There are common reasons why people are hesitant to adopt new technology to help manage their business. Some examples of these include: The fear of the unknown, security concerns, the perceived risk of adopting the wrong technology, the fear of losing a competitive edge through late adoption, as well as the lack of skills and knowledge among staff which requires ongoing time and financial commitment.
All of these challenges are valid, but technology is a tool that can reap vast benefits if used correctly and at the right time. It also requires a certain level of risk and understanding when it comes to technology adoption and innovation.
Choose the right technology
The key to finding the right business management solution is to look for NEW technologies that have REAL business benefits.
It’s important that decision makers don’t make a decision on technology that is merely a ‘prettier’ or ‘updated’ version of something they already have; but rather look for something that can drastically improve how the business operates.
Integration, for example, is one of the biggest improvements a business can experience.
The head count, monthly cost, hand-holding and errors associated with manual transactions and capturing of data across various platforms are some of the biggest headaches an SME can deal with.
Find the right tech partner
The single most important thing to consider when it comes to business management and technology is looking for a technology partner that:
- Takes the time to know you, your business and your pain points;
- Is willing and able to grow with you and help you achieve your company vision (if you want to expand into Africa, do they have a presence in Africa?);
- Complements your businesses values;
- Focuses on finding a solution that works in reality and not just in principle;
- Provides all the necessary training, support, plans and timelines to seamlessly integrate technology into the business;
- Becomes your trusted advisor during the whole process, from initial demonstrations through to implementation and post-implementation support.
Key actions to take
The key to successful implementation of new business management software within an SME environment lies in a shift of mindset amongst employees and a change in the overall company culture – and managing this change is a critical first step.
Once the mind shift takes place, there will be tangible changes to how the business is run, including how information is shared and how work is monitored.
Here are some key actions to help your team make the shift towards technology adoption:
1Emphasise the benefits
It is crucial to highlight the practical benefits of new technology to employees. One of our clients implemented a system that is a great example of benefit sharing.
They held a competition (for the duration of the implementation) where employees were split up into teams consisting of a mixture of levels (senior, junior, mid and exec).
Each team then had to find out something about the solution that they saw to be the biggest benefit and the whole group would then vote on the best benefit. Each week produced a new winner and the prizes varied from vouchers to extra leave days.
2Choose technology/system champions
Include all strategic players from the very beginning. Involve a representative from each business unit so that they can gain confidence in their part of the new technology solution and understand the processes and benefits for other departments.
3Provide (ongoing) education, training and support
Training is THE single most important stage of any kind of technology roll-out. If employees feel overwhelmed, unsure of what to do or scared of making a mistake, then your project could be doomed for failure before it has even started.
There are 3 key training ‘divisions’ that need careful and ongoing nurturing:
- Technology partner training to end users (provided to all kinds of users).
- Internal training via ‘super-users’ (these users get special and ongoing training to provide further ongoing internal training).
- Enablement sessions (more generic in nature, but provide tips, tricks and refreshers into certain business processes, e.g. closing a financial year).
4Simplify how new technology is positioned and presented
Make sure your employees know exactly what the new technology is, what it does, and what the benefits are to them. Simplify how it works by reducing the strategic (high-level) view you obtained during the decision-making process, to a more practical and ‘on-the-ground’ approach during the roll-out phase.
5Don’t be intrusive – phase new technology in
Make sure you have a very clear roll-out, training, support and hand-over procedure and strategy. The more employees know, the more they can prepare for the change that comes with new technology, ultimately ensuring that they not only adopt the new way of working, but embrace it.
Once you and your team have successfully implemented a business management solution which gives you a real-time view of all aspects of your business, you will find that the benefits quickly outweigh any of the initial fears.