’t believe these things should live in a spreadsheet.”
“What are you thinking?” asked Rupert, “I assume you have an idea?”
“First,” said Iliad, “kudos to Bob the spreadsheet creator. He really took Excel to the limit in trying to make it a relational database.”
“And a decade ago,” added Scott, “this would have been state-of-the-art. But we are past trying to make relational databases out of Excel and SharePoint. Neither were ever designed for that.”
“It seems like many people do exactly that,” said Art “I’m an old Microsoft Access guy, and I’ve been saying we should move some of these processes to that.”
“Yes, it is clear that a relational database would be a much better solution,” said Scott, “and the modern alternative to Access is Dataverse, which also happens to be a primary component of the Power Platform.”
“Well, my Access skills are probably rusty anyway.” Said Art.
“Actually,” said Iliad, “the concepts are all very similar, just… modernized with cloud-based storage, role-based security, mobile offline, da..”
“Excuse me!’ interrupted Sally, “I have no idea what you guys are talking about.”
“It’s fine Sally,” said Rupert, “I think they are on the right path, and the technical details are not that important.”
“I’m perfectly capable of understanding,” said Sally, “I just need an explanation.”
“Rupert is right,” Scott said, “the technical details are not that important to any user, but the low-code/no-code capabilities are the key thing.”
“Yeah, well, you can take your low-code and shove it!” said Sally, “I went down that path”.
“It’s not what you can do with it,” said Iliad, “it’s what we can do with it.”
“Well, you guys are expert developers,” said Sally, “what do you need low-code for?”
“For us,” said Scott, “low code is like grease on the wheels; it means our team can do more stuff in less time, which directly impacts the cost.”
“Speaking of cost,” said Rupert, “what are we looking at here?”
“No clue,” said Scott, “we’ll circle back with some estimates.”
As the call ended, Rupert asked Art and Sally to meet him in his office and disconnected.
“Wadya think?” said Art as he walked into Rupert’s office, where Sally was already seated. Art sat in the chair next to her, both facing Rupert.
“I think it is much more involved than we were thinking,” said Rupert.
“Does that mean I won’t get a solution to my problem?” said Sally.
“Not necessarily,” said Rupert, “I have known for some time that we were on borrowed time with some of our technologies. Listening to some of my peers at the CIO conference last month, I already felt we were behind the curve.”
“So our motivation is what?” said Art, “Keeping up with the Jonses? Modernizing ain’t free!”
“No,” said Rupert, “and I doubt there would be an ROI on this particular problem of Sally’s. But I have some much bigger things in mind where there could be a significant ROI. I’m looking at this as more of a test. It’s not a huge problem to solve, but it is moving a complex spreadsheet, for which we have no support, to a relational database, which does sound like the right solution, even for this small issue.”
“It’s not small to me!” said Sally.
“I’m aware this is a problem for you, Sally,” said Rupert, but while solving it will make you happy, it will not have an impact on the organization as a whole. But I have some other ideas that would.”
“Okay, that makes sense to me,” said Art, “let’s see what they come back with.”
Check out the next exciting episode of “Sally in HR has a Business Problem”.