As an SMB owner, there are a slew of decisions you must make every day to stay competitive.
How to best market your product or service, how to get the most out of your budget and how to streamline processes to boost overall efficiencies are just a few examples. What about how you approach IT procurement solutions? How you approach technology for your company – and whom you assign to lead the charge—matters. Let’s explore recently released data about how a majority of SMBs approach IT procurement & provide some practical tips that your company can use along the way.
Survey Says: How Most SMBs Approach IT Procurement (Report)
Data from the most recent American City Business Journal’s (ACBJ) report on IT & SMBs (titled 2015 Annual Report: Technology Decision Making Among SMBs) shows that 89 percent of key personnel in respondent SMBs don’t just make part of the IT procurement decisions – rather, these leaders have hands in purchasing both hardware & software solutions that best meet the needs of their respective companies.
While their plates are clearly full when it comes to tech considerations, they aren’t alone at the table. About 6 out of 10 of these decision makers often ask for advice before deciding how to proceed. The data shows that those who don’t – in other words, those who proceed with IT procurement autonomously – are generally younger & have fewer employees.
For most companies, the technology buying cycle takes anywhere from 6 months to just over a year, and growth & process optimisation are usually the goals of the IT procurement. That makes sense, as budgetary constraints can leave little room for error in your SMBs playbook. Overall, SMB owners report being excited by—and very willing to invest in—technologies that help make them a “21st-Century Business.”
Does this sound like you? If so, you know that getting IT procurement right is extremely important. Who are the right people to make these decisions, though? What should they consider, & where should they start?
IT Procurement for Your SMB: How to Get It Right
There are 5 stages of the technology buying cycle. Below, we’ll outline each & provide some tips for choosing an SMB tech purchaser who can successfully navigate the process.
The stimulus stage involves identifying the reason for the potential IT procurement in the first place. Are there new security concerns? Did your current solution stop working? Perhaps you just want your business to grow. Regardless of the reason, you must have a clear view of the problem you’re trying to solve before you can start looking at solutions.
This stage is incredibly important. Be sure to select decision makers who can see the big picture & who understand the implications of their IT choices on all players, including internal personnel, external customers, & company infrastructure.
Many purchasing decision makers turn to providers when it’s time to start searching for solutions. Others look to in-house experts, & some conduct online research. However your IT buyers are getting information, the important thing is that they’re getting it—after all, you can only expect them to make an educated decision if they get that education up-front.
The point where your IT procurement point-person decides what to buy—and from what company—happens here. Clearly, the process isn’t quick, so you’ll need to make sure you appoint someone willing to commit to the entire process.
Honestly evaluating your solution of choice is a step not to be skipped. What went well? What could be done better next time? These are important questions your procurement specialist should ask so that each experience is one of growth—in more ways than one.
Rather than taking the in-depth IT procurement approach above, does your business have a habit of buying disparate technologies & trying to retrofit everything after the fact? It makes more sense to plan ahead, consider all parties affected by technology decisions, and proceed thoughtfully along the path to new tech solutions for your SMB. If you put leaders in charge of IT procurement who understand the importance of this proactive approach, you’re bound to see far-reaching benefits that touch workflows, services, infrastructure & more.
Ricoh understands the importance of a good IT procurement process. Let us help you make the right choice.