Using Technology to Improve Small Business Productivity
You’ve probably read many articles about productivity and its importance to your business, but are you embracing the full potential of the power of productivity? Have you, for example, looked at the benefits of introducing new forms of technology to your business? There are new tech solutions being produced every day, many of which could be of significant benefit to your business, but if you’re not actively looking for them, you may well miss out on the benefits they offer. If you don’t keep track of what could help your business to flourish, your competitors will be able to gain an advantage, and in no time at all, you’ll be facing problems keeping and finding customers.
The entrepreneurial blinkers
Many entrepreneurs have such a focus on their business activities that they neglect the backroom functions that support their enterprise. For instance, you might spend most of your time sourcing new products, agreeing on terms with suppliers, preparing marketing campaigns, or working on attracting new clients to your business. Meanwhile, your employees are using slow computer systems and outdated software, or your systems are breached because you haven’t got the newest security in place. The cost of repairing a security breach, and the effect on the productivityof your staff using outdated systems can be considerable, so allocating time to sourcing new tech solutions or better ways of working makes a valuable contribution to your overall profitability.
Keeping yourself informed
The task of staying informed needn’t be too demanding or time-consuming, providing you approach it methodically. You should at least be aware of the key publications and web resources in your sector, and if you haven’t already done so, it’s a good idea to set up alerts or feeds for each of them. By doing so, you will get notified of anything new. You can usually tell from the subject line if an alert is going to be of any interest and open or delete it accordingly.
Some alert systems are quite sophisticated, and you can request alerts matching a keyword search, or that relate to a defined topic within the sector. Set up as many parameters as you’re able to reduce the number of messages you get that aren’t relevant, because you don’t want to be wading through dozens of irrelevant emails each day. You could opt for a digest version of the feed, where each day’s or week’s notifications are sent in one message.
It’s also worth looking at resources that cover business-related tech and news in general, rather than limiting yourself to industry-specific sources. That way you’ll find out about new products that could be useful for your business that isn’t industry-related, for example, security systems or cloud computing.
Industry related tech
When you’re assessing any new tech that comes through on your alerts, don’t forget that just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s right for your business. You need to go through the benefits offered by each piece of tech and see which apply to you, and how much they would improve your productivity. It could be that your business doesn’t have enough employees to benefit from the functionality offered by a new type of accounting software, for instance. Or a machine with a higher output would cost so much more in investment and running costs that the increase in production rates wouldn’t offset it. You need to assess each potential product objectively and calculate what it would contribute to the business, so you can be sure you’d get your money’s worth.
Many examples of tech and software that can improve productivity aren’t industry-specific but could make a significant impact on your business. For example, have you moved to a cloud-based computing system yet? Well managed services provide high levels of security, with the advantage that documents can be accessed from anywhere and by all your staff if you so wish. Or if you do a lot of collaborative working, then a secure data room provides your team with the ability to work on projects together and share files between named colleagues, saving a lot of time and effort.
These kinds of systems are far more efficient than keeping documents on a server, and of course, the ability to access your documents from anywhere makes it possible to work from any location at any time. You could, therefore, have staff working from home rather than having to come into the office, or move to a freelance model, which would save a considerable sum in terms of staff and building costs.
One of the challenges of introducing new tech is resistance to change among your staff. Technology is particularly prone to this problem, as people are naturally wary of, for example, moving to a new computer system which they have to learn from scratch. There’s always a fear that the new system won’t be as good as the one they’re used to, or that it will have lots of bugs that disrupt their workflow. There’s also the fear that the new tech might replace them, so don’t be surprised if your employees don’t welcome change with open arms.
The best approach to change management is to keep everyone informed of what’s happening, why you’ve made the decision, and what it means for them. Don’t spring it on them as a surprise, or become secretive about what you’re planning. You need to get your staff on board, not create an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust. Show your team the advantages of the new system, and not just for the business but them personally as well, so they can understand why the decision’s been made and feel more positive about it.
Business is a fast-paced environment, and you can’t afford to get left behind while your competitors seize the advantages offered by new tech. Keepyour ear to the ground,so you know what’s out and what’s being developed, and take the time to appraise each prospective purchase carefully to ensure it’s going to have the desired effect. Using this practical methodology, you should start to experience the benefits of utilizing new tech solutions and improve your business productivity.http://www.thetechnologylounge.com/using-technology-to-improve-small-business-productivity/Business Technology