How asking the right questions up front can save you from wasting money on technology purchases that gather dust in the corner of your office.
It doesn’t matter if you run a multi-national corporation or you are a dentist with five employees. It doesn’t matter if you have used similar products in the past or if you have never tried anything like it before. Successfully incorporating new technology into your business requires much more than a casual commitment.
Commitment, Not Intention Determines Success or Failure
Like many people, you have probably bought technology products with the best of intentions. Maybe you purchased productivity software, an intra-oral scanner or CAD/CAM system for your office. You probably did so thinking these products would bring you more income, higher efficiency, better clinical outcomes, new customers, etc. And it’s likely that you made the purchase without completely understanding the investment needed to achieve the desired result.
Many of us spend our time evaluating new technology based solely on the list of features, functions and cost of the purchase. We don’t consider the time we’ll need to invest in planning, training and implementation. As time is your most valuable commodity, you should give the time commitment equal or greater weight when considering a technology purchase.
There is no Pixie Dust
As much as you want to wave a magic wand and make a product immediately work, it never happens, no matter how impressive the technology.
Fifteen years ago I worked for a company that sold early intra-oral scanners and treatment planning software. Dentists loved the devices and were quick to buy, but slow to really use them. Most didn’t realize how much time it would take to learn the software and master the scanning technique. They didn’t budget the money needed to pay their assistants for practicing after hours. Their assistants, who weren’t part of the decision-making process, complained about the extra work. In short, those dentists didn’t have a realistic implementation plan and many failed.
Ask Questions Before You Spend
Before you make a technology purchase, ask yourself some critical questions. These questions will help you understand what you’re getting into.
1. What outcome(s) am I expecting from incorporating this new technology into my practice?
2. What does that outcome mean to me in terms of time, money, personal satisfaction, professional development, etc.?
3. Who in the office is going to be responsible for the implementation and how will they be trained?
4. How will I schedule and budget for training?
5. How many hours am I willing to commit to educating myself?
6. How will I measure my success, i.e., what’s my quantifiable goal?
7. What is my timeline for achieving that goal?
8. Which staff members will be affected by this new technology?
9. Am I willing to include staff in the evaluation process and get their buy-in up front?
10. What processes in my business will need to change? (e.g., billing, ordering, scheduling, supplies, appointment length, etc.)
Know What Commitment Looks Like
If after answering the questions you are still unclear about what commitment really means, consider these words from a famous Texan, “The difference between being involved and being committed can best be demonstrated by looking at a plate of ham and eggs. The chicken was involved. The pig was committed.”