What one department of your growing company has the power to hold your business decisions hostage?
The Information Technology (IT) department.
Heading into 2014, the need to integrate business processes with information technology infrastructure has become an overwhelming concern for most business owners. Technologies like networking, data warehousing, adhoc applications, and legacy systems may have been implemented in the past without regards to business processes, but instead of improving performance, the technologies made running the company less flexible, more costly, and far more complex to manage. With this in mind, companies are now prioritizing business integration as the primary strategy to determine whether a technology will be advantageous for a company in the long run or not.
How to Implement Integration into a Business Model
Business integration is not an a la carte affair. It’s more like planning the meal at a wedding reception. Every department, whether it is IT or Human Resources should have a specific function, those functions should complement each other, and when it’s all put together it should serve the bottom line of the business model. If someone wants fish instead of chicken or needs a high chair at their table, it shouldn’t upset your entire business plan to accommodate these slight requests. Here are a few ways to make your business more flexible, less costly, and more efficient with integration:
Look to the Clouds – Businesses who have adopted cloud strategies and Software as a Service (SaaS) models have been able to cut their IT costs dramatically while making their business more adaptable to changing markets. Instead of opting for proprietary and legacy systems (which require huge upfront investments in infrastructure), you can lease someone else’s expertise, many companies now offer integration services like portfolio management or customer relations management, and infrastructure for a fraction of the cost of building your own.
Prioritize Business Decisions First – If you see an acquisition or merger in the future, it’s time to think business integration now. Staff your company appropriately to avoid layoffs. Manage the resource consolidation to maximize business integration.
Make Sure the Tool Fits the Process – How is this new app that IT proposes going to help achieve better performance? How will it impact other departments? If the tool fits the goals and objectives of one department, but fails in the overall integration with other departments then it shouldn’t be allowed.
Choose Multi-Purpose Apps and Systems – Can your app help IT as well as customer service? If so, it should be considered. Websites can be used for order fulfillment and field sales questions, too. Think double-duty software.
If you are unsure how a new technology will impact your overall business processes, you can try a trial run. Make sure to do a business health check-up as it is running to determine how it impacts sales, IT, deliverables, and customer satisfaction. When you see evidence of positive results with this new strategy, you can focus on automating it as another way to reduce errors and increase efficiency.