IT problems affect every phase of the business cycle. The weaker your IT, the faster your Tornado will be over—and the longer your Avalanche will last. It’s vital that you take advantage of the consolidation phase that follows the Avalanche to address your IT issues. If you don’t, you won’t be able to prepare for your next Tornado. You may not even survive.

IT is one of your most powerful tools for making your business faster, smarter, and better, but you need to make sure you’ve integrated your technology with your processes. This means you need to professionalize your back office, which will allow you to apply the same efficiencies and economies of scale to your back office that you have to your production department. A good IT architecture will cut the number of times your company has to do the same thing over and over. It will make production faster and more efficient. A faulty one will mean wasted time, wasted effort, and wasted money—expensive on all fronts.

In rebuilding your IT, you will often encounter integration challenges. Since software is often developed by different vendors, each will have master records that make their application able to run by itself. These master records create the potential for duplicate entries when you’re using multiple vendors’ software. You want to be able to enter the data in one application and have technology automatically and accurately flow the data to the other applications. To make this happen, you’ll have to piece together software at the right places so that the data moves smoothly from program to program.

The ultimate goal here is to ensure that data is readily available to allow the executive team and the department leaders to make good decisions. Your new architecture should eliminate duplicate entries and wasted work time. It will allow you to hand your back office people clearly defined and documented standard operating procedures. What’s more, you’ll have IT that has a single set of integrated hardware and software to run these functions with the least amount of IT cost and time.