Information systems can become complicated machines and grow out of control in a very rapid manner for even the smallest businesses. Indeed, even the individual person can fall into this trap. In an era of Smart Phones, GPS, Smart Watches and even connected appliances, the average person can have a plethora of technology without even realizing it. Businesses face the same dilema on a much stronger scale.
For businesses, everything is connected. You can’t even get your car smogged without a shop full of computers connected to the Internet. Cloud Computing has helped this reality by making Enterprise level services available to the average small company at an affordable cost. However, this poses a problem. With all these affordable and scalable services, it’s too easy for companies to get locked into a long term contract with a service that may or may not work for them in 2 or 3 years. It’s also too easy to get distracted with the latest bells and whistles and miss the bigger picture.
As Technology Consultants, we often find ourselves in the business of helping companies sort through the minutia and get their IT costs under control. We do this by following some simple guidelines to approaching a new or existing solution.
1. Document your business process:
A good business process should be documented well to define the flow of information throughout the organisation. Prospects -> Leads -> Opportunities -> Accounts -> Invoicing, etc. Having well documented flow helps to define the technical solution. This ensures that the process defines the application.
2. Understand the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO):
Base price and monthly rates are good, but is that really the overall cost of the service in question? No normally. Initial setup fees, switching costs, learning curves, support and downtime all need to be considered when calculating TCO.
3. Look at the big picture:
Instead of focusing on the problem you’re trying to solve today, think about what your business going to look like in 3 years? Defining the overall picture can help you define business requirements in a way that scales with growth. Specking of business requirements,
4. Define Business requirements outside of the technology:
Define your business requirements without any specific technology in mind. Your business process should define the technology rather than the technology defining the business process. Why? because if the technical solution drives, the business process, your business becomes a slave to the technology. It should be the other way around. The technology should work for the business.
5. Integration is key:
In this day and age, you shouldn’t really have to manually copy information from a field in one application to a similar field in another. For example, if you own a CRM system that contains contact information, you shouldn’t also have to enter the same information into your invoicing system. It should be the same information. Otherwise your doubling efforts.
Taking a holistic, systemic approach to the way your business used Information Technology is a critical first step in controlling costs, streamlining operations and making your business run like a well oiled machine. Technology is put in our lives to simplify them, not to complicate things. However, many businesses fall into the trap of complexity disguised as convenience.
Don’t make the same mistake as millions of businesses. Contact CBC Solutions today to find out how we can help.