Seize the day

Instead of waiting for the "perfect" time to implement technology, SMBs should seek the perfect opportunity, which is now.

One of the most common problems small and midsize businesses face when adopting new technology to better manage their business is "paralysis by analysis".

When it comes to IT purchasing decisions, many executives often second-guess themselves, thinking that there will be a better deal or improvement in the product in, say, six months to a year's time. The state of their business and the overall economy for that matter, add to the uncertainty about how much and when is the best time to invest in technology.

However, there are many reasons why SMBS should act now to reap the benefits of today's technology and position their businesses for growth.

Business is slow, but picking up. Many small businesses think the right time to implement new systems is when business is booming and they are flush with capital. However, preparing the company for growth before those boom times may produce a more thoughtful technology implementation. The reality is that many small businesses have difficulty focusing on new technology when business is booming because they are too consumed with taking care of daily operations. Systems and applications installed during peak times may be implemented hastily, in turn increasing the costs of implementation.

There is never the "perfect" time or "ultimate" product. Technology evolves constantly. SMBs waiting for the "perfect" product lose out on the benefits offered by technology that is currently available. In the case of business management software, the technology has evolved to the point where SMBs can now easily and affordably achieve levels of operational efficiency that was previously attainable only by large companies with large IT departments.

Your competition doesn't wait. Successful businesses don't wait to take advantage of new technologies and services, nor should you. They get a jump on the competition and stay ahead by implementing and maintaining systems that will give them better operating efficiencies and control over sales and service. Those who wait often miss this opportunity, winding up instead with technology that is in standard use by their competitors.

Send a message to the market and to your staff. Technology implementation during economically challenging times sends the message of business confidence to the market and to the employees. And by providing staff with new tools, you boost morale, job satisfaction and productivity.

Investors look for solid IT infrastructures that have bottom line impact. If you're turning to investors or venture capitalists to support your company, one of the things they will look at is the IT infrastructure. If you have been keeping your house in order, they will recognize that you understand the advantages afforded by today's technologies, such as helping employees work smarter and more efficiently and innovating to get a leg up on the competition.

Mitsuiwa Singapore, a subsidiary of the Japan-based electronics component distributor Mitsuiwa Corporation, is an excellent example of how an IT investment at the right time positively impacted the company's business. The Japanese firm had a legacy accounting and tracking inventory system that was paper-based, insufficient to manage their rapidly growing business. This prompted their decision to invest in an IT system with integrated accounting, reporting, sales, distribution, purchasing, warehousing and customer relationship management capabilities.

The impact on Mitsuiwa's business was a substantial improvement of business process efficiency and a rapid return on investments. Today, Mitsuiwa has improved process visibility across the enterprise and enhanced decision-making. It also shortened lead times for customers from four to six weeks in the past, to just two weeks today.

The technology to help SMBs better manage their business is available today. By seizing the opportunity to raise operational efficiencies and improve other aspects of the business, SMBs can better position themselves against the competition.

Pranay Mital is the director of SMB Operations for SAP Asia-Pacific.