This may sound dumb, but it's done every day. It's precisely the message leading computer and software vendors shout at you without rest. Of course they do. If you know this little about computers you'll buy the most advertised items, and when they don't work you'll blame yourself or your employees - and buy newer, more powerful versions of the same stuff. "Everybody's using it, so it must be the best!". Computers and communications systems are tools, not miracle solutions to all your problems. Tools are something you have to learn to use.
Where to Start - Your Business PlanWe know you have a business plan because every business advisor, including your mother, has told you over and over a business plan is essential, so open it up. OK, what would it say if you were "able to find it". Remember, our intent is to meet real business needs, so we need to know what they are.
Now, if you already have computer stuff, pretend you don't. Start all over. Later, if you can incorporate what you already have in the plan, fine. If it doesn't fit, you're better off getting rid of it. If you bought it more than a year ago, it's "fully depreciated" (worthless) anyway.
Go through each of the menu items above, and consider each one in the light of your business plan. Sometimes you will have to reconsider previous decisions in light of later selections. Some of the items in our Nifty New Technologies section have special conditions your system will have to meet.
Don't be mislead by technology or those promoting it. If it doesn't meet real business needs for your business, it is worthless no matter how nifty neat-o it is. Don't expect any technology to be a miracle solution to all your problems, it won't be.
Now: go back and review your business plan and see if it needs changing because of new things you've learned about how a business should operate in todays world. For those of you "unable to find" your business plan, now would be a good time to write it. Then make another pass through the list.
A business taking a Cautiously Proactive stance employs a mix of custom and standard technologies to reengineer some functions, simply automates other existing functions and just leaves some alone.
The Reactive stance is primarily concerned with keeping up, and compliance with outside requirements. A business taking this stance is concerned with "what everyone else is doing", and will almost always opt for the "All Microsoft" approach.
The Regressive stance, where technology is brought in only to "save money" presents little risk, because there can be no gain. Computers never save money. If rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic makes you feel better about the outcome, go for it.
The section Avoiding Technology Failure touches on the importance
of management commitment from the very highest levels. Whichever philosophy
you choose, follow-through is absolutely essential for success. Without real
commitment at the top, you might as well not start.
RULE #2: Computers don't organize anything. If you can't get organized without computers, your mess is just going to be bigger, and a lot more expensive, and stuff will be screwed up a lot worse and a lot faster.
RULE #3: Computers are not for automating existing methods and procedures. That vein played out 15 years ago with word processors and accountant's spreadsheets. Properly applied, computers enable you to do things in new ways, and things you couldn't do at all before. If you just automate, and your competitors start with a fresh look, you could be in "deep do do" (to quote a former U.S. President).
RULE #4: If your "solution" is over 50% hardware, you are almost certainly in trouble. Hardware is just a tool. The real solution is design, carefully fit software, and training. (Index)
- Automation Access
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