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.
If you consider technology a necessary evil instead of a tool that can propel your business forward, this information from Cards Technology founder and CEO Sam Card will give you the information you need to break through growth barriers.
Q: What are some of the ways technology helps small- and medium-sized businesses grow?
Sam Card: At some point, every business hits a ceiling with the number of customers they can serve, the revenue they can earn or the number of employees they can bring on board. Technology can help businesses burst through that ceiling.
You can increase productivity with cloud technology like Office 365 and by automating certain functions within your business. Also, new software can provide you with specific metrics and other information so you can make better-informed decisions.
Q. Can technology give businesses a competitive advantage?
Sam Card: Yes! Different software has different capabilities businesses can leverage to increase their competitiveness. Also, making sure your technology is supported by a responsive IT team provides a consistent level of uptime, so you definitely have an advantage over competitors who might experience frequent downtime because of poorly maintained technology. Many companies with properly designed and maintained IT systems can easily achieve true 99.9% uptime.
Sam Card: We frequently sit down with our clients to listen to them describe their business plan and goals are for the next couple of years. We also want to hear what they plan to accomplish in the short-term – 90 and 30 days - so that we can prioritize based on their needs and make technology recommendations to help them achieve their business goals.
Q. What advice do you have for business owners who aren’t sure how to incorporate technology into their business processes?
Sam Card: Our proven process is to start with your business goals and identify what you want to do. Then, it’s time to gather information so you can make the best decisions – technology is never going to solve all your problems but you want to make sure it isn’t going to create more. Talk to a good IT consultant; get opinions from people you know and trust. Go to an industry tradeshow and talk with the vendors, sit through their sales presentations.
The more information you have, the better your chances are of getting the right technology solutions for your business’s unique needs.