SMBs: A Yearly Review of Your Information Systems Is Critical
In this time of 24/7/365 business expectations, it's no wonder that small and medium-sized businesses sometimes neglect to review the effectiveness of their information management systems. Hence, a significant problem arises–not devoting the time or resources to audit for bottlenecks in operating processes.
In many instances, the business operations are built using shadow IT systems. Shadow IT uses information technology systems, devices, software, applications, and services without explicit IT department approval. Shadow IT is typically supported by a mixture of spreadsheets, shared drives, institutional memory, and intranets. This way, in this ecosystem, the processes must be manual—driven by the employee using email and looking for data in various systems and documents with no time for QC. This phenomenon results from budget priorities, willingness to settle for good-enough-for-now, and lack of resources. When staff and management are locked into the shadow IT environment, they miss opportunities to introduce robust, risk-mitigating digital solutions to help improve productivity and bottom-line profitability.
Additionally, many businesses don't have an accurate list of their IT assets. Questions like these below can give organizations a start:
How many servers do you own? How are they allocated?
How many business applications do you own? What is their business purpose, and how do they map back to "how" staff carries out tasks?
Are there redundancies in licensing and maintenance?
Can the assets be consolidated? Is there technology that has reached end-of-life?
Can budgets accommodate multifunctional technology such as ECM?
Can processes between departments and systems be automated?
A yearly review of the costs and performance of your legacy applications identifies the gaps, performance degradation, outages, and service interruptions that inevitably arise. The resulting analytics highlight areas that need to be modernized to improve your systems' performance, availability, and support. We suggest and conduct yearly reviews for our VIP clients called the SysCheck. It includes recommendations for process automation and other future envisioning projects.
Notably, the benefits of process optimization have a wider reach than just the business processes themselves. The institutional, operational knowledge and experience needed to manage and oversee people dependent process tends to be concentrated in the heads of a few key individuals. This results in greater risk to the business. It's impossible to keep staff members preserved in amber; they may become ill, leave, or be terminated.
It also must be said that the team members with this institutional knowledge of the key, manual process often fight against change and modernization. We're not advocating termination for these employees but proceed carefully and involve them in decision-making for digital efforts.
Architecting a more structured, stress-free working environment that enables ALL your staff to function effectively and contribute to staff retention will enhance productivity, increase customer and employee satisfaction and positively impact your bottom line.