TECHNOLOGY BULLETIN |
As businesses recover from the hangover following the recent recession, many are renewing their focus on strategic growth and efficiency initiatives. Companies are striving to be smarter about how they deploy capital moving forward, and seek to make more effective technology investments. As companies gain more affordable access to new technology and platforms, opportunities will become available in the new year to implement process improvements.
The following are ten common strategies companies are evaluating as we enter 2014 to take advantage of available technology to increase performance and get the most out of IT investments:
Assessing the IT environment: Companies are beginning to evaluate their overall technology investments to determine whether they align with business goals. In the early-to-mid 2000s, the reduction of the cost of technology led many companies to make major investments in new platforms and applications, and over investing in some cases. Now, organizations are looking to scale platforms back efficiently, and put tools in place to collect better information quicker at a reasonable cost.
Leveraging outsourcing opportunities: As the market thaws, merger and acquisition activity has increased, with companies evaluating growth opportunities. Organizations are taking a harder look at becoming more efficient and doing more with less, leading many businesses to consider strategic outsourcing initiatives. Many organizations are also implementing a lean IT model comprised of an agile technology team of experienced internal resources combined with strategic outsourcing providers.
Companies can outsource all or certain segments of their IT platform, gaining access to a larger pool of experienced personnel at a fraction of the cost while reallocating resources to the core business. In addition to traditional technology processes, many organizations are outsourcing back office functions, such as finance and accounting. This strategy often increases performance and flexibility while controlling costs.
Gathering better business information: Companies are also evaluating their business information solutions, how they are leveraging them, whether they are getting optimal value out of their systems and at what cost. In an effort to collect more actionable information, companies are either enhancing the current system environment, or questioning the effectiveness of their current system in relation to the cost of the platform. Many companies are examining their overall system strategy and road map, given cloud-based solutions and other lower-cost technologies now more readily available in the market.
Ensuring IT governance: All organizations require a way to ensure the accountability and transparency of the IT function, not unlike the expectations of individual business departments. Companies are taking a look at IT governance strategies to establish and continually maintain the alignment of IT with the needs of the business, using mature, proven processes tailored to match the needs of the organization. There are varying degrees of implementation, depending on the organization’s size, degree of technology environment complexity, if it is regulated, etc.
Increasing compliance and controls: While further evaluating systems, we are seeing the need for better internal controls and data management. These improvements help to focus on vulnerabilities in system security, data security and cyber hacking prevention as well as addressing compliance requirements for personal data.
Improving cash control: As companies evaluate new and existing technology and components, many seek to determine how to control cash better and manage the treasury cycle. Several solutions are available for organizations to leverage, manage and forecast cash to make more effective financial projections and decisions.
Integrating collaborative technology: With the increased availability of cloud and collaborative technologies, businesses are evaluating how to work together more effectively in a virtualized environment. Many organizations use SharePoint, but may not take advantage of the platform’s full capabilities to manage, store and share data in a virtual world.
Utilizing shared service centers: In addition to outsourcing, many upper mid-market companies are exploring implementing shared service centers, integrating technology into their back office to ensure better work flow. Shared service centers eliminate many manual accounts payable (AP) tasks, and address and centralize redundant AP functions, allowing for stronger controls, more efficiency and improved cash forecasting.
Implementing “seek and automate” strategies: To streamline operations, organizations are becoming more aggressive about seeking out inefficient manual processes, improving and then automating them. The gains in efficiency directly translate to greater profitability.
Embracing mobility: Mobility is changing how organizations do business, and companies are increasingly utilizing mobile devices to manage the workforce and integrate tools to streamline processes, enhance controls and increase flexibility. Implementing a mobility strategy allows employees to accomplish tasks both in and out of the office, increasing efficiency and end user satisfaction.
When moving to new platforms and applications, you must remember to evaluate the risks of new implementations along with the benefits. Many companies are embracing an enterprise risk management (ERM) framework as a concept to understand where risks exist and how to manage them across the entire organization.
The economy is steadily improving, and businesses in all industries are integrating new technology or optimizing existing investments to prepare for profitable growth. Assessing your IT platform to identify if your programs and applications fit your current and future needs is an important step to address any deficiencies or inefficient processes. Consulting with an experienced advisor can help determine if your IT strategy aligns with your business goals, and introduce solutions to increase your effectiveness.