Why the Right IT Systems can Improve Business Operations
Your IT systems are the backbone of your business. They provide up-to-date information on inventory and manufacturing and track financial information. They also allow employees to seamlessly connect with each other from different offices. Most of your employees probably don’t think much about the company’s network infrastructure or accounting system – until one day, they can’t connect while on the road, or their expense reimbursement is delayed.
The picture is different for the IT staff members responsible for supporting these systems.
For them, having the right mix of products is key to getting the finance system running again quickly when it goes down, or to fixing a network outage. Better yet, using an optimized suite of products that work well together can prevent the downtime in the first place. Having the right mix of solutions will allow you to deliver high performance for users while enhancing your business operations.
Whether you’re designing a new IT system for your manufacturing firm or looking to upgrade parts of an existing system, consider these questions to help make sure the new systems will work well together and be easy to support:
1) Why is it so important for IT systems to work smoothly together?When all your IT systems are running as designed, you have insight into your orders and inventory and can track your customers and potential customers. When members of your sales team travel to visit customers, they can easily and securely connect to the corporate network. Having all your systems operating smoothly makes it easier to offer support for occasional glitches, and it improves productivity for everyone.
Conversely, poor choices in IT system design can create disruption. If employees in a remote office can’t connect to the corporate network, work may come to a halt while they wait for a fix. When selecting system components, consider not just the price but also how easy each system is to use — and how reliable it is.
2) Can’t you save money by reusing some parts of an old system?You might save some money initially this way. However, an integrated IT system created from mismatched products is not likely to work well and will be difficult to support. It may not be obvious at first that two products won’t work well together, either. Components that appear compatible on paper may, once deployed, crash frequently or run so slowly that employees can’t get their work done.
Installing a new virtual infrastructure on an old server, for example, could cause intermittent crashes whose cause is very difficult to track down. This is frustrating both for the user, whose work is interrupted, and the IT support staff, who have to spend valuable time troubleshooting the issue. You can prevent many of these problems by starting with hardware and software that have been tested together.
3) How can you be sure you’re getting an IT system that will be reliable and easy to support?First, make sure you are including the right people in the decision. Non-IT executives can provide valuable insights into the business’s needs and what features will best support the business. However, they may also be overly focused on brands they have heard of, or on the vendor offering the lowest price. These should not be the only metrics – or even the primary ones – since relying on brand awareness and price to choose each component of a system can result in a hodge-podge of systems that do not work well together and are difficult to support.
Make sure to include in the decision making the IT professionals who will be responsible for support. If your IT shop is small, it may help to bring in some outside experts to help evaluate the possibilities. They can provide a sounding board for the in-house IT staff and also fill gaps in in-house expertise. Once you have the right people in place to make the decision, the right choices will come together.
4) Is it best to go with just one vendor?When you hear about all the things that can go wrong when using products from multiple vendors, it’s tempting to try to stick with just one vendor. However, that’s not realistic since many vendors specialize in either hardware or software, for example, or in certain types of IT systems. It’s unlikely that you will find one vendor who can provide you with an ERP system, laptop and desktop management systems, and the network equipment to connect it all.
5) When you buy components of your IT system from more than one vendor, how do you know that they will work together?
The best way to be sure you are getting optimized components of an IT system that will work well together is to find a suite of products that have been tested and can be maintained by an IT services company. This will allow you to choose the most cost-effective solution that will meet your needs – while knowing that all the components you choose will work together in a way that doesn’t create headaches for your IT support staff or your users. These tested and proven solutions will help improve your business operations by making all your workers – from the top executives to the IT staff – more efficient.
Download the eBook titled "Seven Key Factors for IT System Success" today to know how the right IT systems can improve business operations.