Technology is always changing; if you want your business to survive, you’re going to need to be outfitted with the latest technology for your business. The past few years have made a tremendous amount of exciting changes to how we access the Internet and use technology to improve our own lives, and businesses have responded by developing new ways to improve their infrastructure and online visibility.
Deciding on Software and Hardware
With my new budget drawn up, should I upgrade my hardware or software?
While some might say that this is a chicken-and-egg problem, I’ll say that there can be a clear decision made based on the current efficiency level of your business and its various departments. Beyond the most obvious first steps, defining your products/services and creating a business plan, you need to be thinking about how your business will run and what its systems are going to look like. Every business is only as efficient as the technology, processes and systems that keep it running, and being able to make the right choices is crucial. Therefore, what you need is to start with an assessment of your current efficiency level.
Are you using your current technology to its full capacity? Perhaps there’s software on your computer that you haven’t touched since you installed it. Or you might have functions on your phone system of which you’re unaware of. Can you optimize your laptop’s performance with it’s current processor?
Here are some assessment key points to take note off before making a move:
- – Systems optimized for the various work scope
- – Data accessibility
- – Human resource management
- – Marketing automation
- – Customer relationship and sales management
Focusing On Your Business Needs
Just because everyone else has it doesn’t mean you need it and social media is one of those necessities that is not all necessary, (if you know what I mean). Look into each social media channel and determine which will work best for your business.
Consider the following important factors with each type of social media channel:
– The product or service you are offering and the available human and financial resources at your disposal.
– Social media may be free on most occasions, but think about the value of your time!
Before deciding which social media channel to be active on, work out a clear and implementable plan. Many people lose their business focus while becoming social. It has a negative effective on the business due to the time lost trying to come to terms with social media. A plan really helps you to stay focused.
With all your social media channel sorted out, you might want to look into automation and ease of management using Hootsuite. The Pro account at $9.99 for a start gives you a pretty decent user-friendly deck to manage your multiple social media accounts and invite team members to join you in managing your business’s social media activities.
The same logic goes for your hiring ERP systems. Think first about your current business plan and chart a forecast of where your directions are. We usually advise our clients a step-by-step approach to introducing ERP systems to their business especially when the application of funds and grants form a big part of the process and they need to be prudent with their cashflow. Furthermore, you might expect a fair bit of staff training and possibly rearrangement of your organization with the introduction of a new system so you’ll want to pace yourself with the upgrade.
Truth is, a comprehensive ERP system can take a business to the next level, but it is also a huge investment that you do not want to be frivolous with. So ask yourself what’s the reason for “teching” up:
- What’s my forward view of my business?
- What kind of growth am I expecting?
- Can I continue providing the same quality of product/service?
- Can I do more with less?
- Can I take the risk of having a downtime (in case of technical hiccups)?
Desktop Apps & Subscription Apps
When it comes to the acquisition of software there are two main models — buying it outright or accessing it via a subscription.
It’s important to recognise that purchasing software is not about owning the software. Purchasing software, either by download or when you purchase boxed software from a bricks and mortar retailer, doesn’t give you ownership. What you’re really buying is a license to use the software in specific, limited ways. For example, some software is sold with limitations that only allow it to be installed on one computer at any one time.
Some applications allow you to install applications on multiple computers but only use one copy at a time while others limit the number of installation. There are some that are also limited to specific users. When buying software, make sure you understand the licensing arrangements.
Subscriptions are a relatively new way of accessing software. Rather than buying a perpetual license, you can pay a regular fee for ongoing access. As long as you keep up your subscription, you retain access to the software so you can continue to create new files and edit the existing ones.
Often, there’s a free version for many of these applications that comes with some limitation but a paid subscription unlocks more features.
Here’s a checklist when it comes to buying software:
- Choose an operating that works best with your hardware
- Don’t underestimate the importance of user consultation and education when changing a piece of software.
- Look carefully at the licensing conditions
- Think about how often you plan to update software and weigh up the different costs of traditional applications vs subscription
- Consider whether cloud-delivered software might be a better fit than traditionally installed software.
- Factor in support and installation costs when working out total costs. A lower cost or free option might cost more when you factor these in.
- Keep copies of all your software licensing arrangements and look for a system that allows you to mange them.
In conclusion, it is advisable to take some time to assess your business model and available resources. Introducing new technology to your business can be done in small steps and it can deliver quantifiable results if done strategically. So what steps have you taken to make the most out of technology in your business?