A few considerations while designing information systems for your Business

Let us face it. You have a business plan and it involves "IT". You are master of marketing and finance. You can even sell refrigerators to Eskimos or perform financial crunching at the drop of the hat. But then you meet your nemesis, the Information Technology part of your plan. You know you cannot proceed without it and do not know how to live with it. You wish that someone should be able to explain you at least the basics of setting up IT systems so that you can understand the Greek and Latin. I feel that this is the predicament of almost all of the people who have absolutely no background of IT. In my opinion, IT is a function that requires a little experience and knowledge about it working as with all other functions such as sales, marketing and finance. Here are some points that you should worry( though I abhor worrying ;) ) about when you want to build IT systems for your business. By IT system, I mean website, software and maintenance.
  1. Remember IT is not the magic pill
  2. Most of the clients, I worked with thought otherwise. Remember IT is just another function and not a problem solver. You may consider it as a good hand which works only when you tell it to. Just having IT systems will not make your company productive. Inefficient, slow and poorly designed systems will reduce productivity rather than the gain. So you have to think carefully and hard before you start developing your IT systems.
  3. Costs can add up quickly
  4. IT systems are costly. Even though purchasing a domain name and web hosting space is a very low cost, it may spiral once you start developing your application. The more complex the application, more time is needed to develop, test and install it. Also there are costs related to maintenance of your application. Other than IT costs, there are certain costs related to acquiring of software, their yearly subscription fees and installation charges. So before you start doing anything with IT, think of all the costs.
  5. Buying vs Renting
  6. Renting costs are normally so tempting that you want to go for rental plan. Initially you may want to go for rental of software because you do not want the overhead. In my opinion, if the rental is high enough that if you use your software for a long time, it will bypass the cost of purchasing, you better purchase the software. However, if you use the software sparingly, go for the rental plan. The point is to make your decision based on whatever budget you have but take all options into consideration.
  7. Inhouse development vs external development
  8. If you have inhouse development team and you have money to train them, go for it. In my experience however, in house development team works best when trained on the project with the contractors from outside. The contractors definitely have a wider view of the IT landscape and provide better alternative. Hence in my opinion, it is a good idea to have a mix of your own people and the external contractors. That way you get to keep the knowledge in your team while leveraging experience of outsiders . I hope you find these tips useful. They are not comprehensive but gives you a bird eye view of the things that you have to take into consideration while designing your IT systems. Please comment if you like them.