Centralizing processes and software can greatly improve the organization, speed and accuracy of your business and its workflows. Here are five tips for keeping your business software centralized.
1. Centralize Your Acquisition Process
The first thing you need to do to centralize your business software is centralize the software acquisition process itself. This allows you to optimize the value you get out of your software choices, better control costs and ensure organization and compliance in your software in the long-term. Make sure you balance ownership and management with the types of tools and processes you require. You need to ensure there are clear guidelines regarding process workflows and who should be responsible for them. Then, you need to define the acquisition process from the top down. Assess your organization’s needs, review your options, make the purchase, set down compliance regulations and train your employees to use the new software.
2. Use Network Repository Functions
A network repository function (NRF) is a central location in your organization’s network where all of your data, functions and programs can be stored. NRFs are becoming increasingly common with the advent of 5G networks and service-based architecture. You can leverage your network repository function to perform any number of tasks, including backing up data, tracking software, assessing data and linking processes.
3. Enforce Centralization
No matter how you choose to centralize your business software, you must find ways to enforce that centralization. Employees need to know the protocols for working with the software in a centralized capacity, as well as how to remain in compliance and keep up with their pre-existing workflows and projects. Enforcing centralization and encouraging compliance starts with informative internal communications. Let your employees know that the switch to centralization is coming as far in advance as possible and periodically remind them with updates about the acquisition process. Explain the need for centralization and the value it will bring. Plan training time into your acquisition schedule to help employees familiarize themselves with centralized software processes. Establish a compliance policy and make it easily accessible for employees to read and refer back to. By doing these things you can ensure there is no room for employees to be ignorant to the centralization or the new workflows and policies it will bring.
4. Integrate Business Processes
Due to the increasing speed at which product updates and enhancements are expected and the need to ensure your team can bring value to your organization as a whole, it is more necessary than ever to integrate your business processes, particularly project management. Project management needs to be at the core of a centralized management structure because your products or services are the bread and butter of your organization. Project managers need to not only keep a finger on the pulse of your organization’s workflows but also must be aware of the wider trends in your organization, your industry and your consumer base. Working with business information management ensures that there is accountability across the board and ties in your budgeting, customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning software. It facilitates communication and collaboration between teams and projects. Making projects the core of your business also encourages people across your organization to get more involved than just marking their tasks as complete.
5. Utilize Programs That Use XML
XML, or eXtensible Markup Language, is well suited for supporting most types of data updates and exchanges, including batch updates and short-notice information exchange. It’s a standardized coding language and can be used to develop and write simple programs with user-friendly interfaces, which can be layered and integrated. These integrated programs can then be leveraged to enforce standard formatting and data sharing protocols across your organization and to perform complex updates that span multiple systems.
Centralizing a business that is currently siloed can be a lengthy process, but the long-term benefits it provides can help your organization perform better and become more cohesive.