Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Comcast. All opinions are my own.
Today, most businesses require some form of technology – from wifi to computers to the tools you use to run your business. So how do you decide exactly what technology to use and which vendors are the right ones for your business? And how do you build in policies for your business culture? Answer: You develop a technology plan for your small business.
Start With Your Business Goals
One of the most important places to start with your technology plan is with the goals of your business, and clarifying your target market. Who do you serve? Once you’ve dialed in who your target market is, then you can start looking at what you do for them. Even if you’ve been in business for awhile, it’s important to revisit these areas to make sure that you’re choosing the right technology for the right people in your technology plan.
Once you’ve nailed down these details, you want to ask yourself, what do I need to achieve the goals of the business? Is there technology that would help me? Is there better technology than I’m currently using in my small business that would help me reach and serve my customers more effectively? The answers to these questions should help guide your decision-making.
Conduct Thorough Research for Your Technology Plan
At Business in Blue Jeans, we review all of our technology and tools as a part of our annual review process. We revisit the current marketplace to see whether new tools have emerged that we want to consider, and asses whether a change is in order. When a tool isn’t working for us as well as we’d like, we research the marketplace for something better, and compare all the options and the pros and cons of each before we make a decision about what tool is the right one. Our considerations factor in the tool itself and the features we need, as well as reviews of the company and their support. You’ll want to look at all the facets and see what works best for your small business.
Sometimes we end up staying where we are – when we factor in the transition and training time and any potential downtime, the overall cost of changing may be too high. But on the other hand, sometimes the cost of staying where we are is too high and we decide that we have to make a change.
Be Prepared for Technology Change
Change is never easy, and when you’re talking about changing technology, something usually goes wrong. Consider the impact of any change, and plan far enough ahead to allow for testing and transition, so that you head off as many problems as possible, and allow your team training time, as well as time to adjust to the new technology. Build this timing into your technology plan.
Sometimes especially when it comes to tools, it makes sense to overlap for a brief period, to ensure that the new tool functions the way you want. Earlier this year, when we migrated to a new tool, we discovered that the new tool wasn’t going to work as well as we’d hoped, and had to transition a second time to another technology. We were able to overlap in the transition so no data was lost, but it was all due to having our old and new systems running simultaneously that allowed us to make the second shift seamlessly. This won’t work in larger businesses, most likely, but it was fairly simple in ours, and you can build this into your technology plan as well.
See How Other Small Businesses Are Creating A Technology Plan
It’s rarely a bad idea to compare notes with and learn form other small business owners who are creating technology plans – from vision to implementation.
A good technology plan will include a list of the goals you’re trying to accomplish with technology, the people who are impacted by the technology and what it will do for them, as well as a thorough review of the advisors, vendors, and tools you plan to implement, and the timeframe in which you plan to implement your change.
In short, creating a technology plan for your small business is a great idea that will save you time and money in the long run.
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