IT – systems reviews and consultancy

I was away last week – abroad – well…Ireland. I spent a day with a practice discussing all things IT. Four staff members – two partners and two others -  sat in and various others joined us at stages during the course of the day depending on what we were talking about.

I had had quite a long discussion with one of the partners on our 2 ½ hour drive from the airport in any event. We had already prepared an agenda – purely headings – so was able to get some insights into the issues that the firm wanted to address prior to the meeting.

Without going into great detail, we identified some hardware, connectivity and support issues which were not conducive to smooth and seamless operation. A possible solution was highlighted which would not only resolve these issues but also potentially save many thousand € each and every year. A good start!

Methodologies were the next subject. Whilst steps had been taken to move some of the systems to the cloud, there were many more steps that could be undertaken, both quickly and at little or no cost. These should improve efficiencies and workflows.

Various other products cropped up during the day all of which could make a difference – either internally, externally or both.

A key message to all staff, and something also highlighted at a conference I was speaking at this week, was to STOP rekeying data. The use of bank feeds, scanning technologies and the cloud takes away this vey manual, labour intensive process.

Several times during the day, comment was made that, whilst they had perhaps heard about something at a conference or seen an advert somewhere, this had passed them by, and it was invaluable to have put aside time to discuss the advantages and disadvantages without being “sold” to, and to open their eyes to all sorts of possibilities.

We had really only scratched the surface of areas which we could have discussed in more detail – so another visit in a few weeks’ time was mooted.

I had a telephone call this week from another practice I had visited several months ago. He was bringing me up to speed with actions taken so far and what was planned for the next few months. Big steps had been taken in moving them forwards to become “cloud accountants”.

The move into new ways of working is not without pain for some people, and people are often the biggest challenge. Software is often very straightforward and easy to use, accepting the change to use the software is the real issue. Whilst on the face of it, they accept the change, doing it is often another matter and it is all too easy to get back to the desk and do things in the same old way. I have seen it so many times…! The quote from Jim Collins’ book “Good to Great” frequently appears on conference slides – “Get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats.”

How much time do you put aside regularly to review IT and how it is used, and identify issues?