Technology is a difficult subject for a small or medium-sized business owner, one that comes with many challenges. Smaller businesses often don't have the funding to have every resource they want. They also often lack the technical expertise and staff to properly manage new tech and very rarely do they have an internal IT department that can manage these technological considerations. As a result, they are often on their own when it comes to technological implementation, and can be prone to make mistakes. However, this doesn't have to be you or your business. Here are six things business owners should know before they seek to implement new technology.
Find Tech That Works for You
One of the biggest wastes that a small or medium-sized business can make is on a new and shiny technological update that doesn't really do anything to advance their overall business goals. Don't make a major technological purchase if it doesn't ultimately do anything to help you operate more efficiently or make you more money. Instead, make sure you have an honest assessment of your business’s needs, and plug in the gaps for what technology you want to buy. Don't make a purchase or a significant investment of time or money unless you know that a technological investment is appropriate for your business. However, if you know how you can benefit from a technological investment, it is likely one well worth making.
You can install the greatest technology in the world, but if you fail to properly manage it, it will be ultimately useless. While managed IT can handle some common programs, any unique software will require specialized support. Make sure you have access to that support before making any purchase and make sure that the costs of that support are reasonable. Furthermore, make sure you have an on-staff expert to ensure that someone is available to assist you in troubleshooting software and make sure you get the most out of your major purchase.
The Need for Scaling
Technological scalability is defined as the ability to grow what a technological program can do as your needs increase. When deciding what technology to purchase for future implementation, make sure you understand how a software program can scale as your needs evolve and change. Software is supposed to grow with you - if it doesn't, you're wasting your money. Your needs may change, and technology must be able to change with them.
What Are the Costs?
When it comes to financial costs, there are two considerations. First is the obvious: What is the overall or recurring cost of operating a program? However, there are often ancillary expenses for items like training materials, software upgrades, and additional features. Make sure you have a complete grasp of how much a program will cost before you make any major technological purchase.
At the end of the day, technology is supposed to make your life easier. Yes, some training will be required to operate a new system, but the amount of training required should be roughly proportional to the impact that a piece of technology is going to have on your business. As such, you should try and determine how much training will be required for you and your staff. Furthermore, if a program is updated frequently, it's worth determining whether or not there will be regular new training required. You should also find out if you and your staff have access to free training on demand? Is there a library of online training that can work with your busy schedule? Remember, technology is only good if you know how to operate it. Make sure that you have access to the training resources you need.
How Do Upgrades Work?
Any technology worth anything will be upgraded as the business and technological environment changes. However, there are things you should try to understand before making a major technological purchase. First, are upgrades free? Does the company provide support and regular upgrades as the technological environment changes? Do they regularly upgrade their software to address security needs? Second, what is the typical development cycle for a new product that you will have to spend money on? Does the company that you are purchasing from have a history of relatively short planned periods before forcing you to purchase new software? This is a nasty trick of some companies and one you should avoid whenever possible.
Technological investments are supposed to help your business be more efficient, better serve your customers, and make you more money. That's not to say that it doesn't require major investments in time and money, but tech done right should make your life easier, not harder. If you can get satisfactory answers to the questions noted above, a technological platform is likely well worth your time and effort.
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