Published: October 7th, 2015; by Nick Hughes
Advances in technology have been very beneficial for small businesses. Not only has it lowered the cost of entry for many industries but it has also provided us with the ability to do things that in the past only large organizations could do.
Small businesses cannot function efficiently without technology. Not quite true; they cannot function efficiently without the RIGHT technology. Unfortunately, selecting and implementing the right technology has many risks. It might not function as advertised. The pricing model is such that costs increase as the business grows. The change is too huge for your team to handle.
So when you are considering bringing in new technology, in particular new business systems, make sure your evaluation includes acceptable answers to the following questions:
- How long will it take to train your team? How long before your team is completely comfortable with the new system?
- Will the new technology work with your existing technology? Or will you end up with fragmented systems that seriously harm the efficiency of your operation?
- Is there a large supply of people trained in the new technology? For example, in the website world WordPress has become the standard and so there are many people experienced with this platform.
- Does the new technology satisfy all your business requirements? The short answer is “No it doesn’t!” because no technology can possibly do everything. Make sure you identify which requirements will not be met with the new technology and then decide if that is a showstopper or not.
- Is the new technology leading edge or bleeding edge? What is the difference? Leading edge means it has functions and features that are not being widely used but have been proven to work and might, therefore, give you a competitive advantage. Bleeding edge is usually very exciting but untested. A bleeding edge solution might move into leading edge or it might disappear into the sunset.
- Is the support from the vendor bad, satisfactory, good or excellent? Check around. Ask for references. Talk to as many customers of the technology as you can. If good or excellent support is essential because the technology is new to your business then anything less must be a showstopper.
- Does the vendor have experience in your industry? If not, does the vendor want to gain that experience by having you as a customer? If so, will the vendor offer a special deal?
- Is the pricing model of the new technology based on volume? In which case, how much will your costs increase as your business grows?
- Can you have a free trial? If so, can you realistically use the free trial to pilot the new technology? Many times this is not possible because the effort required for a pilot is huge in both work and lapse time.
A few other suggestions:
- Plan the implementation in detail so you know the timeline and you know the additional workload on your team.
- Plan for ample testing. Don’t assume that just because it is working elsewhere it will work for you. Develop a test strategy that enables you to run real data through the system and evaluate the results.
- Talk to as many users of the technology as you can to find out what their experience has been.
We believe technology is your friend and will help you grow your business if you approach it with care and diligence. Otherwise it can become a terrible enemy.
When attempting to add something new into your schedule time management becomes a factor. Click here to to listen to three techniques to managing your time effectively.