15 Smart Ways to Optimize Your Tech Investments as an SME

When choosing a technology solution for your SME, it’s important to understand the business value you’ll be getting for your money.

Technology can certainly be an investment, especially for small- and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs). Many programs cost a lot of money up front and may not end up serving the needs your business has.

That’s why it’s so important to carefully choose which technologies your business invests in. This often entails doing some market research and understanding exactly how a tech tool might be able to solve your business needs.

Below, 15 Newsweek Expert Forum members shared their insights to help SMEs optimize their technological investments.

Decide Which Investments Have the Biggest Impact

Not all investments are created equal. Take the time to evaluate ROI and research which ones will have the biggest impact. Recognize what is a commodity and that managed services can save you money in the long run. For example, rather than investing in building an internal CRM system, it may be wiser to outsource. – Umang ModiTIAG, Inc.

Choose Critical Systems for Investment

SMEs tend to have many, if not all, of the same technological needs as larger businesses, but with significantly more constraints on their ability to invest in technology. To optimize the use of these limited resources, SMEs should analyze each of their “systems” to determine what critical systems need to be invested in immediately and where the organization can wait to make future investments. – Israel TannenbaumWithum

Replace Expensive Pieces With SaaS

It depends on where they are right now. To start, SMEs should look at the total cost of ownership (TCO), including amortization, maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) and labor. Then, just start replacing the most expensive pieces with potentially cheaper SaaS. There can be some debate about strategic versus non-core systems but barring one or two use cases, nothing is truly strategic in my opinion. – Sachin DoleFastUp inc

Seek Input From Your Subordinates

Have some of your team members, including those who would use the technology on a daily basis, try it out. You can do this by using a free trial or paying for one to three months. Don’t sign up for a year-long term or take on something that will be too disruptive to operations. Finally, expect a temporary decrease in efficiency as your team adjusts to the new tech. – Will

Ensure You’re Fully Leveraging Current Features

Do an assessment of the automation that your various technologies offer and see if you are leveraging these features fully. By leaning into automation, you remove repetitive and mundane tasks from your team’s collective plates. This frees up a small mountain of time each month that they can use for deeper, more focused work. – Henry Kurkowski eWireless

Consider and Calculate the Actual ROI

Technology is great and automation is wonderful—I am a big proponent of both! That being said, I constantly see organizations spend big money to solve problems that have minimal impact. Be strategic by investing in solving real problems with real organizational impact that will have a real return on investment (ROI). – Christian GainsbrughLearningCart

Protect Against Security Concerns

Implement cloud solutions that address possible malware and other security concerns in seamless ways. Train personnel across the organization against possible phishing, email and web link attacks. Remove administrator-level access to limit access to critical data when possible, and bring in new third-party expertise to strengthen the organization’s cybersecurity as a worthwhile investment. – Anthem BlanchardHeraSoft

Identify any Process Inefficiencies

Evaluate critical bodies of work and the expertise aligned and identify the gaps to include low-value activities needing automation and maximize resources. In this process, identify process inefficiencies. Technology cannot be laid on top of broken processes. After due diligence, explore systems that have minimal functional gaps and maximum fit to serve needs with little customization. – Britton BlochNavy Federal

Prioritize Technology That Optimizes Processes

The technology decisions must enable the company to meet its priorities and goals with solid ROI. In today’s digital world, speed and agility make the difference. Prioritize technology that allows the company to respond to employee, customer and business needs and optimize processes at scale to quickly and efficiently make small or significant market demand changes. – Matt DomoFifthVantage

Try a More Economical Approach

Companies have been migrating to subscription-based “as-a-service” models where technology is paid for on a monthly basis as opposed to a large upfront payment, which makes it more economical for SMBs to afford an updated technological environment. These programs often include lifecycle management services, automatic updates, device management and other efficiencies. – Suzanne MattaboniSuzanne Mattaboni Communications

Monitor Risk And Technology Performance

Investing is not about avoiding risk; it’s about monitoring it. Investment governance allows small-and mid-sized enterprises to align the potential benefits or impacts of technology with strategic plans and other available resources. It focuses on monitoring the performance of the technology with predetermined operational cues that dictate the sustainability of an organization. – David CastainDavid Castain & Associates

Ask What Else You Need From Your Technology

I think that the important thing is to start by assessing the technology that you have and determining how well it is working for you. What is missing? What technology could make the workday smoother and more efficient? These are questions to ask before investing in new technology. Make sure you choose technology that will deliver value for your company. – Elliott SmithThe Ohana Addiction Treatment Center

Assess Your Company’s Future Needs

I think it’s important to assess what technology you need now and to also envision the need in the near-term future. Consider the cost-benefit analysis of basic functionality needed now and what those needs may look like in the next two years. Keep it simple with a balanced eye on the future. Don’t overspend but be realistic in the assessment of how your company’s needs will grow. – Margie KieselAvaneer Health

Set a Budget for New Technologies

We have a set budget for new technologies. We already utilize a lot of artificial intelligence in our day-to-day operations, but there’s never enough. There are always new tools coming out, and we love investing in them. Our ROI speaks for itself, and it is always money well spent. – Krisztina VeresVeres Career Consulting

Get a Second or Third Opinion

Find peers and make sure that you discuss these investments with them first to get their take on things. If you go to a doctor, sometimes you go for a second or even a third opinion. You should do the same thing when it comes to tech investments. Others’ opinions are useful and they may have eyes on elements that you may have missed. – Chris TompkinsThe Go! Agency

Previously published on Newsweek.