Whether by following an inflexible plan, or by letting day-to-day business needs drive their own course; be it through acquisition or organic growth; it is not uncommon for companies of all tenures and size to find themselves wrestling with a significant number of disparate databases and technology solutions. If your company is living this reality, you are likely suffering from numerous inefficiencies that cost you and your company real dollars every day you wait to take action and correct.
The idea of having a single database of record and one system solution “to rule them all” is a bit unrealistic, not because technology doesn’t allow it; but because of its complexity would likely eclipse any practical ROI.Having said that, going through a purposeful evaluation and consolidation of systems should be a standard practice in all yearly corporate business plans.Why? Yes, great question.
Having multiple systems and databases of record often introduces fear, uncertainty and doubt into management decisions that necessitate the clearest and most accurate information. How many times have you seen it? Finance has one forecast, and sales has another in a different system. The argument that “one is for bookings and the other for revenue” is flawed; specially when they can’t be reconciled and finger-pointing ensues as you are unable to account for 10% of your backlog.
In other situations, when multiple systems host the same information people tend to over-engineer “work-around” processes in an effort to make the disparate systems work to suit their needs and work together. When these cobbled integrations occur, redundancies and processes intersect poorly and inevitably there are more inefficiencies that could and should be prevented. In many instances these inefficiencies are just annoying and people lament the extra effort it takes to get things done, but others result in information jams that can cause a complete collapse of network traffic; usually at the least convenient time.
Efficient processes and well trained people are crucial to the success of any corporation. Having the right tools architected into a well integrated system that supports “how the business runs” is even more crucial. Unfortunately, for too many companies it is often only addressed after the cobbled solution fails, and the proverbial “$hit hits the fan”.
Evaluating your systems architecture is like your annual physical exam; nobody likes to do it and it is easy to put it off.
Develop your business plan and KPIs so you know what success looks like. Determine the processes and procedures that will govern your day to day operations and map the logical information flow. Once you have these, evaluate your current system architecture, challenge all existing notions, and consciously implement a plan to establish a system architecture that:
• Minimizes operational costs and inefficiency; supporting your business plans
• Mitigates risk in the continuity of operations; via well empowered processes
• Allows your executive team to have the right information at the right time
Don’t wait to engage on this process when you hear the network alarms, or your workforce vocalizes the fact that they feel like they are working underneath a circus tent. Every day that you chose to wait, results in additional cost and risk to your corporation.