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Small Business Technology Planning

By CRISTA ·
What advice do you have for a small business that is looking to implement technology in all parts of the business? I am looking for advice on determining my needs now and in the future and preparing a RFP that speaks to those needs.

Thanks!

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The traditional approach

by James R Linn In reply to Small Business Technology ...

is to look at the companies long term/strategic plan, and determine how you can use technology to support that plan.

The business should have some long term directions - increase sales, bring new products to market etc. Thing about how you can support those goals with technology solutions. This will probably involve working with those who came up with those goals to get further information and greater detail.

Whatever you do, you have to not look at technology in isolation. IT serves the business, not itself.

James

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Technology Plan

Before you do an RFP, you need to develop a technology plan.

This should include what you are trying to achieve and an assessment of what talents you have in house, such as system installation, LAN installation and management, etc. It should describe solutions where solutions are known internally. It should state areas where assistance is needed. Some solutions will be simple such as purchase a commercial software, such as MS Office, and install on all or some machines. Some will requireassistance in developing depending on the skills sets internally available.

Once you have a plan, you can then develop an RFP if you want or research available IT external resources and select one without an RFP. Sign confidentiality agreements and share your plan with them and ask how they would approach resolving the issues and implementing it. From there if you like what they say go to contracting and write up a formal agreement.

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Start with the business

by Enkedu In reply to Small Business Technology ...

Small businesses are usually different only in degree, not kind, from larger businesses. In all cases, start with the business planning. Does it have a business plan/corporate strategy? This should define what it is that IT should be focusing on.One of the dangers in commencing with some form of information systems strategic planning exercise, or worse, going straight to RFP, without this backgrounder is that IT fails to support the business. One (or more) of the following tend to bite companies in the b*m:

- Systems reflect the interests of the consultant/IT staff running the procurement;
- Systems reflect the "squeaky wheel" in the business or the business sponsor of the consultant, rather than the business as a whole;
- Systems reflect what the flashest or cutest sales guy/gal can sell you ...

This tends to lead to:
- Systems that deal with business-as-usual or systems that deal with the latest "great idea", but not both.
- Huge, unforseen costs downstream when the gaps become apparent.

Follow up the business plan with some form of ISSP; then follow this up with project-specific requirements suitable for RFP. Key decisions that will should be made before going to RFP include buy vs build; in-house vs outsource. It should also be possible to determine whether you want a "one stop shop" approach or a "horses for courses" approach (each has its own merist and demerits). It also helps if you have a good set of IT procurement documents and a smart, computer contracts-savvy lawyer to shorten the process and avoid or reduce the complications downstream (there will be some - that's life).

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by Access2 In reply to Small Business Technology ...

Hi Christa
You need to look at the needs of the organization in concert with the emerging technologies. IMHO I believe that mobile commerce will be the next big thing. Customer research and customer service, including one-to-one marketing and customization using the Internet will provide services online anywhere, anytime, perfectly, and (almost) free for consumers.
We need to think ahead when examining technologies. Tech can be used to cut costs in inventory and supply chain, as well as in developing and harvesting new customers.
For more, please visit
www.accessconsult.com
Sincerely,
Simon Proops

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Typical salesperson

by James R Linn In reply to

Not every business needs the Internet for every kind of commerce.

The golden rule of planning is to first make sure you deliver on what the customer(rest of the organization) needs you to deliver today. The cutting edge is for companies that wantto live and die by the edge.

James

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Focus

by Access2 In reply to Typical salesperson

Sure, focus on the immediate needs of the customer. Do what your company does, and if necessary, 'stop the bleeding.'
But today's cutting edge has a nasty habit of becoming tomorrow's baseline.
Just think how rapidly we have embraced the web....

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Small companies also need R&amp

by luisk In reply to Small Business Technology ...

Small comanies also need R&amp and stay up to date with technologies's tools for their businesses.
Sites such as www.eforcommece.com offer incredible valueble solutions for companies to participate in this e-commerce era.

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