Making smart use of your business software plays a major role in your ability to achieve your goals – the right intelligence in the right place at the right time with minimal cost. To ensure that you’re continually well supported, it’s important to remember that changes in your business should also lead to changes in your software.

Key areas to consider
To provide an idea of where the potential for improvement may lie in your system, there are several broad areas where it’s more than likely you could benefit from a critical appraisal.

1. Ensure trustworthy data and consistent reporting
It’s incredibly important that you have access to valuable, accurate information in your IT system. It’s the key to ensuring you understand your business and can detect opportunities to grow when they appear.

Business software applications are designed to offer you real-time insight into your business situation. However, it’s essential that you trust in what your system is telling you. “Garbage in, garbage out” is a phrase that we all know – are your management teams receiving efficient, reliable and consistent reports? Inconsistent and inaccurate reporting leads to bad decisions and an unhealthy influence on your core business. A thorough investigation by experts in how your system operates can provide a useful indicator of data health and offer tangible adaptations to processes and systems that can have a rapid, valuable impact.

2. Simplification of cumbersome work activities and non-automated processes
Not yet or only half automated processes and awkward work methods can have a seriously impede efficiency. These awkward activities can sometimes creep into a business unnoticed, blocking you from achieving greater performance without you perhaps even realizing it. Manual processes also suffer from a lack of transparency, making it difficult to create correct business wide overviews of performance. Do you know where these blocks are in your organization and fully understand what their influence is on your performance? Which are the processes you don’t actually need to be doing? External consultants tend to have a keen eye for the problems that ingrained routines are causing you to overlook.

3. Improved collaboration and communication
Solid co-ordination and co-operation between the various departments of your company is crucial for success. However much attention you give this area, there will always be opportunities to improve communication channels and align people better around common goals. A thorough review of how employees use the software to support their core activities, and of how the system works with other IT platforms, can reap dividends.

4. Optimizing the knowledge of employees
Business-software solutions, if implemented and utilized correctly, offer major cost savings by simplifying and speeding core business processes. However, the role that system can play is limited to an extent by the employees’ knowledge and understanding of the software. With your human resource base continually changing, it’s important to keep up to date with what the experience of the system is on the work floor and in management. Are they getting the most out of it? How is knowledge being passed on? Your supplier can play a major role in identifying weaknesses and ensuring that everyone has the insight and understanding needed to realize the system’s full potential.