IT Integration Issues: 7 Tips for Small Businesses 

 June 2, 2020

Did you know that there are over 30 million small businesses in the USA? The economic upturn of the last few years has encouraged many to become entrepreneurs and start their own business. 

Sadly, statistics tell us that 30 percent of businesses will fold within two years. And only one in four businesses will reach the 15-year mark. What can make the difference between a successful business and one that becomes a statistic? 

In many cases, effective IT integration to support the fledgling start-up is important. However, they will need to folly this up by incrementally upgrading the company's IT infrastructure. This will enable the growing business to meet demands placed upon it. 

How can you successfully manage IT integration in your workplace? Why not follow our in-depth article to find out what your company needs to do to succeed in a changing IT world.

1. Prioritize Value and Security

You may have many goals when considering IT modernization. However, consider just two priority goals:

  1. Providing value to customers and potential customers
  2. Ensuring that customers feel safe and secure

When you provide a quality service or a product to your customers, they will come back for more and they will bring their friends. Focusing on giving them value should be the priority for expanding companies. 

However, providing a secure environment for your customers and their transactions is also a crucial step. As an example, despite technological advancements, many people still fear credit card fraud. Customers want to know that when they hand their card to a teller any credit card transactions will be handled securely.

When considering which aspects of your IT infrastructure to upgrade first, put yourself in the place of the customer. What would they benefit from the most? You will likely be easily able to identify your first areas to upgrade.

2. Use the Opportunity to Simplify

As companies expand, they often forcibly blend systems and technologies together to serve a purpose. For example, this could include different systems with different programming languages.

While this can work, when upgrading IT you have the opportunity to make a fresh start. If you have to persuade two systems to communicate, it may be better to replace them with one industry standard solution.

Simplified systems have many benefits. A new system may require some initial educating of employees, however, a single system is generally easier to work with. It is generally easier to onboard new employees when you have a single system. Maintenance, and in some cases even maintenance costs, are minimized with a  single modern system. 

3. Build Flexibility Into Your Infrastructure

Building flexibility into your new IT system is very important. We live in a world where new technologies appear each year. Customer habits change even more frequently. Unexpected events such as global pandemics can happen at any time. These are all good reasons to upgrade to flexible technologies that you can easily later upscale.

Future-proofing your system with flexible technology can save you time and money in the long term.

We can see an example of this in the retail world. Current world conditions will require retail outlet owners to adjust their store setups.

How will social distancing rules affect your shop layout? How can customers queue in a world where people cannot stand next to each other? More and more stores are moving to e-commerce retail in addition to their brick and mortar stores. How can they combine sales data accrued from both locations?

Equipping your staff with POS terminal machines is a great solution for this scenario. POS machines are mobile which means that you can change store layouts at short notice. Sales assistants can approach customers with a POS machine in hand to complete a sale anywhere in the store. You can collate sales metrics using the same CRM or database as your e-commerce sales.

All of these solutions are possible because you built a flexible POS solution into your IT upgrades. 

4. Engage With Your Workforce

IT modernization is often based on business plans and company goals. However, it is important not to let the most important asset in the business be left behind - the people. 

If you can engage with your workforce at an early stage, you will be able to make large changes in work practices with minimal trauma to your staff. This can be done by communicating with your employees. You could begin by asking such questions as:

  • What areas of the business do you think we should upgrade?
  • What makes you anxious about IT upgrades?
  • How would you personally like to improve your skills and experience?

By inviting others to see upgrades as an opportunity to improve their skills, you offer the individuals in your company a chance to personally benefit. In a short time, you may find that they are fully in support of the changes you plan to make.

5. Acquire Services Rather than Purchasing Them

Historically, companies would purchase technologies and own them for their lifetime. However, this is no longer the case for many large companies. More and more services are leased or employed from outside of the main organization. 

IT management services are one example of this. The outside company manages the IT needs of the organization such as security, troubleshooting, system upgrades, and hardware management.

This approach gives businesses access to skillsets that would usually take years to source or a large amount of money to hire.

When thinking of your next upgrade, why not consider what IT services you can lease rather than purchase.

6. Define Your Roadmap

A crucial part of an IT upgrade is the well organized and crystal clear strategic IT plan or roadmap. This document will document your final goals and the milestones that exist along the way to reaching those goals.

A roadmap is also a great way of communicating to others the growth that the company expects to make in the coming years. You may want to inspire employees with your vision of company growth. In other cases, you may want to encourage a financial institution to provide financial support. In either situation, a clear IT plan, to complement your business plan, will carry a lot of weight.

Your roadmap will of course change during its lifetime. Each time you make upgrades, you will likely add information to it. Why?

7. Review of Steps Taken

After each stage in your IT upgrade, it is important to consider what you have done and its success. A retrospective look at your upgrades can help you to see how it has improved performance and how your employees have reacted to it. This information lays the foundation for successful future upgrade works.

IT Integration Methods and Much More

Building efficiency and fluidity into your company workflows can be a challenge. However, by integrating the latest tools into your work practices you can see how even the largest companies can get a large amount of work done in a short space of time. IT integration can be the stepping stone that your company needs to greater productivity. 

If you are interested in learning how to increase productivity by applying the latest technology and work practices then we are here to help. We leverage our experience in business and IT to provide reliable services and products. Why not contact us to see ho we can help you today. 

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