The Staples Small Business Index found that 70 percent of small business owners have plans to upgrade to new technology before the end of the year – either hardware or software – and while that’s a good thing for businesses, it can also be a productivity nightmare if not done the right way.
In 1987, Robert Solow, an American economist, said, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.” That doesn’t have to happen to your business. After all, technology is a tool that should enable – not disable – everyday business operations, as well as give you long-term, tangible benefits.
What’s the best way to maximize your technology investment, minimize disruptions, and avoid a decrease in productivity in the midst of such a big transition? The key lies in having a clear, organized strategy that also meets established business goals and objectives.
Getting a good ROI from any technology won’t happen without a solid operating model and a clear plan for the business while things are in flux. Here are our top five tips to ensure a successful technology transition – so you can move on with the business of running your business:
Think about your goals
What will you gain from upgrading your office technology? Is it the ability to land a new client because your employees are trained on the latest version of industry software? Or is it the power to expand because new technology will help you streamline current processes? List the results or outcomes you want from the workplace tech upgrades you’re planning, and let those drive your decision process.
Assess what you have
Conduct an in-house network and technology audit see how well – or how poorly – your workplace technology really functions for your business. Does your current software or hardware equipment promote efficient work processes, or are they slowing your business down and costing you clients?
Consider your company’s business requirements in conjunction with the technology you’re using to satisfy them – both internally and for your customers. An audit will help you see both the strengths and weaknesses of your current system and, more importantly, if they’re helping or hindering your business goals.
Ask the experts
Once you’ve looked closely at your internal processes and made a brutally honest assessment, it’s time to call in the experts. Contact trusted technology consultants for information about equipment and technology solutions that could help your business improve speed, increase productivity, drive sales, or other business goals.
Schedule downtime for upgrades
Take a good, long look at your business calendar, and determine the best timeframe to make your transition. A long weekend is one option, or perhaps when the office is closed for the holidays. Ask your expert technology consultant for their best recommendations, given your current business environment, and come up with the timeline for both investment and deployment that will least affect your overall business productivity and cause the least downtime.
Make sure you build in enough time for proper training for employees, contractors and others who may be affected; the week before the transition is always a good idea so that the information is fresh, and employees can hit the ground running in the new environment.
Have a backup plan
Finally, even the best laid plans can go awry, so be sure to have a backup plan in case of emergency. Your technology expert is an excellent resource to help you develop a contingency plan early on and have it in place long before you might need it – whether it’s creating a temporary satellite office or ensuring you have the right components that are compatible with your business needs.