We all strive to lead a principled life. A good set of principles enables us to make consistent, high quality decisions quickly. They loosely fall into the categories of 'Do's' and 'Don'ts', and the best of them have a clear logic supporting them. The vast majority of the planet don't kill or steal. Beyond anything intrinsically noble in this principle is the logic of preservation at a personal and collective level.
Information Technology solutions and systems are no different. They respond wonderfully well to a good set of principles, and behave badly in the absence of them. Many of us will have seen organisations where the IT estate is unreliable and unpredictable. It's viewed by users with deep suspicion, and there are generally parallel systems running on paper or spreadsheet to try and bring some order and predictability.
So here are some high level principles to live by:
KEEP IT REAL
IT systems are generally a reflection of reality. There is a transaction in the system which represents the purchase of a good or product, and the sale of a good or product. It's not the actual physical transaction, but it records the salient points of that transaction.
The closer your IT systems are to reality, the better place you're in. This is true of the structure (your oragnisations, warehouses, locations, products and people), and also of timing. If the moment that a good is purchased there is a financial movement, and the moment it is received there is a stock movement, users will have a very high degree of confidence in the system. They can safely view the world from their desks, rather than having to spend much more time checking physical locations and stock items. This in turn means they can be alerted to issues faster, and make decisions faster. Keeping it Real is a huge plus for a business.
NOTHING IS FOREVER
In amongst the passion and excitement surrounding the purchase of procuring new software (always more exciting than implementing or using it!) hold fast the idea that nothing is forever. Modern IT estates must evolve rapidly in line with business demands. This means the best behave almost organically, going through a constant cycles of growth, decline and regrowth. Architect around this principle to keep your eyes on the (business) prize - and don't get too hung up on the specific technology.
STEADY AS YOU GO
Every organisation wants to be - and needs to be - agile. One of the best ways to achieve this with IT? Abandon the startup and shutdown costs and inefficiencies of traditional 'project' thinking. IT resources behave no differently to manufacturing assets. Neither likes being left unused for months, then cranked into high gear for a few months, then shut down again. It's just not efficient. Rather structure work into steady state streams that add a predictable amount of business value every day / week / month / year.
If you apply these principles (or create others that work for you) your IT systems, your staff and your shareholders will thank you.