Whether it’s laptops, network servers, mobile devices, security cameras or any of the myriad other tools and systems needed to successfully and efficiently run a business, technology evolves at a dizzying pace. That's particularly true for small companies that might not have a robust complement of IT pros who can stay on top of the constant changes and innovations.
As a result, it can be difficult to decide when and what to upgrade, how much to spend on new technology or whether your company needs to upgrade at all.
Steve Wilson, president of OnTask, a Tampa tech company that specializes in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) document workflow automation, says one of the keys to smart tech upgrades is to “look for a system that can grow to multiple departments.”
The upgrade process, he adds, “usually starts with a single department that has a need, whether it’s the sales department or HR department, and we’re typically working with a vice president of sales or HR, and they’re going to have to sell this investment to the rest of the organization.”
Wilson says OnTask — a division of Tampa-based Accusoft, which has been in business for more than 30 years — has been successful because its software can “lock down workspaces so the sales organization has access to their sales agreements, but they can’t see HR’s performance reviews,” for example. Such features ensure compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) and other privacy regulations.
Tech upgrades that benefit just one department or team, Wilson adds, “can be a tougher sell to a CEO who is saying, ‘Well, why do we need this software? We’ve got a good-enough process.’”
Another consideration is training. According to Wilson, there’s no point in investing in new technology if staff members aren’t comfortable using it, so it’s important to work with a vendor that has a proven onboarding process.
“You’re asking employees to change how they’re doing things, and people are pretty resistant to change,” he says. “If your end users aren’t using it, then you’re not getting the value out of it. And then we lose, because you’re not renewing your subscription.”
One way to ensure a tech upgrade sticks, Wilson adds, is to identify a “champion” within your organization — someone who will commit to training other employees after the initial onboarding phase ends. “We want to get them comfortable with training other people,” he says, “so they’re the ones going around saying, ‘Hey, I showed you how to do this – why aren’t you using it?’”
Brian Hartz holds a master’s degree in journalism from Indiana University and has been a St. Petersburg resident since 2013. He has also worked for newspapers and magazines in Indiana, Canada and New Zealand.