IT Systems

Information Systems can be a tricky topic, especially for small business.  And while computers and technology are currently playing a big part in IT systems, it is important to concentrate on the bigger picture, Information.  No matter what size business you are thinking about, information is going to play a vital role.  Information needs to be delivered on time to the right people, to make a difference.  You are going to need to think about what information will be needed by different departments to maximize your profits. 

There are a multitude of resources available to small businesses, almost too many.  When used properly, technology should make day to day tasks more efficient.  When used incorrectly, technology can become a very costly answer to a question that nobody is asking.  Using the guidance of a professional IT firm allows you to carve away the solutions that make sense for other companies and design a system that satisfies your current needs and potential for growth, without going overboard.  Only with this advice will your company avoid the trap of paying for options that you will never use.  Having the latest and greatest technology available may seem wonderful, but may ultimately prove to be useless and expensive.  Concentrate on what you need to get the job done at hand, while keeping an eye out to not paint yourself into a corner.

Some questions to think about before setting up your system:

  1. What information is going to be vital to my survival?
  2. Will the timeliness of certain data directly affect my profit?
  3. What resources might I already have that I am not thinking about?

Decision-Making as a ScienceThis will be your project, it must adhere to your standards.  One of the best ways for owners to have an overall vision without getting caught up in the details is to think about the problem backwards.  Determine the goals for the system, and let those goals create the proper steps to get to the end product. 

For example:  Start with the idea that your salespeople are better at meeting a client face to face.  Then, examine what information makes this type of meeting possible, and answer those questions.  What data do they need?  How do they quote a price for a job?  Is there a wireless solution?  What security measure do you need to satisfy?

It is the IT companyís job to answer all these questions for you.  All you need to do is have a vision for them to follow, and your project will run smoothly and efficiently.  Acting in this manner will save you time and money.  It will also cut out the potential of paying for solutions that donít directly affect your way of doing business.

Finding the Right Relationship
IT companies, just like your company, come in all shapes and sizes. The trick to an efficient relationship is finding a company that focuses the most closely on your needs. Sure, the bigger the company the more cutting edge service they may have, however you need to know where your project will fall in their priority list as well.

As the IT industry has exploded in the last ten years, more and more shops are becoming specialized, and concentrating their efforts to serve a specific target audience. You may find that having a collection of a few small clients to work with fills your needs better than a single, larger firm.

All of these companies, large or small, will be prepared to submit previous job experience and references. There is an inherent bias that a parent software company will sometimes rave about their local contact companies. This is a huge pitfall to avoid, and is the worst first step many projects get off to. When selecting by reference it is more important to have the suggestion of the actual company that put the system in place. Did they like the programmers? Was the communication on time and relevant? Did they stay on budget?

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