How To Improve Your Operating Performance Through Information Technology

How To Improve Your Operating Performance Through Information Technology

These days, every business and every department is looking for better performance. Let’s look at 3 strategies to improve the company operating performance, through technology options available today:

1. Your organization will be more efficient if IT takes the time to understand what end users really want and need.

Studies often show a gap between what business people consider important, and what the IT department considers important.  Some of that is due to the business staffers and executives not understanding the technical side of how things work. For instance, IT professionals would – quite rightly – rank network security and data encryption as critical needs.  Business users tend to rank those issues as lower priorities, most likely because they don’t understand all the implications.

On the other hand, the IT department may think it is important to give access to enterprise applications on mobile devices, without knowing whether business users even plan to use them that way.

But it’s clear that end users help drive technology choices in a company, simply by virtue of how they choose to use computing devices. A perfect example is the BYOD (bring your own device to work) movement.  It wasn’t that long ago that the IT department ruled with an iron first when it came to choosing which computer devices could be used for company business. Those days are gone. According to one study, only 15% of companies now expressly prohibit using BYOD devices.

IT departments are realizing that rather than fighting against the tide,  it’s a better use of company time and resources to implement tools to manage BYOD devices, and protect the network from intrusion through such devices via malware or when stolen or lost.

It’s all a question of where and how you use your limited resources. Your IT choices can have a powerful effect on your company performance and ability to grow.  Set your priorities carefully.

2. Investigate new options, such as for Ethernet private lines and dedicated Internet connectivity to help balance speed and security, with costs.

The choice isn’t just installing and maintaining your own dedicated network to handle internal computing needs.  Today, various configurations and options on the market, such as Ethernet private lines and dedicated Internet, can bring you security, assured connectivity, greater bandwidth, and faster network speed.

These options also tend to be easier to scale up to accommodate growth. Often the ability to add more capacity is available with a phone call – instead of purchasing more capital equipment, hiring staff to handle it, and so on.

You can tap into these options as a service by paying a monthly fee, while minimizing the need for on-premises equipment to run your network and the staff to maintain it.  So many more options are available today to smaller businesses – ones that even a few years ago only large enterprises could afford.

3. Calculate the bigger picture when considering benefits, costs and return-on-investment for IT needs. 

Let’s take the example of a VOIP phone system in your business.  Consider what’s involved with getting service. If the system goes down, are you relegated to calling the provider only to discover that the provider was a small reseller, and doesn’t have the staff to send someone on premises until late the next day? How long can you afford to be without a working phone system? How much business will you lose during that time? Those kinds of costs are as real as money spent on monthly fees.

And not only do interruptions involve cost, but they can set your business growth plans back.  Consider the impression it leaves with clients and customers when you are unreachable by phone, especially if it happens repeatedly or for an extended period.  And while you’re scrambling to address an IT crisis, team attention is distracted and drawn away from growth of the business.

The key thing is:  look at the overall picture of how information technology supports and furthers the business.  Simply looking at out-of-pocket costs can hinder your business in the long run. Likewise, doing things “the way we always did it” is limiting.  Take the time to investigate all available options and evaluate:

  • Resources (Can you afford all the internal staff and capital equipment, or can you minimize these through available external services?)
  • Increased speed (Are you getting the speed your company needs in implementation and ongoing support, as well as speed of data transfer and computing?)
  • Reliability (How reliable will your information technology infrastructure such as a LAN network be if handled internally, versus outsourcing to a provider you can rely upon to keep it going 24/7? And what can you reasonably expect from your internal team, especially if they are a small team?)
  • Security (Does your organization really have the people, expertise and time to anticipate and address today’s sophisticated intrusions and attacks, or is that best left to experts?)
  • Scalability (Are you paying for just what you need now, and can you scale up quickly for growth?)

Finally, consider services as an extension of your internal team. It’s not a question of either doing everything internally versus using external services completely.  Today, think of external services as a menu of options you can choose to add to your overall IT mix.

Bits and Bytes Photo via Shutterstock

Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.