Much has been said of the “global” market and that connectedness has made it necessary for business-owners to step up and improve their systems. Indeed, many businesses have made technology-based modifications in key aspects of the enterprise such as accounting, communications and human resources management. While these are proven to be efficacious in most cases, the extent to which modifications is effective in the business process is a variable that needs to be determined on a case-to-case basis. Before the decision to streamline the business with technology is made, some factors should be considered.

Necessity –

The need for technology is wholly dependent on the nature of the business. In retail, for example, the expected volume and nature of transactions (i.e. cash or installment) will determine whether an automated system is needed. In the service industries, unless it employs many people and entails complex procedures, information systems technology is usually limited to a word processor and printer to print out invoices. In most cases, a simple spreadsheet will track daily transactions nicely and most spreadsheets can generate simple financial reports that may be useful for payroll, accounting and inventory purposes. However, in most manufacturing and whole businesses, computer-aided technology has been invaluable in tracking and optimizing work flow and human resources systems.

Cost –

While much of the ordinary trappings of information technology such as desktop computers and DSL connections are readily available in the market at reasonable cost, these are not the only cost considerations. Obtaining licensed software for business applications, for example, can be prohibitive, and if the total human resource complement is one, it would not make much sense to get a licensed human resource management application. Becoming web-based is also something small businesses consider to streamline marketing and distribution processes, but aside from the web development, domain registration and web hosting costs, a business owner must also consider site maintenance and updating costs, fees for online transactions and delivery considerations for online purchases. Another cost consideration is the training required for the use of these technologies. A thorough study of costs of additional technology against expected benefits should be done prior to automation.

Execution –

What is often not considered fully is who will be executing and implementing the proposed changes in the work flow. In implementing new technologies, the learning curve is often steep and many are resistant to change in the routine that has perhaps worked well enough without the use of added technology. This is especially true when employees have been with the company for a long time and still remember a time when computers were not around. It may entail some personnel restructuring, perhaps the addition of people who are preferably familiar with the system.

Bottom Line –

Streamlining implies organization of work process for greater efficiency. Traditionally, work processes are used to establish control over productivity and involve documentation at each step which is reviewed at intervals, revealing possible problem areas and indications of how solutions can be found. When the nature of the business has no apparent need for technological input, the three factors above should be considered before investment in technology.