How to Start to Incorporate Technology Into Your Company from our Director of Technology, Robert Fryman.
We live in the web 2.0 age. How do we separate ourselves from the pack? How do we push our companies to be leading in the technology race?
Pen and Paper
Think of an idea. Wanting to be technology-focused is not enough when you don't know what you want to do. Ultimately, technology is only as good as the idea it spawned from. A good idea is needed, but the workflow in how you want your process to go is needed as well.
See if someone else has made it
If you have an idea, make sure it’s original. We don't need to reinvent the wheel with our internal tools, we just need it to work. For example, we were looking into designers that could help our customers create designs on their own that would be easy, fast, and intuitive. This was hard to find and honestly, we could not find one that was to our liking, so we built one.
Spreadsheets and Google Forms
Once you have your idea and thought process done, you need to get rid of the idea of having a flashy app right off the bat. You need to test your idea. All ideas are worthy of exploration, but until you get the hard data, it is not worth the time or energy. If a spreadsheet is all you need, then cool. You are using technology to make your work easier. Look for ways to incorporate technology to make archaic processes more efficient.
If you see that spreadsheets and forms can’t do the job, consider making an app. For us, we had a lot of individuals do a repetitive task for every single order that came in, and this task was the same for every person. We created a small app that looked for new data and once it was noticed, it would talk to another application and send the data to the app. This middleware helped us save time on tasks that were necessary but time-consuming.
I usually only advocate larger apps once small apps are created and need to be expanded. Large apps take time and money, whether you hire an outside firm or hire an in house developer. Large apps need to be treated as stepping stones to what you want to do. Don't think of the end with large apps. Large apps are most effective with small, attainable goals in mind. This practice, known as “scope creep”, is a thing that ruins a lot of projects, and needs to be avoided at all costs.
Technology is a great thing that needs to be embraced. You need to look at the idea in its simplest form. You need to check and see if you can save time and energy, and see if someone else had the same idea and you can use that to help you in your goals. You need to think in small sections of work once you decide to build your own tools, and think of the smallest things you want this to do. This will allow you to build small and larger apps in time, see results faster, and be able to change and adapt when you need to.