Investing in information technology can play a critical role in your company's success. In order to create business value with information technology, you need a clear set of goals and mechanisms to track the return on investments.
Create company goals. The goals of your company will define what value means to your business. Gather the major stakeholders of your business including employees, upper level management, major suppliers and company owners. Define a common set of goals for your company that can benefit every stakeholder. Narrow the list to four or five goals in order of importance.
Map out the "value chain" for each goal. Take each company goal and draw a visual map showing the current state of the process starting from the customer and ending with the product or service delivery. For example, if your goal is to make DVD rentals in your DVD store more accessible to your customers, you would map out how the current customers go about renting a DVD. Information technology usually simplifies repetitive systems. If your customers commonly perform the same actions to rent a DVD, then you could automate the process with technology.
Calculate the benefit of an automated system. This is not always easy to do as financial benefits can be subjective and projections based on faulty assumptions. Take each one of your company goals and place a monetary value to the achievement of each goal. In other words, ask yourself how much money you will make or save if you were to accomplish each one of your company goals. If your company goals are monetary, then you can compare it to the expense of implementing information technology. If the expense of the implementing information technology can help you achieve your company's financial goals then the technology is creating value. A simple example is being able to accept credit cards. If the cost of buying and setting up the credit card processor helps you close more sales, then the technology is adding value to your business.
Create a trial period for the system. Implement information technology in a small area of your business, and track the results compared with the current system. In some cases this may not be financially feasible since implementing technology for a trial period may be too costly. In this case you should create surveys and focus groups to determine if the customer or employee will embrace the new technology.
Automate repetitive processes. The easiest way to create business value through information technology is to automate or replace old systems with technology. For example, a small business that prints forms to get approval signatures from several departments, can simplify the process by having each department access the document via Google docs, and only print when all the authorizations have been granted. Your company can electronically share databases among many departments where previously only one or two people had access to the files. Minor improvements like these are easy ways to create value through information technology.
Make it a habit to continuously test processes and look for new ways to implement technology systems.