Things to consider about IT projects for small and medium-size companies:

If you are a small business owner and are looking to leverage IT systems for efficiency and to increase productivity as well as cost savings, you are flooded with too many options from different IT providers. This can be quite overwhelming and also painful. You may also choose a project or product because of cool look but end up spending more money than needed.

Here are a few basic reasons you may proceed with IT projects. They are as follows:

a) Efficiency
b) Cost savings
c) Increased productivity
d) Latest Technological advances/Innovation
e) Legacy systems
f) Competition
g) Enhanced customer support/Capability
h) Data Analytics
i) Social media
j) Customer relationship management

And more……

IT project planning is an entire science and there are certified project managers who can help your organization through the entire software development Life cycle. Today IT is an essential part of every organization and if implemented correctly can save you thousands of dollars if not millions. Again the key is before you proceed with signing off the purchase order from an IT solution provider, please make sure the following are indeed checked:

a) If efficiency obtained at the end of the implementation justifies the cost. If so, how and when does the investment break even? This is a key question which organizations fail to keep in mind before implementing IT solutions.

b) If you can split the projects between One-time and on-going, it might be very helpful for you to plan the temporary projects to be handled by an outside third party and the ongoing might be handled in-house. Now, there are ways you can start of with the third party and then either go with contract to hire or work with the provider for a permanent hire while they perform some tasks on a temporary basis. It is important to check if the strategic partners intentions are aligned with your organizational goals and the transparency is established through-out the process

c) Low complexity is the key. If IT solution providers are not making you feel comfortable about the implementations, you may need to rethink if they know what they are doing or they are planning to charge you for something you don’t know. I was driving in the Bahamas for scuba diving and the bus driver was an IT cable and network technican prior to that job when he worked in the United States for a big IT company and he was instructed by his management to stay over at the clients place for a longer period even if there was no work so that they could bill the hourly rate of $180.00. This is really painful for us to hear but unfortunately that is what is happening in the industry. So, a good yard stick is to request the company to provide a simple solution not a complex one.

d) User Training and documentation. This is often overlooked at the time of engagement because more companies and individuals want to complete projects quickly. However, it is a great idea to request a quote for this upfront and also negotiate a three month or six month or even a year of free support when you engage a company depending on the size of the project and the personnel involved. User training may be provided at a fee but it is well worth it than reaching out to the company each and every time for a small issue and getting huge bills in the mail. Code documentation is also very important as usually if an IT provider does custom solution, your organization needs the source code. This can help you to be independent of the provider and you may choose another provider for any reason in the future.

e) Legacy systems: If you are currently stuck with a legacy system, you will be forced to complete an upgrade project which may be a necessity. The only consideration at that point will be the cost of the provider verses the time to upgrade.

f) Existing cloud solutions: It is also very important for organizations to research/choose an already existing cloud based solution instead of developing custom software. This will help remove dependency on IT vendors and also obtain support from the company at a subscription method.

g) If you are buying software solutions because your competitor uses a system, it might be great to research the pitfalls before setting out to sail.

A good IT solution provider will provide you with a plan of action, will be helping you achieve your goals and keep pricing reasonable and effectively help you and your organization build successful IT teams which results in increased efficiency, capability and substantial cost savings. Thank you.