Ryan Bush

For a business to be successful in applying technology to fix a problem with automation or to increase productivity, it must be able to correctly identify the issue, isolate the issue, determine how the issue could be corrected, locate the correct IT solution and successfully implement the solution. Successfully identifying and isolating an issue requires a business to understand how and why the issue occurred. Determining a path to correct an issue does not require knowledge of IT, in fact it often requires removing IT from the equation altogether. Finally, locating and implementing an IT solution that is successful requires diligence, patience, and a team approach.

Identifying and isolating issues requires a business to look at its past and determine why the issue arose in the first place. Small- and medium-sized businesses face many of the same problems during the initial growth of the company. Businesses that do not start with unlimited budgets or an endless supply of talented labor are forced to make decisions about the division of work and operations based upon the resources available at the time. Making operational decisions based on these constraints forces workflows to adapt to a less than perfect environment. Many of the issues that restrain productivity are rooted in such an operational decision. To identify and isolate a problem a business needs to look for the areas where growth is being restricted and workflows are poor or nonexistent. Once these areas have been identified, a conversation needs to be held with the people involved to properly isolate each individual issue causing the problems.

Determining a path to correct an issue does not require a working knowledge of IT, but it does require each issue to have been isolated in the previous step. This step is the most crucial because if the team does not leave with a clear plan, then it will look for IT solutions that do not in fact fix the problem. Once the issues are isolated, the people who are involved in these workflows should meet to discuss how the issues could be corrected. The most successful discussions and best solutions start by having everyone remove technology from the equation altogether and envision how the process would work without computers, internet, or software. If the team maps out the correct path for a workflow pretending only pen, paper, and phones exist, then it will be easy for the team to begin applying the technology they currently use to the process, allowing them to isolate the gaps left by their current technology. Once the gaps are identified, the path to correcting the issue has been determined.

Locating and implementing an IT solution is not difficult if the roadmap has been completed in the previous step. The business should understand what the functionality of the solution is that they require and begin researching potential solutions. The best sources for information can be online reviews, businesses in the same or a similar vertical and trusted IT professionals. Once a business has identified the solution it believes would be best, then it is time to talk with IT companies who can help implement the solution. Choosing an IT company can be difficult because they often appear the same, which leads businesses to price shop the best deal; however, when a business is armed with a clear understanding of the solution it wants implemented, then the choice can be made based upon which company best understands the vision and offers the best solution for implementation. It should not be forgotten that a successful implementation hinges heavily on training so it is important to make sure to work with people who offer training for employees.

Keeping up with technology is almost impossible for the people who live and breathe it every day, so as a business owner in a nontechnology related sector, it is not feasible to believe that keeping up will be an effective use of time. The time spent by the business should be focused on understanding and isolating its own problems then working to determine how to fix those problems and finally working to apply IT solutions to those problems.

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