If your business faces a challenge that’s slowing down productivity or profitability, you can safely bet that there’s technology out there that can help you overcome it. And there’s probably more than one option. Let’s look at a step-by-step process you can use to decide what technology would be the best solution for your business problem.
1. Calculate the Impact of the Problem
First, you need to know the impact of the problem, since the size and scope of the solution will be based how significant an issue the problem presents. Ask yourself the following questions to determine impact.
- Which processes, departments, or operations does the problem affect?
- How much money is the problem costing you annually?
- What business opportunities are you missing by maintaining the status quo (opportunity cost)?
- Is the problem likely to worsen over time or stay the same?
The impact of the problem will set your budget for a solution, so be sure to make your cost estimates as accurate as possible.
2. Talk to Team Members About Their Pain Points
Most business problems affect several people (even hundreds, depending on the size of the organization). Talking to your team members about the specific challenges they experience due to the problem will help you ensure you address all the ways it’s hurting your operations. Team members can also provide insights into inefficiencies that you may not have uncovered. Create a list of all the ways the problem is damaging your team’s productivity, then prioritize the list by impact.
3. Create a List of Precisely What’s Needed in a Solution
Based on the list of pain points you created when interviewing your team, now create a list of what’s needed to fix each of these issues. Keep in mind that there may be more than one way to address a pain point.
4. Look for a Technology Provider Who Can Help You Think Creatively
You know your business — you live and breathe it every day. But you don’t live and breathe business technology, so you’ll benefit from the insight of someone who does. When considering technology options, look for a provider with a team who has plenty of experience solving business challenges like yours. They should be able to help you think of creative new ways to solve the pain points on your list.
5. Evaluate Your Options by Scalability
Once you’ve narrowed down your options to the technologies that offer ways to address your most important pain points, think about scalability. Are all the solutions you’re considering able to scale with your business, or will you need a new solution after you grow? The costs of switching technology can be significant when you take into account migrating data, employee training, and other onboarding costs. Here are a few scalability questions to ask:
- Do these solutions integrate with other technologies we currently use and will need to use in the future?
- Are the solutions cloud-based?
- Are the solutions user-friendly enough that new employees can be trained quickly on the systems?
- How easy is it to scale the solution?
- How helpful and available is customer support?
These questions will help narrow down your options even further.
6. Choose a Compatible Partner
In addition to looking for a technology provider who can help you think creatively and guide you through scaling up as your business grows, consider the compatibility of your teams. Every team has its own personality and quirks. If you’re working long-term with a provider, you want to be sure that your teams mesh well. When you’re demoing the technology, note how easy it is to work with the provider’s rep. When talking with sales, evaluate how well they seem to understand your needs. Don’t hesitate to ask to talk with the team members who will be interacting with you on a regular basis if you move forward with that solution.
With these tips in mind, you should be well on your way to having a list of technology solutions and providers who can help you overcome that business problem and get you on track for profitability and growth.
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