Do you really need a new IT system?
They say the customer is always right. But, was anyone really doing the Emperor any favours when they remarked how wonderful his new clothes were?
If a customer approaches me and says “We need a new system,” my first questions are often “Are you sure? Can we talk this through?” This may surprise you as it might appear to be suggesting the customer is not always right. Although it could be interpreted as being unhelpful, there is method to my madness.
If your starting point is to sit down and write a specification for a new system, you have set the trap
Leaping to the conclusion that you need an IT solution before you have analysed the problem is a trap into which businesses fall frequently. If your starting point is to sit down and write a specification for a new system, you have set the trap. Unfortunately, an unwillingness to commit to diligence early on is often the root cause of delay and disappointment as the project proceeds.
Instead, step back and seek to understand what really matters. You may find that it pays to take your time and first improve without IT. A little further down the line, armed with a better understanding of what you need to improve on and why, technology could then prove to be the right answer.
Just signing up for a CRM and entering some leads won't make the sales roll in
To illustrate this with an example, take CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Type CRM into any search engine and you will find an array of options, each promising to transform your revenue and make your customers love you. Sign up and away you go – as if by magic the sales will roll in.
If only it were this simple. Before you decide you need a CRM, it pays to be open minded and think it through carefully with your business hat on, not your technology hat. At this stage, your focus should be on questions, not drafting an IT specification (i.e. jumping straight to the answers). For example:
- How can I understand my customers better?
- How can I deliver what really matters to those customers?
- How can I stay in control of my business as it grows?
Once you start to understand these types of issue, you are still not ready to write that specification. Now you need to consider:
- Could I achieve my objectives without additional systems?
Having answered these questions, is now the time to think about new systems?
By now, you should be recognising important themes. Perhaps you have noted for example that, on numerous occasions, several members of your sales team have unnecessarily turned up to the same prospect meeting. Your admin processes cannot cope. You have tried to coordinate it by sharing spreadsheets, which was fine when there were five of you, but not now there are ten of you. This is embarrassing in front of your customers.
As an objective observer, I am now starting to feel more convinced that a tipping point has been reached where technology could be a benefit, not a feature.
Perhaps now it really is time to sit down and look at what type of new IT system you do need. If you are ready to do that, this article may help you to think about that step.
STRATEGIC IT CONSULTANT. EASYLIFEIT NORWICH
JAMES IS AN EXPERIENCED AND VERSATILE BUSINESS PROFESSIONAL WHO HAS WORKED ACROSS MULTIPLE SECTORS. HE PROVIDES COMPLEMENTARY SKILLS TO EXECUTIVE TEAMS, ADVISING ACROSS A RANGE OF DISCIPLINES INCLUDING IT STRATEGY, BUSINESS CONTINUITY PLANNING AND IT PROJECT MANAGEMENT