Today we’d like to present a few warning signs — gleaned from our own experience as well as others’ — that your company’s I.T. strategy may not be what it should be…
- Is your IT strategy aligned with your overall business strategy? We see it all too often: customers want to buy “technology” for any of several perfectly valid reasons… or they view an I.T. investment as just a “computer” initiative. In fact, the execution of any tech initiative should first and foremost be aligned with a well-defined business strategy that can be easily articulated by the folks in charge. It’s that simple. Sadly, too many firms don’t get that alignment right. It’s about the business improvement strategy – bolstering the bottom line, eliminating redundant labor, leaning out production steps, and so on. If your efforts don’t yield these kinds of rewards and results – don’t do it.
- Your current technologies are over a decade old. We’re all for making the best of what you have – we do it all the time. No small business owner wants to waste money. But at some point, the benefits and strategic advantages of new technologies will yield greater savings than what you’ll spend. We find that barcode technology – properly implemented – is a perfect example of this. The labor savings on a fairly modest investment can be huge. The same for warehouse scanners and technology: while admittedly a much greater expense, the savings in labor, mistakes, on-time shipping accuracy and reduced waste can be surprisingly large. Newer technologies – especially in software these days – can make those new tech investments pay for themselves in a year or two. After that, it’s pure savings.
- Have you considered all your options? You don’t always need to rip out the old system and replace it with new. Your initiative may not require a big new ERP system. Instead, perhaps focusing on a strategic area, like customer relationship management (CRM) or business intelligence (BI) will yield greater bang for the buck. And it’s always important to consider the people implications: starting with a business process review, and investigating the change implications to your organization are often big-bang (but relatively “low buck”) initiatives that can go a long way towards leaning out your operations (read: save money, time and waste) while keeping your people at their most productive. ERP consultants are typically very skilled in this sort of thing, and the process can be done on a cost-effective, limited engagement.
- Do you have an actionable implementation plan? Once you know what your I.T. initiative will (or should) look like, have you defined a useable and actionable plan by which to implement? It’s great if you’ve started by considering strategy and direction – just be sure you follow the business picture (and the people considerations) all the way through implementation.
- Does your IT strategy meet your ROI requirements? You wouldn’t execute an I.T. initiative without a cost/benefit analysis, right? It’s not rocket science, but with a little effort you, or a decent consultant, should be able to scope out the relative return on your tech investment. Odds are there’s still a lot of low-hanging fruit in your organization. But much as it sounds like an old salesman’s line, it’s really true in a lot of cases: It doesn’t cost, it pays. Don’t be afraid to make a tech investment in more modern tools – the payoff is often terrific. Just make sure you follow our cautions above, first.