Data and computer systems are as integral to a modern company as the building it is housed in – or even more so, considering how much work we now do on the move. Given that systems have such an influence over how we do business, it is important to make sure that the system works for you, and not the other way around.
Working hard to accommodate a dysfunctional system is a bad habit – albeit one we can all quite easily fall into. But if you don’t get this habit under control, soon enough it can spread, creating a company culture where decision makers are dictated to by IT. This backwards way of working flows down to users.
Remember that the user is always king, and systems should facilitate their vision. A system should be as intuitive as picking up a pen; its value and necessity should be self-evident and it should never feel like an inconvenience.
Further, a well-designed system will give out more than users put in, and seamlessly facilitate the sharing of information along the line of command all the way to the CEO, without the need for a named process in the middle.
Just like CGI or a haircut, your information architecture will become most noticeable when it’s not done well. If you are frequently aware of the mechanics and usability of the data system you are using, this could be a sign that it isn’t doing what you need it to.
Getting this right can be a tricky process, but is well worth it. Like we said, a bad system develops a culture of resistance and both the system and the culture need to be managed to create real progress.