5 Questions To Ask When Buying Technology
Buying technology always feels like a painful process. Almost like pulling teeth.
You never look forward to it, it hurts your wallet considerably, and after spending all that money, you feel very different, like part of you has just been removed.
However, just like pulling teeth, at the end of the day you are happy that it’s done.
The result almost always makes your life better, you don’t want to remember the times before the changes, and you enjoy the relief that comes with knowing you won’t have to do this again for a long time.
Technology will last years, and in some cases even longer if you take care of it well. It also happens to be quite expensive. So it’s no wonder why companies are not as keen to spend money on technology, especially since they go by the “if it’s not broken, why fix it?” adage.
If you’re going to justify spending money on technology, or at the very least try to find the right technology, ask yourself a few questions.
It’s tempting to be taken in by the allure of the latest and greatest technology, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting the very best we have to offer. But by asking questions, you keep your head out of the clouds and the focus on what is best for you.
Is This Technology Going To Help Anyone?
Technology was designed to help people, but to be perfectly honest, not all of us need every single benefit technology delivers.
I, for example, have no real need to delve into 3D software rendering. Do I think it’s amazing? Undoubtedly. Do I think it has real benefits? As long as I keep seeing animated movies, yes. Will it help me now and in the near future? Not likely.
When you run into a problem, the first thought is that you want an immediate solution, and buying new software or a better hardware version is going to make things better. Unfortunately, that snap reaction ends up being the reason that IT spending is seen as excessive.
Sure, it looks like a good decision now. But when you focus on technology as an instant pain relief, it can quickly snowball into expenses that become harder and harder to justify.
Before making a purchase (or even planning one), ask yourself: will this actually help me solve my problem?
Then follow this question up with “Why?”
If you can fight past the temptation to get rid of the pain immediately, you’ll be able to focus on the rational thoughts. Then you can start thinking about how the technology you want can actually help you.
This sounds obvious, but humans don’t always act logically. There have been many times in your life where you have made decisions quickly, and they didn’t all end up being the best decision.
Bringing logic back into the equation will help you think about what the technology will be used for, and the benefits it will have on everybody, not just you.
Is It Easy To Understand?
Technology comes with a lot of promises. Unfortunately, they’re not always the easiest promises to understand.
The main promise, of course, is to take your pain away and make your operations more efficient. However, if you don’t understand how technology will do that, you’re going to find yourself running into the same problems down the road. Maybe even new ones on top of that.
Of course, you don’t have to understand the entire technical process. That can be too time consuming and fruitless. But you should understand what a new software application is going to do for you, or how a server is going to improve company performance.
For example, if you buy accounting software to replace or upgrade your current software, you should know the following:
- What are you installing?
- What will this new software do that you couldn’t do before?
- What was wrong with your old software?
- What benefits do you expect to see?
- Is there a way to see and/or measure the improvements?
If you can’t answer those questions, you don’t actually understand what you’re putting on your computer.
Let’s be fair here; I’m not throwing light on any brand as being suspicious. But just as you wouldn’t invite some random stranger into your home without knowing a bit of information about them, you shouldn’t bring in technology when you don’t know what it will do.
You shouldn’t have to have the best technological background to understand what technology can and cannot do for you. If you can’t understand it, don’t bring it in. It’s as simple as that.
If people can’t explain it to you in words that a child would understand, they’re obviously making things more complicated than they need to be. If you can’t understand the simplest explanation, it’s probably not going to deliver the benefits it promises you.
Will It Actually Solve Our Problem?
If a tool can’t solve a problem, it is useless.
Technology can bring amazing potential to your company, but only if you know it can actually fix a problem that you’re having.
If you’re not fixing a problem, well, buying technology isn’t actually going to improve anything.
Compare the process to buying a plant for your office. Plants look nice, but if you’re just buying plants because “your office needs a plant”, unless there was a building mandate that required every room to have a plant, you’re wasting money on something you don’t need.
But if you bought a plant to improve the design and appearance of your office, because it currently looks very boring and dull, then yes, buying a plant will help fix your office appearance problem.
It’s such a nice feeling to go out and buy something new, but unless you’re actually trying to fix a problem or add value to the company, it’s not likely that your purchase is going to be worthwhile.
Technology isn’t cheap either, so trying to solve imaginary problems can run up a lot of expenses very quickly.
Check with other people in the company to see if they have a problem that needs fixing, or if you’re working in a specialized job, that you absolutely need this problem fixed. Otherwise, passing your expense sheet to accounting may not be the fun time it used to be.
Can You Even Run The Technology?
This is more of an issue for hardware rather than software, but the problem is still the same.
Technology may seem to be getting smaller and smaller, but some things haven’t changed. Servers, for example, will still take quite a bit of room in an office. New desktops and laptops need a space to be in.
You need Internet ports and wires, as well as room to fit all of your existing office furniture that isn’t technology related.
On the software side, you have to check that your current operating systems will be compatible with the software you are going to be using. If you are using Apple Macintoshes, for example, you might not be able to run some software as you would on a Microsoft computer.
There is not a time that feels worse when you have bought something amazing but it doesn’t work for your office. That feels like a bunch of money out the window, and you feel cheated.
It’s tempting to put the blame on someone else, but checking that you can actually run software and have room for the hardware is something that falls to you.
A little bit of research will help you figure out what’s best for you, and the best part is, it won’t take more than a few minutes. Even if it does, it will be research time well spent, and money saved on things that you can afford but can’t actually handle.
Is It Compatible With Other Devices?
Thankfully, this question isn’t as major to the operation of a company as the others. But it still needs to be asked as we are moving into a society where our work can be brought around the world.
There’s nothing worse than purchasing a technology solution from a vendor and having it work brilliantly, but its effects can only be felt by a few users, rather than the whole office.
Sometimes, it’s not that bad, especially if the benefits are only felt by those who would actually need those benefits in the first place. But when this concerns something like a VoIP solution or a company-wide server, the effects can be noticeable.
Also, people like to work at home now. So it wouldn’t be a stretch for people to sometimes take their work on a tablet, a laptop and sometimes even their phone, so even if they aren’t in the office, they can still work from home.
If your technology purchases will affect work, do make sure that any devices that are attached to it are properly updated. That way, you can actually feel the benefits and not have to worry so much.
Important Questions With Important Answers
It’s so tempting to just make a purchase, and then forget about how the technology will benefit your company.
However, accounting departments have a very interesting way of reminding you that you need to watch your expenses.
If you ask yourself those five questions, I guarantee that if you’re going to be spending money on technology, it will actually have a good benefit for you instead of being there just for show.
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