I started writing this summer about the common threads for those contractors who are highly successful, as opposed to those who are just barely making it, or in some instances, are no longer around, and have put them into a top (or bottom, depending how you look at it) 10 list.

Number 10 was Poor Project start. We moved on to No 9 – Document-ed Processes, a.k.a. semi-organized chaos and then No 8, Poor project communication.

Terrible Mistake #7 Support Systems That Don’t Support Organizational Success (Software and Infrastructure)

The impact of this common issue is wasted time, employee frustration, poor communication and excess overhead.

How Do You Prevent Making This Mistake? Start with the basics – an on-premise or cloud environment that is current enough to support all users with minimal downtime and guaranteed backup, including disaster recovery capabilities.

Next, you need to have appropriate software to fit the needs of the business. Add training (and allow for continual re-training), with 100% management buy-in. Too often we see companies skimp on training, or more often, reinforcement of original training. Learning anything new takes a while, longer for some than others. Mix in the inevitable employee turnover with continual software enhancements and over time a smaller and smaller fraction of the software investment is being used, or used correctly, to accomplish the original goals.

Which brings us to what is the appropriate software and what should the goals be for any software in-vestment? The end goal should always be to help make the company more efficient by getting accurate and timely information that allows for good decision making. Accomplishing this is hard. What works for one company may not for another due to differences in management, capability of personnel and ingrained habits.

In the end, the biggest technology cost is not the investment in hardware and software. It is the loss of productivity and all the resulting re-work and miscommunication that results from everyone using their own workaround without the right system for you.

Common software mistakes Include:

Not staying current with your software, which results in the loss of support and new features that keep up with hardware, technology changes and security vulnerabilities.

Not training new users (as noted earlier). Lost productivity is way more expensive than training cost!

Not fully utilizing the software. Leadership either doesn’t know – or is unwilling to enforce – the changes necessary to use the software properly. Every good system implementation will result in improvements to processes and procedures, but as you’ve probably witnessed, resistance to change can be a roadblock. Without a senior level champion, people using their own workarounds can defeat all the good intentions from the start.

Mismatched Software Selection. Do your due diligence before buying and stick to your must-haves. Here are a few of the selection mismatches we’ve seen:

  • Software intended for larger organizations is not usually a good fit for smaller companies. They have the resources to fully utilize it, you don’t.
  • The level of process changes necessary to meet the standards of the new software may not be feasible. Be realistic. As noted earlier, no one likes to change – the comfort zone of “that’s the way we’ve always done it” is very, very hard to move.
  • None of the software is integrated. Every separate system that does not “talk” to any of the others is an information “silo” that will end up causing extensive data duplication, errors and miscommunication within the organization.

Stayed tuned next edition for number 6 of our Top Terrible Mistakes!