I do a lot of client interviews for various reasons. Historically, it’s been to brainstorm with the client on their web strategy or design a custom database solution. More and more now, I find I’m being called in to help determine an overall information system strategy.
One of the first things that I always look for are the jobs everyone seems to complain about. In most companies, especially the smaller companies that tend to be my clients, I often find that these “ugly” tasks aren’t needed at all. In fact, most of the time, they are only there in the first place because that’s the way it was done years ago and no-one ever changed it.
Now even though I am an advocate of change, I rarely recommend a change to a process that works. I just see if there is a way to make it more efficient. Sometimes all that takes is asking the person who does it what would make it better.
Henry Ford often said that when he had a time-consuming and unpleasant task to do, he would assign the “laziest man I can find” to do the job. He observed, “Within a day or two, he will come up with a quick, easy way to do it”
Interestingly enough, most companies don’t need a consultant to come in and explain to them how they can do better. What does a consultant know about your business anyway? After all, if the consultant was so good at your line of work he would be doing it himself, right?
What does this consultant-bashing blog entry have to do with technology? Everything.
When I talk about information systems strategy, I often talk about things from the perspective of customer service. Equally as important is the internal aspects of information management. Making sure that your employees are well informed and have the proper tools for doing their job goes a long way. Even if you’re a small company – say 10 to 15 people, you can still benefit from things like shared calendars, an intranet (basically an internal bulletin board) and even remote access to email and computers in your office.
If you have all the technology on the outside facing the customer but your internal processes are a mess with no organization or strategy then your customers will eventually be dissatisfied because there is no way you can keep up with your promises and the expectations you are setting for yourself.
Information Systems can help – but only when you decide to integrate them into your overall business strategy. For many companies it is an ugly process to go through but it is one that is absolutely essential if you expect to sustain any long-term success. Having a strong partner in this area is one way that you can control the process – in terms of time and money – without having to have an expert on staff. “Wouldn’t I want an expert on staff?” you might ask. The answer is no. A properly designed system can be run by the experts you already have on staff – the ones that do the work day to day.
It’s hard to put my insight into strategy into the constraints of a blog entry, so if you would like more information or would like to talk about this or anything you see on this site, please give us a call. We’re happy to talk to you.