So why are a lot of small business struggling to embrace technology?

Were always connected.

Over the years I have always embraced technology, from my early days of computing with the Sinclair ZX81 computer to today’s modern “always connected” world.

Since turning 50 last year, my body has decided to throw a few curved balls at me and again I find myself embracing technology, albeit personal health technology! It is this health technology engagement that has got me thinking about how much technology most of us embrace in our personal day to day life’s. Be social media, instant access to millions of songs, monitoring body health or home automation, it is all around us. Just ask Google, Siri or Alexa.

So why are a lot of small business struggling to embrace technology?

Over that past 18 months, whilst working with small businesses across Gippsland via the RDV’s Latrobe Valley Supply Chain Transition Program, we have come to realise that a lot of small business processes are just as inefficient and have plenty of opportunity to improve like the larger organisations. Most small businesses rely on manual or semi-automated processes and are not aware of or indeed embracing the power of todays integrated technology for small business.

So why? Well technology is rapidly evolving, and it is a struggle to understand and to find the right software solution to support your business and provide additional benefit. However, when the right solutions are embraced correctly technology can make a positive business impact in many ways.

The challenges?

Whilst there are still some challenges to embracing cloud-based technology, like the reliance on the internet, potential downtime or security threats, these challenges in most cases outweighed by the upsides of better customer engagement, increased efficiency and more effective team collaboration. Inefficient operations can hamper an organisation’s productivity and growth.

The right integrated cloud-based business software solutions can reduce time wasted on manual processes because they allow for access from anywhere and can automate time-consuming manual activities. Then there is mobility that can improve operations by enabling a mobile workforce out in the field collaborating with real-time data.

Where to start?

With the huge range of products in the market it is understandable that business technology decisions can be overwhelming and if not done right, can be expensive for a small business. So here are a few tips to get you going:

  1. Consider your end to end process needs. From sales and marketing, sales planning, execution of your products and services through to financial management.
  2. Look at what problems there are in your current business processes and understand the root cause. Simply ask the 5 whys (Root cause analysis technique).
  3. Talk with other businesses who are doing great things with technology and have similar problems.
  4. Consider the following:
    • Know what you need and keep it simple
    • Start with the principle of single entry of data entry to flow through your end to end process and software
    • Consider standardisation and minimise the need for customisation
    • Consider not just functionality, but flexibility and ease of use
    • Consider the future needs, cost effective and saleable
    • Look at integration simplicity and capability
    • Set a realistic budget and know the total cost of ownership
    • Look at more than one system and review support options, uptime and service levels
    • When choosing a package there is safety in numbers
    • Beware of false gold

 Finally, are you challenging your software vendor enough?

An excellent way to differentiate vendors is to ask for a free trial or proof-of-concept, and to make it mandatory in your selection process. If the software you are evaluating is business-user friendly, flexible, and easy to use, it should be easy to set up a proof-of-concept models your critical requirements. This will enable an objective evaluation of the solutions.

Neil Betts

Director - In2 Project Management

Lean Practitioner - Go See, Ask Why, Show Respect then Plan, Do, Learn

Neil is a lean practitioner with an openness to learn new ways and that is always learning. Neil has learnt that there is a Lean lesson everywhere and that It takes courage and confidence to face the unknown. His mission is to inspire people to become lean thinkers and create more value for their organisation, customers, community and personal development.

Fundamentally, the process of any successful lean transformation rests on applying Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) cycles of experimentation at every level, everywhere, all the time. Being situational means that every journey is going to be specific and different

Neil is an experienced executive manager with a business transformation, project management, procurement, engineering and change leadership background. He is practical, well-organised and a deeply committed person with strong leadership skills. Neil is energised by his work especially if there is a teamwork focus and is motivated to deliver high standards. His 29 years of diverse experience in the power industry from craft apprenticeship through to executive level gives him the ability to understand the requirements of operating and maintaining a utility at all levels. In addition, Neil’s business skills and understanding of the requirements of organisational transformation and optimisation with the use of lean thinking, especially developed over the past six years, give him a thorough grounding in executive leadership and management.

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Karly McCaskillDaley ThompsonWen Bezzina Recent comment authors
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Wen Bezzina

Love your work Neil – your knowledge never ceases to amaze and inspire me 🙂

Daley Thompson
Daley Thompson

He’s a hell of a resource for our region Wendy!

Karly McCaskill
Karly McCaskill

Great article Neil, thank you.