It goes without saying that the best foot should always be forward when it comes to your customers. Products and services provided to customers are generally the most polished aspect of an enterprise as they represent the organization in the eyes of past, present and future clients. Now consider the inner workings of the organization. Do the internal mechanics need to be hidden? What would your customers think if your internal processes were laid bare? Would you show your customers your ERP system?
While your customers may never see your ERP system, it’s a useful scenario to imagine when evaluating the effectiveness of your current IT landscape. If one or more of the following items are true, you may want to take extreme measures to ensure that your customers never see your ERP system – as an alternative, you could simply re-examine your IT strategy:
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1. Your customer data is managed in spreadsheets. As security and privacy continue to be at the forefront of consumer’s minds, the last thing your customer wants to hear is that their personal and professional information is stored in spreadsheets without any kind of system-driven security protocols. If the crashing of a network or a single computer is all that is required to disrupt your customer relationship, you are due for a thorough examination of your system and infrastructure. Data security is the cornerstone of a successful IT strategy and should be a guarantee for your customers.
2. Your internal processes do not have the same level of quality that your service offerings do. You pride yourself on your product or service, but what does the process behind your “storefront” say about your organization? If your client-base were to have a glimpse of your redundant data entry and manual workarounds, would your product or service still be viewed as the paragon of quality that your organization hoped to convey? IT strategy is, at its core, about freeing your business of the constraints that hold it back and giving you the tools to meet your strategic goals. While your organization may shine in terms of your service offerings, imagine what you could accomplish without the weight of non-value-added activity and inefficient processes slowing down your staff.
3. Your business is run on a mish-mash of systems. Is your output limited by the aging canvas of your current set of systems? Do you have several third-party systems cobbled together with modifications? Your legacy systems may have brought you to your current level of success, but when considering the future, scalability is vital to your organization’s success. Sustainable growth should be one of your primary objectives if you intend to provide the same, if not higher, level of service that your customers expect while simultaneously expanding your customer base.
No organization is perfect, especially on the inside. Many organizations achieve success without streamlined processes and systems – but only to a point. As organizational size and complexity grows, so does the need for efficiency in processes and systems. Before your organization contemplates its future and strives toward strategic goals, be sure to consider the old adage, true beauty is on the inside.