When last did you do a technology audit? Do you know how to take a good, long, hard look at your systems?
You know that case of long-life milk that’s been sitting in the back of your pantry for yonks? Or that box of old curtains in the garage that you held onto, in case they’d come in handy. Or what about that holey pair of running shoes you wear when you work in the garden? Just how practical are they?
Well, the milk is past it’s expiry, the curtains are moth-eaten and mouldy, and the leaky shoes are getting your socks wet. It’s time for a spring clean.
And with spring on its way in the southern hemisphere, clearing out the cobwebs is front of mind for me.
My last post covered the idea of using appropriate technology to sustain your small business. But how do you decide if the systems and technology you are already using, is still working for you. Are they right or not? Are they worth holding onto?
Or should you be leaving them out on the curb, or donating to them to charity?
The best way to figure this out, is to perform an audit. In other words, a spring clean.
Review what you’re using, how you’re using it, and if it’s serving your needs properly. Start broad and then drill down to the specifics.
Here are 4 focus areas to help guide you on your clean sweep:
1. YOUR NEEDS
Before you look at the systems, review your business and its core needs:
- What are the main business needs you need to focus on? These essentials might include efficiency, engagement, value and support.
- Do you need technology to help you run your business in the day-to-day?
- Or help you meet sales objectives?
- Or both?
Then break it down further:
- If efficiency is important – is it time efficiency, productivity, efficient use of resources or a balance of all three?
- If you are focusing on sales objectives, is it around optimising targets, improving customer service, or general marketing and promotion?
- What else?
2. YOUR LANDSCAPE
Now you’re ready to assess the technology you’re currently using, to see if it serves your needs. Make a list. Cross check the benefits and drawbacks of each system you’re using.
A few things to bear in mind:
- Do your systems talk to one another and work together?
- Do they do this well, or not?
- How are they saving you time or money?
- How are they not?
3. YOUR ALTERNATIVES
When you first start researching and testing alternatives, differentiate between the ‘must have’ essentials and the ‘nice to have’ add-ons, to help narrow down your field of choice.
Make another list that takes account of the pros and cons you gathered about your current tech landscape:
- What options are available to you?
- Is it cost-effective for now? Or for the long run?
- What is the shelf-life of a new system?
- Can it integrate with the existing tech which IS working for you?
4. YOUR CAPACITY
Taking on new technology can be stressful. To adopt a new system successfully, it’s important that your team are on board with what’s needed from them. They need to understand why you are making the changes, and how it can help them do their jobs better. And of course you also need to asses the ultimate impact these changes will have on your customers.
A few key things to consider:
- Can your business accommodate new technology?
- What skills and resources do you need, to adopt these new systems?
- Do you already have these in-house, or is recruitment or training required?
- What kind of time-scale do you need to factor in?
- How will you communicate your needs and changes to your team and your customers?
Are your systems past their sell-by? What needs do you think YOU need to consider when cleaning house?
I’ll be focusing on specific areas of your small business that can benefit from appropriate technology, so stay tuned. :)
[Image source: RGBstock.com – “Yard Sale” by Photonut]