It’s not unusual, especially for me, to go out and buy clothes that I think I look good in only to be ridiculed by our better halves, I need a stylist or a friendly face when picking out clothes.  This should be the same when bringing new technology or process into your business, you should have a trusted partner to bounce ideas off, someone who understands both technology and business, you need a Business Technology Specialist.

Here are some examples I have come across recently

  • New PC purchase with Office 2010 pre-installed not knowing that Office 2010 is significantly different to 2000 which they were previously working on. This lead to further unbudgeted expense on training and a frustrated workforce.
  • Purchase of iPads for a select management team, unaware that their email systems were not setup to take best advantage of the hardware.
  • Planned implementation of a CRM system missing the core requirements of the required system.

In two of these examples I was too late to help, the purchase had been made and I was left to pick up the pieces, the third, to be fair to the client, were inheriting systems and a way of working from a sister company, however it was clear that what they were implementing was not going to give them the results they needed.

So what should you do to make sure you invest correctly, get a trusted partner who you can ask and bounce questions off before you make the purchase. Open up to the partner, this is why they need to be trusted, so that they know where you and your business are going. In addition here are some self help things you can do.

  • Ask questions of your staff: what works what doesn’t, fix the broken things leave the rest unless they are preventing you from your end goal.
  • Ask questions of your current system:  You may find you have everything you need to implement a solution it justs need configuring.
  • Integrate: Most time and effort is lost in the bit between systems, if you  can integrate the system and take out the human element you will most definitely educe error and increase effectiveness.
  • Be clear: Make sure you are clear what you want and where you are going, it is your prerogative as a boss to move the goal posts but move them in the right direction and don’t be surprised if it costs more.  Business that are jumping from solution to solution are going nowhere, it’s because they were not clear with their end goal in the first place.
  • Research, Research, Research:  I spend a lot of the day pouring through news, twitter feeds and social networks looking for information to help us help our clients.  Find a number of websites that are a source of information, don’t necessarily rely on one website. Ask questions on forums,  specialised groups perhaps even people in the same industry as you to find best practices.
  • Reference: If your solution involves a third party supplier shortlist take a reference and research them.
  • Prototype/Beta test: If you can start small, beta test/pilot it with a few objective staff. Perhaps run more than one pilot with different solutions to see what works the best and is most cost effective.
  • Hold back some of the Invoice: I have no issue with this, I expect my clients to hold back some of the payment until they are 100% happy. However be fair, the supplier will have had expenses and may have even supplied you with hardware that needs to be covered.
  • Review: Once the solution is implemented review it, this does not need to be formal just make note, is it working, has it fixed the issue, does it get you closer to your goal.
  • Don’t be Afraid: Unless you take the first step you can’t get to your goal