FreshOps CEO Martin Callan shares his tips to ensure the correct technology is sourced for your business.
Buying technology is one of the most difficult challenges we face as business owners. We are told repeatedly we need technology to be more efficient and to eliminate friction in our business.
But using technology is an expertise most of us don’t have. It can take a significant amount of time to understand the problem, identify the right technology and implement it. Because of this, most of us end up doing nothing.
The tips below might help you change that and seek out technology to benefit you, your team and your business.
Identify the technology you need
The first step is to take the lead on what you are looking to buy. If you respond to the next advertisement that lands in your inbox you will likely become the next victim of ‘shelfware’ (the software you bought that just sits on the shelf!)
To take the lead you need to be clear about where costly ‘friction’ is in your business. Friction is where activities for customers, staff or management take longer than they should, carry substantial costs or result in poor quality or errors regularly.
Finding friction in your business requires measuring where time is being lost. Look for activities where work is repeated, or customer and staff feedback suggest there are better ways to get things done.
If this sounds too difficult then get expert help from a consultant to identify these areas. If you are smaller operator, it will be a smaller job, and just might be the best investment you ever make.
Prioritise the processes to improve first
After assessing existing processes, you can prioritise which of these offer the greatest gains. You might also find some of them are related and can be resolved as a group with one solution.
When assessing areas to improve be sure to also look at the age of hardware and software in case they need to be replaced soon anyway.
Also consider the utilisation of current tools by your team, examine where the most time is being spent on ‘pen and paper’ activities or operational tasks, especially customer service experiences (e.g. time on hold).
Research the ‘typical’ options
For each potential improvement look at the most likely way to automate, reduce or eliminate the work. Don’t overthink it, often the obvious approach, applied well for your business is the best way to go. For a simpler problem this might only take a few quick phone calls, for more complex problems you may want to have a few vendors pitch their solution.
Be sure to include your team too. It can engage star performers and your best people are your internal subject matter experts. They are ideal at adapting external ideas to fit your business problems and it can also be highly engaging for your team.
List your requirements
Listing requirements is simply stating what you need. When buying any product, it pays to be very clear on the scope of your requirements. If you don’t do so, you will wind up buying a range of ‘extras’ that add no value to you, your team or your customers.
Clearly articulate the features you must have, those you would simply like (you might pay a little extra if included), those you won’t pay for (if they are included then great, but you won’t pay for them as you probably won’t use them)and those you might even want to ensure are excluded (features that may distract your team).