Implementing New Technology: 3 Tips for the Non-Technical Small Business
By Steve Schlosser, BSB/PM, PMP, Project Manager Managed Solution
Recently I had the opportunity to work with a small business client seeking a technical solution to an overwhelming amount of email and storage issues. Managed Solution created a solution, implemented the change, and overall the project was a success. Yet, I still couldn't shake the feeling that the client was left feeling stranded, even after we conducted over six hours of administration and user support training. So as a small business owner, one must ask themselves “What can I do to mitigate post-change stress”? Luckily, there are several solutions!
Set Your Expectations
As a small business owner, finances and budgetary constraints are a daily thought. It is excruciatingly important when partnering with a solutions associate to understand what is provided in the project for support time. Many times we at Managed Solution end up partnering with our clients with service agreements to provide them 24-hour support – which is by far most cost effective – but it is important to understand what is, and what is not included in the solution contract. Project Managers like myself want to act in the business’s best interest and control the project to stay within the budgetary constraints, and if the business owner does not adequately demonstrate their desire for extended support after the project completes, we cannot budget for that accordingly in the initial solution offering.
Consider a Dual-Agreement
As a small business, opportunity cost is always a consideration – that is cost of an untaken opportunity. Evaluate your business’s needs when seeking a technical solution. Often when a business has grown large enough to require a technical change to increase efficiency, it is time to also continue a long-term change. With a simple inquiry of a dual-agreement (a service agreement combined with a project contract), the door leading to discounts and bundle rates swings wide open and leaves room for negotiation. The best part? You end up with a brand new solution working at highest efficiency and on-call support forever on out with any issues that arise; which ends up increasing productivity and not wasting valuable man-hours and increased stressed levels of non-technical employees trying to solve problems.
Communicate your Constraints
Often times as Project Managers, once handed a new client project we immediately begin planning and identifying resources for the endeavor. One of the biggest hurdles we run into is a lack of communication of client constraints. Businesses often have crucial operating activities that cannot be interrupted during specific time frames as well as other constraints. From a planning aspect, this is easy to mitigate. With a little bit of foresight from the client side, a project manager can simply schedule the use of time around this; as long as its communicated up front!
In conclusion, communicate the expectations and constraints to your solution consultant and consider a long-term strategy in congruence with a new IT solution. It will forever simplify your life, reduce stress levels, and surely will satisfy the overall goal of assisting your business in growing, expanding, and succeeding.
About the author:
Steve Schlosser is a PMP Certified Project Manager and Veteran with a background working in the information technology field for the U.S. Navy as well as with L-3 Communications. As a project manager for Managed Solution, Steve oversees System Integration and Solution projects to assist large and small businesses with the ever expanding challenge of staying ahead of technology to enable an effective working environment. His diverse background, excellent communications skills, and problem solving abilities enable him to perform his functions to the greatest extent; always leaving satisfied clientele.
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