Tag Archives: new year

Annual IT Budget ~ What to keep in mind..

Written by Larry Hack.

It strikes me every year how the IT budget, capital and services, is either ignored by companies, or underestimated. Further, the successful operation of an ERP/Accounting system on an up to date IT infrastructure will add hugely to the value of your company, however, this too is underestimated. Why is this?

If one Googles “IT Budget for companies” there are many tools to be had to assist in planning your budget. There are also sites which recommend how much spending there should be on IT. It is suggested that an average of 5.2% of annual revenue should be spent in this area. Some say between 4% and 6%. I read a white paper put out by American STRUCTUREPOINT Inc. which states:

Deciding on a budget requires more than just flinging numbers onto a spreadsheet. Today, businesses are confused and uncertain as to what an appropriate IT budget is, and they don’t have a clear vision for how these funds should be spent”

In my experience many clients wait to the last minute to replace hardware. Then the upgrade ERP decision often rests on the hardware decision as old ERP is usually not supported on current technology.

Some of the driving factors to stay current with your ERP and update your servers/IT infrastructure every 3 to 4 years include the following:

ERP: Annual license fees are paid which ensures access to continuously improving software not only in new functionality but also in the areas of performance and optimization. The old saying “If it ain’t broke let’s not touch it” is less true these days as I would suggest that there is more benefit to be gained by upgrading your software. Take advantage of reviewing your business processes and retraining you staff. Usually with staff turnover it is common to find that newer staff has had minimal exposure to how to use the software properly nor have any understanding of its capabilities, never having been shown properly. Often there is frustration and lack of adoption of the software purely because of lack of knowledge. This leads to staff using “side systems” such as Excel and others and this in itself creates inefficiency  and reporting is done outside of the ERP system with resulting duplication of effort and various “versions of the truth”.

IT side: Security, Security, Security. (Internet threats, access by which members of staff to which data, remote access by offices in other locations local or worldwide. Working from home? A huge topic these days! This requires careful setup and maintenance. What about backups? More disk space is needed as so much data is collected. We do not want to purge history as we want to be able to analyze this more and more. Then we need multiple servers because we want TEST companies, upgrade companies and so on. Server virtualizations, dual processors, SQL databases and Microsoft operating systems upgrades.  This is a lot to comprehend!  Then we have new “Cloud” and “Mobility” solutions to factor in together with needs you may have for bar-coding solutions from an IT standpoint.

American STRUCTUREPOINT urges one to consider IT as an investment into the operations and flow of communications, rather than a cost of doing business. With proper budgeting, your company’s systems can be deployed in a way that enhances your ability to respond to varying changes in the competitive business environment. At least pause and re-consider your approach to this topic as we move forward into 2016. We at Phoenix Systems are of the same view and would like to help you with this process, if you would allow us.

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5 Corporate New Year’s Resolutions

Written by: Hanna Kounov

It is that time of the year and possibly you are making personal new year’s resolutions but have you ever considered making New Year’s Resolutions for your company or your department. Interesting thought right? This is the perfect time, in most cases year ends have just been completed and you have the big picture right at your fingertips. The point is to not just focus on the bottom line but on a broader spectrum.

So where do you start? Logically, with a review of the previous year. Word of caution, do not call it a post mortem. Post mortem by definition imply that something has died of unknown causes. Avoid this term when looking at the year or at anything else going forward for that matter. The idea for this review is to determine where you have been succeeding and where things can be strengthened. The fact that you are still in business means you are doing something right. The question is how do you make it better? These are the areas where you should focus your New Years Resolution’s.

With this in mind I did some research and found some of the key areas that companies are looking at for 2016:

1. Get to know your customer better.
You may be under the impression that you know your customers needs but things change constantly and what may have been important might not be now. Do you know their pain points and their needs? Find new and innovative ways to engage with your customers. Does your marketing strategy speak to their needs? If not how is that corrected and devise a plan of action. Marketing is important and there are many inexpensive ways to engage with customers in this day and age. Look for ways that work not just for you but also for your customer.

2. Time management.
Why do we fail at time management? Because everything we know about it is geared towards managing “clock time” and what we should really be managing is “real time”. Real time happens in our heads; we create it and anything we create can be managed. The first thing you have to know is how effective your company is at managing time. You could send your key people on time management courses but that would probably be a waste of time (pardon the pun) because they will be working with “clock time”. Perhaps a better way is to ask those same key people to jot down every thought, conversation, task or action they take for one week. At the end of that week look for the places where time is wasted on unproductive things that don’t produce results . Now you have the information to Organize, Prioritize and Schedule. Make sure that 50% of your teams scheduled time is spent on activities that generate results and schedule time for interruptions. Remind your team that it is impossible to get everything done in a day and be okay with that, tomorrow is another day and that is why you are prioritizing. The good news is that 20% of your teams actions will generate 80% of the results so if everyone is concentrating on the things that matter, you are way ahead of the game!

3. Maximize employee contributions.
Forget everything you know about this because there is no “secret”. Simply treat people the way you wish to be treated. Nothing makes up for compassion, mutual respect, kindness, open communication and flexibility. Adhering to this very simple rule will produce happier employees and happy employees engage with customers and each other in a positive way. Let your employees know that they are valued. Communicate the companies goals and values and allow for the people to have a say if they want to. Strengthen your teams skill sets with targeted training. When you invest in your people they feel valued, important and secure in their future with the company.

4. Understand your data.
Your company has a ton of data but other than the financials the rest may be shrouded in mystery. Find out what your key performance indicators are. Once you know what they are find ways to extract, massage and delve into it. Do you really know what is going on? Do you have enough historical information to make informed decisions in regard to budgets and sales targets? If the answer is no put it on your resolutions list and work with the data the whole year. Build a comprehensive Business Intelligence Strategy for the year. You will be tapping into a gold mine.

5. Set your goals for the year.
You do this every year and this one should be no different. The question would be, do you understand the information that is driving the goals? If you didn’t reach the previous year’s goals special care should be given as to why. Were you pushing the right products? Is your customer demographic in a strong position but you still missed out on sales or are you feeling the pinch because of an economic slowdown? Asking the tough questions will help you determine a valid sales target for the year ahead. Break down those lofty goals into milestones to be reached throughout the year. This will allow the team to feel that they are reaching their objective and motivate them. The final word I found in my research is; be realistic. If you are asking your sales force to reach unattainable goals it could have the opposite effect and make them feel defeated before they have started. Realistic goals make them strive and often exceed expectations.


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