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3 Roles for Information Systems in Business

business, business information systems, data, upgrade, competitive advantage

Purpose of Information Systems

Information Systems (IS) are to help you and your company to find new strategies in order to gain competitive advantage in your industry. One way to do this is through adapting IS in your business. IS helps the organization to use its data, reduce workload and assist compliance with mandatory regulations.

3 Roles for IS

Information Storage and Analysis

Companies now use more advanced databases that contain all types of data about what they do. IS can store, update and analyze the information. From all the information that the agency has, they can figure out new solutions to both current and future problems. Information can also be integrated from different sources both in and outside of your company. This allows you to keep the company up to date with both internal performances and external opportunities or threats.

Assist with Making Decisions

Information Systems are all about helping you to make strategic plans for your business. The management team uses the information gathered to create plans and decisions for longevity and making more money. You use IS to measure and test all the information gathered from all sources. The analysis and comparison of market trends helps you to decide if your strategic decisions made are both adequate and are good quality.

Assist with Business Processes

IS helps businesses to create more value based systems for your company. Information Systems are integrated anywhere to measure out where tasks will make that department run better and for less money. Or it can make sure that everyone follows whatever regulations each department needs to follow to stay in compliance with government laws. It both simplifies business processes and gets rid of unneeded activities. They also add controls to employee processes. This in turn makes sure that only the ones who need to know have access to certain tasks. IS gets rid of repetitive tasks, increases accuracy and leads to better project planning and implementation.

Some Considerations

Implementing new systems costs a lot of money. It includes not just the installation but also employee training sessions. Some employees might even resist the changes being brought on. This in turn can hinder your operations and employee turnover could increase. Just make sure to have strong leadership in place when doing this. It will help guide employees and managers through the transition while weighing cost against benefits to see if you would really like to do this.

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3 V’s of Big Data

Big Data, business, upgrade, business intelligence

Big Data. What is It?

Businesses get almost an overflow of big data every day. It’s information gathered through structured and unstructured means. Companies can use the results to make better decisions and plan strategic moves.

3 V’s of Big Data

  1. Volume – Information comes from many sources. Everything including business transactions to social media to machine-to-machine data.
  2. Velocity – Data comes in a super fast speed. So your business has to handle the speed in near-real time to act quickly.
  3. Variety – It comes in various formats. Anything from structured, numeric results to unstructured documents like email, video, or audio files to name a few.

The Potential

Big Data is growing every day worldwide. It offers huge amounts of help to businesses that use it, but even with all the evidence, most companies are still not using it to its full potential. There’s nothing to do with how much data you have, but everything to do with what you want to do with it. Big Data can help with cost and time reductions, new product development, and smart decision-making. Combining big data with analytics can help you with tasks like finding root causes of failures in near-real time, make coupons based on customer’s buying habits, recalculate risk portfolios and sensing out fraudulent behavior before it can affect you and your company.

Who Uses Big Data

Industries carry out Big Data findings when they decide to use them. Banks use it to better understand their customers and lower risk and fraud. Education uses it to find at-risk students, make sure that students are making progress and create better systems evaluating teachers and principals. Retail uses it to market better to customers, better handle transactions, and revive struggling businesses.

Consider This

Make sure to research companies that can handle your data for you. Look for cheap and huge amounts of storage, quick processors and affordable open source, distributed platforms. Look for parallel processing, large grid environments, high connectivity and virtualization. Also look for cloud computing capabilities for resource allocation arrangements.

Do your research. Don’t rush into choosing a company as you want to stay with them for years, not months. Big Data is a huge help for your company. Just make sure that you can get access to it quickly and easily, while having good security options in place to make sure others cannot.

 

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10 ERP Upgrade Mistakes to Avoid

ERP, strategic planning, business, upgrade, IT, information technology, information systems, competitive advantage

What Is ERP?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) has to be considered part of the plan when upgrading your system. In this information technology (IT) has to be combined with the business process to help bring a competitive advantage to others in the same industry. It is anything from reading an e-mail to updating records of procedures. An ERP is an application that uses a centralized database to run the entire company. This medium allows data from one department for viewing in other branches of the same company. It can be bought either as modules for different parts of the agency, or a subset. ERP systems are there to enforce processes that your business will adopt.

Upgrade Mistakes

  1. Not explaining what new systems means to users before starting the project – If the users of the upgrades don’t know why it’s happening and are in agreement, the update will fail.
  2. Not load testing systems with scripts and end users – How do you know if your file loads are typical? Load testing with scripts and users will complete real tests in this area to make sure that the process will work or not.
  3. Not performing tests of the new process to see if it works or not – Will everything work as planned?
  4. Not taking change management or testing sincerely – Know everything you need to know about the change and regression tests beforehand, so you aren’t surprised by “new opportunities.”
  5. Assigning internal personnel as project managers – Get a consultant project manager as they will focus on the upgrade only. They’ll catch the mistakes made and keep things on schedule and budget.
  6. Not telling others of changes before they happen – End users don’t like change so make sure to communicate before so they aren’t caught off guard.
  7. Giving classroom training only – Allow for video training that the users can find and use if they come across a problem they can’t fix. Create a Knowledge area that they can access to see before elevating.
  8. Not moving components to open business standards – This speeds up future upgrades that will happen. Try to change reports and interfaces to open business standards. It will help a lot in the future, and possibly save money with more completed upgrades.
  9. Not archiving before upgrading and keeping up security during – Archiving before upgrading will save you time and money. It speeds up queries on large tables, and table conversions as they are will run quicker. Security wise, upgrades are to be need-to-know only. There’s no use in upgrading if spies find a way to get the information out to your competitors.
  10. Assuming internal tech personnel will pick up years of experience in weeks – Keep the consultants around for a while after the upgrade is complete. Enhancements aren’t easy to learn, and someone has to be there who knows how to run the system. Or at least until the first workers understand the system as well.

Impact of IT on Business

IT has a significant impact on how companies design, build and support their business processes. Information systems have a considerable effect on how these methods work. Agencies improve effectiveness and quality of products and services through empowering their employees. Something to consider.

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8 Competitive Advantages

strategic information planning, systems planning, strategic planning, business planning

Strategic Information Systems

Strategic information systems (SIS) are used to support and shape business competitive advantages. SIS is defined by its way to be able to change how business is conducted. It is not classified by structure, functionality of areas, or support systems. Anything that is used to change goals or processes of companies add competitive advantage, therefore becoming strategic information systems.

Competitive Strategy

The competitive strategy is how the company is going to compete in the future. What the goals will be, and new plans and/or policies needed to implement everything. The advantage is being able to measure cost, quality and speed over competition. SIS assists businesses gain the advantage through adding to strategic goals of organizations. It is also measured through the increase in performance and productivity, therefore making them more powerful than the competition.

The digital economy is affected all the time as changes in technology occur. This causes change in business models in order to keep up. The core business isn’t changed to keep up with the digital economy even though it feels like it has. For the most part, businesses use the tools offered by the Internet, but nothing else.  There are two questions to ask here…

Where does my competitive advantage come from in my business and industry?
How can information technology and the Internet help?

How is SIS Looked at Now?

Most companies consider SIS more of an outwardly focused tool. It aims at increasing direct competition and is visible to all. Now it is more used internally. It focuses on employees’ productivity, smoothing business processes, and helping to make strategic decisions and isn’t visible to all.

Role of IT in Strategic Management

  1. Innovative Applications
  2. Competitive Weapons
  3. Changes in Processes
  4. Links with Business Partners
  5. Cost Reductions
  6. Relationships with Suppliers and Customers
  7. New Products
  8. Competitive Intelligence

How To Use The Internet As a Tool

The Internet is the most important tool in competitive intelligence.  It is so easy to look up information on the competition. The information that is gathered then can be analyzed further by what is called intelligent agents and data mining.  Both deal with software products to help them do their job. Here are some ways to do research on the competition:

  • Review Competitor’s Web Sites
  • Analyze Related Electronic Discussion Groups
  • Examine Publicly Held Financial Documents
  • Market Research on Your Own Web Site
  • Use Information Delivery Services like My Yahoo
  • Use Corporate Research Companies

Conclusion

There are numerous other ways to gain competitive advantages over your competitors. The key is to gain and maintain a sustainable strategic advantage that can be held for years to come. It is suggested that people, technology and shared risk and responsibility will help keep the advantage now. It is so difficult to otherwise as there is so much innovation occurring now.

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Digital Transformation – 5 Identifiers

digital, digital transformation, upgrading systems, upgrading business systems, business systems

What is Digital Transformation?

Numerous changes happen where digital economy of business is connected real-time due to new technologies. Digital transformation is directly related due to this. Just about all small and midsized firms have some sort of resources in place. It can be anything from newer and more powerful software and/or computers, new forms of communication or cloud computing. The company has to ensure good implementation and integration of programs to increase performance. How to do this is:

5 Identifiers

  1. Hyper-connectivity – Anytime/Anywhere communication
  2. Unlimited Computing Power – Caused through diverse platforms
  3. Cloud Computing – Easy access to hosted software/services
  4. Numerous Sensors and Mobile Devices – Supply continuous streams of information and ways to access them
  5. Cybersecurity – Lessen internal/external vulnerabilities

Why Buy At All?

Faster growing companies look at ways to drive revenue growth, increase productivity, and get new customers. This is supported through the use of advanced technology. The question becomes what is the best approach to get and use new technology in order to support objectives? Most are buying advanced software applications to help grow their businesses. Buying collaboration software, CRM and ecommerce all help growing businesses through helping internal productivity and efficiency. When one application is updated, they all are. This improves performance of the agency as a whole.

Causes to Upgrade

Most upgrade due to partner and/or customer needs. Their main focus is to improve internally.  External influence is also taken into consideration though. Who wants to chase away potential clients due to not listening to their needs too? This is key in order to keep up with competition and the environment that they work in. Effective coordination of technology brings in greater performance results.  It is greater then the sum of the parts bought to improve the system as a whole.

Benefits

The departments that benefit the most from these improvements is sales and marketing. Everyone from services to manufacturing to wholesale and retail benefit too. Internal processes is also up there, but externally faced business is considered more important. This is the rank from highest to lowest in importance:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Production / Operations
  • Commerce / Ecommerce
  • Customer Service / Call Center
  • Finance
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Manufacturing
  • Strategic Planning
  • HR

3 Takeaways 

  1. Leverage Technology
  2. Digital transformation is a continuing process
  3. Direct / Continuing participation and support of senior management and executives. If there is none, or it is perceived as none, then changes will be hard to implement.

Key Questions to Ask

Key questions to ask yourself and those involved in the process of beginning the changes are many. Where are you falling short compared to other companies? What is the competition doing that you are not? Do you have a strategic plan in place that supports digital transformation? Some things to consider…

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4 Dimensions of Strategic Information Systems Planning

strategic information systems planning, SISP, IT, Improvements, upgrades, business intelligence

Strategic information systems planning (SISP) is a very important issue that has to be considered when upgrading. Information technology (IT) use along with proper planning can help increase business success. SISP is used as it’s considered a great tool to support the company. It makes sure that IT activities go along with what the company does and needs.

What is Strategic Information Systems Planning?

SISP improves organization performance however upper management wants to focus. The aim is to achieve maximum benefits from resources while reducing risks at the same time. All resources work efficiently, effectively and competitively together to make the company stronger and more adapt. Especially now as IT is an important part of any company. Strategic Information Systems Planning is intended for technology that’s used at the company level. It needs to mesh with what the needs and strategies are of said agency.

Objectives include:

  • Align IT with business
  • Gain competitive advantage,
  • ID new and higher payback applications
  • Increase top management commitment
  • Improve communication with users
  • Forecast IT resource requirements
  • Allocating IT resources
  • Develop information architecture
  • Increase visibility of IT

4 Dimensions of SISP

SISP helps the above mentioned by addressing future needs for IT/IS resources with business plans. There are four dimensions included to make sure everything is included.

  1. Alignment
  2. Analysis
  3. Cooperation
  4. Capability

The first three are considered goals while the fourth is considered improvement over time.
SISP methodologies include gathering information and making plans comprised of one or more techniques. The techniques can be viewed as abstract systems.  They change organization input into a strategic plan for output. Some of the more popular planning techniques are:

  • Looking at Stages of Growth and Critical Success Factors – Here flexibility of needs can be used as a measurement tool. This methodology needs support of others.  CSF alone makes information requirements difficult to reach.
  • Competitive Forces Model and Value Chain Analysis – Michael Porter’s model analyzing threats of new entrants and bargaining power of buyers and suppliers. Also reviewed are threats of substitutes and rivalry of competitors. It’s used to get products and services to buyers and servicing.  It also finds primary and support activities that can add value to the product or service.
  • Scenario Planning and SWOT Analysis – What will the future bring? Actions to take if future is going in a direction not wanted.

Criteria of Choosing

The criteria of choosing methodologies include availability of resources, internal policies and preferred suppliers to name a few. It would be the company’s choice as to what is more important to them.  Which they would want to improve the most?

SISP leads to good planning. This in turn helps companies stay ahead in competitive environments. You have to make sure that top management stays aware of best processes for SISP. They need to stay committed and involved in order for it to be considered a success.

There is no best way to implement SISP. It’s up to the companies which way they want to focus what they want to improve. The success would be applied to how well they used methodologies in their planning process. Were success and failure factors applied while planning and implementing the changes? These are the questions that need to be answered in order for Strategic Information Systems Planning to be considered a success.

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5 Steps for Strategic Business Upgrade Planning

upgrade, system, planning, business planning, business upgrades, company, work, upgrade system,

A very exciting time in your company might be when you realize that you have to upgrade your systems to keep with the times. It can be very frustrating and can take some time too depending on what needs to be updated. There’s a lot that has to go into the thought process before starting…

Two Approaches

  • The company in question always has to have the latest and greatest, who change their systems as soon as upgrades become available.
  • The company in question goes through more traditional means. Why change what they have when it’s working perfectly fine? These companies upgrade only when forced to do so.

The upgrade plan has to focus on future growth and changes forecasted by the company. The question that needs to be asked when looking ahead is, how will the changes affect upgrade needs in the future?

Five Steps to Planning Upgrades

1. Categorize and Prioritize: Categories include

i. Client Computer Systems
ii. Peripherals
iii. Client Software
iv. Server hardware and software
v. Security
vi. Network devices
vii. Network Infrastructure

Here items can be picked and chosen as to what the organization decides to upgrade. In this if needed subcategories can be created in order to create a more organized plan.

2. Set Priorities: Prioritize based on the costs and benefits ratio. What items need to be upgraded first? Is it an urgent need or a want? Make sure to not upgrade needlessly, make sure that it’s really needed.

3. Consider Dependencies: When the company is upgrading their systems they need to take into consideration what might be dependent on others. This might create more upgrades in order for the system to work with the new equipment. Or if applications are being upgraded, the system might need to be upgraded in order to work with them.

4. Phased Rollout: Don’t rush it. Testing and discovering of bugs need to be worked out before starting to use the new system. After the tests are completed use small groups of employees to test the upgrades in the production environment. If there’s a learning curve use the fast learners first as they can then learn the new system and assist/teach the others when it rolls out.

5. Keep it Scalable: Write out the plan. Get input from other departments and different levels to help create the plan. Plans for expansion of the company and any restructuring needs to be taken into account here too.

Proper Planning

If the organization follows proper planning with scalability included in the process, it can create a very smooth upgrade environment for the company. It would help immensely as upgrading systems can be very costly and stressful if not done correctly. Never rush the process and take time to consider all options before jumping in.

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3 Phases of Business Analysis Verification Testing

test, work, , business analysis, business, complete, system, strategic planning, software

The first thing you should do after buying a product for the business analysis solution is to verify if the software will work with your vision.  Will it do what it is supposed to do?  When it is being verified the testing team who can be anyone from developers, QA and business analysts work with the software to make sure that it really works for what it was bought and/or created for.  There are many phases to be completed in order to ensure the new product will work well with your system.

The Test Phases

The Smoke Test comes before anything.  It’s a pretest to find out if full testing can begin.  This test shows simple failures that could keep further tests from being executed in the next 3 phases.

  1. Unit Test: Here every unit is tested separately to find any possible bugs before moving on.  It’s another name for the smoke test.  Don’t just have the development team test it here, but others to so there will be unbiased testing completed.
  2. Integration Test: This part makes sure that all the individual parts can work together; either as a subsystem or linked units.  Here you would want to find problems with how components will work together in the software architecture design.  This includes multiple levels of integration where subsystems might be brought in to see if they would work, then attached to larger subsystems when in compliance.  The development team and possibly business analysists work here.
  3. System Test: Here is where problems are found with how the new system meets users’ needs.  It’s ran through the entire system, auditing everything from linear perspective’s.  It’s the last chance before turning over to a user acceptance test, and verifies if the software meets original requirements.  The business analyst works here for the most part.

Other Tests to Be Completed

There are numerous other tests that have to be completed during these 3 phases.

  • Requirements validation test: Verifies system logic, making sure that it supports system analysis.
  • Regression Test: Retesting to ensure changes don’t break what is working.  There’s usually more than one test completed to make sure all the applications work.
  • Dynamic Test: Testing of the software in different circumstances.  There are 3 tests completed here:
    • The Performance Test: How fast can the system complete functions?
    • The Stress Test: Push the software to its limits to see how it handles levels of users, rates of input and speed of response.
    • Volume Test: Can the new software handle growth projections?
  • Security Test
  • Installation Test
  • Configuration Test
  • Usability Test

Why Test and a Way To Help Implement

With all these tests completed it will help you to not have problems down the road.  There’s a need to make sure that everything will work before turning it loose for everyone to use in your company or sell online to your customers.  Click here to get an awesome partition assistant from AOMEI to help maximize disk space and improve the performance of your computer(s).  This will be needed when growing your system, implementing new programs and applications.  The best part of this is that it has the Windows to Go Creator which would help immensely in the long run too.

 

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3 Reasons to Use Strategic Plans

SCRUM, plan, planning, strategic planning, tasks, software, planning software, scrum management, scrum, task, task management,

What Are Strategic Plans?

Strategic plans are a type of formalized map that plots out and shows how a company is going to follow and complete the chosen strategy.  It’s how the business is going to improve a function in a department or throughout the entire organization.  It’s a management tool for C-level managers and business owners to learn how to master so that there can be more growth of the company.

  1. It helps build competitive advantage
  2. Communicates strategy to the staff if you have any, or helps keep you organized if you’re a sole proprietor
  3. It helps to give focus and direction in order to act

Assistance in Time Management

A good investment is time management software.  It helps to keep track of reports, task completion and sharing tasks between team members.  This software can improve both personal and professional productivity by 80%.  It can help so much in helping to keep the strategy up to date and completing tasks on time.  Here’s an affiliate link for software assistance in managing projects, automating business processes, getting notifications of what has been done or still has to be completed.  It can also add notes and comments for if someone is having trouble or finished ahead of schedule which is incredibly helpful.  Then you know where people might need to be added or taken away to assist on other tasks.

A Good Plan

Scheduling ahead is a good plan in order to be successful in project management and strategic planning.  You don’t have to worry about falling behind or having sloppy handling of tasks.  All you have to do is put the plan to action and the software does the rest if used right.  Make sure that the team members remember to update what they did for the day so you can keep tabs.  If using it personally it’s great for being able to keep track of your busy life.  You don’t want to miss an important event or appointment.

 

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What is the Role of Information Systems in the 21st Century?

information systems, business, IS, business information systems

Whether or not a company wants to believe it, information systems (IS) are a very important part of how the business runs now.  This includes how data is stored, transferred and understood by all the different departments in the agency.  The problem is, it seems that business owners are not really aware of how important IS to their companies in being able to be managed in designated systems.

10 Reasons to Have New Information Systems

10 reasons that it is so important for companies are:

  1. Control Creation and Growth of Records – Less paper wasted as everything becomes computerized
  2. Reduces Operating Costs – Storing inactive records in IS costs less per linear foot for the company
  3. 3. It Improves Both Efficiency and Productivity – Helps to upgrade record keeping so retrieval of information needed is vastly improved
  4. Assimilate New Records Management Technologies – Can be used in any area of the company, helps analyze manual recordkeeping and applied automation
  5. Ensures Regulatory Compliance – Companies have to be able to make sure that they are in regulations by having a good IS that is responsible for regulatory compliances
  6. Minimize Litigation Risk – The main reason IS is used is to reduce the risk of litigation and penalties. A newer system put in place will help to ensure this happens.
  7. Safeguard Vital Information – This is necessary in order to protect records and information as all agencies are susceptible to attack or natural disasters. This will provide backups and save the information in a safe place of the company’s choosing, for retrieval later.
  8. It Helps to Support Better Management Decision Making Capabilities – A newer system put into place will help managers and executives to better find information that they need when they need it to make critical business decisions. ERP systems would be perfect here instead of doing everything manually.
  9. It Helps to Preserve Corporate Memory – This is done through everyday activities and record keeping.
  10. Foster Professionalism in Running the Company – Neatness and cleanliness are key in running a smooth organization

Why Update at All?

Good, solidly built IS  means that companies that use it will be able to align their strategies together into a clear point of view as to where they want to go.  It also helps to find relationships that would be considered critical and gaps in their company culture and infrastructure.  Good information systems  find answers on how to gain competitive advantage against their competition by improving alignment to strategic decision making.