Business Systems Technology 101
Systems are a set of detailed methods, procedures, and routines established or formulated to carry out a specific activity, perform a duty, or solve a problem. (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/system.html). The objective of a business owner is to implement systems in every part of the business so the business owner is no longer needed for that system. Yes, business owners should eliminate their jobs. Time freedom is created by Job elimination. A business owner unlike an employee, will now have choices in which to utilize their time. From a technology standpoint, this is one of the best times to create a business because cloud computing (Read http://www.examiner.com/business-technology-in-philadelphia/what-is-cloud-computing-and-why-is-it-important-for-my-business) has created affordable Information Technology solutions which can be implemented in any business (regardless of size)! Time freedom is a hop, skip, and a jump away from systems implementation. Let’s take a short moment and define the systems implementation process.
1) The analysis phase can be done in 4 hours using google docs. The analysis phase defines the problem (example – manual, time consuming, data entry) and sets measurable goals to how the system will solve the problem.
2) The design phase – This is where cloud computing comes in. When I worked in IT for corporate america we would conduct 6 hour brainstorming sessions over months on how to create a system to solve this problem. In 2010, the design phase consists of conducting a google search on cloud computing solutions that solve this particular problem. These solutions are documented in the design document which details the various choices, costs and benefits of the choices and which software will be implemented to solve the problem defined in the analysis phase.
3) Implementation of Alpha Testing – a sample set of data is used to test if the cloud computing solution really does a) solve the problem b) does not create new problems. At this point, a roll back plan (in case the system does not work) should be created.
4) Training and documentation – Though these are two steps, they should be done together. The person who is being trained should create the documentation! This will allows the business to have proper documentation and the trainee is learning and understanding the system.
5) Implementation of system – Final phase of changing processes (i.e. updating the operations manual) to adhere to the new system.
Before an employee is hired, the system should be defined. Here are my picks for cloud computing solutions per department.
Marketing – Every system in business starts with a customer and customer service is a function of marketing! For customer service, http://www.sendoutcards.com is my system of choice because of the ease of use. Read more @ http://www.examiner.com/business-technology-in-philadelphia/what-do-you-do-with-a-business-card. www.Zoho.com is too integrated/complicated and www.salesforce.com is cost-prohibitive for micro enterprises.
Human Resources – The industry leader is www.HR.com. HR.com allows members (and it does have a free membership option) to download HR forms and Templates. Human Resources is a challenging systems to put on the cloud because of the personal, sensitive data. It is best to create this system on a secured computer that is backed up on the cloud with password protected files.
Accounting – www.Freshbooks.com is by far the leader in scalability and ease of use. Read more @ http://www.examiner.com/business-technology-in-philadelphia/freshbooks-cloud-computing-accounting-solutions-for-business. Freshbooks allows a company to do quick and easy online, email or snail mail invoicing for clients. This means funds can come into the business quickly. Though Freshbooks is not a complete solution (it does not track expenses), it is very efficient at tracking revenues and allowing your business to see where it stands financially!
Operations – Here are a few other miscellaneous systems that can be implemented to lower the cost of doing business.
Telephone – Accessline, Sykpe or Google/Voice. My company has all three. We use accessline for our company phone and incoming fax number for just 9.95 per month. Sykpe – voice over IP (internet protocol) which allows international calls for free with video chat capabilities. GoogleVoice - This allows my contractors to have a company phone number without the overhead of providing a separate phone or phone bill.
Fax – www.FaxZero.com – free outgoing faxes.
Now I have the rest of my day (time freedom through implementing systems) to visit my lawyer. There is no cloud computing solution to understand or comprehend the legal system….. yet!