I was talking with a business owner last week and they asked me “what should I keep in mind when updating the systems and technology in our business?” It was a great question, so I thought I would share some ideas and thoughts I’ve collated from the wider MYOB team.
Whether it’s a new server, phone system or business management software, it’s recommended that business owners map out the core business issue they are trying to solve with new technology and then source the best solution for it.
The most important factor in any new technology purchase decision is that it’s based on a business need rather than the features in any one software product. Will it save you time by automating a manual task? Will it reduce risk and compliance? Will it provide you with greater detail and more information on business performance? If it’s just a shiny new gadget or a cool new feature then it’s not necessarily the right technology for your core business.
In order to best define your core business processes, ask yourself “what does the business need to get the jobs done?” Write down the core processes that need to be supported e.g. on time invoice production, specialisation of roles as the business gets bigger, stock control, job costing etc. and the core issues that need to be solved.
Once you have your core list, make sure you have factored in where your business will be in three to five years. The needs of a start-up are very different from those of a 20 person plus organisation. This will determine the upgrade path of the technology and the support requirements.
Set your budget. Don’t forget – there’s more to consider than just the upfront purchase price. Look at it from a total cost of ownership over the life of the system in your business.
Before you go shopping, spend some time understanding the different models for acquiring technology. Instead of going straight to outright purchase of technology, also consider software as a service (SaaS) models, leasing or even remote asset management. Select the best option for your business. Use Google or even ask other businesses how they have bought the same technology.
When comparing technology, consider the development approach. Is the provider committed to the continued development of your system? Do they have a history of continued upgrades. Is the technology proven? How long has it been around?
Give some thought to what you will do if the technology fails. How will you get it fixed or how will you receive help and how quickly will you need it in order to keep the business running smoothly?
Finally, consider the company you are looking to purchase from and the network of trained users and support people. Can you find people in the market who can help you with the software/hardware? Is there an eco system of partners and potential employees who can readily help you make the best of your new system?
Just some food for thought!