Greenfield vs. Brownfield

Following the 10-question scan , I received responses about companies that had a 0 score: what if you don’t have any of these things yet? Does it still make sense?

For these companies, I have good news: your company is in a greenfield situation (and I’m not talking about a steak from Albert Heijn).

The term “Greenfield” comes from the software and investment world. It represents a green lawn, an empty canvas. It refers to starting with a clean slate, rather than changing an existing system. Setting up is easier, but getting started is harder because you don’t have experience or reference points yet.

On the other side, you have “Brownfield,” which you can think of as a field where a lot of walking has already taken place. Several routes have already been carved out. All kinds of systems are already in place. There is a lot of data and experience. You know what you are good at and want to build on that.

Brownfield describes your situation if you were ahead of the market 10 years ago and now suddenly find out that you have an outdated system and the competition is overtaking you: a running business needs to be changed.

A brownfield is not always a better starting point, because you are dealing with several with “elephant paths” and “patchwork” custom solutions. Brownfields are thus more expensive and more difficult to implement than greenfield implementations because you have to replace a running system.

Moreover, brownfield situations have an even greater challenge: many companies try to get the same thing in the new solution that they had (just a little better). That while the new solution requires a new way of thinking and working.

The point is:

If your company is still young, ambitious or smaller, you can move quickly. The less you have invested, the faster you will notice impact. You are then in a greenfield situation and can quickly arrive at best practices with off-the-shelf solutions.

However, a greenfield approach only works if you have a good strategy. Otherwise, after a few years, you will also end up in a brownfield situation if you make hasty purchasing decisions. In doing so, you prefer to involve an expert by experience.

And are you in a brownfield situation? Then try to think greenfield!

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