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Pacific NorthWest Managed IT Services Blog

Does Technology Get In The Way of Running Your Business?

"According to a study by Asurion, 80% of Americans experience some type of tech frustration every day. The number goes up to 5 per day for 53% of Americans, and 30% say it is more than five times each day. And there are some which experience up to 40 daily tech frustrations.

Ironically, earlier this week, we posted a blog entitled "How Technology Helps You Build a Better Business." In this blog we focused on how business needs every edge they can get for success. A key statement in the blog is the theme of today's blog. "One of the best ways you can do so is by strategically implementing technology solutions that can enhance or transform the way your business operates both internally and externally. Can we stop chasing technology for a moment and look at the way Your Business wants to run. Isn't about time to have Business drive IT instead of the other way around?

How Business & Technology Play Together

After 35 years of IT experience I can honestly say, not much has changed in terms of how technology fits into business, and the frustration levels prove this point. The implementation of new technology goes something like this. The business owner, board, leadership, the head muckety mucks, have a vision of where he/she or they want to take the business. Sometimes, not often enough that vision is written down and shared with everyone, not nearly often enough but that is for a different blog. Part of that vision will involve the need for technology to help streamline process and workflow. Company leadership consults with IT professionals, whether internal or external to get insight and advice on what to do. This is where is gets interesting. The IT folks, the geeks as they are commonly referred, traditionally, are very technical (which is a good thing) but often lack business vision, the dream. The suits, the muckety mucks, have all kinds of dreams and visions (which is also a good thing) but seriously lack the technical knowledge and know how to bring the right technology into play. So, there you have it, Suits with a dream and vision of what needs to happen and geeks with technical backgrounds on what can be done. This is the Perfect Storm, the dream front, meets with the technology front. One wanting the dream, the other in a technology paradigm. The results, technology implementation that tries to meet business needs and business needs that change based on what technology is offered. The issue, technology, right or wrong, in its constant evolutionary state ends up driving business as business conforms to what can be technically done.

 It's Time to Let Business Do the Driving

The fact is, that good technology will always evolve and most of the time, this evolution is driven by technology end users and technical engineering input. Given this natural lag that will forever exist, how does business take control of their vision, culture, and goals to run the way they want to. Here 4 tips bring business in control and drive IT.

 TIP #1: Business needs to learn, analyze and take control

Business leaders need to learn the limits of their present solutions, understand where the given solution technology is headed and in what time frame. In the medical realm the EHR/EMR technology works to meet the element workflows of the customers they serve. What is lacking is strong API (application programming interface) that allow for the customization required to work the way you work or to integrate well with other EHR/EMR applications. The results are that medical entities end up adapting their workflow and productivity to the way the application works, instead of working the way they want to. In the evolution of good software solutions, a degree of this is expected as the vendor continues to evolve the software in flexibility and capability. Many EHR/EMR applications are highly proprietary and unfortunately do not emphasize integration not a lot of customization, this means that your adaptation is more important than their change. The point here is a business needs to determine their future and how things work that align with technology that enables their business rather than drives it. In this honest research and analysis, you may find areas that are less than satisfactory and thus need changed. The business should have a solid timeline and phased approach to moving to such technology. Finally, the business should involve specialists who know the industry and bring a lot of objectivity to the discussion. Going to a solution competitor and asking is switching is a good idea is, well, not a good idea. The real answer here is for business to take control of the solutions with solid input from objective technical folks.

 Tip #2: Don't accept the "If is Not Broke, Don't Fix it, ideology

I first began to hear this philosophy in the early 90's and really came home during Y2K. The entire world was freaking out over the millennial digit change that through research showed a possible cataclysmic end to the world as we know it. Model after model showed that unless certain changes were made the possibility of infrastructure, particularly server outages were certain. The answer of course was lots of patching that would nurse the systems into the next millennium. I was working for Sun Microsystems at the time and open systems of Unix, that played a big role in enterprise computing spent well over a year preparing globally for the clock turn of midnight. We had coordinated teams and communication around the world to notify other teams of any anomaly. We stayed up all night, watching, listening, and communicating. Because many large enterprises had adopted the If it's not broke don't fix it theme, there had been months of updating and upgrading done that really should have been easier due to the serious lag in infrastructure version control. In the U.S. we had one system go down, one system and it wasn't related to the date change. There were systems globally that had difficulty due to the change, but these were the hard core "If is not broken, don't fix it leaders, that indeed Broke and had to fix it, while losing production and dollars. Here is the point, in the case of Y2K there was a lot for research, testing and modeling that said this needs to change or breaking is very probable. Today, many businesses have accepted the complete adaptation of their business to adhere to the way technology works instead of doing the research, asking the tough questions, and finding the technology that is willing to meet your current and future needs. It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you are telling yourself, it works and were used to it, so were good, (If is not broke, don't fix it) then, you are already broken, and technology is driving your business.

 Tip #3: In Your Business is Good Enough, Enough.

In business, small, midsize, or large, meeting customer needs is the business. Does not matter whether is service based, manufacturing, technology or personal, without customers you Do Not have a business. Having said that, most organizations operate below 50% in six key elements to make up a solid business operating system and basically succeed despite themselves. This is it's good enough is enough mentality and it flows through every industry at every level of business. If this, is you and your successful, congratulations, you're fortunate. If this, is you and your struggling, I am willing to bet that this was not your vision from the beginning, what's broken, you are, you need to start taking control of your business and that starts by identifying what is not up to your standard and fix it.

 Tip #4: Research now, Get a Plan, Make Change Happen, Meet the Dream

Business is all about change, evolution and in some cases revolution. You may have heard the statement, "When you're through developing, you're through." This is a true in business as it is in technology. Most likely it is time for you and your leaders to take a long hard look and where you are, where your headed and what the dream was originally. Once complete, start researching the key areas of the business that are not operating to your standard. Analyze the impact of the current status and how change would affect your business culture and bottom line. Your technology will certainly be a part of the analysis, as will your culture, your people, your measurement, your issues.... etc. In all this you will want objective insight from your leadership, employees, and industry experts. Take this one step at a time, starting with what will have the greatest impact. Once your analysis is complete, derive a plan to change what needs to change to meet your need targets. Understand that this will take time, so set solid time-based goals and expectations. Work with vendors and experts that seek to understand your dream, instead of making sure their understood about their capabilities. With time a consistency you will see change, improvement and the dream start to materialize and all along, you will be driving the business, not your technology or other elements.

We're here to help. Pacific NorthWest Managed Business and IT Solutions has many years in IT solutions and business performance. Our moniker of Connecting Business to IT is all about making sure business drives business. If you are interested in learning or hearing more about your status or journey, contact us. We can help!

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