Business Tools Based On Business Needs

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, November 13, 2007 at 06:31 AM with 0 comments

Having the best tools to get work done for my clients is what I strive for. Paying for them is sometimes a challenge, taking all other costs I have into consideration. This is where I have to justify if the tool, whether is is hardware, software or what have you, will make me more productive or give me a competitive advantage.

As a small business owner I have the luxury of making these decisions. Over the years of working for others, this decision making varied. Sometimes my immediate manager would make the decision. In this case the request process was generally fair, especially for the managers who actually knew what I did on a daily basis.

Some of the companies I worked for – usually the larger ones – made these decisions based on blanket policies that set justification based on your title or position and not on business need. Such a policy assumes upper management are typically the ones that need and will use more advanced tools. Whether or not they actually use them at all or to their fullest is more than likely never followed up on. If you try getting any particular tool whose distribution was based on such arcane rules – forget about it, no matter how well you are able to justify its need it will fail.

I have personally encountered this over the years in requests for business cards, email access, software, access to the company’s VPN to work from home, a notebook computer (when I was traveling for work), a decent-sized monitor and a mobile device for email. Though these requests spanned a period of almost 2 decades, I continue to hear such stories today from others.

Such policies are driven by the desire to control costs, and the only costs being monitored are cash expenditures. Opportunity cost is never usually taken into consideration. How much less productive is an employee when they do not have a tool to be more efficient? How about their overall team? Or how about opportunities lost when people are not able to get in touch with people outside the office who do not have a mobile device to reach co-workers? And don’t forget the cost of rehiring an employee who leaves a job if they feel they are not respected to handle the "fancy toys" their managers have.

With the season of generosity around the corner, managers and companies should take a hard look at what it really costs to be in business and not be penny wise and pound foolish.

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