Look before you leap – part 2

Tech is needed, but do not focus only on the tool – implementation is key. For my musical aspirations that means the acquisition of a tool (the instrument), making sure it is set up correctly (tuning and positioning), investment in lessons and practice, using it regularly, and eventually, someone will tell me it sounds good. That’s my goal, and incidentally, I’m not there yet.

For technology, it’s much the same, but a bit more involved and a lot more expensive. There is the initial investment (the hardware and software). Then you invest in implementation (you need to set it up to do what you want it to do). Then you need the training to learn how to make it work those wonders you were promised. You can then “go live” and start using it to get value. Finally, but by no means lastly, you must keep using it correctly, or you won’t continue to get value.

Implementation is key but do not focus only on the tool: If I had gone out and spent thousands on a fine violin I would probably be wasting my money. It will be a long time before I really get the value that it can deliver – I really don’t need the finest instrument. The violin is only part of what makes the sound – it’s the violinist and what she/he does. The folks who build the violin don’t play it for me, and only I can learn how to do it for myself. The first thing I noticed was that the violin and bow, brand new and out of the box, didn’t make any sound at all. The bow needed rosin to get sound. That sound isn’t very pleasant without a lot more learning and practice.

Tech is not all that different. Remember, it is a tool, not a solution. It doesn’t solve anything – on its own. The real focus needs to be on using the tool properly so it can deliver what you expect from it. My violin instructor gets beautiful music from my beginner’s violin. When you know what you are doing with tech, you too can get remarkable results with relatively simple tools. I’ve seen people very capable with spreadsheets who can outperform some complex management software easily. The message is that you probably don’t need the latest, greatest, most functionality, highest rated, etc. from the #1 market leader to get results.

Technology is designed to be used by a large number of users in many situations. It is very flexible. Keep in mind that you likely don’t need all that flexibility. It comes at a cost – both money and complexity. The latter requires a lot more work to set up and use properly.

Implementation is key but do not focus only on the tool: When you buy tech, you are not buying the tech company, don’t expect it will run itself, nor should you expect anyone to run to your help if you struggle with it (at least not for free). There’s a lot to consider and much of it requires some sort of investment – be ready for it. These capabilities and benefits don’t come cheaply.

Put the focus where it is needed.

  • What are the problems you need to resolve?
  • What is stopping you from doing it today, and without the new tech? Think about people and processes here – not so much about the tech.
    • Is your data complete, accurate, and up-to-date (i.e.: fit for purpose)?
    • Do your business processes support the gathering and use of good data?
    • Do you have the right people with the right skills to solve the problems today? If not, are you willing to invest in hiring them to solve the problems once you have the new tools?
    • If you solve the problems, will the rest of the organization go along with your solution?
  • Can you start small and grow in capability later?
    • A simple tool, well applied may enable you to deliver more results, sooner, and with less difficulty, than a more complex tool that takes longer to get working, just to solve the same problems.
    • While it’s a good thing to think of the future and growth, keep it real.
  • Have you scoped out exactly what you will need? Now you can think about the tech.
    • Usually, you will need more (often much more) than just a package of software or some new hardware.
    • Do you know what it will all cost?
    • Is the benefit (solving the problem) greater than the cost?
    • Do you have a “business case” outlining the problem, the solution, the costs, and the benefits?
  • Is your company willing to invest what’s needed?
    • Software? Hardware?
    • Implementation effort (remember this will very likely take longer than you expect)?
    • Training (initial and ongoing, refresher, and for new employees or those who change roles)?
    • Changes to business processes to adapt to the use of the new tech?

That’s a lot of questioning and no answers. It will get you started. Part 3 will get into some of the answers. Hint: the tech can only do so much. There’s more to focus on in order to get the results that the tech is promising. We can help you with all that – and we don’t even try to sell you any software – we leave that for others.

Experience, Insight, Honest Advice