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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 September 11, 2019

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That)

How often do you feel overwhelmed and disorganized in life, whether at work or home? We all seem to struggle with time management in some area of our life; one of the most common phrases besides “I love you” is “I don’t have time”. Everyone suggests working from a to-do list to start getting your life more organized, but why do these lists also have a negative connotation to them?

Let’s say you have a strong desire to turn this situation around with all your good intentions—you may then take out a piece of paper and pen to start tackling this intangible mess with a to-do list. What usually happens, is that you either get so overwhelmed seeing everything on your list, which leaves you feeling worse than you did before, or you make the list but are completely stuck on how to execute it effectively.

To-do lists can work for you, but if you are not using them effectively, they can actually leave you feeling more disillusioned and stressed than you did before. Think of a filing system: the concept is good, but if you merely file papers away with no structure or system, the filing system will have an adverse effect. It’s the same with to-do lists—you can put one together, but if you don’t do it right, it is a fruitless exercise.

Why Some People Find That General To-Do Lists Don’t Work?

Most people find that general to-do lists don’t work because:

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  • They get so overwhelmed just by looking at all the things they need to do.
  • They don’t know how to prioritize the items on list.
  • They feel that they are continuously adding to their list but not reducing it.
  • There’s a sense of confusion seeing home tasks mixed with work tasks.

Benefits of Using a To-Do List

However, there are many advantages working from a to-do list:

  • You have clarity on what you need to get done.
  • You will feel less stressed because all your ‘to do’s are on paper and out of your mind.
  • It helps you to prioritize your actions.
  • You don’t overlook so many tasks and forget anything.
  • You feel more organized.
  • It helps you with planning.

4 Golden Rules to Make a To-Do List Work

Here are my golden rules for making a “to-do” list work:

1. Categorize

Studies have shown that your brain gets overwhelmed when it sees a list of 7 or 8 options; it wants to shut down.[1] For this reason, you need to work from different lists. Separate them into different categories and don’t have more than 7 or 8 tasks on each one.

It might work well for you to have a “project” list, a “follow-up” list, and a “don’t forget” list; you will know what will work best for you, as these titles will be different for everybody.

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2. Add Estimations

You don’t merely need to know what has to be done, but how long it will take as well in order to plan effectively.

Imagine on your list you have one task that will take 30 minutes, another that could take 1 hour, and another that could take 4 hours. You need to know the moment you look at the task, otherwise you undermine your planning, so add an extra column to your list and include your estimation of how long you think the task will take, and be realistic!

Tip: If you find it a challenge to estimate accurately, then start by building this skill on a daily basis. Estimate how long it will take to get ready, cook dinner, go for a walk, etc., and then compare this to the actual time it took you. You will start to get more accurate in your estimations.

3. Prioritize

To effectively select what you should work on, you need to take into consideration: priority, sequence and estimated time. Add another column to your list for priority. Divide your tasks into four categories:

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  • Important and urgent
  • Not urgent but important
  • Not important but urgent
  • Not important or urgent

You want to work on tasks that are urgent and important of course, but also, select some tasks that are important and not urgent. Why? Because these tasks are normally related to long-term goals, and when you only work on tasks that are urgent and important, you’ll feel like your day is spent putting out fires. You’ll end up neglecting other important areas which most often end up having negative consequences.

Most of your time should be spent on the first two categories.

4.  Review

To make this list work effectively for you, it needs to become a daily tool that you use to manage your time and you review it regularly. There is no point in only having the list to record everything that you need to do, but you don’t utilize it as part of your bigger time management plan.

For example: At the end of every week, review the list and use it to plan the week ahead. Select what you want to work on taking into consideration priority, time and sequence and then schedule these items into your calendar. Golden rule in planning: don’t schedule more than 75% of your time.

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Bottom Line

So grab a pen and paper and give yourself the gift of a calm and clear mind by unloading everything in there and onto a list as now, you have all the tools you need for it to work. Knowledge is useless unless it is applied—how badly do you want more time?

To your success!

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Featured photo credit: Emma Matthews via unsplash.com

Reference

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