The reason I think it might be worth writing about has to do with the fact that from our users (or conscious non-users) of technology I rarely hear the words 'I wonder whether I'll actually use this'. More likely, the burning desire for a 'technology solution' without any notion of what life is going to be like after we actually get our hands on it, leads us eventually to abandon yet another application that didn't do what we wanted it to.
My suggestion to our own internal users at work is to start with the end in mind - be able to articulate what it is you think you will be able to do with the technology right from the start. If you are buying a POS system, consider the end user - do you expect them to be able to do it via the web, want them to use an iPad to do it, need it to interface with some other kind of technology so something automatically gets done on the distribution end? Whatever it is, be able to articulate it as clearly as you can and let your IT consultants or architects help you round out the vision. Only you own the process so only you, the customer, can really describe what it needs to do.
The second reason to start with the end in mind is that there will be lots and lots you want to do that will not be possible the first time out - these are the things you want your technology team to be able to tell you about, or at least cost for you further down the road. Assuming you do not have an unlimited budget, become comfortable with:
- The notion that your technology need is going to be a roadmap, not a stoplight.
- Ongoing dialogue with your tech team about where you are and where you want to go
- Being reasonable when they ask you to prioritize the most important things for your business so they know where to start for you
- Being an engaged customer whenever they ask you for feedback, testing, updates, etc - the more engaged you are in the process of turning technology into business the better your outcomes are going to be.
- Will your tellers resist 5 more clicks to get the same work done? Then what's in it for them?
- Will your new distribution system shave 3 days off of order provisioning, but requires manual labor to make a critical connection with your distributors? How does that look when you scale the system to triple your current business? Does your distribution base want/take phone calls?
- Are the tools you are instrumenting becoming more integrated or less integrated? Remember, another tool without another integration is more net manual labor for someone who is responsible for the tasks between the two technologies, even if that is only reporting.