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Plan your online technology roadmap and prevent problems later

posted by: NetReturn, 05 Jun 2017, 09:51 AM     category: Thinking

Many businesses invest heavily in their website and online channel without a clear plan of how it supports their business and future plans. The probable result?  A great looking website that doesn’t necessarily do the job you need it to do, or can’t grow as you grow.

The Need

As businesses grow, sometimes the original technology choices no longer support the current business. Issues emerge associated with expansion and the failure of the underlying technology to keep up. These can quickly turn into big problems if not managed and planned for carefully.

It is not uncommon that as far as the online part of the business is concerned, the choice of technology was made quickly, perhaps with not much thought as to where the business would be down the track. The internet has changed many business models. You might find the technology used when the business was much smaller is the wrong building material now your business has grown.

Once the web was solely a showcase for the business. Now in many cases it is the business, the information point where your customers and suppliers interact to order your products and services and share information about themselves…

 If your business has reached the point where your website is now a significant or growing channel, it’s time to check your current infrastructure.

Here are 7 signs your technology is not keeping pace with your business:

·         Your web won’t communicate with your other internal and external (supplier) systems;

·         You’re taking orders and inputting the same information into one or more systems manually;

·         You know nothing or very little about your customers and can’t tailor your marketing to them based on their preferences;

·         You’re locked into one web supplier who ‘can’t do that bit’ – feeling of being stuck;

·         You do not have a copy of your source code;

·         Your maintenance costs are high. Small changes take a long time and cost an awful lot;

·         You have to do lots of manual workarounds.

Sand in the gears

Are you over fire fighting ? Your website and the technology behind it may be holding you back.

Many internet technologies are attractive because they are cheap. Pages and templates can be churned out quickly. However as more and more demands are made, scalability and extensibility become problematic. This is because the technology is not designed to talk to other systems.  Making them do so is akin to flying to London in a Cessna. You’ll get there but it will take a long time and there will be a many maintenance issues along the way.

Approach

The business should drive the technology – not the other way around.

CRM, order management + fulfilment will help you connect with your customers.

Start by developing a technology roadmap  - your technology needs to be married to your business plans.  

Make sure the technology being recommended to you is the right fit and not what the developer feels comfortable with. Don’t get stuck having to spend excess time and money adding functionality and integrating with key systems.

The NRC approach

NRC takes a 360 degree view of your business, from your front to back end, customer touch points and third party interfaces. This includes the range of devices customers use: smartphones, tablets and PDA’s. NRC will provide a best practice online strategy that utilises current and new investment to achieve your strategic goals.

NRC will help you get the most out of your online presence, increasing its ease of use, minimise IT and administrative hassles and streamline your business processes for you and your customers. Future proof your business so you can concentrate on increasing your financial performance.

 

Taking the hassle out and increasing your business profitability

 

Reducing costs and improving efficiencies

posted by: Bernard Harper, 20 Nov 2019, 14:49 PM     category: Thinking

 

Key themes: Inefficient processes, Hidden costs ,Preparation, Change Management

You’d be amazed as to how much time and money your staff are spending executing duties that could be done more efficiently.

Ask yourself: when a customer or supplier interacts with your business, how does this process work currently ? Do they have to request the product or service more than once ? Or are they frustrated because dealing with your company is so time consuming. It may be worth asking one or two of your key customers or suppliers what it’s like dealing with your organisation.

Have a quick look at what’s going on ‘under the bonnet’ in your organisation. Follow a typical process through from beginning to end. Is the same thing having to be done more than once ? Is there duplication of effort involved with your staff and/or systems ? Multiple spreadsheets flying around; duplication of data entry ? Here’s where your hidden costs lie: leaking time, money, and potentially staff and customers….

Technology has moved on rapidly in the business operations space. Technology is great at performing repetitive tasks – humans are generally bad at them. There will be processes than can be fully automated that are currently being done manually. This is a poor use of human resources, and somewhat soul destroying for those that must do them. The answer is to use technology wisely for these boring tasks and in doing so freeing up your staff for higher order activities.

Inefficient Processes

One big mistake we often see is where a company implements a new piece of software without doing the analysis of how it impacts the existing systems and processes. This often leads to substantial inefficiencies where processes are duplicated and/or information must be entered more than once. Often the culprit is a cloud-based solution that has numerous touch points within the business, both systems and human. Because the new system is often plonked in on top of the existing architecture, problems quickly arise. The vendors of these systems are only really interested in the monthly retainer you pay them to ‘rent’ their software and are much less concerned in how the implementation can be made to work properly within your business.

Prepare the Ground

You wouldn’t plan new seedings in the ground that is choked with weeds. Similarly, you wouldn’t build a house without a decent set of plans.

Therefore, before implementing new processes and/or systems it pays to do some business process reengineering as a precursor to any development.

This will allow you to identify what information is required to run the business, including any missing data. As well as the data, key processes are examined and inefficiencies are designed away.

Last but not least, implementing a proper change management process is essential to any successful adoption.  Without it no new system or process is likely to be welcomed if those affected are none the wiser when it turns up.

 

Bernard Harper is managing director of NetReturn Consulting

 
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