Most indigenous African medium and large enterprises are implementing IT solutions and tools in their service offering and delivery. It’s quite commendable considering that some few years back most of them either could not see the need for IT solutions or simply could not afford any. Today, the cost of technology has so much decreased that its tools are no longer exclusive to major enterprises – they are now affordable even for small businesses. I remember having to travel cross-country for a ten minute job interview some years back. Today, organisations go through their entire recruitment process with thousands of applicant without any need for applicants flooding their offices.
Finding The Right Online Tool
Finding the right online tools has become somewhat of a big challenge. Though most business owners still don’t consider this as a challenge until it bites them. Let’s take the case of a real estate company I worked with as an IT Executive Assistant. The organisation had a website that was birthed simply for the sake of having a company website and nothing more. In fact, the entire IT department didn’t have any goals or targets. The comment section of the website was taken over by spammers and competitors. Inquiries from potential clients were either not tended to or replied to by competitors. You know what that means. The website did the organisation more harm than good. So when I joined the IT team my first recommendation required taking down the site.
Finding the right online tool is definitely not about purchasing the fanciest, latest or costliest tools in the market. The sheer volume of technology tools available in the market alone can leave even the most tech savvy person confused. It’s also not about getting a popular tool, say a website for instance, just because your competitors have one. What works for company A may not work for company B even if they offered the identical services!
As a business owner you must understand and follow the rout to finding the perfect online tools for your business. You are likely to get the perfect tools for your business by going through my recommended 3 stages:
No, this isn’t about identifying the tools you need. The need should come before the tools and that’s what this first stage should take care of. There should always be a need for an IT solution. Needs arise from challenges and if there are no challenges (I doubt), use your business or organisational goals or targets. What are your goals or targets for the month or year? Do you want to Increase sales, improve service delivery, Increase clientele, improve communication flow or ease service delivery? These goals are what the IT tool should work to achieve. You must justify your investment (yes, that’s what it is; an investment) in IT solutions.
Bear in mind that you may need to work with your staff and clients to get a comprehensive list of your business needs.
Many small business owners don’t understand what consultancy in itself is and the benefits of consultation. Consultancy is not just about going to the market to speak with vendors. In fact, a consultant is not a vendor. A vendor is a marketer that wants your patronage for a particular product or service. Of course you won’t have to pay a vendor any consultancy fee. A consulting will take your money and will try to understand your business and suggest available tools for your business needs. A consultant could also device strategies for aligning the available tools with your business goals or needs. A good consultant will help you scrutinize your business processes and suggest which of them can benefit from the implementation of an online solution. Be sure to discuss and consider the following before, during and after consultation.
Now that you know just what your business needs are and you are on the path of finding the available online tools to pick from, you must also consider the cost of investment. Your consultant shouldn’t stop at just listing what’s available but also what’s sustainable. It is very crucial for you to consider the cost of implementing an online tool. The cost of user training, maintenance and sustaining the tool must also be measured.
The internet is full of wild beasts; hackers, data thieves, image wreckers and all sorts. You should discuss with your consultant the security of your preferred online tool. It is important you know how safe an online tool is and what it takes to keep it safe.
Sometimes a solution comes with a new set of troubles. Ensure your online tools integrate perfectly with your business processes in a way that it would not distract you or your staff.
Implementing an IT solution may require the presence, or at least, the supervision of an IT person. The IT person could show you or members your staff the ropes of managing the solution or tool. This will save you the cost of hiring an in-house professional. Most IT solutions can also be offered remotely. Take website for instance. Your website admin could work from another country. What you only need to do is mail him the contents of what you wish to upload to the website or discuss your desired changes and all that would be taken care of. Consider also hiring a virtual assistant with the right skills. You will affordable human freelance virtual assistants for hire on several online market places such as Fiverr, Upwork, freelancer, etc.
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