The problem of non-strategic IT spending is an issue for small businesses, but as companies grow, the challenges of effectively managing their IT budget increase rapidly.
“Rapid growth often forces many small businesses to completely overhaul their IT strategies,” explains Jeremy Wanamaker, CEO for Complete Network. “However, the main challenge with developing an IT strategy is ensuring you can do so without exceeding your budget.”
But how exactly do you allocate budget to keep existing systems functional while also ensuring you’re embracing the newest technologies on a proactive basis?
That exact question keeps the leaders at businesses across the country up at night, but it doesn’t have to. In this article, we’ll give you a leg up on understanding IT strategy and how you can develop one at your business.
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An IT strategy is a long-term, comprehensive plan that explains how your organization will manage its technology.
By gathering input from stakeholders from across your organization and then centralizing this plan in a written document, your business achieves a few important goals, which include:
When is a business strategy necessary? Despite what many business leaders may feel, a business of any size can benefit from having a robust IT strategy.
For example, even small businesses with 10 employees may find that the strategic deployment of technology can help them streamline business processes, achieve key metrics, and accomplish their business goals faster than they would otherwise.
That said, studies show that while 67% of business leaders believe their companies are good at crafting strategies, 47% stated that they’re better at implementing them. Additionally, having a robust strategy increases a business’s likelihood of implementing new technologies.
Now that you know what an IT strategy is and its importance, the next logical question is: how do I build my IT strategy, and what exactly should I include in it?
Here is a general overview of some of the most important elements.
Because the process of IT strategy development has lots of detailed, moving parts, which can make it confusing for businesses that lack internal technology experts to help them navigate the process, it may be helpful to enlist the help of a virtual chief information officer (vCIO).
The process of developing an IT strategy involves several discrete steps. Here are some of the most important steps:
Your strategy can’t be a siloed effort performed just by your IT department, it must organically reflect the opinions and needs of your entire organization. At the start of any IT strategy project, organize a team of stakeholders from each department and communicate their importance.
A McKinsey survey showed that 70% of business executives were not satisfied with their company’s strategies, while a further 70% did not trust the results of the strategy development process. This further highlights the importance of getting the support of your stakeholders.
How do you define technology success? Without a clear sense of what victory looks like, you won’t know when you’re managing your technology effectively or when you’re not.
Common KPIs include device availability, network latency, network utilization, and others which you can read about here.
What technologies are missing from your ideal state? Performing a gap analysis helps you answer that question and identify the steps you’ll need to take to bring your network to optimal performance.
A full gap analysis should cover not just network performance but also cybersecurity and regulatory compliance.
What new technologies are driving increased efficiency and customer satisfaction in your industry? Baking those elements into your strategy is an important way to keep yourself ahead of the curve and the competition.
The point of an IT strategy is to help you achieve stability and optimal efficiency over the long term. Here are some of the steps that you can take to make sure that’s the case.
A common mistake that businesses make is to take the time and expense of developing a comprehensive IT strategy, then put it on a shelf and see it as a finished product.
Research shows that 7.5% of IT strategy potential is lost due to not having the correct resources available in the right place at the right time.
The opposite is true: you must treat your IT strategy as a living document and make plans to revisit it at least twice a year to ensure that it reflects your goals and priorities.
This is especially true in the realm of cybersecurity, as new threats and forms of malware can force businesses to pivot rapidly to stay ahead of the latest hacks.
Most small and mid-sized businesses simply lack the internal IT expertise to develop and maintain an effective IT strategy.
The reason can vary by organization. Small, overstressed IT teams may be too busy putting out daily technology fires to manage a long-term vision for IT success.
In other situations, there is simply no senior IT staff in-house with the skills necessary to achieve a big-picture strategy for an organization’s technology.
When the right in-house talent is absent, the best strategy is to work with a trusted externally managed IT services partner, who can provide the expertise you need, without the need for an expensive IT hire.
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Now that you have a solid grasp on developing an IT strategy for your business, its importance, and the steps you need to take for successful implementation, it’s time to put your plan into action.
However, if you still require assistance with creating a comprehensive IT strategy for your business, we can help.
Complete Network’s team of vCIOs and consultants have helped small and mid-sized businesses develop comprehensive IT strategies for over two decades. We consistently earn praise and five-star reviews for our speed, friendliness, and reliability.
Learn more about how we can help you take your IT strategy to the next level by contacting us today for a free consultation.
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In an ideal world, technology would be a consistent source of competitive advantage and benefit for small and midsized businesses. The reality is that many fail to realize that confidence.
Without the right resources and support, even a highly skilled technology team can become overwhelmed by the growing list of technology management duties. When important tasks get neglected, it creates ripple effects throughout an organization that damage productivity and efficiency.
The co-managed IT services model solves these problems by providing your existing IT team with all the support and resources they need to successfully plan, manage, and defend your network technology.
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