This blog post was originally published 5/3/2019
Why do many technology service providers (TSPs) skimp on implementation and consulting hours? I assume it’s because they don’t realize that any tool, whether it be IT software or a chisel, is only as good as how well you use it! This is a revelation that many TSPs come to realize after several years of using tools that an effective and complete onboarding/implementation process is essential to the success of any software adoption, and to that end, an impact in the improvement of your business process.
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With so many businesses shifting their structure to an entirely remote workforce, it is now more essential than ever that you are utilizing your software efficiently and keeping a steady cash flow. One way to combat this difficult time is by maximizing the ROI on the tools you currently have. Implementing a software solution is step one—but you have to know how to utilize it correctly to reap maximum benefits. This is why I’ve laid out this guide for both implementing new software and maximizing the potential of the software you use in your business every day.
Implement the Solution That Fits Your Business Needs
When implementing any solution, I often think of the concept of the Iron Triangle: "Fast, good or cheap, but you can only pick two." Often companies want all three, and it simply doesn’t exist.
Early on, companies should determine if they’re going to either invest money or time into the adoption efforts of the solution. There is no wrong answer here!
The decision should be based on your current level of available time to implement any solution, the level of confidence in yourself or team to complete the implementation, and whether or not you have the available funds to invest. There is also a balance to each of this investment. Think of it as a total investment of 100% consisting of both time and money. If you are already stretched super thin, maybe you choose to invest more money (90%) than time (10%). Or, to conserve some cash, you decide to do a 50/50 split. Please note, that in either scenario, we’re still 100% invested, and understand that there are no shortcuts. Good analysis and self-awareness of your time capacity is highly recommended.
Maximizing ROI: Designate an Admin
You should also find ways of increasing the ROI of the tools in which you’ve invested. I often recommend investing in an admin. This person is responsible for the immediate adoption and ongoing improvements of the toolsets for your organization. This concept often gets met with a rebuttal as their concern for cost exposes itself. My response, which is the same every time and I am reciprocating partners that DO have admin, is, “How can you afford not to?” Mature organizations that have adopted the admin approach always come to the conclusion that the admin has a higher ROI on them than any other employee. This is simply due to the efficiencies and improvements they create for others in the organization. If this isn’t in the scope for you, consider shifting the current responsibilities of a role that has a lighter desk at the moment due to the changes with COVID-19 to leverage in this capacity.
Have an Informed Business Processes
As a business owner, you tend to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. You may be prepared for an economic downturn, but a global pandemic took us all by surprise. However, having the right business processes for software adoption and utilization can keep your business on track, even during this unprecedented time. This doesn’t just mean adopting a software and forgetting about it—it means focusing on every step of the software implementation process, beyond initial investment.
Get your team on board with the new tool and train them to use it correctly. Focus on taking control of resource utilization. With the proper processes and software utilization in place, you can manage your remote workforce more efficiently and get better insight into what they're doing at all times. Although this was important when employees were working in the office, with a remote workforce it's not only more difficult to monitor, but more essential. This insight will both boost efficiency and take some off the burden off of your management team.
Keep Sight of Your Goals
Another mistake I often see TSPs make is seeing an improvement in their team, liking the result, and losing sight of their end goal. This then results in a review of the system six months later and re-evaluating the value they see. As your company grows and understands the intricacies of a solution, efforts should be invested in improving how your organization uses it. Your company should never have a ‘set it and forget it’ mentality—the aim is continual service improvement (CSI) for your toolset.
Focus on Results
My final piece of advice, don’t lose focus on the results you want. I have the luxury of being able to interact with ConnectWise Partners (users of the software) regularly, and it’s not abnormal to hear someone vent about the advice they wish they could give their younger selves. A recurring theme is a ‘cost to results’ comparison. And by this, they wish they could have focused less of their decision on the price of any investment and more on the results they would indefinitely receive from the investment. Many of them openly discuss how they underestimated the ‘I don’t know what I don’t know’ concept and just how impactful this learning curve can be. At this point, now that they have opened up about this pitfall, I venture to understand how they would recommend others approach the onboarding process. The typical response focuses on two areas of the adoption process: the onboarding, and the ongoing improvements and maintenance.
No matter how you choose to go about it, no company likes to see an investment go poorly. In most cases, many organizations are better off over-investing in their efforts for success than under-investing and losing out entirely. Most software applications have ample resources to help you and your organization become successful with the adoption of their solution. Don't hesitate to take advantage of them, because it could make all the difference in the ROI of your software investment and the efficiency of your company overall.
Even during uncertain times, you can maximize operational efficiency across your MSP.