Many remodelers have shared with me their desire to bring technology into their businesses. Although they are looking for specific software and hardware suggestions, their biggest concern is making sure the implementation is successful. When I ask them how they will measure success, most don’t know how to answer. Successfully implementing technology requires proper planning. Here are three key considerations:
1) Who will measure the success of the implementation? Even if you think everything is going or went fine during implementation, your employees may not agree. Before starting, meet and discuss expectations on what the technology will do for the business, the employees, and your customers. Discuss not only the benefits you expect but also the anticipated challenges and concerns.
Doing this first should help you choose between available options and address challenges at the beginning — not when you are in the middle of the implementation. Also, discussing the plans with your employees in advance might help identify the naysayers before they do any damage.
2) At what point in the process will you set up the software? In my experience, most remodelers would not be able to write out how they do business in a logical order or fully explain things to a new hire. Because of this, setting up software will be time-consuming and may be frustrating as well because the person setting it up may also be learning the software at the same time.
I suggest that the owner or manager learn and set up the program before introducing it to employees. The reason: It’s likely that how you initially set it up and use it will change over time, requiring your employees to relearn the program or figure it out on their own. If you or your manager keep changing your mind about how you will use the new software, employees may lose confidence in the business and/or the technology.
3) Are you planning to fully or partially automate your business? Decide if you want one program that will do everything or if you will use multiple programs. If you can find a good solution, I recommend a single program. Integrating independent programs isn’t easy, even with a staff IT specialist. Plus, the more software programs you use, the more often you and your employees will repeatedly have to enter the same information.
Also, decide if you are really ready to automate your business. Real automation not only moves manual tasks to technology but also requires that business is done in a specific sequence; what I call a “forced flow.”
A predefined forced flow maintains a more consistent and accurate process for your business and staff. If you have been using the just-get-it-done mentality, micromanaging the activities of your employees and the sequence of their actions, you may not be ready for technology, particularly an all-inclusive single solution.
—Shawn McCadden founded, operated, and sold a successful design/build company. A co-founder of the Residential Design/Build Institute, Shawn now speaks at industry events and consults with remodeling companies. firstname.lastname@example.org. Click here to read more from Shawn McCadden.