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The secret IT manager

In this series of articles, Joe Bloggs shares his journey as a newly appointed IT Manager finding his way at his new stomping grounds.

Now this isn’t a superhero story about me rescuing a company from the brink of extinction and turning them into a global manufacturing superstar. However, in this, my new role, I do consider myself somewhat of a technical guardian-angel type. I’ve downsized. I was previously working at a large manufacturing company and am used to working in an organisation jam-packed with specialists and experts who could intellectually overpower you at any time.

Now I’m at a smaller company with fewer resources, both in terms of both manpower and technical provisions. Here, I can personally make a real difference. I’m “the only expert in the village” and I believe I can use technology to develop this company’s competitive advantage and fulfill that technical guardian-angel persona.

This company does have a similar IT infrastructure to my last organisation, using ERP (enterprise resource planning) to help manage the supply chain, however, now I get to review whether this solution is the most suited to the needs of this business at it’s current size, and assess whether it can provide the level of insight and agility to help us grow.

When moving from a large enterprise to a smaller one, it’s not just a case of taking a hit when it comes to resources, it’s about determining priorities and deciding what can realistically be achieved within the budget. Whilst this is a long-term process, coming into the role with a fresh set of eyes, this is what I had to figure out. Although that advice seems to be bordering on ‘life-coach’ territory, what I’m trying to say is that it just takes a more strategic approach to figure out what processes and systems across the supply chain would benefit from an update in technology. Whether that is updating back-office order processing, improving financial reporting or integrating mobile devices for the field sales team, there is definitely scope to enhance what the software can provide.

I quickly figured out that modernisation was a clear priority for the organisation after a meeting with my predecessor. He’d been here years. He was the one to swap from the telephone exchange to modern telecommunications, the one to adopt and implement Windows systems back in the day, and all the way through he’d understood the value of being at the forefront of technology. His level of project management and ambition was admirable, but whilst sat listening to his anecdotes about a time (God forbid) before automatic data capture, I realised that while this organisation has certainly been through a lot of change, a lot more was still needed. This company has great products and a strong market opportunity, but competitors have moved faster and so now it’s my job to figure out how technology can help them build real competitive advantage. Not as simple as it sounds.

Starting out in a new organisation can be daunting. Getting to grips with the infrastructure already in place and what the organisation wants to achieve requires a lot of time. But, I was always told I had been given two eyes, two ears and only one mouth for a reason. My time to talk would come. Sat on the train home scrolling through the internet on my iPad it strikes me how much we all take for granted, technology is so much part of everything we do. Why should going to work feel like a step back in time? Why do the systems and devices we use at work feel like museum pieces compared to the ones we use at home (or on the train!). I’ve got a lot to do. After all, whoever said being an IT Manager was easy/dull/relaxing (delete as appropriate).

After placing my Chinese takeaway order (timed to arrive as I step up to my door), checking the football scores and arranging a night out with former colleagues at the weekend, I got off the train. At the end of my first day a wave of positivity washed over me, I actually felt (now what would those Millennials call it?), pumped. It’s clear the focus for us is maximising the capabilities of the systems we already have in place.

After all, if the Lotus Blossom Chinese Takeaway can take orders over the internet from anyone, anywhere, at any time and deliver within minutes, surely my new employer could make a significant leap forward too. I’m hoping this positivity continues!

Next time, the secret IT manager chats all things customer satisfaction as he meets with the CEO to figure out how their ERP solution can help them meet shifting customer demands.

Supplied by Epicor Software, a provider of industry-specific enterprise software

Image source: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens