From securely storing client data to efficiently handling shipping and logistics, IT is at the heart of most modern business processes. In this digital era, a powerful IT strategy can make the difference between powering through your business goals and chugging away on autopilot, never really getting anywhere. On a more fundamental level, it can be the difference between longevity in your industry and rapid failure.
Given how crucial an IT strategy is for your success as a business owner or department manager, it makes sense to approach it in a methodical manner. To ensure yours is robust enough to support your team and the goals you have in mind for your enterprise, take the following six steps into consideration.
How to Develop a Robust Business It Strategy
Revisit your overarching business goals
Even if you outsource your IT strategy to a Managed IT Service Provider (MSP), it’s essential to fill them in on your overarching vision and mission, and the goals you intend to achieve along the way. This will allow you and the IT experts you work with to incorporate the technology and processes needed to empower you to act on opportunities and overcome challenges swiftly.
These technologies, systems, and processes will differ depending on your business size, industry, and a number of other key factors. However, they must align with your greater goals to ensure they’re effective at removing barriers, supporting your daily activities, and drawing you closer to achieving your vision.
Be specific about your ideal working environment
Once you have a clear outline of what you’re aiming for, it’s time to dive into the details. What kind of IT infrastructure would be needed to make your lofty goals a reality? At this stage, don’t get bogged down by budgetary concerns – you can always adjust the way you get to this ideal state to ensure it fits your budget every step of the way.
For now, your main concern should be fleshing out every detail of the technology and systems you will need to create your ideal working environment. This could mean having a team of developers or working with low-code automation platforms and Robotics Process Automation (RPA). It could mean setting your team up with the capability to work seamlessly and securely from anywhere in the world. Determine what will work for you, your business, and your goals, and lay it out in fine detail.
Assess your current position
Now that you have a clear destination to aim for, it’s time to map out your current position so you can devise an IT strategy that links the two. Take full stock of the technology, software, systems, and apps you’re working with, and examine the level of IT support you currently have.
The full audit of your current IT infrastructure is a job best handled by your in-house IT department or outsourced to an MSP that specialises in strategy development. The reason is that this assessment must be more than just a list of your IT assets. What you need to do is assess the ability of your current IT environment to get you to your goals.
This step is analogous to checking your vehicle before a road trip – it’s all well and good to note that you have four tyres, but it’s far more helpful to determine whether they’re worn or flat.
Identify challenges, gaps, and roadblocks
With a firm understanding of your current position, a number of gaps and challenges will immediately become apparent. However, this isn’t the end of the process. There are likely to be dozens of other obstacles and hold-ups along the way, and if you want to create a truly powerful IT strategy, it’s best to identify these issues now when you have time to work them into your plan.
At this stage, it can be valuable to bring in your team members and other key stakeholders as they will have valuable insight into what might be needed to fill the gaps in their department. Interview key people so you can gain an understanding of the issues they face in carrying out their daily duties. You will likely find that there are many little roadblocks you never could have foreseen from your managerial position.
Develop your plan and set KPIs
Finally, we’ve arrived at the meaty part of the project. Armed with all the data you’ve collected in the first four steps, it’s time to plot out a path between your current position and the long-term goals you’re aiming to achieve. What kind of technology and what level of IT support will you need to bring your vision to life?
The main focus of your IT strategy must be the overarching vision and goals you’ve set for your business. However, it’s also important to build smaller goals and milestones into the journey. It’s also crucial to set Key Point Indicators (KPIs) and benchmarks. These give you platforms from which you can conduct reviews, examine the effectiveness of your strategy, and correct course if necessary.
Establish your budget and find the right IT support
Many business owners want to start the development of their IT strategy with a set budget in mind. However, this can have a stifling effect on the development of your IT plan. Instead, it’s best to map out the most efficient strategy for achieving your goals and then work out the budget you would need to achieve it.
If this figure falls well outside what you can currently invest in your IT infrastructure, you have plenty of scope for paring it back. You can, for example, push back the date by which you intend to achieve certain goals, giving you time to upgrade your tech and software incrementally.
There are, of course, certain non-negotiables – robust cybersecurity being one of them. However, you will generally find that a few adjustments are all it takes to line up a budget that can support your IT plan.
One of the best ways to fit an ambitious IT strategy into a modest budget is to outsource your business IT support. This allows you to pay a low, flat rate for any ongoing support you need and negotiate a deal with your MSP for one-off projects. Not only does this tend to be more cost-effective than hiring an in-house team, but it also gives you ultimate flexibility and access to 24/7 support.
If you have any questions about developing or implementing an IT strategy for your business, feel free to contact Invotec for support and guidance from our friendly IT experts. Our highly trained technicians love a challenge and are always up for talking strategy.