An effective IT system is essential to ensure a company works to the best of its ability. Departments from across an organization can be joined through shared databases, electronic mail and other IT systems that make the working day easier.
Different departments in a company will naturally have different IT needs. An accounting software will not serve the same purpose as a sales database. Data analysis is completely different from design work. This variety leads to different IT systems for different jobs. Within those individual teams there may be different spreadsheets or documents that are not shared within the team due to data security or customer confidentiality issues.
Issues can arise when two teams are required to collaborate on a project – suddenly the joining of two separate databases becomes an issue.
When the IT needs of a business is handled centrally, it allows IT specialists to view the business needs as a whole and ensure, where possible, that the differing needs of each department are taken into account whilst also working together when required.
A technique used in lean manufacturing is called ‘The Five Why’s’. When a member of staff requests a particular piece of software for their department, the IT specialist should ask ‘Why?’ When the answer is given, ask ‘Why?’ again. Keep asking the question repeatedly until you arrive at the fundamental issue – the core of what they want rather than the feature they think the software will provide. When applied to different departments, it is often discovered that the same needs and requirements are at the core – this makes software purchasing and implementation much easy.
Naturally, some barriers are going to be put in place – the needs of one team may be completely different to others but there is still room to reduce the dissimilarity among them.
Planning ahead is vital when choosing software. What the team needs now may change within a year or so. If you choose a software that can meet most of these requirements, you can save yourself from adding further systems next time around.
Non-IT specialists may not understand the difficulty of connecting different software and functions together. With a bit of planning and the “WHY” questions, you can definitely ensure a joint IT infrastructure that will serve your business long into the future.