JUST @#$%^&* PICK ONE AND MOVE ON

Which CRM? Which anti-virus? G Suite or Office 365?

Who cares!

What?! How can I, a serious IT professional, be so blase about expensive decision making?

How dare I be so cavalier with your money?

Here’s how.

Unless you’re different and need specific functionality, AND MOST OF YOU DON’T, you’re a vanilla user and one of many thousand just like you. And that means you’re a bread and butter client of the main players in the market and they have your needs covered.

But what about price?

From a retail pricing POV there are differences, but in the scheme of things, so what?

Yeah, yeah, I know, value for money and all that. Look after the pennies etc.

But it’s almost ENTIRELY IRRELEVANT, because what you spend on IT is not what it costs.

It’s a few grand out of total cost of ownership of hundreds of thousands or maybe millions over the next n years.

Software assets should generate value today and tomorrow, so the quicker your train and engage your team, maximising productivity, the better. And when they’re as proficient and productive as possible, leveraging the tools and wringing every cent of value from them, you’ll quickly stop caring about the price you paid because…

IMPLEMENTATION IS EVERYTHING!


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SORT OUT YOUR IT IN 2019

Will 2019 be the year that you finally take control of your IT and stop wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars?

I’m looking for just 3 businesses that want to work smarter rather than harder, to stop the waste, and increase their profit per person.


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NO PAIN, NO GAIN!

One of the more common complaints I hear about IT is “There’s always something updating and it makes us unproductive”.

And that’s a reasonable accusation at a cursory glance.

However, as ever, there’s a little more to it.

As I’ve written before, hardware upgrades pay for themselves by improving efficiency and morale. But operating system and software changes have a less obvious benefit.

They serve 2 primary purposes.

1 – Bugs are fixed

2 – New features are added

Some of the latter will never be seen by most end users because they’re meant for third party software and peripheral vendors. eg When CD drives first arrived, operating systems had no knowledge of them, so techs did the hard yards to make them work, something I recall with little to no affection.

Today, they just work.

So regularly servicing your software improves stability, performance, security, delivers new toys and paves the way for even more toys in the future.

It’s a pain in the rear though sometimes.

But then so are car services, fire drills, machinery maintenance and the many other tasks that we tolerate to ensure our assets continue to deliver value rather than slowly falling to pieces.

Updates then are a short term pain for a longer term gain.


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WHAT’S BETTER THAN AN IT STRATEGY?

Only 20% of businesses have a formal business plan.

Given this disturbingly low number, you won’t be surprised to learn even fewer have an IT strategy of any real sort.

Those that do will hopefully have aligned their IT with the needs of their business and marketing strategies, something I strongly recommend.

However, this is only the start point for an IT implementation and there’s another facet to it that’s a little less tangible.

The A of my FASES methodology stands for Assist, and is all about helping your team in every way possible. This has three tenets

Equip – Give your team all the tools they need

Educate – Make sure they have access to regular training

Encourage – Support them so they adopt and engage with their new tools

By doing this, your IT will become so much more valuable. It will make you and your team far more productive and much happier.

When everyone embraces IT, it is no longer just a set of tools or processing infrastructure.

When everyone embraces IT, it becomes an intrinsic feature of your business.

When everyone embraces IT, it becomes part of your culture.

And that, as Peter Drucker so famously said, is something that “eats strategy for breakfast”


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IF IT AIN’T BROKE, DON’T FIX IT

For as long as I can recall, suggestions that changes might be made to existing IT systems have often been met with management howls of derision and a demand to let sleeping dogs lie.

Attempts to modify functionality and to improve on the status quo have been knocked back lest they cause unknown issues and the sky to fall in.

Now, I’m certainly not one to suggest IT guys and girls be left to tinker without proper oversight, FAR FROM IT! But the liberal application of conservative attitudes to change also needs reigning in.

Why?

Because the ideals that drive people to say things like “if it ain’t, broke don’t fix it”, are the antithesis of progress.

We’re in the 4th industrial revolution and technology and IT are changing rapidly, and even well honed procedures and processes can leverage new tools and techniques. Many of these may only result in a small win, but the cumulative effect can be transforming.

So the time to start embracing them is now.

Those who wait will find themselves playing catch up for a long time.

Remember, this is not a practice session. You are in race against your competitors and they’ll be looking for an edge too.

It’s 5 weeks until Xmas. Can you make a small improvement each week?


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COMMUNITY AND CONNECTION

Tomorrow, you won’t be selling your products. The savvy will use technology to engage with their customers and deliver them as part of a service.


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X MARKS THE SPOT

Want an effective assessment of your IT?

ASK THE EXPERTS!

By which of course I mean your team. They already know what does and doesn’t work well.

When I do this, I go looking for buried TREASURE. I talk to the team and ask them to rate their tools from 1 to 10 using the following metrics.

T IME – Is it a good use of your time? The more it wastes, the lower the score.

R ELEVANCE – Is it the right tool for the job?

E DUCATION – What’s your level of training?

A TTITUDE – Do you like the tool?

S ERVICE – How well does it serve customer needs?

U SABILITY – How usable is it?

R ELIABILITY – How reliable is it?

E FFECTIVENESS – How well does it serve your needs?

The averages will paint a telling picture.

As you implement new systems, enhance others and develop your team, run the test again to determine progress.

Engaging with your people and resolving their issues will increase morale and improve efficiency. This helps reduce staff turnover and recruitment costs, saving hundreds of thousands of $$$.

But if you don’t measure your success, you’re just guessing as to whether you’re doing the right thing. And that, as I’ve written before, has been proven to lead to less than desirable results.

What’s your buried treasure worth?

MEASURING SUCCESS

Summer is coming, and along with it the likelihood of storms. So yesterday morning saw Mrs Marshall and I on the roof clearing the leaves, making sure the gutters were clear, and replacing tiles.

And a good job it was too. One had been smashed by a branch and the next deluge would have undoubtedly caused some damage.

There were of course many things we’d rather have been doing, but it’s all part and parcel of home ownership, so we faced up to our responsibilities and got on with our chores.

Preventative maintenance is a necessity if you want to ensure the longevity and efficiency of an asset, and of course this applies to your IT too. Yet there are many who seem to think that the systems and procedures they put in place some years ago are ‘set and forget’.

But since then, much will have changed. Some things will need to be adjusted, and others to be fixed. So you need a regular review to measure your IT’s performance.

Best is to ask your team how reliable and effective their tools are.

Are they easy to use?

Do they need training?

How they feel about them.

Without this you can only guess whether your IT is getting better or worse.

STOP LOOKING AT THE PRICE TAG

A recent report from Microsoft and Intel suggests that the cost of keeping a PC more than 4 years old is AU$5,012. It also reveals that machines over 4 years old are over 3 times more likely to need repairs leading to a loss in productivity.

We might of course look at this report and think that a PC and chip vendor have colluded and massaged a set of numbers to encourage us all to go out and buy their excellent range of new hardware.

And that may well be the case.

But whether their numbers are ‘the truth’ or not, there’s no doubt that old hardware wastes time and money, and 71% of respondents to the survey agreed that a newer PC made their staff more productive.

Not only that though. It will make them happier too. They’ll feel more valued, improving morale and reducing staff turnover, and leading to reduced recruitment and business interruption costs.

And this is a very important message for those who count beans and think only of IT as a cost. A new PC will cost around $2,000, and that’s less than 1% of an average wage over 3 years. But count up all the other costs, and $5,012 would likely be a conservative estimate of the price paid for not buying one.

As I say, IT is only ever a cost when done badly.


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WINDOWS vs MAC – JUST PICK ONE!

Give your team whichever one makes them happy and productive and get on with your life. Because as ever, if you’re looking at the technology, you’re missing the point.


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DON’T JUST SELL, SERVE!

I’m just about to review the typeset version of my book “Doing IT for Money”.

One month to go before it’s published, and another timely reminder then of why we use technology.

It enhances the capabilities of the team, improving efficiency and accuracy, and we use it to communicate with our customers. We use email and SMS, speak to them on the phone or a computer, and have an online presence for shopping and raising brand awareness.

But these are aimed at selling.

What about serving?

We could greatly improve the customer experience if we better served their needs. Empowering them with self-service tools is one such way.

Done right, this is good for the consumer and business alike.

I was involved with the creation of a web portal for several thousand tradies. This allowed them to find out about upcoming jobs, billing and payments etc, reducing the dependence on over 30 support staff. It was quicker for the user, saved many phone calls, and was live within 4 months, easily paying for itself within a year.

Sadly though, a lack of IT knowledge and a fear of the cost mean that many businesses will miss out.

So get in touch today. We can help you identify the opportunities and ensure you find the right solutions.


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HOW DOES THIS HELP MY PEOPLE?

Technology is there to help us be better at whatever it is we do, so make sure you focus your IT initiatives on the needs of your team and your customers.


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