Over the past few months, I have seen a lot of posts for new businesses about what to do, what not to do, what new technology to use and even posts about what new businesses to start right now. These are all great posts for new businesses. While some of these themes also hold true for existing businesses, one area that seems to be neglected is how existing businesses should take advantage of new technologies.
Whether it’s new invoicing software, a reporting solution or even GPS-enabled cell phones for your employees, the technology has to make sense from both a usefulness, as well as a cost and return perspective. Here is a common-sense guide to making sure you are taking advantage of the right new technologies and whether or not they make sense for your business.
Identify the Need. It should go without saying that if you don’t need a piece of new technology to meet some business requirement, you probably should stick to watching the bottom line and not be on the lookout for cool stuff to buy. Make sure you’re addressing business problems or ways to improve productivity. It may be ok to boost employee morale with a technology upgrade, but buying it just because it’s the new thing should not be your agenda.
Evaluate the Options and Costs. Just as if you were getting multiple bids for a service, you should also be evaluating all possible options to meeting the need you identified in step 1. Generally, for any piece of technology you are looking to buy, there are competitors with different offerings covering a variety of price points. Although the most cost effective option is usually appealing, consider how it will hold up over the longer term, what trends on the horizon may make it obsolete, or whether or not it will limit your own ability to grow without serious upgrade. Pick technology that gives you a little room to grow, but not something so fully featured that you wind up overpaying for it. At this point, it also makes sense to start looking at your expected return on the investment.
Decide and Implement the Technology. Making the decision to acquire the technology cannot be an emotional decision, as with all business decisions. It should be made carefully considering the need, options, cost and expected return.
Measure the Return. Making the decision to procure a new technology is only the first step. Making sure that once you get the technology in-house, that employees embrace it and help you realize your return is paramount to the technology making sense in the first place.