Technology is much a part of society as well as the workplace today. Practically everyone uses a smartphone to connect to the bigger world, while many businesses use the cloud to enable their staff to collaborate efficiently on projects. From using social media to mining big data analytics, technology promotes change, progress, and nonstop improvement. In other words, to ignore technology is unthinkable for anyone or any business.
For small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), choosing the right technology is crucial. SMBs do not have deep pockets compared to large enterprises, so they need to budget wisely and prudently. In addition, implementing new technology is challenging, even for SMBs. Here are a few important things to consider when you’re about to implement something new.
Know what you need
Before purchasing any technology, determine first if this is something your organization needs. Trendy technology can be exciting, and it’s easy to be enticed by shiny new toys. But will this new equipment answer the needs of the company? Or will it just go unused in a few years? What seems like the perfect acquisition now may end up creating more problems in the future. You need to plan how to manage this technology so that it continues to be useful to your company for years to come.
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Complete control is impossible
You want everything to be perfect, but certain things will be out of your control, and mistakes will be made along the way. Allow for some leeway in schedules and budgets. More importantly, your team’s attitude should always be to focus on the positive impact of the implementation and to continue moving forward.
Have a marketing perspective
Marketing perspective is listening and reacting. Implementations fail when people do not take into account the importance of preparing a team for changes. What do people need? How do we solve their problems? What changes are necessary to sustain such solutions? Money and effort should be spent not just on technology acquisition, but also on its implementation and maintenance.
When to go big or small
Implementation is not necessarily a one-size-fits-all process; it can be done in stages. Small-scale changes are easier to execute, usually done within a department or small team, and need less training and management. Larger implementations will need more planning, organizing, training, and coordinating among different departments, raising the level of difficulty. They will also require better expertise and perspectives.
Technology doesn’t always change a process
Many employees fear that technology will drastically change and disrupt their workflow. But in most cases, the overall process remains the same even though the technology has changed.
Let’s take Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) as an example. Back in the days of landlines and analog phones, customers’ calls would be forwarded to a sales representative, who would then process the transaction using invoices, ledgers, and typewritten memos. Should a sales rep be unavailable, the caller would be asked to call back, or someone would take a message. With VoIP, the process remains the same; however, technology now allows calls to be forwarded to a sales rep’s mobile if he’s away from his desk. And VoIP allows faster invoicing, documentation, and communication by having them all integrated in one software system, accessible via desktop, laptop, or even mobile.
Acknowledge that there may be legitimate resistance to change
While allaying the above mentioned fears over technology can help ease people’s reluctance to change, managers should also recognize that mistakes or overlooked issues may breed resistance. Those who are pushing for the new technology may be blindsided by such resistance, and the worst thing they can do is push this resistance aside. This is why it's necessary to anticipate opposition and be open to dialogue.
Related article: Addressing the challenges of implementing new technology
The importance of communication
When the benefits of the new technology are effectively communicated, it builds excitement, motivation, and support. And when encountering problems or resistance, it’s better if they are addressed openly. Communicating the growing pains and how to overcome them is essential to a successful implementation.
Transition in phases
Change too much too soon and you may shock the whole system. It's better to ease into the changes through phases, allowing users time to get used to the new software and letting them come up with their own ideas on how to best make use of it. This feedback is an important part of the listening and learning curve.
Have a solid support system in place
Whether they are in the form of training videos, handbooks, or staff mentoring, resources are needed to support the adoption of any new technology. The support system should be responsive and customer-centric.
Don’t know what technology is right for your business? Read our comprehensive post about the 8 Most common IT mistakes, and how SMBs can avoid them. In today’s business environment, SMBs need to be tech-savvy in order to get ahead of the competition. But you don’t have to be a geek to be knowledgeable about technology. At Online Computers, we strive to educate our clients of the power of technology and how they can utilize it to enhance their business. Want to be smarter about IT? Get in touch with us today.
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