As mentioned in our previous blog, you need to consider technology as a tool, not a solution. With new technology being launched daily, it’s easy to think you need the next best thing in your business, solving many problems. However, just getting the basics right is challenging for many. You need to identify the problem and what it is you want to achieve. Followed by ensuring it aligns with your overall business objectives. Next, consider how will your employees and process fit into the problem and solution. Finally, only at this point should you consider looking at technology. So, let’s take 5 minutes to look at each of these points in more detail below.
Stop googling for a fix for your problems
Think about an issue your business currently has. What is the first action you take? If you have just thought about Google it, you need to take a step back now. More often than not, we consider technology to be the solution to all of our problems. Technology is only a tool. Don’t worry if this is you, because so many do the same. Whether it’s a better way to manage your client data, you search for CRM, or maybe you need a new e-sign system so again to perform a search. It is an action that has a detrimental impact on the success of solving a problem.
You need to understand what you want to achieve first and then consider the impact on your employees, processes and documentation, as changing your software is unlikely to be the magic bullet that will fix everything. It will be a time-consuming process to work through, but it will be worth it and contribute to achieving your goal.
Fully understand the problem
Before you even think about a solution, you need to think about the problem you are experiencing in detail. By doing so, you will broader your thinking process above and beyond the situation you are experiencing right now. Your initial problem may be a more comprehensive issue that you never realised. It may appear like an unnecessary process to go through, but you will develop a clear understanding of the problem at hand, which will lead to a successful resolution.
The best way to start this process is to write the initial problem down and brainstorm around it. Does it relate to other issues? How does this impact your business and employees? Next, you need to come up with an objective which overall conceptualises the problem. Create your objective based on the SMART framework, so ensure it is smart, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Once you have done this, you have a defined goal that you are working towards. Therefore, keep this in mind throughout the solution development process.
Does it align with your business goals?
We know this may sound weird, but now, you need to take your newly created objective and compare it with the overall business and departmental objectives. It is an important step, as most business efforts should be focusing on achieving the overall business goals. So, does your new objective align or contribute to achieving one of the broader business goals? If yes, then great, you can continue creating the solution.
However, if the answer is no, take a minute to step back and review. Is it necessary to achieve this? Have you fully conceptualised the problem? You might need to revisit the previous step, or if you are confident this is vital for improving business operations, raise it to the board.
How do employees fit?
All too often, employees, processes and documentation are not considered as part of a solution. Instead, everyone tends to jump towards implementing new technology, which is the wrong approach. Later down the line, it will cause significant issues because of this.
Engage and consult your employees early on in the process. Talk them through what are you trying to achieve? How could impact their role and day-to-day tasks? How do they complete a specific task or process? Without a doubt, it will uncover working practices you weren’t aware of previously. Therefore you can consider this as a part of your overall solution.
Another area for discussion is training. How do your employees rate the training they have had previously? It will indicate if you need to focus on this area as a part of your solution if it hasn’t been executed well before.
Also, talk to your employees about their thoughts and feelings around change. If there is an instant blocker around change, this may hinder your solution ultimately. If this is the case, develop a plan to ensure your employees are fully aware of the benefits it will bring to them. Keep them in the loop as much as possible; it will boost employee morale massively.
What about processes and documentation?
Another area that tends to be skimmed over is the processes and documentation when thinking about solving a problem. Having these in place within your business helps to standardise workings and create visibility within the company. Firstly, you should consider how are your processes documented, if at all? You may uncover some departments have well-remembered processes, and others may work whichever feels most comfortable to them, which may cause inconsistencies. It may become apparent that your solution will need a written procedure to ensure that a particular task is completed correctly, which may be part of your solution.
Processes and documentation come in incredibly handy when completing training with your employees. It gives them a point of reference to ensure that they are actioning their tasks correctly, which can be nerve-racking in the first few weeks of a new job, task, process or technology.
Consider your options
You have a defined objective, and you have reviewed how your employees, processes and documentation may fit into your overall solution. You can start writing a plan of action. If you need technology to achieve your objective, you need to review your existing technology and unused functions as a starting point. If there is nothing suitable available, is there a tool available to help you achieve all your requirements? And if not, you need to accept that there is no tool out there for your problem just yet.
Now onto your employees. Do you need to create a less risk-averse culture towards change to help you achieve your solution? Do your employees require regular communication to ensure they are kept up-to-date? Also, will training need to be a part of your solution too? They may all help you achieve your objective, or they may not. If they do, make sure you have specific plans in place around the delivery of these assets.
Finally, will processes and documentation make up part of your solution? Consider if your answer will need to include new or adapted techniques? Who will write them, and how they will be enforced across the relevant teams. Make sure you full detail this area and delegate actions if needed.
As with other business decisions you make when adopting new software or changing systems, you should understand what you are trying to achieve. Making a well-informed decision takes time and effort. Just assuming that technology is the miracle cure for everything is wrong and cause serious issues later. Remember, it’s a tool to perform specific tasks in your organisation and help reach your business goals; it will not transform your organisation – that is what the people in your business will do.
We are committed to providing honest advice for all your technology needs. Our focus is on you and how we can help your business achieve its goals. If you would like to discuss your existing business challenges and how we can help book a meeting with a Director or drop us a line on 0345 504 8989.