In this second of our two-part feature, we look at changes you need to implement across your business IT systems in 2016. From ensuring you have the right reporting and analytics tools in place to cloud usage, there are lots of ways to increase productivity and improve performance in the New Year.
Read about changes to marketing and staff retention you need to make in 2016 in the first part of our feature here.
Remember, it’s about asking yourself whether or not your current business systems are fulfilling the needs of your staff, your customers, and your organisation as a whole, and then looking at alternative solutions to getting the job done. After all, finding the right software is a means of making tasks easier and your objectives more achievable.
Plan for architectural limitations
The start of a new year is typically a time of planning for business growth, as it will be your main goal to be bigger and more successful than the previous year, and this means making sure your IT systems can withstand the extra load.
Upgrading now can prevent any downtime or slow response time, which frequently occurs when system activity increases beyond the capabilities of its architecture. This may well be because you have a higher number of system users (a result of expansion), or a higher volume of transactions (a result of increased performance and a precursor to growth). Either way, you need to look at where you envisage the size of your business to be over the next 12 months and implement a system without architectural limitations.
This is where the cloud comes into its own. Unlike on-premise business IT systems, cloud software is completely scalable so you can easily add new users and functionality as you scale up your business operations.
Businesses that are running on legacy on-premise systems, particularly if these systems have been extended and customised over time, can find that they are very difficult to upgrade and scale. Limitations of software that is installed on your own servers can include problems when it comes to adding new users and functionality, and reduced performance when the number of transactions increases.
Plan for augmentation
The exact same thing can be said if you’re planning to roll out new products and services, expanding your manufacturing or distribution chain, or perhaps even acquiring another company, as you will need a business IT system that is capable of augmentation.
By augmentation, we mean ‘adding to’ and ‘making it bigger’. Changes such as those we’ve already mentioned above bring with them new needs and complexities that your existing system may not be able to handle, particularly if it has been heavily customised and extended over the years.
A very typical example, for retailers in particular, is the need to support added digital features such as a web-storefront or mobile app to allow customers to submit orders and check on their status around the clock, or integrating point of sale. Some outdated, static systems will not be able handle these additional tasks so eloquently.
There are many collaborative elements which will be affected by each new service added – such as purchasing, production scheduling, outside processing, dispatch, inventory control, foreign currency accounting, etc – that also need to be accounted for. Unless your system is able to accommodate the changes to these processes and integrate them seamlessly, you risk the loss of traceability, weak cost accounting and unhappy customers.
If you are planning global expansion, then using legacy business software can cause real problems. There is a great article on Diginomica’s website here, which explains the pain it can cause, and how to avoid it.
Prioritise business performance feedback
If your existing business IT systems don’t provide adequate reporting and analytical features, then it should prove very clear that now is the time for a replacement.
Without transparent and accurate reporting across all aspects of your business, it’s near impossible to identify areas that work, areas that need improvement, and to highlight opportunities that could yield success for your business – whether that’s financial or strategical, workforce related or customer based. You should also have access to historical data and key trends over time that allow you to react quickly and remain competitive.
This information is only of true value when you’re able to view it clearly and easily, in the way that you need it. So any business IT system that doesn’t have easy-to-use dashboards, reporting and analytics tools is not going to be benefiting your business.
Cloud-based ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software pulls together data from across your entire organisation, so that you can locate and report on any aspect of your business quickly and easily.
Embrace cloud computing
Cloud computing is the final word (or rather two words) in your new business IT system for 2016. The benefits of cloud usage are plentiful, from reducing expenditure on costly on-site hardware and software maintenance to remote access to increased flexibility and scalability. Some of the benefits of opting for a ‘true’ cloud solution are listed here.
The number of employees working out of office hours is increasing as technological advances give way to more dynamic job roles, with 91% of SME’s in the UK claiming to have at least one member of staff working from home (source, BT Business and the British Chambers of Commerce).
The same survey also revealed that a fifth (19%) of businesses have more than half of their workforce regularly working out of the office, visiting client’s workplaces or working from secondary sites.
Of the 300 UK businesses surveyed, more than half said that cloud computing was ‘critical’ to effective remote working, whilst the majority of those without said they were in the process of, or currently considering, moving their existing IT systems to the cloud.
Don’t miss the first part of our feature here, where we discuss the changes you could try making when it comes to marketing and recruitment & staff retention.
Please leave your comments below if you’d like to discuss any of the points we’ve raised in this article.
If you would like to have a chat with us about how a cloud-based business IT system such as NetSuite could help your business become more successful in 2016, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.