(This article, written by PTG CEO Reed Wilson, originally appeared in the 2017 GSA Book of Experts)
At PTG, we’ve had the benefit of working with small businesses all over the US. While I don’t have empirical data, my hunch is that those who outperform their peers pay attention to three key areas when it comes to technology in their businesses.
Don’t treat technology as an afterthought
Technology can be an awesome recruiting and retention tool, especially among younger generations. Equally important, employees who must use outdated technology are frequently unhappy. (Ever had to wait 10 minutes for your PC to boot up in the morning? It doesn’t set the tone for a productive day!) You don’t have to break the bank to have good, reliable technology. Survey your staff and ask for their feedback on how technology is helping (or hindering!) their work.
Along the lines of afterthoughts, many small businesses don’t think much about cybersecurity until after data is lost to ransomware or incorrectly configured backups. There are two types of companies: Those who have been hacked and those who have been hacked but just don’t know it yet. Get in front of your technology security before it’s too late! You wouldn’t buy Workers Compensation insurance after an employee is hurt on the job – think of technology in the same light!
Don’t be afraid to make changes
Along the same lines as the first point, I am amazed at how hard bad tech habits are to break. I see companies who have access to cloud tools (perhaps under an Office 365 or Google suite subscription), but still, use on-premise file shares versus cloud storage. Why not use those cloud options for greater productivity?
There are other areas where small changes can have a big impact. Are you still doing paper-based expense reports? What about tracking employee time off requests? Using simple, cloud-based workflow tools like Microsoft Flow can automate these tasks and give your team anywhere, anytime access to the tools they need to stay productive.
Don’t forget to plan
This falls a little under the vein of treating technology as an afterthought, but you would never run your business without a business plan, right? Technology should be a key part of that business plan. The highest performing companies have technology budget plans, security response plans, and backup and disaster recovery plans. Just because you are classified as a small business doesn’t mean that your work is less important or less impactful as a large enterprise.
For many companies, this is the hard part. Unless you’re dealing with it every day, it can be difficult to know what to include in your plan (and how much to budget for it). If you need help planning, managing your technology, or just want to get a gut check on what you’re doing now, please reach out to us.