Whether it’s the iPhone 7, Internet of Things, or machine learning, companies have to consider any and all technologies to stay ahead of the curve. This mounting pressure to be up-to-date, however, has led companies to invest in several technologies out of impulse rather than a strategic business evaluation. Just because a product offers something new, doesn’t automatically mean that your business stands to benefit from the new technology.
To make matters more complicated, most companies don't have the proper expertise to facilitate a transition and implementation process. All they’re left with is a meaningless pile of hardware and software that lost its novelty the second the business owner clicked ‘purchase.’ To learn from their mistakes, consider these steps as a precursor to any implementation project.
Build a business case for new technology
Regardless of whether you’re buying a new photocopier or a company-wide ERP system, creating a business case for new technology remains the same. First of all, you need to conduct a thorough and objective assessment of your internal operations to clarify what needs fixing.
Then, include employees from other departments in the conversation so you can identify operational issues. Does your marketing staff need to consolidate reports from different branches of your company? Does your sales personnel need tools to forge stronger customer relationships? Or, is your organization planning to go paperless? Whatever the case may be, develop a specific list of requirements so service providers can offer solutions that align with your business objectives.
Afterwards, evaluate the business impact of your chosen solution. Is it cost-effective? Does it eliminate manual processes? How fast can employees adapt to the technology? Companies often make the mistake of opting for the most popular technology, and endlessly attempt to make it solve their business challenges to no avail. As a business owner who’s looking for IT solutions, don’t force a square peg in a round hole -- fully understand your company’s pain points and then go find systems that alleviate them.
Establish a strategic plan
Setting a course for new technological territories requires a strategic installation plan. Neglect this vital step, and your business might experience delays and receive additional costs.
Once you’ve built a strong case for a potential system or systems, create a timeline that outlines the tasks that need to be accomplished during the implementation period. Keep in mind that an implementation calendar can vary depending on the solution you selected. Developing customized software and deploying it may take longer than, say, a Software-as-a-Service migration.
At this point, you should evenly distribute financial and personnel resources throughout the entire project to make sure that you stay on budget. And don’t forget to notify employees when you’ll be performing major software or hardware updates so that they can plan their schedules around service interruptions.
Set employee expectations early
One way or another, new technology is going to affect user experience. It can either enhance existing processes, or it can slow productivity to a grinding halt. Before you introduce massive changes, set aside some time in your deployment calendar for training seminars and pilot programs to explain the new changes.
Also known as an experimental trial, pilot programs help an organization learn how a full-scale project might work in practice. To make the most out of this opportunity, reach out to your least tech savvy users to see how well they adapt to new systems and processes. By the time they get acquainted with the pilot program, chances are they’ll be ready for the real thing.
Prepare for contingencies
If there’s one lesson from companies that were struck down by the likes of ransomware and power outages, it’s that it never hurts to err on the side of caution. Introducing new technology exposes your business to a series of vulnerabilities and security risks. Cloud computing, for instance, may be a godsend for companies looking to improve employee collaboration, but hackers are free to steal data if end-to-end encryption and comprehensive network security systems aren’t in place.
And it’s not just cyber attacks and outages that you have to worry about. Bandwidth demands and rapid increases in traffic can heavily impact business productivity. In that case, bandwidth management tools like WhiteOwl’s WiseNetwork Manager ensures latency issues are kept to a minimum. Determining the nature and gravity of risks during the planning process will avoid crushing implementation failures.
There’s no need to rush
With so much on the line, it’s not in your best interest to rush any decision, no matter how urgent your needs. Take the time to get it right the first time. Listen to your employees. Plan a roadmap for success. Prepare for deviations in your plan. And engage with an external service provider to seamlessly incorporate the perfect solution into your system.
If you’re planning on deploying new technologies in the near future, here’s a tip: Don’t default to just any managed services provider. Here at WhiteOwl, we’ve helped countless companies make sound technological decisions, and we’ve assisted in implementing those decisions, too. So don’t spend your time with potentially ill-fitting technologies and rather contact us today.