Implementing any type of technology, or even intentionally taking a “wait and see” approach to a particular technology, is all about calculated risks.
- Will the new technology help you and your team move faster, be more responsive, better secure your data, or gain a competitive edge?
- Will the payoff be worth the time, money, and headache of learning the new tools?
- Will it help keep you from struggling when you have the opportunity to scale up your operations – or when that next competitor pops up in your space?
The tools we use every day are changing and evolving at an unprecedented rate. The risks have changed accordingly as well.
Basic strategies to mitigate risks with technology:
#1 – At a minimum, stay up-to-date
In the short term, it may occasionally seem more time and cost-effective to skip an upgrade, or not move up to a newer, more robust system while you’re busy growing your business. What I’ve almost always found, however, is that all you’re really doing is creating an even bigger headache and time crunch for yourself – as well as exponentially increasing your risks – in the mid- to long-term.
Keep up-to-date on your technology so that you’re in a better position to move quickly if you need to down the road.
#2 – Take it in chunks
Never buy into a system that will only be delivered all at once 9 months or more down the road. Always insist on having a number of “deliverables” spread out throughout the project so that you can ensure your input is being noted, that the system is delivering what you expect it to, and that the team you are working with is sticking to the timetable.
Buying into a big system is time-consuming enough already – don’t make it worse by leaving it in the vendor’s hands and only finding out at the end of the project that you’ve wasted a bunch of time and money on a product that doesn’t really meet your needs after all.
#3 – Be ready to cut your losses if you have to
This one is hard for everyone. Technology – and your operational needs – can change quickly, and sometimes you need to be able to respond just as quickly to keep the doors open. Occasionally this means letting a project go if your business needs have changed, or being willing to cutover to an entirely new set of technology tools if the system you just spent good time and money upgrading all of a sudden becomes obsolete due to some shift in the market.
The pace of business and technological change has shifted into a new gear – and will continue to shift into higher and higher gears even faster in the future. Try to future-proof your organization as much as possible with smart technology choices, but be prepared to shift gears yourself when you have to.
Find a good technology partner
The best way to make sure you are taking good calculated risks when it comes to technology is to find a technology professional that you can trust.
Having a good technology partner on your side, while costing a little more in the short term, will help you save time and money in the long term as they help you assess your business’s needs and risks, aid you with tackling your current challenges and opportunities, and then help you better prepare for and plan for the future.
Not only will they be able to help you manage the different risk mitigation strategies above more quickly and efficiently than you’d be able to on your own, they also have the experience to share what they’ve seen work for other organizations and help you avoid pitfalls that wouldn’t even be on your radar – but that they’ve seen first-hand when brought in to clean up the mess.
Life, business, and technology all move fast. Having a trustworthy, reliable technology professional working with you to help you succeed in your business is a smart calculated risk.