Small-business owners play an important leadership role in identifying and applying new technologies. By investing in initiatives that enable them to deliver effective and efficient products and services, they discover innovative solutions to complex problems. Successful innovation using technology requires expert project management, collaboration, planning and implementation. Global competition and rigorous demand to bring products to market faster influences decisions. Effective strategies result in creative new systems, technology, products and services.
Successful small-business owners establish projects that enable strategic advancements. Effective project managers follow the guidelines published in the Project Management Institute’s “Project Management Body of Knowledge.” Using the five process groups, known as initiating, planning, executing, monitoring and controlling, and closing, these project managers take creative ideas and transform them into real products and services. By gathering requirements, managing stakeholders and improving processes continuously, they generate solutions that work.
The Internet provides opportunities for small-business owners to easily connect with other entrepreneurs and learn by sharing tips, tricks and techniques. Using social media technology, such as wikis, blogs and forums, innovators can get advice on how to solve problems or troubleshoot complex issues. Collaborative platforms, such as Microsoft Sharepoint, Jive or Google Docs, enable participants to share files, debate issues and rate content. Managing innovation and technology tends to be an iterative process that requires input from many talented individuals. Even small-business employees can interact on a global basis.
Successful entrepreneurs develop strategies that enable them to solve business problems in a creative way. By training their teams to use creative problem-solving processes, such as the Simplex Process, these innovators view problems as opportunities. They identify the problem by interviewing customers or evaluating current products. Then, the team analyzes existing data and conducts market research to understand previous attempts to solve the problem. They define the problem at the right level. Next, they generate ideas through brainstorming and discussion. Finally, they select viable alternatives to pursue, design and develop.
An effective strategy for managing innovation and technology usually involves making use of comprehensive analysis tools. These tools ensure the team can manage risk to minimize negative impact and exploit opportunities. They also use decision-support tools, such impact analysis and force field analysis, to examine possible outcomes and choose the best solution to a problem. By calculating the net present value and internal rate of return, the project manager ensures that the effort makes sense from a financial point of view. Net present value represents the difference between cash intake and outflow. The internal rate of return determines the rate of growth for a project. Accurately determining whether the return from an investment might be worth less than investment itself prevents business blunders.