Taking care of business every day,
Taking care of business every way,
I’ve been taking care of business, it’s all mine,
Taking care of business and working overtime
– Takin’ Care of Business by Randy Bachman (Bachman-Turner Overdrive)
Takin’ care of business every day depends on a multitude of information systems ranging from frontline product or client management systems to back office project, financial, and HR management systems. Whether businesses are mature or are just starting out, they are often faced with similar critical information issues. Information is either duplicated, siloed, or inaccessible.
When information systems are talking to one another, operations run as tightly as a seasoned rock and roll band. When systems are disconnected, operations are sluggish, projects miss deadlines or budgets, and everyone’s “working overtime”.
The 3 Symptoms of “Dis-Integration”
Information system integration often takes a back seat to other more pressing operational problems. The duplication of data or tasks, and the isolation of proprietary systems, generate inefficiencies in data, time, and resources. Keep watch for these 3 common problems:
- The first indication that information access is broken is an increased amount of time and human resources spent hunting down and assembling data.
- The second symptom is observed in the time wasted verifying the accuracy of multiple information sources when changes in one system can cause a ripple effect of inconsistencies in others.
- The third symptom occurs when increases in urgent ad-hoc requests for information often end up in personal spreadsheets or isolated personal databases that are not shared or accessible by others in the organization. Ad-hoc solutions just exacerbate the problem.
If these symptoms seem all too familiar, don’t despair! They represent a great opportunity to derive substantial savings in time and accuracy by shifting your information system strategy into overdrive.
The Opportunity for Insights from Data Relationships
The tendency when making IS decisions is to develop or acquire a system that meets current needs. The advent of new sources of information and new ways of managing information is presenting organizations with new opportunities to discover important data relationships that could lead to new products and services innovation. Being aware of how new sources such as the Cloud, Big Data, NoSQL, and IoT (see The Internet of Things by Dr. John Barrett at TEDxCIT) can be integrated with the organization’s existing systems will give businesses improved chances at being creative and innovative in their offerings.
2 Rules to Guide Re-Architecting Your Information Systems
It is not too late or impossible to set things straight. After creating an information system strategy that is aligned with the corporate strategy, keep these two basic rules at hand when reviewing or integrating your information systems:
- Know the data and its sources to reduce duplication.
- Steer away from information silos as they lead to incomplete, inaccurate, and/or inaccessible information.
The best way to do this is usually by a careful review of existing information systems, how they meet user needs, and how data flows – an Enterprise Information Systems Architecture. Doing that will almost invariably uncover opportunities to improve or re-architect the existing systems.
But few organizations have the time or resources to rebuild an optimal architecture. The recommended approach to re-architecting information systems is to use small planned incremental improvements that result in an evolving but always functional information system.
Yes, it’s a lot of work to do it that way but in the words of that great IT guru, Randy Bachman, “If it were easy as fishin’, you could be a musician”.
If you would like support with building or transforming your current IT platforms, find your way over here to learn more about our IT consulting & management services.