When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going!
By Mike Dorris
Why is it important to continually invest in technology during a business downturn?
When tough times happen in a business cycle, the easiest thing to do is stop all technology spending and batten down the hatches to ride out the tough times. Many business owners start cutting budgets, and typically the IT budget is usually one of the first targeted. However, a down market is actually one of the best times to invest in technology. Why? Here are a number of things to consider:
- During down periods, there is more time to do an in-depth business process review. When business is rolling and sales are happening at a frantic pace and every employee is doing all they can just to keep up with their work, there is no extra time to spend looking at the business processes used – the goal is just to “get it done”. However, during a slower year, employees and managers have the time to review each business process in detail. Think about what the process is, why it is done that way and look to increase efficiency by decreasing manual busy work and eliminating tasks that no longer offer usable or appropriate info.
- After this business process review is completed, do some due diligence to solve these challenges. How many “standard” reports no longer provide useful and appropriate data? Does each location that provides business data, collect the same data in the same way? How many employees spend hours each week transferring data manually from one business system to another? Can a software package generate the needed data in a more efficient, repeatable way thereby increasing business efficiency? If so, that would free up the employees’ time to actually use the compiled data to improve the business and improve revenue. Plus, that would alter their main focus, which had been focused solely on collecting the information.
- If there is software available, a down year also offers more time for an implementation and training. Keeping the business running should always be the focus and if things are really busy, implementations get rushed and training gets glossed over. Both of these can have negative effects on the success of an implementation. A poor implementation can backfire and affect the ROI of the project due to incomplete usage and understanding of the software package. This can make the decision to purchase the software look incorrect when, in effect, the decision was right but the rollout was poor.
In tough times, it is more important than ever that every employee continually review his/her job tasks to make sure that time is spent wisely and efficiently. Technology should be incorporated to eliminate mundane, manual tasks and allow all employees to focus on growing and improving the business. This renewed focus should offer the added benefits of employee satisfaction and employee engagement that will keep the employees excited.
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