Exercise 6 – what sort of systems do you need?

Part of our ‘Becoming Information Conscious’ series. We have created a workbook for these exercises using Google Sheets – note you’ll need to be logged into Google to make a copy.

Based on your functionality matrix and the results from the other exercises, you should fairly easily be able to produce a list of the kinds of systems your business needs. This involves doing some scoring, but bear with me as it’s not as complex as it might sound at first! Use the table below and add in the kinds of system you need in the left hand column. If that system already exists, put its name in the second column; if not just leave the second column blank.

Now, go through your matrix and add up how many of the cells are applicable to the particular system. So for a CRM system, you will probably count things like ‘store customer data’, ‘log phone calls’ and ‘produce customer activity report’, even though the latter will also apply to your operations management system.

Next, count up how many of your matrix cells are currently implemented with your existing systems. If it’s only part implemented, just give it half a mark. So to continue the above example, if you’re happy with the way your customer data is stored, score it one, but if it needs some improvement, just score it a half. If your customer database consists of a stack of business cards, that would count as a zero.

Write this count in the fourth column. You can now divide the fourth column by the third to give you a percentage, which is a crude measure of how well you are currently served for the system you’ve identified. I’ve done a couple of examples – clearly in my example while there are issues with the CRM system, there are far more holes in the systems in use for project management.

This exercise is also in our workbook.

System Type Name of Existing Software How many Func Matrix cells in total? How many cells do your existing systems cover? Score %
CRM MyCustMgt 10 6.5/10 x 100 = 65%
Project Management Spreadsheet 12 3 3/12 x 100 = 25%

How good are your systems?

If you’ve done the above exercise well, hopefully it will provide another useful insight to help us move forward. It’s likely to tell you one of three things:

  • You have systems that do bits of what you need, but there are major gaps in what they give you. This is most likely for all but startups.
  • You have very few systems that actually match your needs.
  • Your systems actually meet your needs pretty well.

For most businesses, there will be some obvious room for improvement that we’ll address next. But it’s also quite possible that you find yourself with systems that nominally meet your needs but yet still leave you with information islands and a business that can’t manage its information. If this is the case, it’s very possible that you do actually need new software, or at the very least need to integrate what you have better. In which case, read on!

I’d be surprised if anyone in the other position is still reading this, but if you find yourself in position 3, without any information islands, then you are almost certainly already an information-conscious business that is operating efficiently. Congratulations! I hope you’ve found what I’ve said so far useful, and still hope you’ll read on as some of what I say about cloud software and social media may help keep you on top of your game.

Exercise 5Exercise 7