As many of us experienced over 2021, virtual working has become a very real reality; and every company has had to step into what most tech companies already new. When the technology you use it works, it's amazing but when it does not it is a pain. From video-conference team meetings, to using applications for collaborations, this “new normal” still requires quite a bit of getting used to.
Even with its pain points, proper integration of technology will be an imperative part of business maintenance and development. While some may think more tech means smaller teams, we at SolutionMET understand the business should always drive technology, and it's purpose is help continuously improve your mission. As IT specialists, we know a thing or two about continuous-improvement and securely integrating technology. SolutionsMET Founder and CEO, Michael Charles, shares four simple tips to help your business, both large and small, as we inevitably continue to adopt more digital solutions.
Allow your Business to Drive your Technology
One of the most important considerations when evaluating technology decisions for your business should always be your “driver”. Stopping to ask “what does success look like” before ever considering a solution will save a tremendous amount of agony and cost in the end. Good implementation of technology gets the job done, however, a great implementation makes itself invisible. By focusing on the outcome rather than implementation, you should expect your solution to be an extension of who you are as a company and the services provided. This means the lines between your services and the technology used to deliver those services become seamless; giving your clients a fast, easy, and user-friendly experience.
To help implement this concept, a simple exercise could be to dissect the purpose of each software or hardware used, and identify the reason for using it. Once you’ve successfully highlighted the relationship between each service and its technology, make sure to clearly articulate the added business value of each procurement. After all, most solutions don't sit perfect in out of the box, and will need a streamlining of your process or tailoring of your brand new system.
Tech Can Be Agonizing: Objectively Assess Pain
“What I've recognized while working with companies of all sizes, is that as much as we love technology and need to rely on it, at the same time it creates a level of agony for some at different stages,” says Michael Charles, “so if the intent is to have an experience that's seamless, then you really have to be on purpose with understanding who your teams are and the needs of people within them.”
Like your physical health, over time is natural your business health will endure it’s share of aches and pains. A simple misalignment of technology can be felt in varying levels of agony. As your team transitions, be sure to take their comfort or agony with each specific change into account.
An easy scale to measure your team's agony:
(4) Does not work (I avoid using using it)
(3) Painful, but necessary
(2) Works, but painful at times
(1) Works as expected
(0) Enjoyed how it made my task easier
Understanding your team's agony level when using a new or existing solution will give insight into removing impediments and to reducing resistance to adopt. Both of which can pull you away from the core function of you business. It is not uncommon (even among savvy tech companies) for employees to display varying degrees of familiarity and comfort with the tools they use – even the ones they use every day. However, understanding these pains and working together to reduce them creates a strong team, and an even stronger business.
Whether your team relies on technology to move forward cohesively or for customer interactions, be sure the technology meets the users where they are. Also consider creating comprehensive training programs for those who need a little extra push adopting new technologies. Afterall, a confident employee creates a confident company, and a confident company creates a confident client.
“Be on purpose. That's really the first part I would suggest even beyond technology.” - Michael Charles, CEO, SolutionsMET
Use Inspiration to measure your success
All too often we find ourselves spending more time and energy than warranted towards motivating teams to use the technology we have implemented on their behalf. Whether it’s encouraging your team to use the new corporate collaboration portal or your customer to provide meaningful feedback to the automated survey you’ve implemented, when you find yourself attempting to cajole your user into using a system or feature your energy is far better spent creating the inspiration for people to work on the problem your business is solving. In light of this COVID-19 induced season, there are a lot of external stressors already; technology shouldn't be one of them. Understand your team’s concerns, and find ways to lighten the load. One of the most direct ways to do this is to provide them an opportunity to be part of the challenge and give them ownership for how they can support change.
“An indicator of when technology becomes invisible to your process is when you're able to really focus on inspiration versus motivation and you're able to inspire an idea,” says Michael. He continues, “motivating individuals is like the carrot and the stick. It can only go as far as the reward at the end of the task. Meanwhile, inspiration will encourage people to work through challenges and drive your business in a way that paves the way for innovation, both in technology and processes.”
Carve out time to be on purpose
Above all else, Michael Charles advises that the most important action one can take to enable change, assure adoption, and implement technology securely has the least to do with technology: “Take time to be on purpose.”
Whether managing a team or selling a product or service, it’s imperative to look inward and make sure the core is sound. Is your intent clear? Does your team or customer understand your intent? Are your solutions meeting your intent?
During these strange times, it might seem easier to allow things to go with the flow and let uncertainty lead the charge, however, do not get caught up in this line of thinking. Carve out time individually and then again with your key team members to be on purpose with your business’ mission and intent. Create a weekly or bi-weekly cadence around tending to it and make sure that all impacting actions align. Remember, technology is a fantastic vehicle to support your larger purpose, but good intentions can’t be digitized.