small business owner can expect to spend almost seven percent of their annual revenue on IT these days. As technology continues to evolve, it’s more important to even the smallest of businesses.
If you’re going to spend so much of your budget on your IT, you should probably have an IT strategy in place.
You may think your approach to IT is covered by your business plan. While it’s important to align your strategies, having a separate plan for IT is crucial. Here’s why.
An IT Strategy Supports Business Strategy
Your business strategy may do a good job at outlining a general approach to IT. Maybe one of your business goals is to be innovative. To that end, you want to be on the cutting edge of technology.
You may be involved in developing new uses for artificial intelligence. Maybe you plan to be an early adopter of emerging technologies in your industry.
Your business strategy can only take you so far though. An IT strategy goes one step further. It outlines the specific measures you’ll take when it comes to approaching IT.
In this sense, an information technology strategy for business supports your larger goals. If you want people to see you as a trustworthy brand, then you might emphasize cybersecurity.
In short, your business strategy can give you the “big picture” view of where your business is going. A strategy designed for IT tells you how you’ll use technology to get there.
IT Strategies Define Priorities
Another benefit of adopting an IT strategy for your business is that it can focus your IT department.
In the IT sector, there’s almost constant innovation. It can sometimes be hard to choose between IT initiatives. You may want to upgrade your network to integrate WiFi 6 technology, but you also want to adopt AI.
Without a strategy to guide the way, you may invest in several IT projects and leave them half-finished. Either the budget runs out or you decide to focus on a different initiative.
With a strategy in hand, you can zero in on the priorities that matter most for your business. If keeping customer data safe is the name of the game, then you want to invest more in cybersecurity. Other initiatives can come after.
This makes it easier to delegate decision-making to others in your organization. If the head of IT knows you need to focus on server upgrades to support growth, they can make the right decisions.
Strategy is a Tool to Support Change
Some small business owners resist creating formal strategy documents. They believe it will stop them from being responsive to change.
In fact, strategy does just the opposite. It allows you to look ahead and prepare for changes. While you may not know what those changes look like right now, a strategy tells your team how to respond to them.
A strategy that outlines a flexible approach allows your team to change directions. As the technology you use changes, your team can respond in ways that support your goals.
Some organizations prefer a more conservative approach. They let others test out new technologies, then adopt them slowly. They give themselves plenty of time to adjust to changes, partly by having a strategy to evaluate changes and create plans.
Strategy Lets You Grow
A business without an IT plan may run into trouble with growth. Consider the case of a company offering an app to its customers.
As more customers use the app, the app uses more server resources. The company needs to invest in its servers. The right server resources keep the app running smoothly.
A good IT strategy prioritizes the addition of resources to support app growth. Without an IT strategy, the company may not invest in its servers the right way. They may add servers too late, adopt the wrong technology, or fail to place servers strategically to provide fail safes.
In turn, the company’s customers experience problems with the app. Growth stalls out as the app develops a reputation for crashing frequently.
This scenario can apply to almost any IT application in your business. Using outdated hardware could mean you can’t keep up with demand. Your systems are always lagging, so productivity falls.
A new software system developed without consultation might not have the right tools. The team it’s meant to support can’t use it to do their jobs effectively. That, in turn, hampers their productivity and stifles growth.
Strategy Helps You Check What’s Working
When it comes to IT, small business owners want to know what they’re getting in return for their investment.
A strategic plan for IT will help you measure the effectiveness of any IT initiative in your business. From there, it’s easy to estimate the value.
An example might be in-house IT costs versus outsourcing. Many business owners feel IT managed services are too expensive. As a result, they opt to keep IT services in house.
If you actually sit down and crunch the numbers though, the picture changes. As the experts at CloudOrbis note, you can often get more out of an IT provider, maximizing your value.
Your in-house IT operations might actually be costing you more in the long run. They may not be as efficient, or your team may not have the expertise they need. If you’re switching to the cloud, experts who understand your options will help you make the right decisions.
A strategic plan will include some measures to help you track progress and success. If one of your goals is to make IT more efficient, then the strategic plan should outline how to measure efficiency.
Make IT Work for You
Developing the right IT strategy can help you propel your business forward. From cost-savings to growth to better efficiency, IT can help you do it all.
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