Your IT department should be a profit center in your business, not an expense. If your technology isn’t providing you a strong ROI (Return On Investment) compared to doing things manually, then you probably need to rethink your business plan or get a good IT support team on hand quickly.
With this frame of thinking, we review every aspect of our business and our clients businesses thinking about the ROI. If the ROI doesn’t make sense, we don’t proceed. If the ROI is strong, it should be a no brainer. My rule is to never make lateral moves for the sake of change; every move must be a step up.
Five great tools to streamline your business and to improve your ROI from technology:
- Inner-Office Communications – Using a tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams, you can isolate inner-office communications and leave email for communicating with clients and vendors. Also, breaking up your communication into channels allows you to share news succinctly without a flood of reply all emails. The channels are searchable too, so you can find what Matt posted “about that thing” two months ago. [It also supports animated gifs better than Outlook, which is great for team morale.]
- Remote Management & Monitoring (RMM) – This tool is probably not something you’ve thought of and you’ll need to work with your IT support team on it, but a good IT team should have it in place for you already. A RMM tool allows IT to easily manage your computer to make updates, fix issues, and to do their jobs without asking your employees to step away from their computer to do the same tasks that someone could do remotely. Also, the monitoring aspect of RMM means IT can watch out for issues and fix them before most users even notice.
- Remote File Sharing – Many employees don’t work the standard 9-5 job at their desks like they did years ago (really, decades ago). Most people check email from home before work, stop by a client’s office for a meeting, run to another meeting, swing by the office, head home early to get the kids from soccer practice, and finish up work once the kids are asleep. For this flexible schedule lifestyle, employees obviously need a laptop or tablet, and they need to be able to access files remotely. We suggest using a commercial-grade file sharing software.
- Workstation Backups – Because many employees are on the go with their laptops, they don’t always have access to the internet, so they don’t save their work back to the server. Just in case, we suggest getting a workstation backup system that pushes their work to the cloud whenever they do get internet access whether it be at home, at a coffee shop, or the hotel’s Wi-Fi connection for road warriors. A good IT firm can help you configure your workstation backup to just back up specific file types like Excel, Word, and pdfs, or files in certain folders. (We suggest grabbing files from the desktop too, just in case.)
- Password Management – If you’re human, you probably have a litany of different passwords on dozens of websites and you must track them all in your head. After typing in your fifth password attempt and getting locked out, you’re probably wondering if there is a better way [and wondering what your password]. This challenge is where password management software comes in. In short, the software stores all your passwords on every website and system for each of your devices and it even reminds you to update them regularly, which it stores. All you need to do is remember one master password. Trust me, this is much more secure than the sticky notes below your keyboard or the index card on your bulletin board.
I know that I didn’t give you many specific programs or software, which was intentional. Every company is unique, and me spouting off a dozen “must-use” apps won't help you determine if you have a business case for the five solutions I discussed above.
Look at your company’s processes and needs, determine the cost of doing nothing and weigh that versus the cost of getting of these tools. Also, a good IT firm will get to know your business and recommend specific tools to help your company because they’ve probably implemented many of these with their clients and use the tools themselves.