Assess your business operating system with a quarterly basis review.
In order to remain competitive, your business needs to embrace change. But even if the board can agree on a suitable strategy, is your business management software up to the challenge?
“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates.
1. Revisit business strategy
First of all, you need to be clear on exactly what the business strategy is and how it currently fits into your existing systems. You also need to understand what part your IT plays in helping you reach those corporate goals. Without understanding this relationship, it is impossible to accurately assess your business system and it's fit for your needs.
2. Reassess metrics
How does your business define success? Without knowing how to measure business system efficiency, you will not be able to properly assess software fit.
Even if you suspect that your business management software is diverging from strategy, without the right performance metrics it will be impossible to be sure. Worse still, you may not realise the true impact of the mismatch until it is too late and the system begins to significantly affect operations.
3. What is the cost of running your current system?
With the assistance of the finance department, you should be able to calculate a financial value for the loss of efficiency or underperformance of your current business management software based on recording the time lost to correcting errors. You should then be able to clearly see just how much your software is costing to run.
By monitoring this cost, you should be able to assess whether your current system is holding your business back financially.
“Nucleus found companies [using ERP] were able to increase accounting and finance staff productivity by 10 to 30 percent and project manage productivity by 3 to 7 percent. For some businesses this equates to a €150,000 return on investment.” - Nucleus Research.
“There can be economy only where there is efficiency.” – Benjamin Disraeli.
4. Seek employee feedback
Your employees will be more than aware of functions and features that do not work as expected, or which require additional manual intervention - immediately reducing efficiency. As a result, it makes sense to seek user feedback as part of your quarterly systems review.
Some of the feedback you receive will be unconstructive, so try to plan the sort of information you need in advance. Don’t forget to consider system downtime as an important indicator of efficiency.
“Customers require the effective integration of technologies to simplify their workflow and boost efficiency.” – Anne M Mulcahy.
5. Seek external advice
Sometimes it helps to look at your business system’s performance from the outside. This could mean hiring the services of an independent consultant - but for the purposes of a quarterly review, a more basic health check should suffice.
Consider using a free automated testing tool for incremental reviews to get a general idea of system efficiency and fit.
Your checklist in full
- Revisit IT’s role in business strategy.
- Identify metrics that will help assess performance.
- Liaise with finance to agree a financial ‘cost’ of the current system.
- Use external advice and tools for an unbiased opinion.