When business decisions challenge IT

Organisations are in constant flux. Markets and target audiences change. Business decisions place challenging requirements on IT departments. The effects of these business decisions on IT need to be addressed in order to ensure positive outcomes for the organisation as a whole. As a business leader, spotting these effects and possible issues is vital.

Challenges

Software is one of the areas in which challenges, resulting from business decisions, become visible. These challenges present themselves after ‘major’ changes such as acquisitions or divestments, mergers, but also when software becomes dated or even deprecated, or when a specific supplier is no longer in business. For example, if you’re in a business that relies heavily on ERP and logistics (shipyards for example), acquiring a company in another country is quite common. The chances of that company having the exact same IT setup as you have, are virtually non-existent, given the plethora of software solutions available on the market. In a best-case scenario, you will only have to deal with one other software environment and department. There are also plenty of examples where shipyards over time acquired tens of different companies, in different countries, ending up with tens of different software stacks, distributed across the globe.

Needless to say, working with several ERP systems isn’t ideal, to put it mildly. It does happen, though, even in industries that rely heavily on streamlining this part of their business as much as possible. As many shipyards and other organisations in the maker space work based on either a cost breakdown structure or a work breakdown structure, it’s absolutely vital to align ERP as closely as possible to the projects they are working on. This will ensure cost optimisation, but also more continuity for your business, and happier people in your IT department.

IT doesn’t want to say ‘no’ to the business

The basic issue with software that’s lagging the business, is that IT becomes a hindrance, rather than the enabler it should be when implemented correctly. Somewhat paradoxically, the ambitions of the business itself, which fuelled the decisions of the organisation, now cause that same business to ask things from IT that they simply can’t deliver. And contrary to a rather widely held belief, IT isn’t necessarily fond of saying ‘no’. They’d rather say ‘yes’ to the questions asked by the business.

When faced with a situation like the one above with several ERP implementations in different locations and place s, it’s rather hard for IT to make it work fluently overnight. It’s not just the distributed nature of all the implementations across the globe that makes situations like this a headache for IT. There are also availability, compatibility, compliance, and especially security risks involved.

First step: Get to know the challenges…as soon as possible

For IT to be able to properly manage and support (distributed) software and say ‘yes’ instead of ‘no’, they first needs to get a handle on what the challenges are precisely. Not only that, any possible losses incurred by the undesired state the software needs to be limited to the absolute minimum. Time is of the essence. Completely replacing the software solution (in the example above the ERP system) is usually very expensive, and is most likely very tasking for your IT staff. Modernising what you already have so that it meets current and future standards and requirements, is a better and more cost-effective route for many organisations.

In order to be able to modernise your IT environment, you first need to know what you have, and where you have unsupported software that needs to be addressed. In other words, you need an assessment of your current situation. This will enable you to make a startegy to move forward with what you have, both in terms of software stack and people. Prepare yourself for the future.

Who am I

My name is Edward and I have been working in the IT sector for many years. I have extensive experience in the realisation of complex ICT, innovation, and change projects. I'm always focussing on both the client and the result. I've built up solid expertise with the implementation of new technologies and making newly developed applications operational for the user organisation.

Would you like advice about the (software) situation you are in? Pick up the phone and give me a call on +31 6 21 71 27 59 or sent me an e-mail: edward.claushuis@techspire.nl. Happy to talk to you!

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