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Distance Vision When choosing technology, it's best to be far-sighted.

By Amanda C. Kooser

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A business is the sum of its parts--and that includes the technology that goes into making it run. From your computers to your network to your cell phones, keeping your technology functioning well is a crucial task. Beyond that, the right technology choices can improve your efficiency and help your business hum along. Upgrading your technology isn't just about keeping up; it's about getting ahead. Every business should take some time to assess its technology needs and look at areas that may need improvement.

It helps to formulate a plan, even if it's just a general set of technology goals. Look beyond just upgrading your desktops or buying larger flat-panel monitors; investigate some of the newer technologies out there. Rick Buddine, CIO of technology consulting company Buddine Information Technology in Orange, California, says, "Think outside the box. Don't try to just improve what your given process is, but try to think of new processes that will improve the bottom line." He suggests looking into VoIP as a strong option for upgrading your phone system. There are services for every budget, so you're likely to find a good fit for your company. Services include outsourcing your phone needs to your broadband data provider or looking at investing $15,000 to $20,000 in equipment for an in-house system. Rich features like unified messaging and call forwarding can help boost your business to the next level.

Growing businesses face the challenge of scalability when it comes to technology. The equipment you buy now will need to handle your company's future, which will likely include more employees or an expanded office. For example, when it comes to your computing backbone--your network--Buddine says, "if you're moving or re-wiring, run twice as much cable as you ever think you'll need." He suggests adding a wireless network if you need to expand to cover a warehouse or other space where a wired Ether-net network would be difficult to install or use. Just be prepared to handle the wireless security properly.