Technology

IT upgrades should power process improvements

October 8, 2014
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“My company needs to move from the old way to the new way. Migrate my data!”

As the information technology, or IT, advocate for our clients, I often have conversations with some version of the above. The “old way” could be a variety of solutions, but generally means they have outdated hardware and software that needs to be upgraded to newer technology. We can, of course, do this. But there’s a distinction here, a difference in philosophy as well as technique. That difference impacts whether a company ends up prospering or just getting by as a result of information technology upgrades.

One philosophy is to perform a one-to-one migration, where key components stay relatively the same both before and after the move. A potential benefit to this approach is to reduce complexity and learning curves for administrators and users. Another philosophy is to use the upgrade as an opportunity to also improve your business. This is a conversation about non-IT topics including process workflow, automation, documentation and alerting. Or at least, these used to be non-IT topics. Today, they’re parts of an important conversation.

Getting your company a new system for email, enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, electronic health records, document management or other core components is a logic-based art. At least, it should be. Any large-impact upgrade should take into account improvements that can be made to your existing environment, and that solution should bring benefits beyond having the latest version of an application.

A case in point is with health care: electronic health records are now the norm and paper records are the exception. It’s easy to understand benefits to storing records online versus on a paper chart, but it’s also more than that: A proper EHR solution also improves an office’s workflow.

You walk into a doctor’s office. A nurse takes your vitals before sending you to an exam room. The doctor examines you, recommends a prescription and leaves. What we don’t see are the gears spinning behind the scenes, the communication between nurse, doctor, pharmacy, billing, insurance and you. In the past, these were human-driven, but today automation is key, making the process more automatic, faster, more visible and with a lower chance of errors. 

Health care is by no means the only example; the concept applies to all industries. When making changes to your core IT components, use technology to not just passively upgrade existing environments, but to actively improve the processes around them. Ignoring this option hinders your business and helps your competition. When planning for IT upgrades, plan beyond the technology. Business processes are key to making the upgrade truly successful. 

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