Evaluating any company’s systems one would very likely discover a variety of different architectures in use at any given time. From the manual system on through to the most modern computerized systems available today most businesses will employ different system architectures to accomplish different things. There can be various reasons for this. It may be that even though a system being used may not be the most modern it’s the best suited for the purpose. Or it may be that the company hasn’t yet moved that part of the business forward to more modern techniques. Use of a particular architecture is not necessarily right or wrong but understanding the various phases in the evolution of system architecture can shed light on why some procedures and practices exist.
- If any part of the business is done manually on paper then filed away it is a [Manual Process]. Documents such as repair order forms and inspection forms are examples of manual processes that still exist in many auto repair shops today.
- If information is recorded on forms or blank paper then entered into a computer system at the end of the process then the [Data Storage Methodology] is being utilized. Many auto repair shops operate this way as the entire repair process is completed then an invoice is created on the computer.
- If an auto repair shop employs a computerized system for all the steps in any process such as repair order entry or parts sourcing and ordering then the [Business Process Support System] model is being utilized. There may be many such systems in any company
- When information always travels outward from a central entity then back again before the next step is taken – the [Hub-Spoke Architecture] is being employed. This means that work flow doesn’t proceed in a cyclical fashion.
- A single system that supports all operational aspects of the auto repair shop employs the [Integrated System Architecture]. This means that there aren’t separate repair order processing, scheduling, task time reporting and inventory systems. They’re all part of one system and the functions share common information.
- If an auto repair shop communicates with partners such as suppliers electronically over the Internet then the [Extranet Architecture] is being employed.
- And the most current architecture – [Mobile Systems] may currently be utilized for specialized tasks.
A look at the systems being used by any auto repair shop will most likely identify systems of all different architectures being employed. Understanding the evolution of system architecture helps in gaining a perspective on why things work the way they do. Systems are developed to support the process flows of the businesses they support and their architecture will reflect the perspective of the designers at the time they were developed. Auto repair shops can benefit by looking at their processes and determining whether there are opportunities for advancement. Often systems being used have the ability to support more advanced methodologies but the people using them still employ earlier techniques. So understanding the evolution if system architectures and looking at processes employed can uncover opportunities for increased productivity, cost reduction and increased capacity.