In today’s increasingly competitive, technology-driven business world, all organizations looking to improve their operations and productivity are seeking to leverage the benefits offered by the new and emerging technologies. In fact, Spiceworks’ 2020 State of IT report found that 88% of businesses expect IT budgets to either grow or stay steady over the next 12 months.Technology offers opportunities to improve efficiency and differentiate your business from the competition, while also motivating your workforce and equipping them with new tools to help them in their day-to-day responsibilities.
Choosing the right kind of technology is essential for your organization’s success, so before you make a decision, be sure to carefully weigh all the available information and consider all the implications of the purchase.
Here are five things to keep in mind as you invest in new IT tools this year:
Do your research
Before you consider implementing new technology at your organization, it’s necessary to do a bit of research. Conduct a technology needs assessment, which is a systematic review of your company’s technology requirements, taking into account what is needed today, and the expected needs based on your plan of growth. Whether you are a large company or a small shop, this process is the same.
Without administering a proper analysis, many business leaders fall into impulsive buying behaviors, and can be tempted to purchase every new piece of technology they discover. However, taking into consideration factors such as your current technology landscape, any gaps in your current structure, inefficiencies in your employees’ workflow, as well as changes to your IT budget can help you identify the most beneficial technology investments.
Poll your workforce
While conducting your technology needs assessment, be sure to also poll your workforce and garner their feedback on the state of your technology. Survey management and staff regarding any frustrations they have with the existing technology as it pertains to productivity, customer service, and morale, or on the other hand, what types of technologies they’d like to see at the organization. Getting your workforce involved and considering these 5 factors in the beginning will help ensure successful deployment and reduce the resistance of change.
When sifting through available tech solutions, it’s important to take your people and their habits and processes into consideration; the goal is to improve on existing strengths without creating new hurdles. In a 2018 survey by PwC of more than 10,000 workers in a range of industries worldwide, 90% of C-suite executives said they paid attention to employee needs when introducing new technology. Only about half of their workers agreed, the survey found. With this dissonance in mind, be sure to engage your workforce in new IT investment decisions.
Align your technology with business needs
Before investing in a new software platform, it's important to know precisely what your strategic goals are and what pain points you are intending to address. Rather than getting caught up in the “latest and greatest” technologies, be sure to take into consideration how these technologies can have an overall impact on strategy. Your new technology investment should facilitate this process and help you achieve these goals.
For example, is your organization seeking to streamline its financial management processes? An enterprise resource planning solution may be the right tool, especially if it has finance-specific features. Does your mobile team need a better method to communicate and complete projects in a timely manner? You may want to consider a tool like Project+ for workforce management, as it enables teams to create project checklists, send messages, and clarify messages from the office. Are you looking to expand your retail locations? You may need to acquire new point-of-sale systems, and may even want to find a solution with mobile capabilities.
Secure executive buy-in
Once you’ve completed your thorough research on the best tech investment for your organization, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to secure buy-in, whether it be from a member of your C-suite, a manager, or even an IT manager. If you need to present on the matter to any of these individuals, be prepared for questions such as: What obstacles may be in the way of the initiative? Have projects like this been tried before? Did they work? Why or why not?
If you’re worried about having all the answers on the spot, you may want to consider preparing a one-page report that highlights the benefits of the investment. This not only shows you’ve done your fair share of research and preparation, but it also provides the individual with any information that may not be presented in your in-person meeting.
Educate your workforce
How does adding the software impact your employees? You’re not just purchasing new technology—you’re investing in creating more efficient and productive business habits for your employees. Once you’ve made a new IT investment, be sure to formally train your entire workforce or the relevant department on how to use it. After all, you won’t be able to reap technology’s full benefits if your employees don’t understand what it is, its benefits, or how to use it. Make sure everyone is on the same page before fully rolling out the tool and be up front with them about any privacy concerns.
New technology investments are critical to business success, but perhaps even more important is the processes in place behind that investment. When acquiring new technology at your organization, be sure to properly research and determine your business needs, inform relevant stakeholders of how new technology can satisfy that need, and educate your workforce on its importance.