Unless you believe the best solution for Joe’s Easy Finance is also the best solution for Telstra or IBM, the trick to finding “the best technology solution” is actually achieved by being clear about your needs and your business.
For years, I helped blue chip international corporates implement digital innovation. Now, as the founder of UploadOnce, I’ve built a platform which removes the hassle of completing forms and collating documents to minimise what consumers do to reviewing, approving and paying. In the background, I’m also exploring solutions to help me achieve efficiency in my business. As solutions I’m now exploring are on a smaller budget and scale, it’s really hit home, that a blog writer’s assumptions when drafting advice on the “Top 10” or “Best product” recommendations may not apply to particular businesses, situations or industries.
Secrets to finding the best technology solutions for my business
For business offering services in an established industry, the 3 things you need to find the “best” suited options for your business is actually being clear on what you are trying to achieve, an understanding your business operations and the ability to ask “why” when someone gives you an answer.
1) What’s next for your business, what are you trying to achieve – and why?
a) Are you a growing business, looking for more clients or diversifying your range of services?
b) Are you looking to maintain business hours, and looking to improve operational efficiency to achieve more time or income?
c) Are you planning to bring on someone or off boarding clients so you can wind down, exit or sell your business?
Being clear on the answers to these questions is important in determining key features, how much to invest and whether you are in fact looking for a short, medium or long term solution, particularly if you are speaking to people selling or providing advice about the options.
2) Understanding your business.
Only you know your business and this information will help determine the most cost effective solution because technology solutions are usually priced according to
a) how many locations you operate from OR
b) number of employees OR
c) clients you’d like to connect with.
For example, if a customer relationship management platform (CRM) is priced according to the number of people you’d like to do business with and you want to do business with the nursing homes in the local area, the size of your prospective clients is small and the price will likely be economical (or free). If you are a small business targeting all childcare providers across Australia, you are likely to have over 10,000 people on the list so you may want to look at solutions priced based on features or number of employees in your business instead.
3) Ask why.
It doesn’t matter whom you talk to or what the answer is – just ask why. If you ask why of enough people, you will get a sense of which products are really suited to you and your business.
To discover which “why” is the most valuable to you and your business i.e. price, number of features (and time spent learning how to use them) or navigation (customer experience), shortlist 2-3 products to trial – the devil is in the detail.
I’ve included an example applying the secrets above… If you’d like to share your adventures exploring technology solutions using this approach, drop me a line at LauraD@UploadOnce.com.au or add a comment below this article replicated on my LinkedIn page.
Sample brief to supplier, IT vendor or technology advisor
I’m Joe from Joe’s Easy Finance.
1. Describe what you are trying to achieve
We’re looking for solutions that increase the sales of loans to mobile workers, in particular taxi and Uber drivers. To support this, we are looking for options to improve our [marketing, sales, operations, product development] functions.
We’re looking to [maximise our sales in a systematic way] so [we can sell our business in 10 years time]. Your recommendation should help us acquire 100 new clients over the next 12 months or The options we are looking for will achieve [% or number] increase in…
2. Context about your business: relevant information about your clients, people, processes and system
Our target audience are new clients that rely on their mobile phones. These drivers may also have the radio on in their vehicle when they are working. Taxi drivers also read free newspapers to fill in the time.
Currently, most new business comes from word of mouth. When a new client rings, we chat about why they need money – usually it’s to buy a new house or a divorce and we pencil a time for me to help them fill in the forms.
When a time is confirmed, I’ll also send the client a calendar invite as well as an email and a text listing of things they need to prepare – most people don’t read this list.
On the day before, I’ll send the client a reminder text to ensure the client hasn’t forgotten about our meeting.
In future we would like to automate as much of this as possible because we’ve been told Uber drivers are very technology savvy.
3. Ask why
Please let me know what options you would recommend and outline the reasons why you have made these recommendations.