4 Benefits of Planning your Digital Journey February 13, 2023 Prior proper planning prevents poor performance These are the 6P’s - an old adage from the British Military that has infinite value in the business world. Simply put it means before launching into action, taking the time to do the proper planning necessary helps you achieve long-term success. If you skip the proper planning step for a “lack of time”, or (if needed) not allocating the budget to consult an expert who can offer needed insight, you will later have problems, increased costs and stressed out bosses and staff. And worst of all, your business could fail. Nowhere is this truer than on the subject of planning the digital technology you use to run your small business. Small businesses come to us with a common pain point. Often they had a great idea of a product or service and a demand for it. Their main focus is selling and servicing their customers and becoming profitable. They launch with the software to hand that is the cheapest with minimal time investment to get going. Most of their planning was in their product development and marketing to customers. There has been no thought put into exploring whether the technology will scale with them as they grow. As they expand, the business finds they need yet another system to handle online returns, to run their email campaign, run loyalty management and to organise their digital marketing. And there are bits of customer data in multiple locations. In real operating terms this means a staff member has to log into one system to get their online sales stats, their POS to get their in store sales, a separate one for their CRM, another system for email and newsletters, another to send SMSes and so on. Not to mention their accounting system or ERP. Each one comes with its own connector to talk to all the other software. This means money and time to keep it all working. These separate software systems have valuable customer data scattered across multiple databases. They cannot provide a single view of their customer. And then the worst thing you want to hear – some tool you are using has reached its end of life and you have to re-platform! Sound familiar? It is common when you are starting out to add on a new system to give you some needed functionality with no thought to the long term sustainability. It quickly becomes a hurdle and ends up wasting large amounts of valuable time. Manual data entry, human and syncing errors, double work and complicated workflows. Here are four benefits of taking the time to plan your technology growth to ensure it supports your businesses growth: Planning allows you to consider all of the different software options available and choose the solutions that are the best fit for your business, rather than just choosing the first option that comes along. This can save you time, money, and frustration in the long run. Having a plan in place can help you avoid costly mistakes and duplication of effort. For example, if you don’t plan out your software, you might end up buying multiple solutions that do the same thing, or you might implement a solution that doesn’t integrate well with your existing systems. A well-thought-out software plan can also help you identify potential areas for automation and streamlining, which can save you time and allow you to focus on more important tasks. Finally, having a plan in place can help you stay organized and avoid becoming overwhelmed as your business grows and changes. This can be especially important for small businesses, which often have limited resources and need to be as efficient as possible. Ask yourself: How much are you paying to manage disparate systems? What are the labour costs spent on back-office admin that could and should be automated? What processes and functions, if automated, would change the way your business runs? How many different databases of sales and customer info do you have? Do you have a single view of your customer at all times in terms of sales, segmentation, and do you have the means to easily personalise communications to customers? Small businesses have traditionally not been able to afford the enterprise level software, which offers fully integrated systems, but this is no longer the case. Salesforce is the perfect example of a fully integrated platform that is a total game changer for small businesses wanting to scale. Technology companies give great demonstrations of their products. Check customer stories and reviews in similar industries to yours. Even hire a technology consultant to guide you if you need some extra help. It doesn’t have to take long to do your planning but be thorough. And when deciding on a system to use, make your eCommerce an integrated part of it, not sitting over as a silo from your CRM and digital marketing tools. In summary, taking the time to follow the 6Ps and plan your technology journey no matter how small your business is will save you money and your valuable time.