Technology Plan benefits
Sell a business or buy a business with a Technology Plan? Email, websites, online bill paying, Amazon.com, Facebook, Twitter, WI-FI, online banking; how did we survive prior to the internet? The virtual world is all around us and guess what; it’s only going to get more immersed in our everyday life as we look to watching TV and movies on our computer and connect our appliances to computer networks at home.
How does this affect our business? There is no question that data including audio and video are exploding online and helping sell more goods and services. Hand held devices such as iPhone’s and Blackberry’s are growing in popularity, devices that track the GPS to give us driving directions are here to stay. We therefore, if we own and operate a business, need to ensure we use technology how it was designed and this is as a tool to help us be more productive.
To make technology work for us in our business we need a plan. There is no point adding a new device to the existing technology in the business if it won’t work. You can buy the latest piece of Windows compatible software and try to install and run it on a MAC but if the MAC doesn’t operate the Windows software you are done. Similarly, if your computers are running Windows 2000 server software and the hardware breaks and needs replacing, you have to make sure the replacement hardware will work in the old server and the software.
So what goes into a Technology Plan? A good starting point is a breakdown by make and model number of each of the pieces of hardware in the business. You need this data for tax purposes anyway and it is necessary. This information should include any devices that are specifically used and taken out of the office by any employee. If that employee leaves, you obviously want the item returned for their replacement in good working order and condition, all the data on it. Your technology plan should also include how often the data is to be backed up, where copies of purchase receipts and warranties are to be stored in case the machine breaks down and needs to be replaced or is stolen and a replacement machine needs to be bought and replaced urgently.
A technology plan also needs to clearly outline for all employees how they can and cannot use the business technology. If the use of Social Network Marketing sites like FaceBook, LinkedIn or Twitter are not allowed, then that needs to be communicated. It could be this ban applies to some positions but allowed for others. For example, it may not be a good use of time for the accounting, technology and operational employees to use these media but it may be encouraged or indeed part of the sales and marketing plan to use these technologies. Technology is not simple and straight forward. It does require discussion, the creation of policies but also review of these policies.
Another important component to technology which is sometimes overlooked is the need for training. Businesses in the technology are constantly competing to maintain and increase market share. One of their most important strategies is to deploy new and better hardware and software than their competitor. This constant change of products means employees that use these new and upgraded products, to remain efficient, need to be trained and kept up to date.
To make sure the technology plan is kept relevant and up to date, consider having one primary and one secondary person responsible. Both people need to live and breathe technology. Their responsibility is to keep the technology plan current, but also escalate problems and just as importantly, relevant new ideas that will help the business. As the owner of the business, if you delegate managing the technology to another employee, make sure you understand the difficulties they face staying on top of it all. Technology is supposed to serve us and the business. Because of its constant changes and oftentimes being deployed before it is truly ready for the market it can be a bear.
Measuring the performance of the business is the role of the Performance Plan. Part 10 of this article series looks at the need to score and then tweak so the business knows its success meeting annual financial goals.