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Trying to meet technology needs in short window limits potential

March 8, 2013 By    

You need to fully open the window of technology.

When I first got into this industry more than a decade ago, customers always told me that technology planning and actual deployments can only happen between late spring and the end of September because they are “too busy” outside that window.

It was almost like an 11th Commandment, and I remember thinking “that’s a problem!” It still is.

This thinking is still true in many companies, and, in my opinion, these are the companies falling behind the curve of leveraging technology to significantly improve their operations. Companies that continue to subscribe to this “half-open-window” philosophy will likely never truly benefit from technology over the coming years. I’ve also found that these companies tend to condense decision making into a short “spring training” time frame, often leading to hurried and bad decisions that only compound their problems in the first place.

Think about it. My January article talked to the breadth, the depth and the ever-changing nature of the technology landscape and that it is somewhat daunting to chart and navigate a multi-year technology course and be nimble enough to react to the ongoing change.

In that article, I advocated connection with a lasting partner, and I also would offer that the window of planning, deployment and refinement of technology has to be “fully open” – 24x7x365 in dimension.

Listen, I’m not saying you physically deploy mobile units and electronic registers, convert back office data, deploy new back office solutions or full on train key operations and delivery staff in the middle of winter.

But I am saying you allocate significant time in the winter months to work with your partners to think through your needs, evaluate your options and plan future technology deployments, so when things slow down a little you are ready to go and are not forced into accelerated (and flawed) decision making.

There are many “background” tasks that can be completed over the busy winter months – reading or jumping on webinars to review product functionality, prioritizing your technology needs, geocoding your active accounts, reviewing pricing and budgets, etc. Engaging with your technology partners in these efforts is crucial.

This “fully open window” also gives your vendors the much-needed time to effectively plan and prioritize the resources required for your pending deployments – which greatly improves the probability of timely and successful deployment.

I know quite a few companies that invest in this philosophy and they are clearly benefiting – and so are their technology partners. I also know my fair share of marketers who frown on the above notion.

I can’t help thinking that this industry, going forward, must figure out how to make (more) money on thinner margins. There’s only one real lasting way to do that, and that is to rightsize your operation – office and delivery – and relentlessly drive increasing efficiencies and revised best practices. And that’s not a part-time job.

Now you could be forgiven in thinking that this notion is a “luxury” only afforded larger companies, which have the resources to hire full-time management focused on technology and its deployment, but I don’t agree. I know a lot of vendors that would welcome a wider adoption of the “fully open window” and are very willing to engage with you – even in off hours – on your technology needs. It’s in everyone’s best interest.

Anyway, I have to sign off now, but I’ll leave you with the same quote that I shared in January.

Winston Churchill had a T-shirt that read, “Keep calm and carry on,” and it’s a great mantra to follow. Don’t panic, don’t stall and keep looking.

I do believe that those propane marketers and leaders who leverage current technology to its fullest and keep on top of its evolution year-round will not only survive but outperform, outprofit and absorb others.

Vinny Mullineaux is the CEO of Vertrax, a provider of back office 
and mobile technology. He can be reached at or 

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