Making Sense of IT Upgrades: Is Your Business System Holding Your Small Business Back?

by Yehuda Cagen 21. October 2010 08:21


Houston IT consulting Guest Blog:

Nothing contributes more to organizational inefficiencies in a small business than cumbersome, out-of-date business systems, according to Jeff Stern, Senior Project Manager of Quantum Software.

Hundreds of hours can be wasted by duplicating data entry, searching for data in multiple places and constantly rebooting a system that crashes. I always recommend companies do a gap analysis, which is a great way to determine if an IT upgrade would fill the gaps between their needs and current capabilities. The time spent conducting this analysis will save countless hours of lost productivity in the future.

Small business owners should consider the following four needs when conducting a gap analysis: operational efficiencies, quality and regulatory compliance, decision making and business growth.

For example, if you find that employees are continually waiting for screen changes or double entering information, you have an issue with operational efficiencies. When it comes to examining business growth during a gap analysis, make sure your system is scalable in terms of sales, customer service and inventory. If you find that there are major gaps in these areas, upgrading your system is something that will make your business operate much more efficiently.

Making Sure the Implementation Process Runs Smoothly

Once an analysis of your system has shown that a new business system, such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), will improve productivity and efficiencies, it is important to make sure it is implemented properly. Talk to your IT consultant and figure out if your company’s way of doing business will fit within a standard package. Changing business processes to accommodate software often leads to a competitive advantage because systems, such as ERP, are designed to take advantage of “best practices”.

To avoid a long installation process that can bog down the business operations you were trying to improve in the first place, make sure key modules that will fix the major problems your business is facing are installed first. New modules can be installed and employees can be trained in 30-60 days, allowing for a gradual adoption of the new system. For most companies, implementing an entirely new business system will change the way the staff does their jobs, thus changing the way business is done. That’s why it’s so important to test the entire system before “going live”. A good IT consultant working with you on the project will create a test system that allows your employees to learn and critique the system before it’s launched.

Jeff Stern is Senior Project Manager for Quantum Software (www.quantumsoftwarellc.com) where he oversees systems evaluations, customized SAP® Business One software integration and long-term support for small-to-midsize companies in the manufacturing and wholesale distribution industries. During his 30-year career, he worked extensively in requirements planning, realization, test and application maintenance of enterprise IT and ERP systems.

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