Evaluating and buying tech that will streamline operations, improve efficiency and open up new revenue or improve profits is incredibly exciting. Implementing this technology, however, is often an overlooked part of the tech-evaluation process.
When purchasing new technology, companies at the time of purchase, tend to make many assumptions. So, before committing to a new project involving significant technology, leaders should validate both the approach and expected costs of implementation. The payoff later will be huge.
If not sure how to achieve business goals, start by getting feedback from at least two sources to develop an approach. This might require explanation of the elements of the business to team members and perhaps outside specialists, but the time is well spent. If working with a consultant, a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) is a must.
Validating the Technology
The approach used to validate a technical implementation varies depending on the technology and familiarity with it.
The selection process usually includes researching how the technology specifically benefits businesses, which includes customer testimonials and product case studies. These are immensely valuable for implementation.
Note the touted results and develop a strategy to replicate them when implementing the technology. Ensure that the business system profiled in the use-cases matches how they will be applied and measured; if not, tweak and adjust accordingly.
If the implementation has technical components, collect multiple estimates for the cost of hiring out for the work, or budget time internally if the company has the internal resources to complete. This simple step allows brokerages and companies to validate both their approach and cost estimates. This will help uncover faster, cheaper ways to execute implementation.
A lot of effort goes into this business planning. In addition to the market and product planning aspects, companies must ensure that the cost and time it takes to implement the project makes sense. In this way, the return on investment expectations depend, in part, on a realistic expense structure.
If the implementation approach changes or if the new expense structure is far higher than expected, planning failed.
To assess cost, companies should first catalog and organize their current tech spend to understand where to reallocate funds or fill in holes. Be sure to keep the technology spend separate from marketing and other expenses. It is easy for other expense categories to bleed into a technology spend, which will confuse analysis. This is trickier than it may sound, as technology serves as the foundation for so many business efforts nowadays. This is one place where an outside set of eyes really helps.
When it comes time to discuss service costs with vendors, get everything in writing. Consider putting together a list of requirements for any service in a given category, and work from there when negotiating specific contract terms. This helps avoid overlooking potential cost add-ons later on.
With technical implementation costs and timeframes accurately identified early in the technology adoption process, success becomes much more likely. Successfully achieving this requires skill, great care and expertise. If you feel you could use a second set of eyes on the process as a whole or for key parts of it, please reach out to me.
Mark Lesswing (firstname.lastname@example.org), T3 Sixty Company Technology Officer