9 steps to building a better biz tech’ workflow

Technology marches on. The rate of technological progress increases all of the time. How we react to this change varies from the hopeful to the outright hostile. But what if there’s a new technology that could improve your workflow?

To those like me, technological change is both inevitable and usually for the better. For some, the changing face of technology is a barrier.

Are barriers to new technology all in the mind?

So can we say that mindset is a barrier to the uptake of new technology? This was the question put to me recently, where my reply was published as a centre spread in the event organizer publication.

The common perception (and by extension, a common misconception) is that technology is something new. No, technology is as old as the first stone wielded to crack a nut:

“You see, the perception is that technology is new stuff, like computers, energy-efficient light bulbs, high-speed trains, space flight, nanotechnology, genetics, crazily tall buildings and stupidly long bridges.

When in actual fact, technology is glazed drinking mugs, the three field system, mass-produced cloths, glass windows, zip fasteners, the bow & arrow, central heating and the printed word.”

And the events industry is by no means an exception to such mental barriers, as I noted in the featured article:

“It’s not that people resist change for no reason, it’s that the resistance comes as a result of there not being compelling enough reasons to do things differently.”

There’s several ways of looking at this issue:

  • having looked at the technologies available, only to discover few if any are an appropriate fit, or replacement of those currently being used;
  • not having looked at the available technologies in enough detail, to determine their benefits;
  • fear of technology and change itself.

It’s easy to say people are lazy or ignorant, but it’s not nearly that simple. Once you’ve got yourself a workflow, it’s a brave person who risks the productivity of their business to find new and better ways of doing things.

New technology ideas. Same old business problems

This becomes even more of a concern if you’re a business with employees. The potential for short-term disruption might be more expensive than the gained benefits over the same period. This is always a challenge, for any business.

Scale that up for multinationals businesses, like a leading client of mine who’re in the process of moving over to Microsoft SharePoint, and the training costs alone would make you wince, not to mention actual implementation, technical support, or the cost of the software itself.

Having seen how I’d recently re-built my entire workflow around Marketcircle’s Daylite CRM package for the Mac, a client of mine, PR and communications professional Emily Cagle decided to buy an iMac and download a trial version of Daylite. This is fine if there’s only the one of you, as is the case with my client and myself.

There are those brave souls who abandon paper and pens and even the comfy confines of Microsoft Excel. A couple of years ago, I developed a web application for Premier UK, an events management specialist based in the West Midlands. This was a complete departure for them, and an exceptionally brave and bold move, too. Obviously not for everyone.

But if you’re a bigger company, what’s the solution?

Building a better workflow

Whenever I offer advice, I do so from my own point of view; what would I do if I were in their situation? If you’re keen to try out a new technology in your business, it’s essential the process be as real as possible, while minimizing the chances of their being major problems along the way:

  1. make sure that whatever new technologies you choose will link into and integrate with your business in the same or a similar way to the ones they’re replacing;
  2. whether it’s software or hardware, do some research and find out what other people think;
  3. if it’s a software-based solution, see if there’s a trial version available;
  4. identify a low priority / low cost project that doesn’t have a strict deadline;
  5. to make the experience as real as possible, engage with the customer / client and get them on your side, maybe with a financial incentive for them to be a Guinea pig;
  6. make sure you have access to all of the support staff / resources you’re going to need when things go wrong, because there’s a very good chance they will;
  7. document your every action, so you or anyone else can re-trace your steps;
  8. be sure to involve at least one other member of your team, to ensure the knowledge you’re acquiring isn’t all in one place;
  9. compartmentalize each process and measure the amount of time taken, then compare to your present workflow.

Of course, each business is different, so it’s as well that you write down your existing process first, making sure your leap of faith isn’t going to result in the loss of some key aspect of your workflow.

We all want to make more money. Ideally, we want to make more money while making less effort. By building a workflow based around more efficient technologies, you’re heading in the right direction.