Streamline your Budget by Developing an IT Business Plan
Small and Medium Business (SMB) leaders need to develop an IT Strategic Plan even if you do not even have an IT department.
Many SMBs are moving at the light speed into new technologies and the cloud. However, the executive responsible for the technology initiatives must have a clear plan of action. This plan must include strategic objectives in order to align IT with the business and maximize ROI for the limited budget of an SMB.
Stuggling Without a Plan
When SMBs simply move into cloud computing, like Azure, in order to develop better delivery of solutions to employees and consumers without a strategic plan, the end goal can often get lost.
Instead of implementing the new infrastructure and technology with an eye on cost-cutting, increasing production and providing better services, many move to the cloud to take the easy way out with no infrastructure to manage.
Unfortunately, if your cloud solutions do not coordinate with the overall mission and vision of the company, its true value may be lost. Every SMB should appoint a person or third-party as a CIO role (or rent-a-CIO) to develop a strategic plan that keeps the technology of the company focused on the goals of the business. This plan can focus the goals of your information and technology infrastructures ensuring you are not overspending in areas that do not support the core objectives. Every facet of the plan must provide support to the mission of the business.
A Plan with Priorities
The first part of developing any strategic plan is ensuring the priorities of the business. This should stem form the vision or mission statement. The implied goal of the business should also be evident in its culture. Generally you can set your priorities by the vision or mission statement, but without updated statements you may need to rely on discussions and intangibles within the company.
Each department may have their own goals, growth plans, objectives, sales targets or plans to reduce operating costs. As the CIO (or rent-a-CIO) developing an IT Strategic plan, these goals and objectives will need to be considered. These can often set the priorities of the plan you are developing as they represent the underlying goals of the company as a whole.
Interviewing the department heads and line managers will be a good place to start to develop your plan's objectives.
Focusing on Results
A strategic plan should be centrally focused on getting results. These results should be measured and clear targets set and understood to establish baseline success criteria within the plan.
Find out Previous Results
In order to focus on measurable results you need first establish current patterns of information and technology usage. This should generally be done by each department in addition to the combined view.
Get Current Statistics
By establishing the previous year's usage you can establish benchmarks that delineate IT resource allocations, licensing, etc. From understanding previous usage and allocated resources you should be able to establish patterns for each department within the organization, from disaster recovery, to number of IT help callouts, to capacity levels.
List IT Architecture
Layout a full IT architecture map for your SMB, whether that includes local services, cloud services or even office PCs. Establish the processes for using the available architecture to get an absolute understanding of your current network and its strengths and weaknesses.
Developing Department Buy-In
The last step before developing the actual plan is to reach out to department heads within your business and establish buy-in. Find out what their perceptions of usage and trends are and where their pain points are. Are they using technology to overcome these pain points, or if they need technology to do so? Establish IT projects per department so they can be empowered to achieve their individual goals.
Lastly, once you have laid the groundwork through effective organizational research, you can start creating an IT Business Plan that will actually target specific pain points within the organization. You might use the existing architecture or develop a better one to solve your IT and business issues.
A proper IT strategic plan will ensure the core objectives of each department and the overall company is at its center.