“Technology is not neutral. At its best, it is an enabler that helps companies achieve their business goals — if they use it correctly”.
Can information technology be a leading driver of corporate growth? If it is embraced as integral part of strategy, rather than shoved aside as a back-office function, it very well might be. In unleashing the true potential of IT one has identify the strategic plans of the organization and where IT could enhance or enable such plans to become apparent.
Very few organizations have reached the state to where IT planning is proactive rather than reactive. A Good plan should include team input and evaluation of the ROI. Continue reading for a few pointers that will enable you to develop an IT plan that will be dynamic and grow with the company:
Consult Your Team
When making decisions about technology, it is imperative that you get input from both the executive and operational staff who will be using it. Ask your employees, customers, independent contractors or other stakeholders what they think. This will enable you to ascertain if they are seeing the same challenges as you.
Scott Steinberg, CEO and Lead Analyst, New York City-based IT Consulting Firm TechSavvy Global
“Your staff are often closest to customers or closest to the problem and best poised to help you solve it. In order to help understand the problem, you need to get a variety of perspectives, not necessarily filtered by managers. Talk to the end users, and talk to your customers as well”
– Scott Steinberg, CEO and Lead Analyst
Analyze Potential ROI
Now that you have a good understanding of the business goals and problems, you can begin to look at what the potential ROI might be on various investments and upgrades. Steinberg highlights factors such as:
Increased Productivity | Decreased Downtime | New Business Opportunities
Minimizing Errors | Increased Profitability | Billable Hours.
How do you then equate these benefits to dollars? In the case of reduced downtime, a recent survey by technology security firm Symantec found that the median cost of downtime to an SMB is roughly $12,500 per day. If you can reduce downtime through more reliable technology, you’re saving those costs to your business.
Look for growth opportunities
Steinberg suggests that there are also opportunity costs involved in technology. Would an investment in technology allow you to expand into new markets or service larger customers? Could you employ technology to innovate your products or services and help you grow your company? Is the market changing in a way where you’ll eventually need to adopt this technology, and is there a benefit to being among the first to do so? These are questions you need to look at, as well.
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Examine Your Options
Exploring the many technological solutions such as servers, hardware, software, cloud-based applications and others to determine the best fit for your organization can be an unnerving task. Especially when you have to contend with employees using their own devices for work, a trend called “bring your own device” or BYOD. In examining your options one should start by looking at systems existing in their current environment which are efficient and seamless this can be an area which can be replicated or built upon.
While change is constant and one can say that innovation is one constant in technology, it is important to look for names you can trust. Experienced service providers and established brands with strong customer service and history of producing reliable products and services can help you ensure that your new technology installation or upgrade will be seamless and that the company will be able to stand by its products and services.
Once you have chosen the technology that best suites you environment, think about the schedule and timing carefully. Susan Baroncini-Moe author of Business in Blue Jeans, advises integrating your new technology in stages and during times when your business is slower than normal, if possible, she implores that businesses be strategic about when and how they are going to integrate new systems.
Additionally, Baroncini-Moe suggests that as new systems or applications are added, testing the solution to ensure that it is working properly is important before you move on to next addition.
Remember those technology metrics you chose when you were analyzing the potential ROI of your investment. It’s important to keep track of them, and make sure that your new systems are working as planned. If they are, look at other areas to upgrade and optimize.
If your returns are not as planned, it’s time to look at why they aren’t. Is the technology being used to its greatest capacity? Does your team need additional training? Is there some other problem that needs to be solved? Reconvene your team, and start asking these key questions and make adjustments where necessary.
“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation if applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency”. – Bill Gates