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6 clues to verify that your information systems meet your needs


How do I determine if the information systems I have in place are adequate for my needs?

Whether it's an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), a Warehouse Management System (WMS), or a Customer Relationship Manager (CRM), all types of systems are subject to obsolescence in the years to come. Considering that a system has a lifespan of about 7 to 10 years, how can you tell if yours is at the end of its life?

Here are some symptoms that can help you determine this.

1. What is your current "Excel Index"?

In other words, how many Excel or paper files have you put in place to make up for the lack of functionality in your current system? This is a classic case: your company has been growing for several years, you have made significant investments in your physical infrastructure, you have revised your service levels for each of your customers and restructured your internal departments.
However, you still have the same systems in place that were implemented at low capital to meet the need at the time. The more transactions that occur outside of an information system, the more difficult it becomes to track information and maintain proper data integrity.

2. Are you meeting your industry's requirements for standards and productivity?

Many companies are restricted by laws and regulations because of the products they sell or the type of business they are in. An example of this type of requirement would be the food industry, which must have impeccable traceability on the management of inventory lots. In this particular case, do you have an inventory management system (WMS) or an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) that has the functionality to manage lots?
In addition, do your processes in place allow your teams to accomplish their tasks in the most efficient way possible? Does your system architecture allow you to implement new processes? Can you map your business and operational processes? Do they match each other?

3. What is your relationship with your supplier?

You have determined in the previous point that many of your systemic processes are flawed and generate a lot of manual work. Congratulations, this is a step in the right direction! However, is your vendor the right partner to grow your solution?
In the information age, it is very important to ensure that your supplier will be able to evolve your system over time to meet your new needs. Do they have the resources to support you in this development? If so, is it able to advance the solution in a time and budget appropriate to your business?
Unfortunately, your current vendor may not be able to meet your requirements and it will be strategically important for your company to rethink the choice of the solution in place.

4. How customized is your current solution?

Many companies have customized and frozen their software codes to meet the needs that their current system could not meet. These changes have made future upgrades impossible because they could potentially disable all custom code and result in hours of reprogramming and compliance issues. Moreover, your software may become obsolete sooner than expected and you may have to stay with the same vendor for any future changes.
Therefore, it is necessary to think about your organization's master processes and keep in mind the best practices on which the software is developed to be able to control the evolution of the solution and take advantage of the new features added during the available updates.

5. Are you able to communicate with the different solutions in your environment?

Continuous technological progress brings clear benefits to the company, but it may also bring headaches. System specialization allows you to seek much greater productivity and traceability than generalist systems. That's why companies at the top of the game don't just have an ERP, but also have a range of systems revolving around it: Warehouse Management System (WMS), Transport Management System (OMS), Order Management System (OMS), Customer Relationship System (CRM), Labor Management System (LMS), etc.
Creating an environment that brings together the most appropriate solutions for your business, not only internally, but also to meet your customers' requirements, such as sending order information automatically (EDI) or even allowing them to place an order directly on a web portal or e-commerce website, allows your organization to maintain its competitive edge.
With all of these elements in mind, do you have the ability to synchronize all of your systems into one environment to have all information available in real time? Do you have to double or even triple data manipulation to update your systems or get the information you need?

6. Do you not have systems in place?

Ask yourself: do you really need an information system? If so, which one do you need?
Take the time to do a complete audit of your company's operational processes, whether it be for procurement, inventory management, transportation management, accounting or customer service. With the help of a digital auditing expert, you will be able to identify non-value added activities and critical error points that can be easily managed by an information system.
Remember: The process of implementing an information system does not end when installation and integration are complete. It is a "living" system that needs to grow with your operations!

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