Business owners are always striving to be efficient. Efficient with the day-to-day tasks and operations that impact all aspects of the business. Business owners know time is money, meaning if it takes any amount of time or staff to interact with it then there is a cost and expenditure of resources. Decisions have to made all the time about balancing cost and efficiency.
One-way leaders are trying to be more efficient is by incorporating technology into their operations and strategic plans. There are so many platforms across web based and mobile applications available. But, is the technology really making businesses more efficient in regards to time and money? Society has even picked up the adage of “there’s an app for that”, just download more technology and you can get more done. If you just use this website or app then you don’t need to hire a person per say to do the task.
As a small business owner, I always say, “efficiency is my favorite F word”, meaning if it takes more than myself, one staff member, and one source of technology to get the job done then it isn’t working effectively. My team knows if efficiency comes ups as an issue, then that is not a good thing. There is nothing more frustrating than having all these resources available and still not getting things done quickly. Especially in a market where customers want everything now and expect the quickest service with the best quality product. Efficiency trickles down through all levels of the business from the owner, to directors, to staff, and down to the customers.
If business owners can make their operations from getting the product out to running the business, then it does help at all levels. Yet, this concept of just use technology to get everything done might not be the best solution. Each person only has so much bandwidth to get things done. As a small business franchisee, I evaluated all of the technology that has to be signed into to make my company run. On any given business day, I log into 40 platforms (websites or mobile applications) to get my staff and I to offer our service to the community. These technology sources include: customer relationship management (CRM) platform, staff scheduling app, payroll and book-keeping site, banking, suppliers, social media accounts, partnership links, etc. When you have a lot of technology, business owners need to decide do they manage it themselves, do they delegate the task to an existing employee, or do they hire a new person. The technology really poses more questions where the decision impacts the staff and resources.
If the owner decides to manage the technology, then that is one more thing added to your plate. When technology comes into play a person has to set up the account, know the log-in, learn the technology, be ready for updates, and troubleshoot if it doesn’t work. All of this before you even use the technology to get the task done. If you decide to delegate the technology to an existing staff member then you add to their work load. Then if the person is out of work and no one is there to over-see that. And when employees get their job responsibilities changed it causes frustration for them too. Lastly, if you decide to hire someone new to manage that technology outlet, then in theory as technology changes you will always have to hire someone new and create new job positions to accommodate the technology change. All of this impacting the internal operations before we even get to the task we needed completed.
Did the task that the team is trying to complete worth all the hassle and cost of implementing more technology? Well, that depends on a few factors.
1. Cost: Was there a cost to obtain the technology? Even if it was a small cost monthly, a larger yearly fee, or per use cost those fees, no matter how small, add up and impact the bottom line.
2. Staff: Do you have the organizational structure and size to support this technology? It takes people resources to get these tasks done with technology. Some small business, like myself, do not have internal departments that can oversee specific tasks. A lot of the team has to be trained and cross-trained across job titles to ensure that everyone can operate together to keep us efficient and running smoothly. Yet, as a business owner, I have to be mindful that cross-training helps the company and customers, but too much change leads to over-load and burn-out for my team.
3. Customers: Does this technology help our operations that lets us serve our customers better? If bringing on technology helps us be better for our customers that leads to more customers and increased revenue then the costs and staff resources can be worth it
Technology is needed and is a critical component of business. The goal of completing tasks efficiently by using technology is a daily consideration. It just might not be as easy as, “there is an app for that.” In business, bringing on technology can have major implications to business operations, staff, and customers. Implementation to get a task done may seem like a quick and cost-effective fix, but in actuality it may be the opposite. Using the technology may negatively impact the organization and customers if it is not managed correctly.