SIX STEPS TO A
1. Define your IT Strategy
Many medium and small businesses haven’t reviewed their IT strategy for years. In fact, some don’t really have a strategy: systems have evolved or been bolted on as the organisation has grown.
It’s a cliché, but it’s true: the world is changing fast. And perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in the application of technology. Systems that once enabled only large, wealthy organisations to gain critical insights into business performance can now be readily accessed by small business owners.
For many businesses, the application of IT to support what they do can, and should, look radically different than it does now. The shift to cloud-based services represents an irreversible trend, and there are very clear indicators to support this.
We think there are four questions you should ask yourself:
- Are you up to date with the latest IT solutions? That is, is your knowledge relevant and are your processes competitive in the areas supported by IT?
- Is there new technology that can help? New technology is developed all the time and you may be able to take advantage of new developments – you should be able to run your business in a more efficient way.
- Is your IT supporting your business? Ensure the use of technology in your company is aligned with your business processes. IT should be there to support the business, the businesses is not there to support IT.
- Are you spending too much? Make sure that your expenditure on IT is justified and supports the business and your bottom line.
Positioned for Growth
We help you define your IT strategy. We start with learning from the management team about current and strategic business plans, and whether these include projections for growth. We then examine whether your current systems are aligned with business initiatives and future requirements.
This process of strategy building is transparent and understandable and will clearly demonstrate to you the opportunities and advantages of moving some or all of your systems to cloud-based IT. An important part of this process is also examining issues around privacy, security, loss of data and system availability.
2. Map your Business Processes
We believe the most important thing we do for you is make sure the solution we choose supports your business processes. By mapping your business processes, we will examine each aspect of what is going on in the operation.
For example, how is an order placed and processed and how does this information flow to the people who ensure delivery is arranged in a timely way? How is the information needed to generate an invoice collated and verified?
McCloud Consulting’s specialists are expert at mapping business processes. Using well tested methodologies, we create process maps specific to your business. With our evaluation service, we record each relevant step in every process of your business.
If you already use (non-cloud) systems, we will next look at how these currently support your business. For example, how is your order information stored, and does the order system do what it needs to do?
Because we do this often for many businesses, our service is quick and inexpensive.
3. Match IT Products
With the knowledge of what your business processes look like on a map, we can then start to explore particular cloud services on the market can support the operations that take place in your business.
With the number of cloud-based solutions growing daily, this can be a time consuming process for people unfamiliar with the industry to find out products that satisfy your requirements. It would cost you many days of research to find products to match your processes.
McCloud consulting has developed a special database to collate a lot of information on what cloud-based products are available. With this information, combined with your operational process maps, we are then able to select the best candidates for your business – from accounting and client file management, to customer relationship management and product development.
4. Select the right products
With so much choice it is difficult to evaluate which options are the best for your business. The Service Measurement Index (SMI)* is designed to answer part of this question.
These seven categories contain measures to rank cloud-based services:
• Does it do what we need?
• How much does it cost?
• Is it easy to learn and use?
• Is the service safe and privacy protected?
• How likely is it that the service will work as expected?
• Can it be changed and how quickly
• Can we count on the provider organisation?
* The SMI framework is maintained by the Cloud Services Measurement Initiative Consortium (CSMIC). We use the SMI and other tools to determine which products will be the most likely match for your business.
Most businesses will most likely end up looking at multiple cloud services covering different processes. We’ll help you weigh the options and provide unbiased independent information about each selection. We can organise demonstrations and change management workshops with decision makers and your staff. This will also help to determine to what extent the business is ready for the change and what effort is required to reach the set objectives.
The evaluation process will also include a costing model. This doesn’t only include the subscription costs for the various services but also cost estimates for implementation, including data conversion and training of staff.
5. Integrate Services
One of the most annoying issues businesses can face is the lack of adequate integration between different systems and even parts of the business. Information flows from one system or part of the business to the other to be further processed.
For example, an employees’ time sheet data will flow to a payroll system to calculate the employee’s pay and then to the accounting system to account for labour costs. If no integration is present, the data will be entered into multiple systems multiple times, introducing costs and data integrity issues.
Integration between systems is commonly provided by system integrators, or by the service providers themselves. In some cases, there are interfaces already developed and in other cases a new interface needs to be developed. We provide a business case which details the benefits versus the costs of introducing the interfaces enabling a decision maker in the business to make a recommendation.
While we keep integration issues in mind when guiding you through the selection process, there may still be areas where integration can generate substantial benefit and cost savings. After we determine which integration is most suitable, we can recommend either an existing solution or engage an integration provider to develop new interfaces.
6. Implement Services
Implementation of new solutions into a business is often more difficult than people think. There are many issues to keep in mind. When there are already systems running, data may have to be converted to fit into the new system and a whole set of related actions reviewed.
A number of things need to be in place to make the change over successful. The organisation needs to be ready to go - we need to make sure everyone is aware of the changes and happy with the changes taking place. Customers and contractors may need to be informed. People are also likely to require training to use the new software.
We take as much hassle as possible out of this process. We arrange for software registration and subscriptions and ensure that services become available at the right time. We broker communications between the vendor and your company.
When necessary, we engage data conversion specialists and organise training for users, either by the vendor or, if necessary, a third-party training organisation. We then provide further assistance depending upon whether the company wants to migrate to the cloud-based application or suite using internal staff or an external provider.
Small and medium-sized enterprises adopting new cloud-based services are likely to be more competitive and better placed to expand. Here's our six-step plan to get your business into the cloud.