How often do you exclaim “why won’t you work?” as you stare in dismay at the latest piece of technology that’s failing to do what it's meant to? Yet despite the frustration, I’m sure you’ll agree that your business could not run without this very technology. You probably put up with the bad moments for the sake of the system's overall performance, but have you ever questioned whether it could be holding you back? After all, why accept good when you could have great?
Don’t settle for second best
Your employees use your IT systems every day, so listen to their remarks about the limitations and issues with your systems. In addition, is there something you wish you could do but have been told is not possible with your existing set up? Research what systems your competitors use. You may find something better suited to your needs, with more options for expansion and improved efficiency. My advice is don’t settle for second best just because you are familiar with the existing system. Open your mind to how things could be better.
Are your systems future proof?
Whether your IT system is running smoothly now, or - heaven forbid - already struggling, how easily could it cope with a surge of 20% or more in trade? If you stumble across the golden idea that can push your company to the next level, you do not want to be held back by anything - least of all something you have had control of all along. Your staff can learn new systems more easily than you think, so change is manageable.
Automation is king
Your business can get big efficiency gains by automating tasks and ensuring seamless interaction between different systems, whether in-house or with crucial external suppliers. Whether it is optimising stock turnover, maintaining customer details, or simply managing your product database, the more your computer system can help you the better. Consider which frequent tasks are crucial to running your business, then think about how you could automate them. Try to identify where your system could be doing more.
Talk to your existing IT supplier, and your competitors’ suppliers. You’ll be amazed what a bit of competition can do to incite creative thinking and find improvements for your company. I speak from experience. A large part of the excellent customer service offered by both my companies is down to close integration of our systems at every level. We’ve enjoyed 70% growth in a 12 month period and become 40% more efficient over the same time period. To me that highlights how powerful a new system can be. So question what you’re working with now; you may like it, but is the grass greener over that hill? John Sollars is the managing director of Stinkyink.com