Buying Technology? Five questions to ask before you commit

Buying Technology? Five questions to ask before you commitAre you about to buy a “piece of technology”? If so, please take a minute to read this short article. As an industry professional, I can guarantee that the concepts I’m about to share with you will save your organization time and money.

Before we get started, its worth saying that the term “technology” is often confused with IT. We often think of it as data technology only (like computers, server, software and WiFi). In reality, it also includes TV monitors for the office conference room, the remote controls in a hotel guest room or even the trucks in a concrete delivery fleet. Anything mechanical or built and maintained by technical professionals is covered by these five crucial points to consider before you buy:

How much is this technology worth? The most important thing to do here is forget (temporarily) about the price the salesperson quoted you. Think instead about the revenue stream this device or service will create. If it doesn’t deliver actual revenue, you need to calculate how much more revenue you will make when you use it.

Is the device or software going to “save us time” or “reduce risk”? If so, then get someone with a business analysis background to play out a hypothetical scenario in which you operate for a quarter or two with the new technology.

How has your bottom line been affected in this hypothetical scenario? What would that same period look like if the time and risk saving technology were not in place?

You can now see whether your purchase price gives you a good “return on investment” (ROI) or whether the savings of not purchasing it altogether would be “worth it” should a worse case scenario occur.

Takeaway: There is a real cost to not making your purchase. To have a return on investment (ROI) this cost should be higher than the value you are spending on the technology.

Who is going to manage this? In real estate they say location, location, location. In technology we like to say its all about “management, management, management.”

You can have the finest equipment and software, but to get that ROI we mentioned earlier you need the staff to administrate and operate the technology.

Operating the technology means driving the car or pushing the right buttons. Who is going to do that? Its important to know this ahead of the purchase.

If this calculation negatively affects your “return on investment”, then you may need to consider the alternative of a full-service option. For example, many reputable IT companies offer Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) in addition to just selling the backup devices, cloud solutions and hardware.

Takeaway: Crunch the numbers and be willing to save time and money by outsourcing to a managed services provider.

3) Who will keep you in the loop?

Almost everyone has an “airline horror story”. Lost luggage, cancelled flights, overbooked flights. The fact is, these are not the common causes of the complaints I hear as a frequent flyer. Instead, I hear people saying: “hey, can somebody please tell me what’s going on!?”.

As the manager of a vendor or a piece of technology, you need visibility, feedback, support and explanations. These things keep you happy, even when an inevitable mishap occurs. This is customer service – and its the reason why the hospitality industry uses a concierge to interact with hotel guests.

At UDT, where I work, we use IT professionals in a network operations center as our concierge pool. They take shifts to monitor our clients’ servers remotely – 24 hours a day. Should something occur, we make sure a live person is on the phone with the client as soon as possible. We even dispatch a technician on site to hold the client’s hand in a time of need. In almost all cases, this is done at no extra cost.

Of course, our clients can always log on themselves and view their own networks via a web portal. Most though, prefer the hotel concierge treatment and would rather have us monitor the systems for them.

Takeway: Stay happy by asking your vendor who and how you are going to be kept in the loop so that you always know what’s happening.

4) What’s our priority ranking to the supplier?

This is very important. Even the most caring supplier has something else more important than you in their lives. Why does that customer service rep on the phone sound like they don’t care? (Answer: because they have higher priority things on their mind).

The only way to avoid those things from taking precedence over your organization is to have a “Service Level Agreement”, or SLA, as part of the signed contract with your vendor.

Takeaway: Don’t be afraid to ask your vendor to put their money where their mouth is.

5) What’s next … and what happens after that?

So now you have your technology in place. Every is running smoothly and you love the supplier. Congratulations!

What happens next? Well, nobody knows really – but you can plan ahead for eventualities.

One way to plan is to do a SWOT analysis where you identify the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats related to this newly acquired technology.

Takeaway: Innovate and be proactive. Some events are out of your control but how you plan ahead and respond to them is what makes you the consummate technology buying professional!

Are you ready to build a happier work environment and achieve a better bottom line?

Then be sure to keep this article on hand and remember to ask these questions before your next tech purchase.

Parker Lake is an IT consultant with United Data Technologies (UDT). In this role, he helps South Florida’s fastest growing business to leverage the best technology to fit their business needs.

Parker’s areas of focus include the medium- sized businesses on Miami Beach. He and his family are Beach residents and he is a proud member of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce.

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