Having worked in tech for many years, you would presume I may be a pro at choosing technology solutions to help my business. Not true! It astonishes me the variables and options on offer to small business owners that make choosing what’s what a bit of an epic nightmare.
As business owners we need to balance between wanting to do the exciting stuff and having solid systems that save us the time to do the cool stuff. It is true that if you get the systems and software right, it saves you time and money, both of which are critical to SMEs.
So how to get the best and make the best choices from a myriad of options. Here’s my check list, but do feel free to add to it.
Is it a good, easy and user-friendly experience?
Anything that makes business life streamlined works. So make sure top of your list of any tech solution is the user experience. Whether a simple dashboard or an operational software as a service (SAAS) or platform as a service (PAS is a growing trend), it is important that the interface is easy, consistent and intuitive.
Do your research and ask others
Researching your options is very important and make sure you get testimonials and recommendations from other SMEs. Use LinkedIn groups to call out to get other opinions from other SMEs. It is always a great way to generate a broad range of recommendations, aligned experience and needs, to help make you make an informed choice of technology solutions.
Is it mobile, anytime anywhere?
Mobility is important, make sure whatever you choose, SAAS, PAS, etc is mobile and you can access it anytime and anywhere. Mobile is an SME’s best friend. On-the-go office solutions are critical to any tech decision-making process. To be honest, if a tech solution isn’t mobile you don’t want or need it.
Can it scale to my business?
Make sure what you choose can scale as your business scales. This is where cloud-based solutions are on the top of my list. They add features and functions so are continually evolving. We use cloud servers, cloud storage and cloud file sharing services everyday. While there can be some security concerns and terms and conditions can be onerous, in the main I believe the benefits and efforts of cloud-based solutions are worth it. You can forget about the updates as the cloud solutions tend to intuitively offer updates with no added cost or extra learning so you can concentrate on the business.
How secure is it?
So that brings us on to security. Vendors of SAAS, PAS and cloud are constantly working on security and will invest heavily in data centres and data protection. It is a critical issue for these providers, as one hacking instance, can bring their business crashing down, so they have a vested interest.
Use your power when negotiating
Don’t forget your power; small business is a huge, attractive segment to service providers of all types, from software to travel to mobile, so use that to your advantage when you negotiate. For example, if you work in a co-working space, can you collaborate with other co-workers to bulk buy.
In summary, use what is at your disposal, ask for recommendations, choose what makes it simple and saves you time and cost. Don’t forget the power of the SME, we represent a huge proportion of Australian business and GDP, we are an attractive sales channel to a whole range of providers, use this to your advantage.
Fi Bendall is the managing director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers.