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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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Last Updated on November 18, 2019

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

Everyone of my team members has a bucketload of tasks that they need to deal with every working day. On top of that, most of their tasks are either creativity tasks or problem solving tasks.

Despite having loads of tasks to handle, our team is able to stay creative and work towards our goals consistently.

How do we manage that?

I’m going to reveal to you how I helped my team get more things done in less time through the power of correct prioritization. A few minutes spent reading this article could literally save you thousands of hours over the long term. So, let’s get started with my method on how to prioritize:

The Scales Method – a productivity method I created several years ago.

How to Prioritize with the Scales Method

    One of our new editors came to me the other day and told me how she was struggling to keep up with the many tasks she needed to handle and the deadlines she constantly needed to stick to.

    At the end of each day, she felt like she had done a lot of things but often failed to come up with creative ideas and to get articles successfully published. From what she told me, it was obvious that she felt overwhelmed and was growing increasingly frustrated about failing to achieve her targets despite putting in extra hours most days.

    After she listened to my advice – and I introduced her to the Scales Method – she immediately experienced a dramatic rise in productivity, which looked like this:

    • She could produce three times more creative ideas for blog articles
    • She could publish all her articles on time
    • And she could finish all her work on time every day (no more overtime!)

    Curious to find out how she did it? Read on for the step-by-step guide:

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    1. Set Aside 10 Minutes for Planning

    When it comes to tackling productivity issues, it makes sense to plan before taking action. However, don’t become so involved in planning that you become trapped in it and never move beyond first base.

    My recommendation is to give yourself a specific time period for planning – but keep it short. Ideally, 10 or 15 minutes. This should be adequate to think about your plan.

    Use this time to:

    • Look at the big picture.
    • Think about the current goal and target that you need/want to achieve.
    • Lay out all the tasks you need to do.

    2. Align Your Tasks with Your Goal

    This is the core component that makes the Scales Method effective.

    It works like this:

    Take a look at all the tasks you’re doing, and review the importance of each of them. Specifically, measure a task’s importance by its cost and benefit.

    By cost, I am referring to the effort needed per task (including time, money and other resources). The benefit is how closely the task can contribute to your goal.

      To make this easier for you, I’ve listed below four combinations that will enable you to quickly and easily determine the priority of each of your tasks:

      Low Cost + High Benefit

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      Do these tasks first because they’re the simple ones to complete, yet help you get closer to your goal.

      Approving artwork created for a sales brochure would likely fit this category. You could easily decide on whether you liked the artwork/layout, but your decision to approve would trigger the production of the leaflet and the subsequent sales benefits of sending it out to potential customers.

      High Cost + High Benefit

      Break the high cost task down into smaller ones. In other words, break the big task into mini ones that take less than an hour to complete. And then re-evaluate these small tasks and set their correct priority level.

      Imagine if you were asked to write a product launch plan for a new diary-free protein powder supplement. Instead of trying to write the plan in one sitting – aim to write the different sections at different times (e.g., spend 30 minutes writing the introduction, one hour writing the body text, and 30 minutes writing the conclusion).

      Low Cost + Low Benefit

      This combination should be your lowest priority. Either give yourself 10-15 minutes to handle this task, or put these kind of tasks in between valuable tasks as a useful break.

      These are probably necessary tasks (e.g., routine tasks like checking emails) but they don’t contribute much towards reaching your desired goal. Keep them way down your priority list.

      High Cost + Low Benefit

      Review if these tasks are really necessary. Think of ways to reduce the cost if you decide that the completion of the task is required.

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      For instance, can any tools or systems help to speed up doing the task? In this category, you’re likely to find things like checking and updating sales contacts spreadsheets. This can be a fiddly and time-consuming thing to do without making mistakes. However, there are plenty of apps out there they can make this process instant and seamless.

      Now, coming back to the editor who I referred to earlier, let’s take a look at her typical daily task list:

        After listening to my advice, she broke down the High cost+ High benefit task into smaller ones. Her tasks then looked like this (in order of priority):

          And for the task about promoting articles to different platforms, after reviewing its benefits, we decided to focus on the most effective platform only – thereby significantly lowering the associated time cost.

          Bonus Tip: Tackling Tasks with Deadlines

          Once you’ve evaluated your tasks, you’ll know the importance of each of them. This will immediately give you a crystal-clear picture on which tasks would help you to achieve more (in terms of achieving your goals). Sometimes, however, you won’t be able to decide every task’s priority because there’ll be deadlines set by external parties such as managers and agencies.

          What to do in these cases?

          Well, I suggest that after considering the importance and values of your current tasks, align the list with the deadlines and adjust the priorities accordingly.

          For example, let’s dip into the editor’s world again.

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          Some of the articles she edited needed to be published by specific dates. The Scales Method allows for this, and in this case, her amended task list would look something like this:

            Hopefully, you can now see how easy it is to evaluate the importance of tasks and how to order them in lists of priority.

            The Scales Method Is Different from Anything Else You’ve Tried

            By adopting the Scales Method, you’ll begin to correctly prioritize your work, and most importantly – boost your productivity by up to 10 times!

            And unlike other methods that don’t really explain how to decide the importance of a task, my method will help you break down each of your tasks into two parts: cost and benefits. My method will also help you to take follow-up action based on different cost and benefits combinations.

            Start right now by spending 10 minutes to evaluate your common daily tasks and how they align with your goal(s). Once you have this information, it’ll be super-easy to put your tasks into a priority list. All that remains, is that you kick off your next working day by following your new list.

            Trust me, once you begin using the Scales Method – you’ll never want to go back to your old ways of working.

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            Featured photo credit: Vector Stock via vectorstock.com

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