Welcome to my first post of 2009. While I am sure everyone is well-rested and revved up to begin the new year with a big bang, I think it makes more sense to take a step back to review the existing IT procedures within your SMB and make improvements. To help, I will be starting with a series of recommendations on areas that you might want to scrutinize. For today, let us examine an area that most of us are all too familiar with: reports.
Did I tell you about the time I was tasked with overseeing the implementation of an ERP system? One of my roles was to ensure that the new system was capable of generating reports comparable to those churned out by the previous software. Unfortunately, there were situations where it just wasn't logical - or possible - to recreate the exact report. As such, I had to speak to the relevant supervisor or manager to get their approval or, failing that, to work out a compromise.
That culminated in my first brush with "black-holed" reports, which is a term I invented to indicate reports where the actual consumers are either no longer in the company, or declare that they no longer require the information -- even as these reports are still mindlessly being generated weekly or even daily.
And while we are on this topic, it might be a good idea to review operational procedures on whether physical printouts of reports are still required. In many instances, it might be that a PDF file will be more than adequate. If this is the case, work at getting internal procedures modified accordingly. Not only is it friendlier to the environment - which might or might not be a selling point with management - it will definitely result in lowered costs in terms of printer consumables such as toner and paper. And, if you are still using ink-based printers for volume printing, you might want to check out an earlier post, The Great Printer Ink Rip-Off.