In Musings 2013 #3 we talked about some UC benefitsIn Musings 2011 #1 we talked about Leveraging IT VS the view of IT as a cost centre.
What do all these seemingly separate concepts have in common? If IT is approached holistically with a plan (more on IT planning next Musings) all the above are addressed and it results in a concept we call Business Acceleration. Now, I know you are asking, what is Business Acceleration from an IT perspective? Well, what we mean is that IT is;
|4.||Accessible from anywhere/ anytime.|
Which leads your business to differentiate itself from its competition by being better/ faster/ stronger (Of course the exact specifics vary from industry to industry). If you can differentiate yourself from your competition by leveraging well managed and reliable IT should you still consider IT a cost centre? Lets how some examples;
|1.||A client needed to upgrade their mail server from Exchange 2007 to 2010, rather than install a 2nd physical server, move everything, then move everything back after (resulting in multiple long service outages) or less downtime but more cost, buying a new server. we just created a new Virtual server, migrated to it, turned off the original, No new hardware required, lower cost to do the upgrade and minimal service interruption.
-another client has 3 different branches spread throughout Southern Ontario. Since we have similar IT architecture in each location, with a few simple and inexpensive upgrades to each site, each site is the offsite backup site for each other. Also, with these small upgrades, that makes them their own hot sites for disaster recovery as well. Basically if one of their sites suffers a critical/ catastrophic failure, staff can electronically or physically go to one of the other sites and continue working. As well, the cost of the upgrade to do this is less than 18 months of the cost of 3rd party offsite backups.
|2.||An insurance broker was examining their business processes and saw that generating ACORD documents (an ACORD document is a standard proof of insurance document for the trucking industry) was taking a great deal of staff time as well as their clients wanted access to these documents 7 x24 as some were losing out on job bids when the insurance office was closed. They came to HardSoft Systems as their technology partner and asked if there was a way to automate this. We created a self serve portal for their clients to use to generate the ACORD on demand. This did 3 things, it reduced the admin overhead, it differentiated our clients business from others and it actually made their clients businesses better. All due to HardSoft Systems being involved as our clients did business planning. They understand that IT planning is not an afterthought of business planning, it is an integral part of an overall business plan.|
|3.||We have a number of clients who have salespeople on the road. If we have integrated IT we can reduce the need for those salespeople to be in the office and reduce the time they spend on administrative tasks. Lets imagine that your salesperson is on the road, he is in a meeting with a client, his phone on DND (do not disturb), when he gets out of the meeting he puts his phone back to normal and he sees that he has had a call (he knows this cause the integrated Voicemail system on the phone system has emailed him). The call is from another client asking for a modified version of the quote he had sent previously so he accesses the company server from his Tablet or laptop, modifies the quote, emails it to the client, calls up the customers CRM (Client relationship management system) record, records the particulars regarding this latest conversations & modified quote. Then he calls back the customer to make sure he got the modified quote and answers any further questions (as well as impressing the client with the speed of turnaround). The salesperson then continues onto his next meeting etc. Later in the day the client that asked for the modified quote faxes through a PO. Since the integrated Fax to email gateway is part of the overall IT infrastructure, the salesperson gets the fax as an email attachment, he can then immediately send a thank you to his client, send the PO along with whatever internal documentation is required to the appropriate people in his company to get the order started, check the production schedule/ stock levels/ etc from his tablet or laptop wherever he is, follow-up with the client about expected schedule/ delivery date and then continue on to his next meeting.
From the above example you can see that there was no time lost, we did not call the client back and say, I will get that when I am back in the office, didnt forget details, etc etc etc. an example of accelerating the business process, making the salesperson more efficient, and, as well, capturing more accurate and up to date client info. Another benefit is that all this info is centralized so that when the client calls into the main office and needs information immediately and the salesperson is not available, the office staff have access to the same info in the CRM, documents on the server, etc and can answer most questions. This should increase the confidence in doing business with you as you have your act together.
|4.||-Speaking of having your act together, at HardSoft Systems when calls come into the office, a popup appears on my computer screen (since our phone system is integrated with all our other systems) and the popup gives me information about the call (if available), like date/time, what line the call came in on, calling company name, main contact, last sale date, what they typically purchase from us, etc. This enables whoever answers the phone to talk more intimately with the caller and increases engagement. Alternately (or in combination with) we could have calls popup different scripts based on what number was called e.g. we could have specific phone numbers published in different ads or prospecting campaigns. These scripts would then ensure that the person answering the phone followed the program/ process. This could be carried over to service requests / warranty calls/ etc. alternately, if you had internal salespeople your could have the phone system popup the CRM record for the calling client directly saving the salesperson fumbling to answer the call and lookup the client as well as making sure the CRM was front and centre and making it more convenient to document the interaction in the CRM.|
So, as you can see, having an overall IT plan and ensuring all systems are integrated will make your business more efficient. Your clients should see your business as easier to deal with, you supply information in a more timely fashion, you are able to present a more consistent profile to your clients, etc. in short, you have your act together. Just the sort of business that you yourself want to deal with and in my experience, rare these days. Call us @ 1-800-263-8433 FREE and see how we can help you achieve Business Acceleration.