There is a lot of money in business that gets spent not because it needs to be, but more because of image or fantasy ideal. Partners, leaders, and steak holders constantly debate wether or not the image of a new office space would be worth the cost. Is it time to get someone to professionally develop a website for you? Maybe splurging on embossed business cards would be worth the impression it will give. Is it time to move to the cloud? It's the cool new thing to do, right? It’s important to give these matters a fair bit of consideration. No one answer will ever be the answer, but bellow are some guidelines and questions that may help your decision process.
Why are we changing?
Don’t let yourself get blindsided by a flashy sales guy, or envy towards another company who may have your proposed change already in place. Just because the luxury car dealer down the road has metallic business cards doesn’t mean your company needs them. Just because Google uses ProsperWorks doesn’t mean you need to.
Really think about why you want to implement the change(s) you’re considering. Think about big picture here. (We’ll get a bit more granular moving forward.) Are you considering new accounting software because your finance department is too overworked? Are you looking at a structured training program because too many new hires quit in the first 90 days?
No matter what the answer is, make sure you have an answer that’s compelling enough to warrant the cost/ trouble of implementing a change.
What is the benefits of this change?
Now it’s time to look a little deeper. So, you’re looking at a new accounting software because your finance team is overworked. How will this new software help with that problem? This is when you should get into specifics. Write a list! (Bellow is an example.)
Automated payment reminders
-Saves our team writing ~3 emails a week
Digital “pay now” option
-Saves our team processing ~2 checks a week
Integration with expense app
-Saves manual input of ~40 recipes per week
Tracks milage automatically on app
-N/A (Company doesn’t pay milage)
Once you list out all the shiny bells and whistles, you can think about what they will actually mean to your team. Sometime something may seem like a great feature, but when you really think about it, it doesn’t actually contribute to your organization.
What are the drawbacks of change?
There are always drawbacks. Sometimes they are limited to just the trouble of implementation, but sometimes they go beyond that. If you’re switching your CRM, the constant drawback will always be having to move your data over. Mapping fields, importing, creating custom fields, and setting up user permissions are all pretty constant drawbacks. However, they’re all temporary. Look more into operations post change over. Maybe you will no longer be able to assign contacts to multiple companies. Maybe your new CRM won’t have automatic email tracking. There are almost always pros and cons to a change. Make sure you take a very good look at the cons to make sure they are properly outweighed by the pros!
What else will this change impact?
Changes are almost never isolated. If you implement a new training program, you may need to hire a new trainer. A new trainer may mean you need to re-structure your HR department. Maybe you want your training to be accessible online, which means you’ll have to look into web development. You don’t have the ability to create physical materials, you may have to find a printing company to work with.
Spend a little while thinking about what all may be impacted by your change(s). When you run into a problem, find a secondary solution and go through the list again with that change. This cascading planning process might take a while, but having a complete picture is priceless. I’ll give one last example of what I mean.
You want new marketing software in order to automate more processes. However, the new solution you’re looking at will no longer interface with your vendor’s systems. This means you’ll run the risk of not forwarding their promotions. Some further research shows that there is a work around, and your vendor’s system can interface with your CRM instead. What are the benefits of that? What are the drawbacks? Worth it? But now you have campaigns that are not unified. Some more research shows that you can connect your CRM to the new marketing platform, but it takes a third party service. What are the benefits of that? Drawbacks?
You see how one change can lead to much more than you bargained for! Some implementation hiccups are almost unavoidable, but there’s nothing worse than getting half way through a project only to realize that your fancy new tool breaks a mission critical process. Plan for as much as you can, and you’ll never regret it.