A 2009 Microsoft study found that 55% of small-to-medium-sized (SMB) businesses considered technology a critical component for growth. And that was back in 2009!
Many companies implement technology on an “as needed” basis. A new computer or software is purchased and installed because of some external need. The problem is this leads to a fragmented approach to technology. It means you aren’t examining how these new purchases can impact your business as a whole. This leads to all the problems associated with organic business growth.
Everything has a tendency to change over time. When workers encounter a new situation they try to adapt to that change into their existing tool set. This inevitably leads to a poor fit and a breakdown in workflow efficiency. This organic growth can cause a nasty ripple effect through out your entire business. A well developed IT plan will ensure that you are implementing the right technology to improve customer satisfaction and support emerging business needs without the dangerous ripple effect. It means planning ahead, or taking a proactive (instead of reactive) approach to business challenges. And, no, you don’t need a crystal ball — just a little bit of foresight and experience to know what tomorrow’s challenges will be.
An IT plan can be based on certain business milestones:
- when we hit 10 employees, we add a network domain
- when the website has 100 customers, we’ll add some interactive features
- when we generate $5 million in annual sales, we’ll upgrade our accounting system
- and so forth.
The milestones need to make sense for your business. Ideally you structure your IT strategy so you can afford each step when you need to take it. You will also want to create an IT Strategic Fund budget so any money you need to implement these projects can come from there instead of general funds. However, if you are running a small business on a shoe string that might be much, much tougher to pull off.
Developing a tech strategy for your business is one of the keys to achieving long term success. If you don’t define your goals, you will never reach them. This plan will also ensure that you grow your company with the end point in mind, instead of just reacting to each problem individually. By keeping the big picture in mind you ensure that every penny you spend on tech will pay off over and over again over time.
Louis Rosas-Guyon III is a technology expert and President of R-Squared Computing, a company that helps you work smarter, faster. He is also the author of two technology management books [http://www.lourg.com] including “Nearly Free IT” with over 180,000 downloads!
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