The Small Business Companion Blog Space
Does Your Technology Fit Your Business?
In fact, small business owners are split 50/50 as to whether it’s riskier to adopt new technologies quickly and possibly compromise on ROI, or wait and potentially give their competitors an advantage. There are great advantages to automating as much as you can however the software is only as good as the information you put in. It is amazing the number of business I help simple by looking and checking the information entered.
So how do you determine what technology is right for your business?
Be open to new ways of operating
When considering new technologies, exercise the same diligence you would apply to any other significant operational investment by asking:
- Is this a reputable vendor?
- How long has this solution been commercially available?
- Are my business information and interests protected?
- Does the solution solve our business challenges and/or processes?
- What is the total cost of ownership compared to other solutions?
Satisfactory answers to these and similar questions can give you confidence that a new technology may be suitable for your organization.
Here are some guidelines to follow when trying to find the most productive technology fit for your business.
Before you start looking at different solutions you really need to understand your problem. What are the fundamental aspects or qualities that your ideal solution must provide?
If you have a system that can’t handle all your requirements and you need to switch back and forth have you really saved any time?
Do your research and look at comments from other users. There are plenty of sites that have reviews on different products or software, try and find reviews from users in your industry and see if there are any major issues.
The best technology is one that works but Know how long it will take to implement.
Make sure user experience is at the top of your list when looking at technology. There is no point in having the latest and greatest if you and your staff can’t use it properly. There is nothing worse than implementing technology that is meant to improve productivity but ends up slowing everyone down.
Find an IT partner (not supplier)
If you’re looking to make ongoing decisions about your IT strategy and want a forward thinking approach to your IT then you need to consider the relationship you have with your IT supplier.
Forming a true partnership with your IT supplier will enable you to make informed decisions and a partner that understands your business can make tailored recommendations to enhance your business.
A mobile phone will allow you to use it for credit card payments, allowing your team to invoice onsite direct while linking it to your accounting programme and receiving payment instantly which saves you time and gets your money in quickly keeping up your cash flow.
Automated call attendant.
While a mobile device or smart phone is a mandatory tool for success, using an automated call attendant to provide greater customer service if a growing business and understaffed.
When a mobile device is dialed it’s either answered or the call goes to voicemail. However, a busy business owner or entrepreneur may choose to answer calls with an auto attendant or interactive voice response software that automatically offers a variety of choices to the caller. This cost-effective option provides understaffed businesses with efficient call flow handling as well as a perception of scale to the caller.
Toll-free dialling to your mobile phone.
Another relatively easy and inexpensive technology to implement is offering customers a toll-free number that connects directly to your mobile phone.
New business owners rarely consider toll-free numbers that dial directly to their mobile device as an option. However, it’s a great way to create a positive first impression, while offering enhanced value and service to potential customers.
Skype for Business.
For owners who prefer video conferencing one of the best low-cost options is Skype for Business. Because Skype is a Microsoft product it's automatically integrated with the MS Office Suite as well as its Outlook email product. So when a meeting is set up via Skype for Business, recipients get a hyperlink that’s fully-enabled for voice, video and desktop sharing. It’s powerful, inexpensive and simple to use.
Leveraging technology in today’s high-tech world is a must for growing a business and improving the bottom line.
Follow the money One of the challenges of developing a long-term technology plan is that there are usually more ideas than funding. A good rule of thumb is to invest in technology for areas of the business that make you money. For example: if you are a sales-driven organization, invest in sales management software; if your organization is in manufacturing, look for systems that will help manage inventory and distribution.
If your business struggles with setting priorities for IT spending, start asking yourself and staff:
- Will the solution help generate new revenue?
- Will the solution make the business more efficient or productive?
- Will the solution reduce risk?
For a solution to help your organization leverage technology, you should be able to answer yes to all three of these questions – if you can’t, then the solution may not be the best place to invest your technology budget.
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