Master Your Tech Strategy in 5 Easy Steps

David Whitemyer, AIA
Posted on: 12/21/18
Written by: David Whitemyer, AIA
Topics: Technology

TechnologyThere is a constant pressure for both small and large architecture and engineering firms to continually upgrade their technology and digital tools. Faster computers, larger monitors, upgraded operating systems, new applications, and more efficient networking systems are essential to staying productive and competitive.

If it feels like your technology isn’t up to par with what’s necessary for BIM, speedy plotting, and office communications, don’t just rush out and start buying new equipment and fancy software. Step back, and make sure you don’t miss these five important steps in developing your technology strategy.

1. Budget
The costs for technology can be overwhelming and confusing. With upfront costs of hardware and cabling and installation, to monthly costs for service providers and app subscriptions, it can feel easier to just write a blank check and have a consultant deal with it.

You put together budgets for your client’s projects, and you put together budgets for your marketing efforts (at least you should), so why wouldn’t you do the same thing for the major purchases and leases required for technology?

2. Stakeholder Input
In most companies, decisions about technology are made by company leaders (who are often outside of the demographic of tech-familiar workers), IT staff (who speak a different language and are tech gurus), and IT consultants (who just want to sell products and services).

Chances are pretty good that your millennial employees – in their early 20s – are far more knowledgeable about current technologies than anyone else in the office. They’re also your primary users. Ask them for their input!

3. Research
You’d probably find a doctor to provide a second opinion if you were diagnosed with a major illness or injury, so why not do the same with IT consultants and providers? Seek the input and advice from numerous “experts.”

Similarly, you wouldn’t invest in a major stock without doing some research into the company, so don’t jump into the purchasing of major technology without learning something about what you’re buying.

4. The Big Picture
It’s tempting to jump from one shiny tech trend to another simply because you’re convinced it’s going to make your staff more productive or communicative. But this can actually add more costs than it saves, through downtime, training, and unforeseen needs such as operating system upgrade requirements.

See the forest from the trees. You want to imagine a full-firm technology plan that is going to serve everyone and be sustainable – with minimal maintenance costs – for quite a few years.

5. Training
If you spend thousands of dollars on new technology but no one knows how to use it to its full capacity, then it was all a huge waste of money. Ask the company’s from whom you purchase equipment, applications, and services if they offer training (or even just intro tutorials). And keep in mind that, according to the American Society of Training and Development, companies that offer training enjoy a 24 percent higher profit margin than those that don’t.

Once you’ve gone through these steps and have a technology strategy, you should feel more comfortable taking the leap and spending some money.

About the Author: David Whitemyer AIA is a licensed architect with over twenty years of experience in museum planning, exhibition design, and project management. He is the Director of Business Development at Luci Creative, an exhibit design firm. He served as a Senior Project Manager at Brent Johnson Design, and as the Director of Production at Christopher Chadbourne and Associates. 

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