Business Processes are the fundamental blocks that represent all of the functions or tasks that your business undertakes to deliver your product or service to the customer. Business Process Improvement (BPI) involves a methodical evaluation of a process or processes in order to identify and eliminate inefficient practices or non-value adding activities or costs. Some of the reasons you would embark on Business Process Improvement are to improve efficiency and consistency of output, enhance morale and employee participation, and also improve quality and your business’ ability to meet deadlines.
Information Technology can help you to improve and streamline your business processes and to aid in the monitoring of performance and the output of your business processes. Careful analysis of your business processes will identify where improvements can be made and where IT can be used to automate processing and collect vital information to “check the pulse” of your business.
Business Intelligence (BI) is the strategic and operational use of people, processes and data to improve decision-making and business performance. BI can greatly improve the decision making capability of business, helping to focus information needs and identify key performance indicators to measure the health and wellbeing of your business. Implementing BI principles will help you to rationalise the information you currently use to make business decisions and help increase information availability across all areas of your business.
By utilising your existing information resources in new and innovative ways, your business can improve its productivity and efficiency and well as open up new revenue sources and increase your agility to move with future business trends.
Purchasing of IT can be a complex issue. Ensuring that an accurate cost benefit analysis is carried out and that requirements have been comprehensively investigated, are just some of the vital tasks to be undertaken when making large investments in IT infrastructure. When selecting a suitable supplier, specifications need to be fully understood and assessed as vendors may provide differing solutions which ignore less critical specifications that could be saving you money.
Software licensing is an IT administrative topic that needs to be addressed to ensure you are both compliant with copyright laws and are getting value from your software purchases. Having unnecessary licences is inefficient and using unlicensed software is illegal. Manage and control this issue by implementing appropriate recordkeeping practices.
Managing how staff utilise some aspects of your IT infrastructure is a legal necessity. Ensuring you have documented acceptable use is critical in both limiting your liability and managing the expectations you have of your employees. Consider developing policies for such issues as using company resources, accessing the Internet and security procedures to guide your staff in their work. Clearly identifying what is and is not acceptable in your business protects both you and your staff.
Whether you are managing your own IT project or sponsoring a project to be managed by an external vendor; it is imperative that you have a thorough understanding of what is involved. This includes understanding issues such as the scope of activities that are to be undertaken, limitations, required resources, a timetable of activities as well as the final output or deliverables that the project is expected to provide.
Whilst planning is one of the most important facets of project management it is also vital that you have the ability to control changes, monitor costs and assess risks as the project proceeds to completion. To this end, you should ensure that you are provided with sufficient information throughout the life of the project, from the planning through to the deliverable stage. Information should be provided by way of regular reports and updates of the project progress covering, at a minimum, the three main elements of a project; cost, time and scope.
Training and Development
Training and education is an essential topic not to be overlooked. Ensuring staff are trained and proficient in with your IT systems will improve morale, efficiency and productivity.
Training should not just be limited to software applications but also to the correct use of hardware (such as printers) as well as understanding process workflows. This is particularly important for new staff members who should be given sufficient training to allow them to be an effective asset to your organisation in the shortest amount of time.
Employee satisfaction, loyalty and wellbeing can be greatly enhanced by helping staff to develop their skill sets and ultimately their careers.
Risk Analysis and Planning
Risk assessment and minimisation are vital areas to be included in Information Technology planning and operations for your organisation. Whether it relates to the risk involved with security, integrity of information, maintaining continuity of your systems or the introduction of new systems, it is important that you have properly identified and planned for risk.
As part of their IT risk minimisation, SMEs should develop a security management plan to ensure they have identified and planned for potential threats to business, both internal and external. As part of this planning, disaster recovery plans should be developed to cover the full gamete of contingencies from minor outages to major disasters.
Information Technology should be a facilitator to meeting your business objectives not an inhibitor. Properly aligned IT strategies will increase the speed and efficiency in meeting your goals, cut costs and improve your competitive advantage.
Careful planning of IT strategies and how they are to be implemented will greatly improve staff acceptance and allow you to get greater efficiency and therefore value from your IT systems.
Getting the right mix of business and technology will increase the success IT will have in helping you to meet your business objectives.