Practice technology remains a major source of frustration for many firms.
Which is why I wanted to share some frameworks from our recent program training session Practice Tech Optimiser to show how we work out what you should stay away from and what you should focus on in terms of optimizing technology.
What's most interesting is how often the same, few challenges pop up time and time again.
Ironically, at a time when so many practices are seeking a solution, the big one is often a choice.
It's interesting to know that there are always options out there and what's available to me but in truth...
...too many options actually makes it even harder to choose the right solution.
I've also found it common to see practices who have chosen one tool over another other (or had a certain tool imposed upon them) and end up with a tool that doesn't have the functionality needed, so they end up trying to shoehorn it into a process that it's never designed to support.
Classic square peg into a round hole.
Integration is another common issue, often fuelled by this desire to have what is often called the "single source of truth" or the mistaken belief that all data needs to be shared between all systems.
Worst-case scenario is if you get this wrong, you just end up frustrated because it feels like the software is stopping you from doing what you need to get done.
What I'm aiming for in doing this with you is to cut out the noise and choose something for you because it's right for the purpose.
Help you deal with the integration issue better by asking the question, "Where does the data need to be?" and setting up the flow on a need-to-know basis.
It's vital to get this right if you're growing because, as Bill Gates most famously observed...
"The first rule of any technology used in the business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify that efficiency. The second is when you apply it to an inefficient operation, it's going to magnify the inefficiency."
There are only two core strategies to choose from and when you understand each, you can make a clear decision about which route you're going to go down to.
OPTION 1: Go all-in
...which is about choosing one core platform and building your business around it, no matter its quirks are or inefficiencies. Work with what you have.
OPTION 2: Plug & Play.
...which is where you choose individual tools based on the functionality they can provide and take responsibility for managing the integration as best you can.
Let's layout some vital key principles before I take you through the Tech Map itself.
For me, choosing the right technology starts with being clear about four things...
- what I want,
- what I need.
- what impact the technology should have on my business.
- how simple is will be to implement.
If something can be added to your business within a week or more with less or minimal disruption, then it passes the simplicity test. If not, you need to smart about how you introduce it.
It's easy to get sucked into a software "beauty parade".
"It looks great"
"That feature looks interesting"
"Wow. I can imagine that would be great to have"
However, sometimes when you take a step back and ask a few critical questions outside of what it can do, you realise that maybe that's not what you need.
Before you go down the route of looking at software get really, really clear on the purpose or what you're trying to achieve.
What should you actually be focusing on?
What's the real problem that needs solving?
Is this going to make a difference?
Avoid Focusing Bias.
The danger with sometimes is the classic "grass is greener" issue.
One framework I use is the weighted analysis.
If you are looking at different tools, particularly if they're big tools, it pays to work out how to assess the options through a more objective measure.
Paradox of Automation.
The more automation you add to your business or processes, the more important human oversight becomes.
Understanding this is vital unless you want to set yourself up for a big tech mess.
Creating a Tech Map
The idea is to map out what you're using, in order to analyse what's going on, identify when there are gaps or whether there is something which is not being used for the purpose,
Break it down into four key toolsets:
- Communication tools,
- Marketing tools,
- Workflow tools, and
- Data tools
Then ask these questions
- What are the communications tools we use internally?
- What are the communications tools we use externally?
- What are the marketing term tools we use internally?
...and so on.
We also break it down into primary and secondary.
- Primary tools are things that you use most days, if not every day,
- Secondary tools, if things that aren't necessarily used daily.
Voila! Tech Map and total clarity.