Information technology has come to stay. From the early days of main frames, technology has progressively become more affordable, ubiquitous and indispensable. Technology is now a Must-Have rather than Nice-to-Have.
It is safe to assume that majority of businesses and organizations now utilize information technology to facilitate the achievement of their objectives. Directly or indirectly, business processes are increasingly being driven by computerized solutions.
Perhaps you are still not convinced that computerization will improve your business processes. Let me try to make a believer of you.
Manually executed business processes are prone to the following limitations:
Low response times: You might not be able to generate information on time for decision making. The present competitive business climate makes a compelling business case for access to real-time information.
Data integrity: Manual systems are liable to data inconsistencies, have more room for errors and duplication.
Cost: Transaction costs are high as you need more resources, time and money to execute the processes. Manual systems also need lots of stationery and personnel.
Security: Manual systems are largely dependent on physical security which is vulnerable. It is also more difficult to audit a manual system. Piles of paper will discourage even the most ardent auditor.
Continuity: Backup and restoration for manual systems is time consuming and difficult. It is notoriously difficult to achieve redundancy with manual systems. In event of fire outbreak, flood or other catastrophe, it is very difficult to recover and bring up a manual system.
These are just a few of the limitations of manual systems. Computerization makes life easier.
When properly designed and implemented, computerized solutions are faster, more efficient, relatively less expensive, more secure and easier to improve. Employees and users of automated systems can also concentrate on more strategic tasks ensuring more value for money.
STEPS TO ENSURE THAT YOUR BUSINESS SYSTEMS ADD VALUE:
Align IT and Business Strategy: – Be informed about the short and long term plans or strategy of the organization or business unit. This increases your chances of stakeholder buy-in and reduces chances of white-elephant IT projects.
Find out what the business wants: – Ensure that business needs are properly determined. This increases chances of implementing and supporting IT solutions that add value to the business. This will also enable IT Management to identify services that should be decommissioned.
Requirements Analysis: – Accurately translate the business needs into functional and non-functional requirements. The requirements must be verified, validated, documented and traceable to the business needs.
Properly design and implement the solution to specification: – Your business solution might be bespoke or bought off-the-shelf. However, it must be functional, secure, available, usable, accessible, scalable and maintainable. Adequate support and continuity must also be built in.
Stakeholder Engagement: – Engage relevant stakeholders before, during and after the acquisition\development of business systems to properly test and verify that the solution meets their requirements.
IT Service Management: – The organization might have top-notch technology supporting the business. However, the user perception of IT might be poor if suitable service management techniques are not adopted. It is ideal to have a help-desk team with the right tools as the first point of contact for users. Policies and procedures for event, request, incident, problem and change management should be developed and adopted.
To feel the pulse of the business with respect to ICT services, IT Management should periodically send surveys to business users. When sent to the right people and at the right time, surveys provide a window for IT to identify user pain points and areas for improvement.
To increase the chances of successfully executing the steps above, endeavour to make use of best practice business analysis, project management and software development techniques.
Above all, be open-minded and seek improvement. That top-notch or futuristic system that is currently the rave of the moment might be upended by a more functional solution from a competitor. Your business systems might also be rendered obsolete by a change in market dynamics or adjustment of corporate strategy.