Business leaders today have an overwhelming number of options when it comes to new technologies to support and streamline vital business functions. From talent management and accounting software to marketing automation and cloud computing, many of these products have become integral to business health and resiliency while enabling growth.
However, accessing new software solutions, platforms and technologies can come with hefty up-front investment costs and recurring monthly subscription fees. Not to mention complex implementations can be time intensive and disruptive to operations for employees. If you’re going to make a strategic investment, it needs to be the right choice from the get-go.
So how do you select the best solution for your operations and the one that will provide the best return on investment? Here are three considerations to keep top-of-mind when weighing a technology investment:
Reduce costs and increase productivity
Business leaders are always looking for ways to reduce costs and increase productivity, and the first question asked when assessing a new solution should always be: How will this product deliver value for my business?
To answer this question, focus on your business’ needs, not the long list of distracting features technology providers hype. The benefits of that fancy feature might be incremental, but the potential costs from deploying the wrong solution that doesn’t meet your core business needs can be damaging.
Consider how usable the technology and its features are. Assess features on breadth (how many people will use it) and repeatability (how often they use it). The more people using a solution, the more intuitive it needs to be. Otherwise, the training costs and lost productivity may be too high or costly to justify the investment.
The end goal of any technology deployment is to enhance the user’s productivity. Software and technology are tools that support business needs, so resist the urge to go with the Swiss Army Knife when what you really need is a screwdriver.
Don’t pick a leader, pick a partner
Brand recognition doesn’t deliver a positive ROI. Just because a company is considered a leader in its space doesn’t mean it addresses your organization’s needs. In fact, in many ways the leaders in a market can be the most difficult to live with.
Prioritize selecting a partner in your journey that can support your business over the long term, not just today. The best vendors have a long-term roadmap and will help you assess their offerings and find the right fit for you. That is a true partner.
Finally, don’t be afraid to cut ties with products or solutions that have been around for a long time because you’re concerned about recouping cost. Keeping that slow and cumbersome accounting system the team dreads using means sacrificing the opportunity costs of using a newer, faster system.
Vet technology providers thoroughly
The RFP process has its place, but this generic approach can make it difficult to understand how each vendor’s solutions will work for a specific-use case, no matter how detailed the RFP is.
The best way to learn how a company will work with you is to learn how they work with others. Read case studies. Ask for references from similar companies and talk with them about the value they have achieved with the vendor.
While vendors may offer to connect you with customer references, here’s a pro tip: ignore their pre-selected references and look at past press releases on their website. Search the newsroom or scour the web for past customer announcements. Then contact those customers to see if they are still happy with their decision and the vendor’s work.
The best investment to make is in your people
Attracting qualified talent has become increasingly difficult over the past 12 months, and organizations must offer the best work environment to not only get applicants in the door, but also retain current employees. Remember, at the end of the day your technology investments are meant to serve your employees. True, there wouldn’t be any employees without customers, but customers will quickly leave if you don’t have the human capital to support their needs—and employees will quickly leave if they don’t have the right technology to support their work.