The question most often asked of an IT expert is “What is the best…” Printer? Smart phone? Web host? Accounting software? Despite much advertising to the contrary, information technology is not “one size fits all”. Sales people may have extensive experience with the products they sell. However, they have no experience in managing your business. Here are five rules for choosing the right technology solutions for YOUR business.
1. Use the Pareto principle.
Pareto’s principle states that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. For example, by fixing the top 20% of the most-reported bugs, Microsoft eliminated 80% of the crashes in a given system. You will not find a solution that works for 100% of your business flow. Instead, choose solutions that address the 20% of tasks that consume 80% of your time.
2. Don’t paint yourself into a corner.
Choosing inflexible solutions can tie you to a specific product for life. A client of mine upgraded his presentation software to the latest version. Because the new version uses a unique file format, he now has a large media library which can’t be accessed by any other software. Look for solutions with strong import/export capabilities to give yourself more flexibility in the future.
3. Work and play well with others.
Effective business is all about good relationships, not only with people but also with their technology. You may be a Windows diehard, but your graphic designer will swear by her Mac. By opting for solutions designed to work on multiple platforms, you’ll simplify the process of sharing information.
4. Give yourself more (support) options.
There is no substitute for real world experience when trying to solve a technology problem. If a product is widely used, there will be a greater pool of this expertise available to answer your questions. Avoid solutions that limit your support possibilities, or leave you with no options if your original vendor becomes unavailable.
5. Don’t ignore the tried and true.
Sometimes the best solution is the one you already have. Thirty years ago, technology held out the promise of a paperless office. While society has moved in that direction, Post-It notes and notebooks are still standard business equipment. Resist the temptation to “computerize” manual processes that are easy to use, and are still cost effective.
Take the time to do your homework and your business can be as comfortable in its technology as you are in your favourite sweat pants!