Why SMEs value non-technical people when it comes to implementing tech

Being able to access data and insights is a non-negotiable in today’s business world. Implementing an efficient, up-to-date IT system is no longer just a tactic to try and gain a competitive advantage; it's now a hygiene factor when it comes to ensuring day-to-day operations continue to run smoothly.

As such, many savvy SMEs are switched on to the power of effective enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems. But when it comes to investing, those businesses with little time and resources – and often limited in-house IT expertise – can sometimes struggle to fully understand what they are ‘buying’ and dedicate the headspace to seeing the implementation through to success. In fact, research found that a majority (77%) of SME business leaders don’t have the skills to successfully implement new technology.

Making things as simple and streamlined as possible can be key to getting it right. That’s where non-technical people within IT implementation teams like me – i.e. professionals working in the tech space who bring skills beyond IT-specific expertise – can be critical in making or breaking a project.

Bridging the gap

If you’re bringing in the experts, understandably, you want somebody fully embedded into the tech world who truly knows their stuff. But while technicians delivering the practical implementation need to know the devil in the detail, the client hearing the latest update directly from them isn’t always that helpful. Ultimately, the SME has decided to implement new systems to benefit the business; they aren’t necessarily interested in the nuts and bolts of how it happens.

Skilled project managers who understand the implementation space but aren’t part of the technical team can be integral in bridging the gap between client and technician, ensuring projects remain on track while providing timely, accessible updates to the client.

Removing the jargon

For those who don’t talk tech 24/7, some of the language and terminology used in this space can feel quite overwhelming. This means that for many SMEs operating in different sectors, understanding the process and making decisions based on technical updates can be particularly challenging.

Non-technical people in tech bring together the best of both worlds – understanding implementation, while also identifying where it becomes inaccessible to those not working within this realm. My job is a bit like that of an interpreter – taking the update from the technical team, distilling it down, and providing the client with the information they truly need.

Through our Rapid365 service, for example, we implement Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central for SMEs within as little as eight weeks. Working in this fast-paced environment means that information needs to be conveyed in a way that is easy to understand and doesn’t take too much of the client’s time to digest.

Creating capacity

Of course, that's not to say that all SMEs don't have existing IT knowledge. But small teams are often time-poor and simply can't be everything to everyone. Those tasked with leading implementation projects from the client side can't wear every 'hat' – they are already expected to act as the interface between the consultant and internal team, as well as handle change management within the company. Having a non-technical person to cut through the noise, explain the process to the client lead in layman’s terms, and provide a helping hand to make sense of things quickly can help alleviate the pressure while ensuring the job gets done.

Retaining the vision

Another aspect in the project manager’s gift is bringing both the implementation and client team back to the bigger picture throughout the process. Implementing or upgrading to a new IT system is an investment for a company of any size; often, the drivers behind it span from a desire to optimise operations, improve productivity, and increase competitiveness – ultimately aiding commerciality and enhancing the business’ bottom line.

Given that non-technical people aren't bogged down in the day-to-day details of implementation, they have the headspace to look at the project and how it is progressing more holistically. A lot of my role is about keeping the client happy and ensuring that the product and service they receive deliver the end results they had initially anticipated. Having someone dedicated to constantly tracking time and budget while keeping those KPIs front of mind can make all the difference to the success of a project – and the client’s satisfaction.

From my experience, SMEs are often a little scared to embark on implementation. But by opting for a standardised, integrated IT system and a team that can implement it in a way that makes sense, businesses can avoid the headache and focus on reaping the business benefits.