What’s the biggest mistake a small business can make when investing in technology? Thinking that the solution alone will bring them company growth. In this second part of our SME trifecta blog series, we want to talk about the role of technology’s partner in crime – processes – in enabling business success.
It’s not a particularly exciting word, but processes are what bring retail technology to life within any organization. Fundamentally, ‘buying the kit’ won’t change how successful a business is; it’s how that solution is integrated, managed and utilized that determines whether it will provide a return on investment. It also separates the leaders from the laggards – plenty of companies use the same hardware and software, but not all with the same positive impact.
SMEs in particular cannot afford for a significant investment like technology not to work. Making a success of retail technology relies on getting the processes right in three key areas:
It’s very easy for a deployment to go over time and over budget if there is not a clear objective and plan of action outlined at the outset. This may sound obvious but, generally speaking, SMEs have less project management experience than bigger companies, and this can lead to inefficiencies.
One of the most effective ways to run a roll-out is to join forces with a retail technology implementation partner. Many small businesses will do this at the decision making stage, utilizing the partner’s expertise to match their organizational needs with a suitable solution. That partner should then be able to create a timeline for deploying the best fit solution in a manner that does not disrupt daily activities.
It’s important that a partner also incorporates staff training into the roll-out, so that best practice processes can be taught from the outset.
In the case of back-end tech in particular, a crucial success factor is being able to refine and automate the processes that occur as a result of investing in a new solution. For example, inventory management software may be able to automatically send replenishment updates when stock is running low or alert users when there is a delay in the supply chain.
Here, again, a thorough partner handover is important to make sure all users understand exactly what the technology can do, and that each function is set up correctly.
Initial training is just the start of driving retail technology ROI. It’s equally important to have management process in place to ensure that maximum value is being delivered day in, day out.
For example, if a small business is using customer-facing devices such as Mobile Point of Sale (mPOS), they need to know whether any system upgrades are applied automatically. If not, there needs to be a system in place to make sure those updates are made.
Equally, there need to be processes in place for refreshing, updating and upskilling technology users. There can often be a high turnover within the retail environment, which results in the loss of knowledge and capabilities if a fully trained member of staff leaves. A template process must be in place for getting new employees up to speed, in order to make the handover as painless as possible, and limit periods of poor productivity.
This leads us nicely into the third part of our SME trifecta series: people. Visit our blog site next week to find out why all the best practice in the world won’t work if staff aren’t bought in and enthusiastic about the new retail technology at their fingertips.