Good information and communication technology (IT), when deployed in a well-managed organisation, with appropriate business processes can be a key enabler. In fact, technology has become somewhat of a second nature to us, and it’s hard to imagine how modern businesses could survive without IT. Quite naturally, organisations strive to use technology in the best possible way and ensure that their team members have the best tools at their disposal.
As businesses evolve, they look for new and innovative solutions to their problems. New technology may play a part of this. As I’ve written in a previous article, it’s crucial that change is considered holistically and not just from an IT perspective. In this article, I’m going to discuss some of the steps an organisation should take before purchasing new IT, and discuss some pitfalls that are best avoided. These points are relevant to businesses of all sizes, but particularly those mid-size businesses that are growing. By implementing the right type of flexible IT, and avoiding the so-called “legacy” issues that many large organisations have inherited, can be a way of staying nimble and sustaining competitive advantage.
Off-the-shelf: The dangerous gap for the unprepared
Rather than build bespoke software applications from scratch, organisations will often buy ‘off-the-shelf’ software solutions. This might be a Customer Relationship Management package, a Business Analytics package, or something entirely different. It might be hosted on premise or even in the cloud. Buying off-the-shelf has several advantages: There’s no need to develop the software from the ground-up, you can capitalise on innovation and development that has taken place before you bought the software, and you don’t need to have hoards of software development expertise in-house.
However, there’s a trap waiting for the unprepared. Buying “off-the-shelf” sounds easy and appealing doesn’t it? It sounds like we just drop a system out into the production environment, and it’ll do everything we want it to, immediately. Almost like buying shrink-wrapped software from the mall – pop the CD in the drive, install, and you’re ready to go….. Sadly this isn’t likely to be the case.