New guide pushes IT governance to SMEs

Business managers lacking guidance from industry

Accounting and ERP software vendor, Attache Software, has released a guide for small to medium businesses aimed at improving the use of IT within their organisations.

The Business Improvement Guide offers more than 700 ‘tactics’ across areas like staff education, CRM, automation, payments and business intelligence.

Mark Toomey, founder and principal of Melbourne-based IT governance consulting firm Infonomics and advisor to Attache for the guide, says the guide adheres to the ISO 38500 standard for IT governance, which began in Sydney in 2002 and was ratified in 2008.

“IT is a supply and demand game and IT governance is all about the supply of IT (technical features), whereas this is about the demand side (business benefits),” Toomey said.

“Business leaders are responsible for IT and need to make sure they know what it is and that they spend money the right way.”

According to Toomey, research by academic, Raymond Young, indicates improved IT governance could lift Australia’s gross national product by 1.6 to 3.1 per cent. And the ROI for IT projects could increase to 240 per cent.

Attache founder and managing director, Mike Rich, says about 80 per cent of business managers don’t get enough guidance from the industry about appropriate use of IT.

“If big companies make mistakes it’s their fault, but SMEs make up about 85 per cent of businesses and IT companies are failing to communicate with them,” Rich said.

Rich says organisations with upwards of $1 million in revenue have ageing IT systems and often rely on accountants for financials which is “deplorable”.

“They are not looking at remedies in the IT field that do exist,” he said.

Attache has focused on an 'all-in-one' software offering for SMEs which is installed on in-house servers but paid for in a subscription model.

Rich scored the IT industry for not doing enough to help the small business market.

“We have an industry that has lost the ability to communicate with senior business people who are not IT literate,” he said.

“We are trying to address to managers what IT can do for their business. The IT industry has a favourite sport – make the business owner look like an idiot and the industry is playing well.”

Rich believes the abdication of IT to an “office manager” or similar role within SMEs is fundamentally flawed and holding businesses back.

Rich said some IT customers have “IT for Idiot tattooed on their forehead” and Attache exercises its right to pull software out of a business more often than customers decide to discontinue using it.

“SMEs in this country have turned off IT and talk about cloud and delivery models has made it worse,” he said.

A free version of the guide is available from Attache Software, which will also sell the full publication for $149.

Rodney Gedda is Editor of TechWorld Australia. Follow Rodney on Twitter at @rodneygedda. Rodney's e-mail address is Follow TechWorld Australia on Twitter at @Techworld_AU.