Remember our recent article about why you need a business IT strategy? Well, being the helpful folk we are here at RoundWorks, we thought we’d follow it up with a few hints and tips to help you create your own strategy for keeping your IT infrastructure up to date and in line with your current and future business needs. Sound like a plan? Let’s get started, then!
1. Get your wider business plan sorted first
Your IT systems and networks are there to support your business and help you achieve your goals. So your first task is to sort out your overall business plan. That means looking at things like your sales targets, growth and expansion plans, and the potential for future partnerships or acquisitions. Don’t forget to factor in any other objectives you’re working towards, like moving out of your current offices into all-singing, all-dancing new premises.
We can’t stress enough how important this first step is! Only when you have all your business ducks in a row can you start thinking about the types of hardware and software you’ll need to help you smash those all-important targets.
2. Talk to your team
OK, so you probably now have an inkling of the general direction your IT strategy will need to take. Your next job is to gather information and feedback from the people who’ll actually be using the equipment and software you’ll be investing in.
Talk to them about how they’re using technology now and what would help them work more productively and efficiently in the future. For example, staff who work remotely might find it difficult to access the network when they’re away from the office. You could tackle this problem by moving some or all of your infrastructure into the Cloud.
3. Review your current IT set-up
Now’s the time to assess your current hardware and software to see how well it’s meeting your needs at the moment. You’ll probably identify a few gaps or inefficiencies that can be sorted out straight away, such as software that’s reached ‘End of Life’ and needs upgrading. As noted in our previous article, other things to look for are areas of waste or duplication. Perhaps you’re paying for two sets of software that perform the same task, or forking out for Office 365 licences for staff who left six months ago.
Next, consider the kinds of hardware and applications you’ll need to achieve your goals in the future. If you have ambitious growth plans, perhaps you’ll need a sophisticated CRM system to help you keep providing great service to an ever-expanding customer base. Or maybe you’ll need a better accounting system to keep an eagle eye on your finances and provide insightful reports.
It’s also important to consider the life expectancy of existing systems that are doing a good job now but will soon be obsolete. Research the market to find out about new technologies that are ‘coming soon,’ so you can identify the best investment opportunities.
4. Allocate priorities, budgets, timescales and resources
You should now have the information you need to create a short, medium and long-term IT strategy. Create a plan detailing the actions and investments that fall into each category, complete with costs if possible. Your exact timescales will depend on your budget. But as a rule of thumb, aim to carry out short-term actions within a year, medium within three years and long-term within five.
When it comes to resources, consider who’ll be responsible for installing your new systems and decommissioning the old stuff. And don’t forget to factor in time, costs and resources for training your staff to use the new equipment and software.
5. Decide how your IT strategy will be managed
If you have an in-house IT department or IT Manager, the job of managing your IT strategy will probably go to them. Alternatively, your external Managed IT Support provider might take care of it. However, you approach it, make sure there’s a robust process to make sure actions and investments take place as planned and within budget.
6. Implement your strategy and measure success
Congratulations! Your shiny new IT strategy is ready to go. Once it’s up and running, it’s important to keep key stakeholders up to date with progress, These might include your Finance Manager, Business Development Manager and any external investors. And of course, you need to keep your wider workforce informed about what will be happening and when, and how they can expect new technologies to affect their jobs.
You’ll also want to know whether your investments are performing as expected and supporting your business in the right way. So put KPIs in place so you can measure success. These might include things like the number of helpdesk calls, staff and customer satisfaction levels, and your return on investment.
7. Review and update your IT strategy
Your IT strategy isn’t set in stone. You’ll need to review and update it regularly to account for changes in your business needs, priorities, opportunities and challenges. So treat it as a live document and revisit it maybe twice a year.
Sounds too much like hard work? Call in RoundWorks IT!
Our expert team can work with you to create the perfect IT strategy for your business. It’s our aim to help you drive growth and efficiency through technology and make sure your investments deliver genuine value. Get in touch today for a chat about how we can help your business achieve your current and future goals.