Bottom Line Item: Budgeting for IT and Beyond….
In a recent press release, Walmart stated that within their fiscal 2014 capital plan are “investments in technology and innovative processes to drive additional operational excellence, expense leverage and productivity and investments in global e-commerce initiatives, including the development of a global technology platform.”
- Are you making room in your 2014 budget for new IT investments?
- Are you investing in your organization and infrastructure?
- Are you ready to empower your network to streamline processes and increase the variables that allow for success?
Walmart is clearly recognizing the value and power in adopting new platforms and in employing new technology. Some companies may say, “Well that is great for a company of Walmart’s scale and size, but we don’t have Walmart’s budget!”
While that may be true to some degree, no matter how large or small your organization is, you should be considering the same. While planning your budget for 2014, it is essential to include significant investments in new and innovative technological systems and platforms that will grow with your success over time.
This can include something as simple as a more functional and advanced CRM system, to a mobile platform that allows you to collect data in a more structured way. With the rise of smartphones and the mobile workforce, some of the same considerations need to be made in order to implement any new technology.
In a recent story on Marketwatch, CoreMatrix (cloud computing provider and consulting company), listed 8 items to include in the budgeting process for your CRM system. However, these same principles can easily be applied to any new process that employs technology, empowers your employees and unifies your network. The bulleted items below are from the Marketwatch article, but with my own spin on what they mean or should mean:
- Seat Licenses: While this doesn’t necessarily apply to all platforms, understanding the scale and use case within your organization will help you to determine the level of functionality and use you will require. This can impact the bottom line for any solution. Therefore, if you are considering new technology you should have a firm understanding of exactly who will be using it, and the frequency at which they will be using it.
- Solution Implementation: Finding the right platform should not only include its technical abilities, but the support that comes with it. Selecting a partner that will provide expertise in execution and return and who will truly work to understand and solve your business problems is key.
- Customization: Every organization is unique, and while “off the shelf” solutions are readily available, they usually require a certain level of customization and/or tailoring to fuse seamlessly with your current processes and overall “ethos”.
- Data Merging, cleansing and appending: As new technology was developed, companies and employees used and tested a wide variety of systems and techniques to try and enhance their productivity and success. That is why in 2014, when you find “The One” solution for you, you should be sure to make room for migrating all of your disparate data into one centralized location.
- New Features & Enhancements: NOTE: This should not always mean hidden fees or additional costs. The idea for constant improvement and new feature development is inherent in any technology. The best partners will be the ones who learn from one another and create applicable and sensible enhancements that make things easier for the users and the organization. This can be an instance where an upgrade would be necessary, but with the right systems and partners, you can grow together!
- Integration with other applications: Sometimes you need more than 1 system in place to turn all the gears at once. This once daunting view into the abyss of endless applications has now become clearer with API advancements and the ability for different systems to communicate and integrate with one another. Choose wisely.
- Training: Similar to grade school, everyone has their own learning curve for technology and their own way of accepting new processes and change. First, everyone should be on the same page as to how and why they are using a new system. Second, everyone should have a firm understanding of all aspects to key functionality so that all users can take advantage of the full range of features offered by a solution. *No employee left behind!
- Ongoing Governance: While you may find the perfect partner and the ideal technology, it is key to have an internal champion and someone who manages the ongoing use and process. A company can make a significant investment in a new platform, but without someone to drive the value and process internally, systems can go virtually unused and/or partially used. You should be sure you are getting the most from your investment and finding the solutions to the problems and/or questions you are faced with.
As you look towards 2014 and beyond, searching for the next system that will improve your formula for success, you will achieve the greatest return when considering these variables. Walmart is not innovating by investing in operations and leveraging productivity, as it is clear this is the only way to survive in today’s market. So, there should be no question about doing it for your organization and budgeting properly for it.