Manage Technology Like you Manage People
For a small or midsize business, technology budgets are naturally fairly slim. It goes without saying that a company needs to get the best bang for their buck with their IT infrastructure, and it's not uncommon to see workstations and other devices still in play years after their prime. This leads to underperforming technology, which in turn, limits what your bottom line can accomplish (remember, your team is only as good as your worst player). Some small businesses are approaching technology in ways that would normally be reserved for HR's interactions with employees, but they are finding that this can improve performance.
Douglas Brown directs the Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Post University. Brown suggests that small businesses should introduce new technology to the company the same way new employees are brought in.
Picture this familiar scenario: An employee simply isn't right for the business. There's usually internal conversation and evaluation of performance. After all, the company has spent a significant amount of time and money onboarding that employee. Brown states, "That conversation doesn't really happen with technology."
Some suggestions for managing technology to prevent it from burdening your bottom line:
- Review your technology quarterly. Meet with your internal IT department or your outsourced IT provider to talk about lose ends and weak points in your IT. Anything from older workstations to software solutions that worked 5 years ago but haven't evolved with your business since can be taken apart and evaluated.
- Plan on Improving Performance. Many companies will often come up with a list of improvements an employee needs to do in order to keep their job. If technology can be fixed or improved without replacing it, the company can save money, although sometimes it is more cost effective to 'fire' your technology.
- Repurpose and Recycle. Sometimes aging technology can be more useful somewhere else in the business (the same way an employee might find a better fit in a different position). An old workstation might not be able to handle the applications your employees need, but it would make a great print server or firewall solution.
- Document the Plan. Just like an HR department documents the who, why, and how when an employee is being terminated, make sure there are clear explanations as to why the company is terminating technology. Be sure to clearly understand the ramifications of removing the technology (don't simply remove a terminal server if it also holds database information).
- Plan replacements carefully. Work with your IT department to find the best fit for your organization. Plenty of research is needed before 'hiring' new solutions. Otherwise, you'll be spending the money on integrating, onboarding, and training only to need to look for a new solution once it is realized the latest solution isn't right for your organization either.