IT systems can be growth drivers or growth inhibitors. Information Technology should be scaleable and adaptable as well as enabling growth strategies.
We’ll examine key features of IT systems consistent with the needs of high-growth companies.
Fast, flexible and cost-effective means cloud. High-growth companies should not be diverting management focus or effort to computer infrastucture. Focus on strategic use of IT but not on infrastructure. Maintaining on-premise infrastructure is an unnecessary burden and an unnecessary risk.
Solid System Architecture
IT systems tend to evolve without careful planning – especially in a high-growth, high-change environment. You might start with a basic office system, an accounts package and a website. Then your marketing team gets a tool for email marketing and surveys. Your sales team use a simple CRM system for opportunity management. An App is developed to enhance client experience. And on it goes. The problem is that these different packages don’t talk to each other. There’s multiple data-entry, costly errors, data-leaks and general inefficiency.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Your systems can be interconnected, efficient and scaleable. Building on the Microsoft Business Applications framework, for example, is a reliable, secure, effective and cost-effective solution.
Keep IT Simple
This rule applies on a number of levels:
1. Don’t over-customise software. The closer you stick to out-of-the-box functionality, the less time and money you will spend to get the system running and to keep it running. It’s often better to connect two specialist systems than to adapt one system for two purposes.
2. Don’t over-automate. By all means, get efficiency by automating high-volume tasks, but don’t try to automate infrequent tasks. It’s not cost-effective and fringe-use-cases are likely to change more rapidly than the main tasks.
3. Keep the system easy to use. You want your team focussed on the business and not on the IT tools.
4. Reduce integration complexity. Ease of integration of software should be a key selection requirement. Opting for an established range of software such as the Microsoft stack is generally a good option.
Enable Strong Customer Relationships
Strong customer relationships are a hallmark of high growth companies so investment in information systems to enable those relationships is critical. The technology in this space is fast-moving and as a high-growth company, you cannot afford to get behind.
A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is the central component. CRM is designed to store all customer-related information and provide a “360 degree view” of the customer. Your front-end, including web-site, social-media and Apps, should be integrated with the CRM system to provide two-way information flow with your customers.
Get Expert Advice
In this digital world, information technology is a major source of disruption to business. Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and Blockchain are just a few of the disruptors. As a high growth company, you want to either be part of the disruption or at least make sure you are not disrupted.
Unless your business is an IT business, you will be focussed on your product or service and your marketplace rather than on the IT world. So you need input from someone who is focussed on IT. And even if you have your own IT specialist, IT is just too broad for one person to be across everything you may need to know.
You’re likely to have IT partners who provide support and services around your IT systems. Thay should be able to provide expert advice, at least regarding the systems they support. If not, find a consultant who can provide the expert advice you need.
Your IT system can enable your high-growth company to continue growing. That system will be simple, robust and efficient, and will facilitate strong customer relationships. It will be guided, not only by the strategic management team, but also by IT experts.