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Published on:

20 April 2023

Author:

Rachael Adams

Finding the Right Technology Fit for Your Business

For small and mid-sized businesses, the sheer number of technology options on the market can be overwhelming. Trapped between the promises of working smarter, faster, more efficiently, and the demands of managing a business into the digital era, those making technology decisions face a difficult task. Little wonder, then, that one of the most common problems we see businesses wrestling with is finding the right fit.

The temptation is to throw money and software at a business problem, but this is not always the solution. Certainly, under-funding technology can sometimes contribute to the issue – staff are unlikely to stay motivated when they’re wrestling daily with ancient laptops – but it is rarely that simple. What we see emerging from the overwhelm, time and again, is a disconnect between tech spending and business needs.

Adding a CRM Might Not Fix the Problem

To give an example, imagine your business has an underperforming staff member in sales. They simply aren’t meeting enough prospects to achieve what seem to be realistic targets. We get a lot of calls from business owners saying they need a CRM. Adding a CRM solution into the mix might not fix the situation just like that, no matter what it says on the packaging. That’s not to say there aren’t some excellent CRM solutions on the market – indeed, there are a wealth of excellent technologies available but none of them are a cure-all for every cause of poor sales.

While it would be easy to sell software without question, we prefer to ask why. By teasing out information and talking to people, we can get to the bottom of the problem. Sometimes a new CRM might help, but it is equally often a skills gap, a team culture problem, or any of the various issues that can affect staff performance. We’ve seen and lived through these issues ourselves. To simply take the sale, no questions asked, would be to ignore the insights we’ve gained through our own experience, which would do our customers a disservice.

Every industry will have different requirements and its own unique measurables. Your software may need to be configured within these parameters. Add to that your own unique business culture, built not only by your own staff but also by those you interact with, such as suppliers and customers. Fully evaluating and understanding these influences matters. Perhaps the most important phase of any project we begin is the initial workshopping, where we discuss what is needed with people in a variety of roles. Who can possibly deliver the best outcome when they haven’t defined the need and understood potential impact on each part of the business?

Aligning Technology with Business Systems

Every technology investment, then, must be chosen to align with business strategy. There are almost unlimited business systems and books offering advice on how to do strategy and goal setting, how to increase sales, run meetings, improve return on marketing investment – you name it, there will be plenty of information close at hand. At TechPath, for example, we follow EOS strategic planning methods because they fit well with who we are and what we are trying to achieve. When we make a change to technology, or indeed in any other area of the business, this structured approach helps us to tie it closely to our overall strategy and our business plan, which means it will support our efforts instead of against them.

That isn’t to say there have never been any missteps along the way. One of the important lessons has been to consider not only the current the size of the business but also its expected growth. As the business grows and changes, the systems you choose will need to be reconfigured, and this must be factored in. What fits right now may not be ideal in a year or two and shifting to another platform is probably never convenient. Investing in software that can scale to keep up with your business prevents pain later. Equally important, your smaller business probably doesn’t need all the bells and whistles of the technology used by big corporations, so investing a fortune into a complex top tier product may be akin to taking a very expensive sledgehammer to crack a nut.  Different software is designed to best serve different sizes and types of business, so what worked for you in your last corporate job may not be right here and may be time-consuming to manage.

Regular Reviews and Technology Lifecycle

Even when your software choice has been working well for you, it is worth a regular review. Something better may have hit the market since you last looked, or the vendor may have fallen behind on supporting it. As they develop newer products, the software may get stale, with less innovation, so it no longer keeps pace with alternative products. Much like the iPhone 4 was revolutionary in its day, you wouldn’t want to still use it now that we’ve progressed several generations. That’s part of the technology lifecycle, eventually something newer comes along that is simply better. We’ve found that nominating an app champion – someone who attends training, and keeps up to date with new features, is a great way to know when the time is right for change.

The cost of technology can be significant, especially when you factor in your own time and that of your internal and external resources. The cost, though, of failing to keep up is higher still. Productivity, staff morale, customer retention, and profit margins can all be positively or negatively affected by your choice of technology investment. With a clear connection between that investment and your business strategy, you are far more likely to find the perfect fit.

Want to learn more about aligning your business and technology? Contact our expert team or follow our blogs for more productivity tips.