Why you need an IT strategy – no matter how small your company

Do you have an IT strategy?

An IT strategy is used to provide guidance on the following questions:

  • Is the existing technology being used effectively?
  • Are the existing IT solutions supported adequately?
  • What should the next IT investment look like?
  • What IT projects should be pursued?
  • How much should be budgeted for IT changes?
  • Sourcing IT from the right places?

Why even the smallest of small businesses (solopreneurs) should have an IT strategy

The IT strategy gives you focus on how you plan to make your IT solutions work for you. It helps set the scene when planning what investment in IT is needed.

Without a strategy you will be solving IT problems with no real idea of what you need your total IT application suite to look like (AKA target landscape).

Let’s imagine, for example, that you identify the need for a new software capability in your business. Without a strategy you will evaluate all options and select one with just the current problem in mind. However if you have an IT strategy you will be able to select software that will grow as the business grows and integrates with the rest of your IT systems.

But my company isn’t big – why do I need something as complex as an IT strategy?

Let’s do a quick exercise. Take a pen and paper, or fire up your favourite text/document editor. Set a timer for 2 minutes – now hit start on the timer and start writing down anything that you currently do that relates to your business on a computer. If you get stuck just mentally walk through your typical work day – possibly even today.

Go ahead.  I’ll wait here…

So how many things are on your list? If you are like any typical business you have some or all of the following:

  • email
  • social media
  • accounts / book keeping
  • invoicing
  • stock management
  • staff management
  • calendar / schedule management
  • customer relationship management
  • supplier management

Here’s some that you may have forgotten about (you do have these don’t you?):

  • backups
  • website management (CMS)

Relating this back to our  strategy – how many of these systems are being fully utilised and are they supported?  If not then perhaps they need some focus of your next quarters IT strategy.

Other things to consider

The idea of the strategy is to identify what you need to invest in to improve your business efficiency.

Finding yourself manually entering contact information into your CRM and your Email management systems?

  • Perhaps it’s time to invest in some integration.

Are you consuming too much time tracking finances in spreadsheets?

  • Maybe it’s time to start using a finance application.

Typically I find that if there’s something that annoys you about your current IT systems, or lack thereof, then you need to assess it.

Regular Reviews

The key thing to remember with your IT strategy is to take the time regularly to weigh up these options and see how they align with your business strategy (you do have one, right?). For example if you plan to grow your business in specific areas then your IT strategy should cover how your IT systems will support this.

I’m not talking about writing a monster of a document that you will never look at again. Small businesses have the benefit of being nimble and changing direction to meet a market need. This means a far reaching 100 page strategy is possibly going to be out of date in a month or two (just like a business plan or strategy). I think that you should be able to fit every thing you need into a few pages.

The other thing is that it needs to be a living document – something that is looked at a minimum of every 6 months, however if there’s a major change in the way you do business, who you do business with or what your business does then you will need to review your IT strategy.

Need help?

If you need help with assessing your own IT strategy then I am here to help! Take a look at our IT Strategy Overview Service here.

Posted in Strategy.

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