I wanted to have a space that I would be able to write about what I was thinking, give advice, and maybe it would be useful to someone. It’s very simple if you like it let me know and I’ll update more often, if you don’t then simply don’t come back. I guess that I am one of those people who is old enough not to care about the world posting and sharing, but like the idea of helping someone if I can.
Once we get the vineyard going I’ll post about it as well as a few hobbies I have. Not sure if hobbies like robots and wood working for practical uses are interesting to others. Oh there is that one other hobby, reworking Airstreams.
The current state of things on many fronts can best be described with one word, “changing”. Many organizations have finally realized that IT is not just information technology, but the tools which they use to be successful, to grow, and to expand. The question is not if technology will be used, it is how we can best use it to advance the goals and objectives of the organization. The secret to reaching an organization’s objectives, however, is not spending more on IT related items or pouring funding into IT to resolve operational issues; the secret is to look at real ROI on IT spending. If you put in that new software, what were your margins prior and what are they post implementation? If you cannot measure the pre- and post- results of your IT expense, then you have no idea what you are spending your money on.
Does this just apply to software? No, most companies spend money on things such as VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone systems with no idea why. Is it for improved communication for remote locations? Is it for reduction of customer hold times and improved service? The most common answer to these questions is “Yes, that is what we were told by the sales and installation vendor”. News flash, they get paid by selling you something; do you have the ROI to prove it? Would they put the improvements and expectations in writing so you could discount payments if the service did not meet those expectations? Try a system before expanding it. If the vendor tells you it’s an all or nothing installation, then ask yourself how you are going to expand it as your business grows or even down size as it becomes internet based? The final question to ask is, “Is this just one of many services you offer, and are the other services related to this one?” That question often defines the type of vendor your dealing with, since, as I was once told; “you can’t be an expert about everything, but you can be knowledgeable about many things”.
I have been told countless times by many employees, business owners, and managers that software is the biggest headache and expense. But when you look into most organizations you will find that it has less to do with the software and more to do with improper implementation, improper customization, or the most common reason, incorrect integration. What causes these is most often an improper representation by the vendor or irrational expectations by the businesses. Some things to help prevent such confusion and waste of time and money are:
Getting past the communication issue of expectations. This is most often done by simply getting agreement on the meaning of acronyms. WHAT? Yes, the most common reason for miscommunication is the simple fact of failing to confirm both parties understanding of something as simple as ROI. To a business it has to do with profit margin, while most IT people measure it by someone’s ability to do a task faster, thereby reducing man hours or FTE count. News flash – while reducing man hours or improving productivity can increase my bottom line, I will take the profit margin over the time savings 9 out of 10 times and watch a business grow much faster.
Understanding the scope of your software. Not all software is created equal. Most software that does one business function very well is very poor at many associated tasks. An example would be accounting software. Do you really want accounting software responsible for your customer management and trend analysis? Or how about your shop maintenance management? The answer is no, while software companies may claim their product does all of these in one package, most were developed for a special need and you may need to integrate several software packages to get a well-rounded solution. Wait, did I just say buy more software to resolve the ineffectiveness of other software? Yes, as that ability to integrate and use other applications is the sign of a well-rounded application. A product which is able to integrate with other packages affords you the ability to seek out the best software for each function for your organizational needs.
Choosing whether to go in-house or outsource IT operations and staffing. Should you use internal staffing or outsourced staffing, and which is best? The simple answer is neither. Both options have good and bad points, but the actual need is not a simple answer as it will depend on the organization’s ability to establish operational standards and follow them. Let’s look at a multi-location network for a parts company as an example. This company has approximately 20 employees of which 10 are counter and warehouse, five are in administration, and five are in external sales. This tells me you have on average of 10 desktop PC’s in use and 10 laptops with 12 fixed telephones and 8 printers. With a total of 40 networked devise can you justify a minimal cost of $1,000 per device annually for support? Most companies of this size would say no, and they would be right as the ROI would be very difficult to justify unless you look at it from a pure “time savings” standpoint and forget the actual margin it would require. In this case a contracted hardware support with external service providers would be common and save about 50% if well managed. As the company size increases in terms of both employee count and complexity, a mix of internal and outsourced might make more sense, but again, it would require a well-managed solution. The business can’t just hire a company as its solution, and not monitor whether or not the promised deliverables are being met.
Establishment of standards and an annual review of those standards for our sample organization is all that would be needed in conjunction with a review of business objective and IT utilization to achieve the desired goal. I know this leaves a lot of questions unanswered such as how to handle e-mail services, internet, web design, and much more, but selecting a provider for all of these should follow the same basic review and analysis process.
Hobby gone bad.
Personal interest from seeing how different it can be all over the world and in my travels.
There is more to life than work and technology. Besides have you ever seen a Wi-Fi managed crop?