Saturday, 8 March 2014

Match processes to systems

Recently I've visited several companies to discuss their IT systems. 

One company had extremely impressive IT. They had adapted their systems to exactly match the company’s needs, using a wide range of the available features, giving everyone access to the files and reports they needed. The staff understood their software, and used it to achieve what they want. There was an enthusiasm about IT which I have found lacking elsewhere.

Some of the other companies I visited were quite different. Two had systems which should have been replaced years ago, but were still in place. They no longer met their users’ needs. The staff had battled on, but it was apparent that they were being driven insane by the shortcomings of their software. Such systems, which do not meet the business requirements, are a continual drain on all involved.

Now it is time for these companies to look for new systems (see “Selection of Package Software”).

However today I want to make another point.

LOOK IN DETAIL AT HOW YOUR SOFTWARE CAN BE USED

My belief, which cannot be emphasised enough, is that a system installation is only truly successful when the users’ roles are redefined to make best use of the facilities provided by the new system.

When companies buy new software they often fail to use it appropriately because they neglect to change the way they operate. It is very tempting to continue in the old manner – slightly speeded up of course – with, perhaps, a few new reports. This might happen for various reasons such as a lack of management time, or possibly the users are comfortable with the old way of working.

But the real benefit to any organisation when new software becomes available (and this can include even Microsoft Office), is to look at the options provided by your new (or updated) software and be prepared to change how you operate. Amazing efficiencies can be achieved if you carefully examine the opportunities.

(For example, the ease with which files can now be shared among several users rather than each person having a different version is a simple process which has made many people better organised.)

WHAT FEATURES CAN BE USED TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

So now take a good look at your software, even if you have had it for a while, and see if there are any features which you do not understand, or which might help to transform your area, department or company, and plan how best to make use of them.

Make sure all the users are trained in the software (even if only “Learning by Example”) and listen to their ideas about how you can make use of the new facilities.

Hopefully you will not end up like those companies I visited, with software which is completely inadequate.

And of course, examine your software regularly and be honest about whether it really meets your needs. If you want advice on this, just contact me.


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