It’s a little known fact that I have bragging rights that I conducted some of the UK’s first research into Shared Services. Now if you’re a small or medium business, then that’ll mean nothing to you and also negate any bragging rights I have about it. Indeed, but what I learnt during my time on my masters degree many, many years ago changed the way that I thought about setting up IT for the SME that I ended up starting my career with.
Shared Services are where large organisations consolidate finance, IT, HR and other function into one location and hence reduce costs. The development agencies love this behaviour as it means more jobs in a particular area. Manchester was of course one area that a conurbation grew and was a host of the Shared Services Week on more than one occasion and I had the opportunity on finding out how technology enabled big companies to run their functions efficiently…
The likelihood is you’ve dealt with the big guys, if ever you’ve dealt with a bank, utility or lord forbid… telephone provider, then you know how inefficient they can be. However, if you think about how many transactions they deal with – payroll, looking after their IT and dealing with payables then really they are quite efficient and it’s merely the customer service functions that let them down!
Technology that I saw in the early 00’s really expanded my mind of what was possible with IT. They were confidently scanning invoices and inputting the captured text directly into their ERP (accounts) systems. For many years, I worked within my employer to get such solutions in place – rather than Sage accounts I found an ERP that fit our budget, I looked for invoice scanning solutions and eventually got a suite of solutions working together that made us as good if not better than our major clients – who were the big boys, but at a fraction of the price.
The technology aspect of IT is the tool that we use to ensure that information is processed effectively and efficiently, it’s as simple as that. People seem to forget the I in IT quite often and focus on the shiny and new hardware that has flashing lights and beeps. However if your business really isn’t seeing any benefits from its IT expenditure upon how quickly it’s doing things and how accurately, then it’s really not doing its job and the technology is just wasted expenditure.
What I really want to stress in this brief lesson from my career is that there’s a solution for any size business to do things better, the minute you see IT as a chore and not important, is the minute you’ve handed your competition a strategic advantage.
We’re in the business of helping those who want to be helped – micro, small, medium, large, enterprise or multinational – we’re all about the information and providing the right sized technology to solve information problems.
Why not contact us to find out more about what we do?