Planning ahead is one of the best things any business owner can do to ensure reliable business growth. It's true for human resources and it's true for technology. But unless you're a seasoned IT expert, keeping up with a constant barrage of updates and changes to the hardware and software solutions you hope to implement is a losing battle.
Strategic technology plans are particularly difficult to carry out not just because technology changes rapidly, but also because what we use it for changes. A regulatory framework could become law in the next six months, and your staff would need more training to learn new skills.
There are ways to address these uncertainties and create a reliable IT road map. You just need the advice of experts.
What to consider when drafting IT plans
Some strategic technology plans look good on paper, but turn out to be complete failures when they’re implemented. Here are some things to avoid when preparing IT plans for your company.
- Too many priorities – Once you realize how much money custom web apps and document management solutions can save you, you might be tempted to take on everything immediately. It’s understandable to want to implement changes at once, but having too many priorities will blur your focus, blow up your expenses, and overwhelm your staff. To avoid this mistake, take a step back, reevaluate your goals, and focus on addressing one or two. Your top two priorities should have the most immediate positive impact on your staff, workflows, or customers. It’s not the number but the quality of changes that you implement that will matter most. One thing done well will always be better than many things done haphazardly.
- Wrong priorities – What you think is a top priority may not always be what your tech support team thinks is a top priority. It takes both business knowledge and technology expertise to get the most value from a strategic technology plan, so before you finalize your goals, consider consulting with a business technology solutions provider who can provide insight into things like business process improvements specific to your company. Whether you’re in healthcare, legal, or finance, your provider can give you sound advice based on years of working with technology in your industry.
- Limited expertise – Everyone makes mistakes, and if you're soliciting advice from someone who has limited knowledge of strategic planning, business leadership, or technology support, mistakes will be frequent and costly. Take for example the recent controversy surrounding the Illinois Tollway Board’s spending too much on technology upgrades. In this case, a lack of foresight caused budget miscalculations, as well as problems allocating manpower and time. These issues can arise in businesses of all sizes, so in order to avoid them, you should tap internal and external resources to ensure nothing is overlooked.
- Inflexible planning – Technology can be an unstable variable, so your plan must be able to accommodate modifications during its implementation. Avoid creating a rigid plan that cannot adapt to changes in technology, costs, or deadlines.The best way to do this is focus on what technology should accomplish rather than what it should look like. For example, a plan that says "every employee should be able to work remotely by next year" is much more flexible than one that says "we must migrate to Office 365 by next year".
It takes meticulous planning, field expertise, and pragmatic implementation for any business technology plan to work. Lacking in one aspect can cause your strategic technology plan to fail and incur tens of thousands of dollars in avoidable costs.
MXOtech has been helping small businesses in Chicago successfully design and execute their technology plans since 2005. Let’s have a chat today, and develop a strategic technology plan that works for you.