Do your IT systems support your business?

It has become quite common that the IT systems that are used in businesses are seen as a burden rather than an asset. Are this because it really is a burden or does people not really understand the value of the systems? Or does the system simply become a burden as people do not see the value of the system?

Companies spend millions of dollars on implementing IT Systems that does not seem to have any actual value. If the systems do not add value to a company, then why do businesses keep investing in these systems? These are all very interesting questions you might ask yourself as you see examples of such systems.

Companies have very different approaches to IT systems and how to work with them. Often, you will experience that small business will have a higher success rate on their IT setup than larger companies. This is most probably because the small businesses have a very clear and straightforward set of processes and ways of working so they can easily have an overview of how the processes fit together. On the opposite hands, big global companies have many different cultures of working and goes for a one-fit-all solution, but it does not fit all. Further, it become more difficult to actually understand how the processes work together as you have many people with each their expertise area and no one to see the full picture.

The big question is: “Is it then worth investing in new IT systems?”. My short answer is “Yes”.

Value cannot only be measured in time spent but also considers perception in the market on quality. I.e. if your competitor has an IT system to manage their portfolio, they may appear more professional if you don’t. Even if the system does not work. It is all about keeping up appearances and therefore helping your ability to compete in your market. Also, you will most probably get value from information stored in your system that will make things easier for you afterwards and save time that you do not really see.

On top of this, I would say if you approach your IT implementation with good analysis on your processes and how to optimize the relations between systems and people, you will gain many more upsides from a system implementation that will also help your bottom line. I would recommend having a Finance Business Partner take the role of IT implementation as a middle man binding the processes together. A Finance Business Partner is not anyone from a finance department but a person with a specific mindset for value creation and the ability to see the full picture and none the least a person that can really listen. One thing is for sure. You need to have a person responsible for this who is independent from the IT provider and who will represent your interests. This could be a person on your wage list or an external consultant dependent on your needs and size of business.

See also my article around “Competencies of the Business Partner” for more inspiration on this person.

One thing is to implement a new IT system but another important thing is to identify the system that will actually fit the purpose of your business and create the value that will get you ahead of the game. This is as well a task for the Finance Business Partner who will be able to review what you need to get ahead of the game and compare that to different IT solutions to match where you will see the most benefit, also keeping in mind the total cost-benefit analysis.

I wish you all a great IT hunt and a great summer which is ahead of us.