Advertising
Advertising

Technology Plan for Your Small Business in Nine Easy Steps

Technology Plan for Your Small Business in Nine Easy Steps

As businesses come to rely more on technology, there is an urgent need to plan for it. However, technology planning is hardly ever on the “to do” list of a small business; this is because many entrepreneurs are not aware of the importance of a technology plan or consider the process tedious and time-consuming. However, this does not have to be the case, and in this article we share vital information to help you develop and implement an effective technology plan for your small business.

Technology planning is not just about deciding on the right time to change out computers and update software. It involves the strategic process of determining how your business can utilize technology to enhance its objectives and productivity.

1- Assessing the Technology Resources of Your Business

Before you start the planning process, it is important to evaluate your existing technology resources. You will need to complete an assessment that covers all aspects of innovation in your business. This will include not just listing your physical equipment and software, but will also involve identifying what works and whether the resources in your business meet the current standards for your industry and efficiency.

2- Management

Management is paramount in technology planning for a small business. Strong leadership will motivate the use of technology to further the business mission, contribute to staff’s willingness to use new equipment and software, help with credibility with investors, and minimize any reluctance on the part of technophobes. Ideally, the owner of the business provides strong leadership, but it can likewise come from supervisors and other managers.

Advertising

3-  Planning Team

Whenever possible, technology planning ought to be a team activity. The team should:

  • evaluate existing technology
  • recognize innovation requirements and concerns
  • prepare a technology vision statement
  • develop a budget and timeline
  • write the technology plan
  • keep track of the project’s implementation
  • Guarantee stakeholder buy-in.

Ideally, the team should consist of the owner or the chief executive officer (CEO), a project manager, administrative assistant, accountant, and system administrator or tech specialist. Not every small business will have enough human resources for such an elaborate team. Nevertheless, it is important to have some representation from the major operational departments of the company to make up the planning group.

4- Identify and Prioritize Technology Requirements

After you have examined the existing state of your technology resources, the next step for your planning team in the preparation process is to recognize your company’s future innovation needs and to prioritize them. Every organization will have its requirements but should include:

  • Purchasing new software and updates
  • Software customization
  • Personnel training
  • Replacing and upgrading equipment
  • Computer networking
  • Developing an Internet presence
  • Improving online marketing
  • Designing or revamping the business website
  • Developing policies for the use of computers and other technology devices
  • Implementing backup systems and security procedures
  • Replacing outdated hardware
  • Employing appropriate technology personnel

Quite naturally as you brainstorm your technology needs, you will generate a list longer than the reach of your budget. Accordingly, the next task in your technology planning is to prioritize. As a small business owner you will need to be realistic about what you can achieve and set reasonable timelines.

Advertising

5- Vision Statement   

Following prioritizing, it is time to prepare a vision statement for your technology plan. Start by evaluating your company’s mission statement. Key considerations in this process should include how technology will help your business meet its mission and enhance organizational effectiveness.

6- Budgeting

The next step is establishing a budget. This can be a challenge for a small business but is critical in creating a technology plan. Thorough research is essential to ascertain the real cost for the implementation of the technology priorities of the business. It is common for a business owner to leave out expenses such as the loss of working hours for staff training, monthly updates to software, and other operational costs that are in additional to the acquisition price.

7- Implementation

Another important step in your technology plan is to establish a timeline for implementation. Preferably you’ll be working on a strategy that can be carried out over a period and the team should consider the following:

  • What are the very first things you will need to do?
  • How long do you approximate it will take to finish each?
  • Once the business completes the plans, what are the next steps?

Timelines ought to be versatile to accommodate unanticipated events, but rigid enough to maintain momentum. You will want to present your timeline in phases allowing time for identifying financing for each activity.

Advertising

8- Writing the Plan

You have evaluated your existing resources, determined and prioritized your requirements, prepared your technology vision, developed a budget and produced a timeline for execution. The next step in technology planning is writing the plan. Most of the preparation work and brainstorming by the team will make this step much easier.

The written plan must consist of a minimum of these four key elements:

  • A technology vision statement
  • A description of the strategy
  • A timeline
  • A budget plan

More detailed plans may consist of:

  • An organizational profile
  • A mission statement
  • Inventory of existing innovation
  • A breakdown of details associated with the implementation
  • An analysis of long and short-term objectives

Many small business owners will do the necessary preparation work, host many meetings to discuss a technology plan, but never actually prepare a document. Having a written technology plan will provide a reference point for the business owner and the staff in general.

Advertising

9- Financing for Technology

With luck, the efforts included in the preparation of the technology plan will also help with funding. That’s why it’s so essential for your vision statement to describe how technology will help your organization satisfy its objective.

While there are entities that offer grants for technology to small businesses, they are often overwhelmed with requests. Therefore, it is important to approach funders and donors who are already supporting your mission and to use your plan to demonstrate your goals.

There is no doubt that technology is essential to any small business and growth is hinged on how the company can acquire and utilize technology effectively. The above information is a great start in moving towards the development of a technology plan in your business if you do not already have one.

Featured photo credit: Pexels.com via static.pexels.com

More by this author

Why should Small Business Owners shift to Cloud-Based Accounting Software? New Girl Has Broken Sitcom Stereotypes How American TV Show New Girl Has Broken Sitcom Stereotypes Startup's first office space 6 critical considerations for your startup’s first office space Are you a Boss or a Leader? Are You A Boss Or A Leader? And One Is Definitely Better Than The Other Five Ways to Sprint to the Top in Business Before 2018

Trending in Productivity

1 The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain) 2 What to Do When Bored at Work (And Why You Feel Bored Actually) 3 6 Effective Ways to Enhance Your Problem Solving Skills 4 How to Concentrate and Focus Better to Boost Productivity 5 15 Productive Things to Do When Bored (So Time Is Not Wasted)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

Advertising

Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

Advertising

One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

Advertising

But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

Advertising

It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

More About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next