Gordon Moore said it in 1965 and it still holds true – technology increases at an exponential rate. If you’re trying to keep your business up with technology, it may be a good idea to take it slowly. Cards Technology CEO Sam Card shares some best practices when you’re considering adopting new software for your business.
Q: What advice do you have for business owners who want to adopt new technology?
Sam Card: Stay away from the latest and greatest applications. They’re usually fraught with problems – bugs, compatibility issues – and they’re expensive to fix. They have unknown, unexpected behaviors. Wait until they’ve been tested for a while.
Also, be sure to involve your IT support early in the process. It can be very problematic to make an executive decision about technology without talking to your IT team. When IT is involved from the start, they can make sure the new applications are compatible with your systems before you make a substantial investment of time and money.
Take your time. Not rushing will make implementation a whole lot smoother.
Q: How does a business owner encourage staff to use new technology, especially those staff members who are hesitant to adopt?
Sam Card: To get staff on board, whether they’re not tech savvy or don’t want to change, takes support from the top. They have to see their manager, or upper management using the new technology. Upper management has to use the new software themselves to show the value. When implementing new technology, make a plan to ensure the correct priorities are set and everyone is aware of what the change is and why it’s taking place. Share the business reasons for the new technology and how the new tool will be of value to the organization as a whole.
It’s a good practice to implement new software with a pilot program. Have a small number of people start with it and try it out for about a month. This way, any issues can be worked out before the entire company switches over. The pilot participants can help the others when the software is rolled out to everyone. Also, the software vendor and your IT support partner can troubleshoot any problems on a small scale during the pilot program.
Some people fear change of any kind, so if you can make them comfortable with change, transitions are much smoother. Assure your staff that even if they were the go-to person for the software being phased out, they are still valuable. It takes time to trust new software. Even if your old software had to be updated every month and it always went sideways causing downtime, its behavior is still “comfortable” to users. Once the new software behaves as expected repetitively over time, people will trust it.
Technology is entwined within almost every business function in practically every industry and organization today. It’s imperative to consider the implications of business decisions – from changing your copier brand to firing an employee – on your IT systems. Cards Technology CEO Sam Card discusses common business transitions that impact IT.
Q: What are common changes businesses often fail to realize will impact their IT systems?
Sam Card: Two common business systems that impact your IT network are copiers and phones. Both rely upon your network to function properly but often businesses will switch their copiers out or change to a different phone system without contacting their IT provider. Your provider collaborates with vendors who have products connected to your network to ensure everything is operating correctly so they need to be in the know.
Moving your office, acquiring another business or installing new software are other areas you need to make your IT provider aware of, so you don’t experience excessive downtime during implementation and can capitalize on the benefits of the new product or facilities. It’s important to have your IT provider check out new physical spaces before you purchase or sign a lease to make sure there’s adequate internet and phone service infrastructure to support your technology functions.
Q: There shouldn’t be a problem if some of my staff start working remotely, right?
Sam Card: There are a couple of different options that allow employees to work securely from home. Setting up a VPN connection behind your corporate firewall or if you have a remote desktop gateway with SSL encryption in place, your information will be protected. But you need to inform your IT provider if you have remote employees so that they can be provided access. It’s important that security practices and policies are set up to manage the safety of your business’s data. With Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), you can set up “conditional access,” so the system will block connections from computers or users not meeting compliance requirements.
Q: I had to fire someone on my team, and they didn’t take it very well. What can my IT provider do to make sure that our company remains secure?
Sam Card: It’s important to notify your IT provider right away as they are responsible for creating user accounts and establishing the level of access each employee has to your network. Microsoft EMS offers security rules for mobile device management that can give you control over your employee’s phone to wipe company apps and data if they leave the organization. Whether you’re hiring or terminating employees, let your IT provider know so your network is protected and the billing on “per user” services and applications can be adjusted accordingly.