Technological advancement isn’t only constant. It’s accelerating. Businesses that don’t evolve with these advances can rapidly be left behind by the competition.
But that doesn’t mean you should rush out to incorporate every tech trend or piece of equipment released on the market. New technologies are expensive, not always well suited to your company goals and can even be inferior to what you’ve already got.
So how should you approach a potential IT upgrade or investment in new systems or devices? In this article we step you through the 6 questions you should be asking yourself before taking the plunge into a new IT system solution.
The latest technologies should be viewed solely as tools to solve a business problem. While new tech is always exciting, it needs a solid business justification to make sense, so it’s important to consider whether it will advance or support the company’s main goals. Goals could include progressing a product or service, improving the efficiency of operations, or improving the experience of your staff or customers. Have a clear idea of what exactly the tech will provide or improve so that you can realistically assess the impact it will have.
Are you able to quantify how much the technology will cost to implement and how much it will save you? Sometimes the benefits may be difficult to cost exactly but it’s still important to be able to estimate the tangible cost benefit the investment will bring. Once you’ve decided it will bring value, then you need to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Is it the best product available in that class? Shop around and see whether a cheaper or better substitute exists in the market. And don’t forget, especially when it comes to software products or tools, you’d be surprised how many free options are available.
Even an IT system that will provide great efficiency or operational improvements comes with risks. One of the most important of which is cybersecurity risks. Any time you are changing your IT systems or infrastructure, you’re exposing yourself to new cybersecurity risk vectors that need to be assessed and mitigated. There may also be risks associated with integrating a new system into your existing technologies. You may invest in a new piece of software with enormous potential only to find it won’t integrate easily into your existing systems. You may end up wasting more time and resources than the software promised to save.
Business leaders need to be solving today’s problems, but also keeping an eye on the future. This can be very challenging when it comes to IT technology as the industry moves so quickly. It’s important to make decisions that take into account future scaling plans and other factors beyond just upfront cost. Choosing the cheapest option now doesn’t always translate into lower overall expense for the company down the road.
In order to be beneficial, new IT systems must be straightforward enough to implement and use. If the tech has great capabilities but is difficult to operate or learn, or will require so many resources to install and train your staff to use, then its overall benefit could be significantly reduced and it may not be a viable choice.
This is a major consideration that is often overlooked. Before you invest in new technology you should gauge with your staff whether it will be a good fit for the company and how likely they will be to actually use it day to day. Many tools look great on paper but may not gel with your existing systems and culture or be outright rejected by your team. If your team is unfamiliar with it, one great option is to look for trial periods or tailored training that is often available for software products. This gives your team the opportunity to get first hand experience using it, after which you can collectively determine whether it's the best fit.
Implementing new technologies and evolving your processes is a crucial part of staying ahead of the curve. By going through the above questions you are putting yourself in the best position to choose the right IT systems that will provide the most benefit.
Remember that everything should tie back to customer satisfaction, employee engagement, or cash flow. Ideally, your technologies should have a positive impact on all three. If you’ve gone through this series of questions and arrived at a positive answer for each one, then you should be in a position to confidently invest in your chosen new IT technology. Now all there is to do is to reap the rewards!
If you’d like to learn more about how incorporating a new IT system can help boost your business, talk to FinXL.