Last year for the technology issue, I covered software implementation tips and included some direction on where to begin to identify the solutions you might need for your company (as that’s often the biggest unknown). Since then, I’ve continued to learn more about the types of technology companies use.
To my surprise, even some of the most progressive companies and business owners I know aren’t using sophisticated systems and technology to help run their companies. They are still overly reliant on manual processes, which is an all-too-common theme in small business.
While manual systems work for the most part, relying on them is a huge burden for your company and your staff. It’s safe to say most of us want to grow our companies in order to increase prosperity for ourselves and our employees. While growth can certainly be achieved without sophisticated systems, the truth is it’s harder and will take longer. Without added economies of scale tipping in our favor, the idea of growing simply translates to more heavy lifting for the management team. This is where you need an advantage, which can be attained with software or automation.
Grab a competitive edge
With the overall economy in pretty good standing, the demand to take on more in our small businesses is ever increasing. On top of the idea that most of us want to achieve year-over-year growth, our clients expect us to use technology to better service them.
If we can’t respond to clients quickly and appropriately, we might miss out on the opportunity to be considered for work or perhaps cause friction in the relationship because we are unable to respond in ways our competition might.
What types of technology can you use to help gain a competitive advantage and alleviate some of the manual burden?
Look closely at your most redundant daily functions. A solution that will add speed, value, accuracy and financial gain to your business is worth considering. Select the top two or three areas that you would like to improve and research what products and opportunities are available to help you address these items.
Common areas where software solutions can make a big difference:
- Payroll software
- Mobile time tracking
- Fleet tracking
- Solutions to manage and track remote workers or subcontractors
- Work order system
- Human resources
- Property measurement software
- Customer relationship management (CRM) software for sales and client management
- Enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions that tie most, if not all, of the previous items together in one solution
These are all high-payoff areas of the business that will free your staff from the manual burden and time investment that might currently slow them down. Plus, you’ll be able to handle more capacity at greater efficiency.
Is it a good fit?
Calculating the return on investment and perceived benefits of a product to determine whether you should purchase it is relatively measurable.
It can be a big undertaking to roll out a new system within a company, no matter the size. It usually takes one person or a group to champion the deployment of a new solution to successfully see it through.
But in the end, the time you will save and the benefits the company will enjoy as a result of moving away from manual systems - even if in just one area of your business - will be worth the investment.
If you’re going to gain a significant business advantage in ways other than adding key players, technology is a high-value item and one that I don’t see being leveraged by many contractors in general. This spells opportunity.
- Evaluate every area of your company, making a list of the most redundant tasks.
Identify where the company is spending the bulk of its money or where your people are spending the bulk of their time.
- Know that not every solution is right for every company. Don’t jump quickly until you evaluate whether it’s a good fit and you can justify the ROI.
- Don’t forget a key resource - industry peers who are willing to share their experiences.
Mike Rorie has been a participant in the snow and ice industry for over three decades. He is now CEO of GIS Dynamics, parent company to Go iLawn and Go iPave. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.