Is Your IT Holding Your Business Back?

Despite the ubiquitous presence of technology in our lives, few businesses take full advantage of the possibilities that it offers them in terms of increasing business efficiency. Very small businesses have a tendency to rely more than they should on manual processes, on the grounds that they are too busy to switch to automated systems or do not have the funds to invest in them. I tend to steer people away from this approach, because automating the core processes for most businesses is not as difficult, time-consuming or expensive as it first appears.

Furthermore, the benefits are substantial, because once these systems are in place, you won’t have to worry about them again, which means you and your people can concentrate on more important things.

Larger businesses have different problems. Quite often, they are quick to invest in technology but slow to put the other essential procedures in place. This means that they often ‘throw money at the problem’ rather than assess the business benefits and the value of any business efficiency gains created by the introduction of new technology.

There are four key questions that any business should ask. First, what is your strategy for technology? You should consider what processes could be aided by technology and what business efficiency and financial benefits this would provide.

Second, what equipment, systems and software would you need to provide to your people in order to introduce technology in line with your strategy? This would include assessing how and where your people work.

Third, what infrastructure would you need to make your strategy work? Too many businesses take a piecemeal approach and fail to capitalise on the full range of features that most technologies provide. They are, for example, more likely to carry out a like-for-like replacement of a system rather than use it as an opportunity to re-think the systems.

Finally, what training and support would your people need to use the technology effectively and thereby gain the benefits of the investment? Another common mistake made by a large number of businesses is to invest in the technology but not show people how to use it effectively. This can lead to significant reductions in business efficiency as well as frustration on the part of the people involved.

As you explore the possibilities of business technology, don’t allow yourself to be tied down to one particular solution. Ultimately, the deciding factor for any business technology decision should be whether or not it will improve your business efficiency and customer experience.