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Introducing Innovative Technology - Without Disrupting Your Business

At SIMA 2023 this year, a snow and ice management company owner expressed the concern that implementing a new business system could be overwhelming. My immediate reply was that many customers simply start by simply using the basic functions. And as they use the system, they explore more areas and features – essentially leveraging the full system over time at a pace they are comfortable with. I also mentioned our recent case study where our customer, Christian’s Maintenance, was up and running – and billing customers – in one week!

However, I realized that is not an unusual concern and decided to provide some general guidelines and suggestions for implementing new systems. Additionally, I propose that innovative technology does not have to be disruptivintroducing-innovative-technology-without-disrupting-your-businesse, and that innovation and growth can occur with significant positive impact.

Innovation is core to my DNA. Years ago, I managed an Innovation Center focused on leading-edge information technology here in Cleveland. That innovative spirit and drive is inherent in both our corporate culture and within the CrewTracker Software Digital Services Platform. In addition, my background in information technology and business, now spanning four decades, includes extensive introduction of new systems to users.

We are constantly innovating our CrewTracker Digital Services Platform. This year we announced integration with credit card/check payment services and incorporating live weather road information system data into the service record. And while CrewTracker contains over 100 reports, we are now in beta to enable our customers to use natural language prompting (e.g. 'show me the top properties') to analyze their large amounts of property and services information. These innovative enhancements are easily learned by our customers as they seamlessly integrate and look and feel similar to other areas of the system.

Armed with these insights and the approach that ‘innovative technology does not have to be disruptive’, the below items are focused on a few guidelines on how a new business system can be implemented with minimal disruption in a snow and ice management or landscaping business.

· Innovation can solve old and new problems. It enables exploration of opportunities that extend beyond existing snow and ice management industry boundaries. One example is providing the actual real-time weather data from the service to your customers on their invoice. This provides a next level of credibility while also supporting the “trust yet verify” approach. Innovation such as this is minimally disruptive while having a major impact on the customer experience.

· Research and choose the right innovative technology. Find the technology that best suits your business needs. Consider factors such as functionality, scalability, ease of use, compatibility with existing systems, cost, and vendor support. Look for solutions specifically designed for snow and ice management businesses that will enhance operations both internally and externally.

· Innovative technology can provide more efficiency in daily activities and help employees, teams and the overall organization obtain higher levels of productivity. Note that innovation does not typically displace jobs. In fact, innovation can create new jobs, or new markets, or even a new industry.

· Define your objectives: Clearly articulate the goals and expectations for the incoming innovation. Identify the specific problems or areas for improvement that the technology will address. This will help align the implementation process with your snow and ice management operational business objectives.

· Innovation should be implemented with good planning. By using a systematic approach, this helps identify how to ensure that any potential disruption is managed and avoided. Outlines the steps required for successful implementation. Depending on the innovation, break the process down into manageable tasks and set realistic timelines. Ensure you have allocated the necessary resources, including budget, time, and personnel. Important also is to form a close relationship and collaboration with the company providing the innovative technology. You are in this together and a successful, smooth implementation is the only option.

· Involve everyone in the process. This is a key aspect of success. Encourage employee buy-in. Introduce the technology to your employees early on and involve them in the decision-making process. Communicate the benefits of the new innovative technology and address any concerns they may have. Training and support will help everyone adapt to the changes and demonstrate the positive impact it will have on their work.

· Perform a dry run before going live. In fact, many snow and ice management companies perform a snow event dry run every year in the fall season. The benefits are many. Also, it may be helpful to start with a pilot project by implementing the technology on a smaller scale or in a specific department. This can help you identify and address any issues beforehand. Gather feedback from users and make necessary adjustments before expanding the implementation.

· By providing training and support, you can ensure your employees have the necessary skills to use the new innovative technology effectively. Continue to offer ongoing support throughout the process and designate the main contacts who can assist with any questions or issues. · Encourage collaboration and experimentation: Create a culture of collaboration and encourage employees to explore the full potential of the technology. Provide a way for sharing ideas and feedback and create opportunities for experimentation and innovation. This will help uncover new use cases for the innovative technology and can also generate new and improved uses.

· Monitor progress and evaluate outcomes: Continuously monitor the implementation progress and when appropriate, track key metrics to assess the impact of the innovative technology on your business. It is also good practice to regularly revisit and re-evaluate the outcomes against your initial objectives. This will allow you to adjust as needed.

· Stay flexible and adaptable: Technology is moving faster than ever and constantly evolving. It is best to be prepared and ready to adapt and embrace new advancements as they are introduced. Continue to stay informed about snow and ice management industry trends. Be open to learning about and potentially incorporating new technologies that can further enhance your business operations.

· Celebrate milestones and successes: Acknowledge and celebrate milestones achieved during the implementation process. Recognize the efforts of your employees and showcase the positive outcomes to build enthusiasm and momentum for future innovative technology initiatives.

In summary, innovative technology can be implemented in the snow and ice management industry without disrupting business operations. With practical guidance and planning, organizations can achieve positive and impactful levels of using innovative technologies resulting in operational optimization and business growth. And do consider that successful implementation can require time, effort, and effective change management. By following these steps and involving your employees throughout the process, you can smoothly integrate innovative technology into your business and reap the benefits.

John Paganini, CEO at CrewTracker Software

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