By Sarah Nicastro, publisher/editor in chief, Field Technologies
As we head into another new year, you’re likely looking at how to prioritize the endless list of demands and to-dos you have to manage. Part of that, I’m sure, is determining which IT projects you’ll tackle in 2016 knowing that you likely won’t get to everything you’d like to. So here’s my advice on how I’d prioritize IT projects if I were in your shoes.
Step One: Where Are Your Current Systems Falling Down?
It makes sense to start with examining the solutions you’ve already deployed to determine how effective they are. First, you’ve already made an investment in those solutions, which means you’ve likely already determined that the issues those solutions are in place to solve are your biggest areas of opportunity. Second, you’ve already made an investment there — so you need to make sure that investment is paying off. What solutions are you currently using? How old are they? How are they performing versus what you expected and/or how they performed initially? How are they performing versus newer, industry-leading solutions? Asking yourself these questions will tell you whether or not you should prioritize a solution update, refresh, or upgrade overlooking a brand-new area of technology use.
Step Two: What’s Your Next Biggest Opportunity For Optimization?
If your current systems are performing to your satisfaction, the next step is to determine what your next biggest area of opportunity is in terms of optimization. Maybe you’re using a scheduling solution but don’t have a mobility component rolled out yet and know that real-time connectivity and communication with your field workers will have the biggest impact. Maybe you have a full field service suite including mobility but aren’t using fleet management yet and know that you stand to experience a sizeable ROI on a fleet solution. Maybe you have a number of areas of opportunity. If that’s the case, pick the one you feel will provide the quickest return and start there. As time and resources allow, you can move to the next on the list.
Step Three: Examine The Up-And-Coming Technologies
Your final step is to take a look at what technologies are trending — what’s getting all the buzz right now. Why is this last on the list? Because you should be focusing first on your biggest challenges and opportunities, not starting with the latest technologies and trying to work them into your processes. However, once you’ve addressed your biggest challenges and opportunities, it doesn’t hurt to do some research on what’s most talked about, how other organizations are using cutting-edge solutions, and what analysts are saying is the “next big thing.” Don’t jump to deploying these solutions, but consider how they might fit into your operation and what additional value they may bring.