Leveraging Technology for Maximum Business Benefits
Integrate technology for competitive advantage with IT planning, expertise
by Gregory D. Harrand, MBA
Today’s business climate demands that business owners use technology to a competitive advantage. In order to achieve maximum benefit from technology, owners must first have a plan that will serve as their roadmap to success. Too often companies implement technological solutions without a plan and they create islands of automation which often leads to inefficiencies. For example, a company that decides to implement a website to sell their products on the internet may not think about how the new website fits into their company’s existing technology environment. They failed to ask the question, does the website have the ability to integrate into my existing ERP software?
This does not require an elaborate written plan, but rather a clear understanding of how technology can be used to support your company’s business objectives. For example, if one of your goals is to provide same day shipping, then any technology that supports that objective might be beneficial. An example might be an investment in software/hardware that would allow the downloading of customer order information into your shipping software so as to eliminate the double entry of customer ship to address. This would eliminate time to reenter data as well as any errors that may occur from double entry. Another possibility that could support same day shipping might be the integration of your website into order fulfillment software, so that orders placed online can be transferred to existing order fulfillment software without reentering data. Once again, time and errors are reduced.
- Which areas of my business can I streamline? This question might involve you tracing the flow of a customer order through your existing system from the time the customer places the order to the time that the order ships.
- Does the proposed new technology support my business objectives? This question might involve you reexamining what your key business objectives are.
- What is the financial payback period for the proposed solution? What are the cost savings with the new solution and what is the total cost for the new solution. Be sure you know all of the costs software, hardware, training and consulting services.
- What are the intangible benefits of the proposed solution? Will I increase the level of customer satisfaction which will lead to additional business?
- What features of my existing software am I not utilizing? Often companies have the capabilities but are not aware that they do.