Is Time Travel Possible?

For the past 36 years (has it been that long?), I’ve been involved in moving information from one place to another. Starting with designing firmware for data I/O in multiplexers, I’ve helped with building operating systems, customizing computer languages, rolling out international cash management systems and implementing data exchanges used by thousands of companies in multiple industries. When it comes to moving data to where it needs to go, I’ve seen what works, what doesn’t, and what sort of works.

Systems and services that manage the exchange of information can be a bit like hiring a new employee. It’s easy to tell the competent from the incompetent, but the semi-competent—well, you get strung along until time reveals all. No matter how much is done, how much money is thrown at it, how much technology is used, or how many checklists are created, the benefits never quite come. Or, if they do, they are not as significant as what was anticipated.

Why? It’s not necessarily the software, system, or service, but it is always the goals or objectives. Too many of either and you have the “master of none” situation. In the best case, all the objectives are just barely met, but the results are ambiguous. You have a semi-competent process.

I’ve realized that the most successful data handling projects have very few goals, perhaps only one. The benefit of limited goals comes at the end of the project, when you either have something that works (i.e. competent), or one that doesn’t (i.e. incompetent); it cuts out the chance for a semi-competent result. The danger here is making sure you have the right goal.

At LAMB, we really only focus on one goal for any service we build: “Does it save you time?” Which, for our customers who are primarily “knowledge workers” (re: The Effective Executive, Peter Drucker), means “Does it save you money?”

Before we build anything, we first ask ourselves and our clients, “Will it demonstrably save time?” If not, we don’t build it because it won’t be used anyway. This results in a process that is easier to use, more intuitive, and more robust with a clear ROI. Sometimes the answer is a combination of software and a change in habits. It’s a balance is difficult to find, but magical when applied. And other times, the answer is counter-intuitive.

Some quick examples:

We don’t have search in our communication/collaboration app, Zeltgo. We found that it was significantly faster to search by tag than by typing in a “natural” language search input (like a Google/Bing search bar).

We don’t enforce 150 rules in our Media Advertising EDI service for invoices and contracts/orders like our competitors do. We look at only 10. Invoices and contracts have been around since the dawn of time, and the data really hasn’t changed. We can deliver EDI invoices and contracts/orders faster and more accurately between trading partners by 2 or 3 orders of magnitude.

LAMBHealth, our interoperability service, is built to do only one thing—get the doctors’ office staff, administrators and nurses off of the portals for all patient records. In fact, our doctors are not even using our service to automatically load them into their EMR. They could, but it’s not necessary, and provides a time savings for office staff by removing the need to go to the various portals. The load time into the EMR was inconsequential, so our service provides the same ROI for providers whether or not they have an EMR.

Likewise, our other services, like Plyacle for invoice/order reconciliation and eCopy for managing advertising instructions, are focused on shifting how our customers spend their workday hours. By adjusting the process to save time, whether that’s getting invoices automatically approved and paid or making sure a broadcast or cable network’s system always run the right ad, the LAMB goal is focused on giving you more time to do what matters most.

So, isn’t that time travel? Getting from here to there as quickly as possible?

Warren Lamb
President & CEO
For over three decades, Warren has partnered with media, healthcare, and finance organizations, finding solutions for communication needs and demands.

Published Sep 20, 2016