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Information Technology has brought about a revolution in the way we do business. As technological sophistication increases, so do our expectations to complete a job within shorter timeframes, at lower cost, and with higher quality levels.

In fact, this year [2012], global IT investment are expected to exceed US$ 3 trillion.

In spite of such hype on the miracles of IT in curing the ailments of severely impaired organizations., results consistently fall short of expectations. Gartner survey reports show how only around 50 per cent of organizations have been generally satisfied with the delivery promise of their IT solutions following implementation. Does this mean that IT solution providers are selling inadequate solutions, over-promising or creating unrealistic expectations on their clients?

In a few of the cases, this could be part of the problem. But more often, the culprit is deeply rooted in the buyers themselves.

From our experience, IT buyers frequently make a number of mistakes. In the first instance, some buyers think that process inefficiencies may be rectified by throwing moneyat an automated system. Some managers fail to realize that IT is characterized by the amplifier effect – through IT, efficient processes become more efficient and inefficient process become more inefficient. This might explain why some organisations are actually worse off following the implementation of a new IT solution.

On such basis, organizations are best advice to bring their house in order before considering a major leap into the technology revolution, in particular, automation projects.

DRIVE THE IMPLEMENTATION FROM THE BUSINESS SIDE

IT needs to be aligned with your business model and not other way round. This notwithstanding, many IT implementations remain fundamentally IT led. While being highly technical in the subject matter, IT departments are frequently privy of the actual business requirements of an organization. In most cases, this results in the creation of an information system with a variety of bells and whisles which do not toll to the tune of the business. It is the management team responsible for managing the business that is best placed to understand the business requirements and has the authority and resources to implement. The key role played by IT departments is more about enabling the technology.

ESTABLISH A CLEAR INFORMATIONS SYSTEM ROADMAP

We have seen many organizations being attracted to the allure of short-term gains in implementing an isolated IT solution for a particular function within an organization without due consideration for the big picture. The end result translates itself in an amalgam of diverse independent systems across different functions within the organization which run independently from each other. Not only would necessitate a considerable degree of duplication of work but in itself creates inherent difficulties in extracting the actual output. The implementation of a system requires careful planning and needs to  be considered within the wider context of its business model.

DETERMINE THE LEVEL OF STANDARDISATION AND FLEXIBLITY

Automation lends itself well to tasks which are standard and typically carried out in large volumes. Organizations need to realize that although automation promotes greater efficiency and enhances productivity, it does so at the expense of flexibility. This mainly because automation is founded on the basis of the replication of a standardized process. While increasing the varity of output is possible, this comes at the expense of increased complexity and increased development and maintenance costs to support the system.

ESTABLISH ORGANISATIONAL POLICIES

A decision to automate your business processes needs to be supported by the establishment and enforcement of clear organizational policies and standards that need to be observed by members of staff. Changes in policies and standards are less likely to be met with resistance if employees are involved in the process of shaping policies and standards at the outset.

STREAMLINE FAT

The move towards a more sophisticated IT solution frequently requires changes in work practices and procedures that are normally carried out by an organization.fale

From our experience this is perhaps one of the most ignored aspects in IT projects and could ultimately spell disaster at implementation stage..

There is a very simple reason for this. When a process is carried out manually, inaccuracies and deficiencies in output may be easily rectified through human intervention in a process called mutual adjustment. The human brain is very adept at sorting out things through chaos. On the other hand, an information system cannot remember an order unless a purchase order was raised through the system. Clearly while the issue of a purchase order to procure supplies is considered best practice in both  a manual and automated system, the latter will not function unless such purchase order is raised. In this context, streamlining processes and reengineering these in accordance with best practice becomes a vital task.

TRAIN AND COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR STAFF

An IT system will ultimately need to be used by your people. Employees have a key role to play in defining requirements, testing the system from a user perspective, and ultimately in convincing their peers that they will be better off using the system being implemented. It is also imperative to design, develop and implement an appropriate training program to ensure that members of staff acquire the skills necessary to make use of the new system.