Information Technology is an ever-changing landscape that constantly offers new and exciting opportunities to revolutionize how we approach problem-solving, efficiency, and effectiveness. While staying up to date on the latest and greatest can be a daunting challenge for small firms, it’s a necessary one. Your goal is to stay informed and embrace change as it comes and/or as it is needed. Here’s the original question: How can a small business with less than 20 employees strategically prepare for using new technology?

This article is part of Effició’s asked-and-answered series. This blog series shares the resources, tools, advice, and infrastructure changes you need to address in your business. Review and upgrade your current tech tools before implementing anything new. Here are seven areas to begin with:

1. Refresh outdated technology.

We just recently upgraded to the not-so-new QuickBooks Online. You would not believe this but we were still using the (not going to mention) version!  It was a much-needed upgrade and we are looking at other technologies to upgrade or change, like our newsletter engine, blog service, cell phone service, and a few application programs that directly support cash flow. Which takes us to step two.

2. Assess your technology that directly supports cash flow.

Technology is not just your computer, iPad, or cell phone, it is also the technology you use to communicate, market, produce, learn, and much more. It can quickly get overwhelming if you do not have a dedicated IT person or firm, therefore, only begin with those tech tools that directly impact gaining and managing cash flow. Next, assess all your systems and related technologies that support them, and then refresh the ones that are costing time and money because they are outdated.

3. Take a technology inventory regarding your warranties.

There is nothing like having one of your primary technologies break down and not having access to a support system or a replacement service.  Check your warranties to ensure your technological and legal protection.  Also, make sure your office equipment, including your computers, is covered under your business insurance policy or your homeowner’s policy now that a lot of us are working from home.

4. Look at the terms and conditions you have agreed to regarding software, applications, social media, and other technology services.  

When was the last time you looked at and read through all of the terms and conditions you have accepted regarding your software programs, including the online technologies that you use? The reason I ask is that, as a team, we finally took to time to read one recently for a new application we were thinking about utilizing and the fine print said that they would have “ownership of anything we create using the service” and if we wanted to own it we had to pay them an extra fee!”

What?! I am so glad we took the time to read the agreement we were accepting.

By the way, this includes any online banking service agreement, as well. You would be surprised what you are agreeing to.

5. Set up “access anywhere” tools that connect your main computer, your laptop, your tablet, and your mobile phone to a central secure source. 

We love our network in collaboration with our private cloud technology! It connects the whole team no matter where we are or when we work.  I am sure some of you have already gone this route but I know a lot of you have not made that jump yet.  We are able to be more productive and more competitive by having the ability to access information and content anywhere at any time, including if we go out of the country. Wireless networks, hot spots, network drives, and wireless-equipped communication tools let you and your team be more productive virtually anywhere. Although, you will need to select cloud technology that best fits your business strategy and privacy goals.

*We recommend using technologies as they were originally built for. We go into this in more detail during the technology blueprint training.

6. Embrace new communication technology including augmented reality.

For over a decade, we have been using VOIP and video conferencing tools; it was a simple transition when the pandemic hit in 2020. This allowed us to continue operations with ease and continue to communicate with our network around the world. Communication has evolved and we must not only adapt but also embrace it; it can be fun and productive at the same time.  We have several clients outside of the US and we consistently improve how we communicate with them.

According to Harvard Business Review, “Longer term, companies will use mixed reality to create conditions for remote collaboration and innovation that are as good as, or even better than, in person.” This is a great read to start thinking about augmented reality as another communication tool to add to your tech toolbox.

7.  Get your backup plan in place now!

Think about it this way, what if you experience an electrical outage and you lose all the data on your computer?  What would you do?  Could you still operate your business?  What if you could not recover the data on the computer?  Another set of questions: What if your cloud service experiences an outage, can you still access your data? Could you still operate? What if you could not recover the data from your cloud service, what steps do you have in place? These questions can all be answered if you back up your files daily on a second hard drive for example.  As a company and as individuals, we learned this lesson a while ago. In addition, make a copy of your backup and a copy of all your most important physical business files and store them in a secondary location. These are just suggestions, if you haven’t already, create a recovery strategy as part of your overall technology blueprint.

This should be enough to get your technological update in motion! Make sure to plan for productivity using technology so, in the long run, you can adapt and embrace it with confidence!

Sherese Duncan CEO Efficio Inc

© Effició, Inc.

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