Many companies take an ad hoc approach to technology. If you’re among them, it’s understandable. You probably had to automate some tasks before others; your tech needs have likely evolved over time, and technology itself is always changing.
Unfortunately, all of your different hardware and software may not communicate so well. What’s worse, lack of integration can leave you more vulnerable to security risks. For these reasons, some businesses reach a point where they decide to implement a strategic IT plan.
The objective of a strategic IT plan is to (over a stated period) roll out consistent, integrated, and secure hardware and software. In doing so, you’ll likely eliminate many of the security dangers wrought by lack of integration, while streamlining data-processing efficiency.
To get started, define your IT objectives. Identify not only the weaknesses of your current infrastructure, but also opportunities to improve it. Employee feedback is key: Find out who’s using what and why it works for them.
From a financial perspective, estimate a reasonable return on investment that includes a payback timetable for technology expenditures. Be sure your projections factor in both:
- Hard savings, such as eliminating redundant software or outdated processes
- Soft benefits, such as being able to more quickly and accurately share data within the office as well as externally (for example, from sales calls)
Also calculate the price of doing nothing. Describe the risks and potential costs of falling behind or failing to get ahead of competitors technologically.
Working in phases
When you’re ready to implement your strategic IT plan, devise a reasonable timeline. You can take a phased approach, perhaps laying the foundation with a new server and then installing consistent, integrated applications on top of it.
A phased implementation can also help you stay within budget. You’ll need to have a good idea of how much the total project will cost. But you can still allow flexibility for making measured progress without putting your cash flow at risk.