An Overview of the State of Enterprise Software Workarounds 2018

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Workarounds are one of the biggest and most misunderstood issues facing organizations today. The vast majority of businesses running enterprise software are asking their solutions to do things they were never designed to do. This leads to the creation of workarounds, or ways to go around an issue rather than fixing it.

That’s why we just launched a new mission to end workarounds.

As we started this journey, one of our biggest questions was figuring out what the most common workarounds organizations are using today. To answer this question, we commissioned a comprehensive survey of enterprise software users earlier this year. We recently released the results of this survey in The State of Software Workarounds 2018.

This report presents the opinions, insights, and concerns of enterprise software users throughout North America and Europe. Survey participants ranged from executives to middle managers in a wide range of industries including manufacturing, retail, food & beverage, automotive, supply chain, healthcare, telecommunications, and government.

The report provides a glimpse into just how widespread the issue of workarounds has become. It addresses what workarounds organizations are dealing with and the long-term issues that arise as a result of these workarounds. More specifically, this research examined:

  • What are workarounds?
  • What would it take to eliminate workarounds?
  • How workarounds increase organizational risk
  • The effects of workarounds on employees
  • How workarounds originate

We’ll examine three key takeaways from the report in this article, but for other key insights and takeaways, download the full report here.

(Almost) All Organizations Use Workarounds

Today, you can find workarounds in every industry and in companies of every size.

Eighty-four percent of respondents in this report identified workarounds in place at their organization.

We asked our survey respondents to tell us what workarounds they are currently dealing with, and 75 percent told us that they were using spreadsheets or paper for tasks that could be easily automated. The problem with these manual processes is that they create errors. We also found that "dueling spreadsheets” are a very common issue that occurs when several people work from one file and version control becomes a problem.

Aptean Workarounds Report - What workarounds are you dealing with?

Workarounds Aren’t Temporary

Workarounds are meant to be temporary fixes, but in the large majority of cases they end up becoming the new standard operating procedure. We wondered what it would take for organizations to eliminate workarounds.

Survey respondents told us that budgets were the primary reason workarounds remain in place. Nearly a quarter of respondents indicated that their workarounds issue could be eliminated with the right funding. When asked specifically if cost was the main factor, 40 percent of respondents agreed.

Aptean Workarounds Report - What would drive you to address workarounds?

Employees Pay the Price

The most discouraging finding from our survey is that employees pay the price of workarounds.

We wanted to understand how workarounds affect the people who must use them on a daily basis. We found out that they have a much bigger impact than we anticipated.

More than half of survey respondents stated that workarounds affect their happiness in the workplace. A fifth of respondents even went so far as to state that they may leave their job if those workarounds remain unaddressed.

Aptean Workarounds Report - Do workarounds affect your happiness?

People were very passionate about how workarounds made them feel. Here are just a few of the responses we received about how workarounds affect productivity:

  • “Workarounds add 10+ hours to my week”
  • “Workarounds are just wasted time”
  • “Workarounds affect my ability to focus on real problems”

As we said earlier, our goal for this research was to explore the pervasiveness of software workarounds and to understand the impact they have on organizations. We found that workarounds make it hard to upgrade to new technology, cause errors, slow down production, and can make it very difficult to make better decisions with data.

We believe the data from this report tells a story that is going untold right now. Workarounds are a big issue, and they need to be eliminated wherever possible. Download The State of Software Workarounds 2018 to learn how you can identify workarounds within your organization and start the process of eliminating them.