Managing change isn’t free but it can save you

Putting a freeze on spending makes saving on expenses a sure thing, right? Don’t bet on it.

When it comes to technology, doing nothing can get pricey. Unless you are managing for change—anticipating the future and planning for new and updated software, systems and hardware—you’re on a tear toward a budget-blowing crash.

Recently I had a call from a business owner who was having problems with a line of business application, a call that turned out to be the proverbial tip of the iceberg. As I looked into his situation, I learned the application was four versions out of date and no longer capable of supporting a critical business need. New software was essential to get back on track. Meanwhile, his systems hardware was seven years old and lacked the processing power, disc space and memory to run the new software—the “box” had to be replaced. And by the way, the owner would need to shell out the cash for a new operating system and database—both three versions up from his existing systems.

In this business owner’s case, waiting to spend technology dollars until disaster loomed was a costly strategy. Now that he’s learned the hard way saving dollars by not spending dollars can be ultra-expensive, my guess is from here on out he’ll opt for a cost-efficient technology strategy.

So how can you avoid a technology capability—and expense—crisis? Start by aligning technology with your business goals. Where do you see your business in the next three to five years? How many employees do you expect to add to support your strategy? What automated processes are required to enable growth? Where are your current bottlenecks? What infrastructure do you need in place to fulfill your strategy?

If your internal IT professional’s full-time focus has been maintaining your current systems, software and hardware, without an opportunity to keep up on the latest technology and partner on your strategy, now is the time to bring in an IT services consultant. Choose a technology services firm with the on-staff expertise to help you assess your longer-term needs, and create a plan to manage technology from a strategic perspective.

Work to transition technology from a backroom after-thought to a tactic for growing your business. More sales and greater profitability will offset the manageable costs of keeping systems capabilities up to date and problems at bay.

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